EVE York might be a new face on the Nutrien Ag Solution's wool team at the Western Wool Centre (WWC), but her name should register with many woolgrowers.
Ms York grew up in Tammin on her family's wheat and sheep property, Anameka Farms.
She is the daughter of National Farmers' Federation director and former WAFarmers president Tony York.
A qualified wool classer, Ms York, 32, has returned to the local wool industry by a roundabout route that took in western New South Wales shearing sheds and remote indigenous art galleries in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
"After boarding school in Perth and before I started university, I had a year off and did quite a lot of work (in the Wheatbelt) shed handing," Ms York said.
She moved to Queensland to chase a dream of learning about indigenous art and, after six months volunteering at a school for indigenous children from remote areas in Townsville, moved to Brisbane, enrolled at the University of Queensland and began a degree in art history, majoring in aboriginal art and Torres Strait island studies.
"During one of the uni summer holidays I came back to Perth and did a wool classing course at Murdoch TAFE over the six-week break, from then on I spent my uni holidays wool classing," she said.
"I'd go onto the shearingworld.com website where shearing contractors put up if they need shed hands, shearers or a classer and I'd call any number to see where they were.
"I'd go out on the uni break to work (in shearing sheds) and I'd often take a friend from uni with me - not that many came back for a second time."
Ms York said her working holiday trips took her across southern Queensland and northern NSW, to remote shearing sheds from Bourke to Broken Hill.
She relied on her trusty Toyota Corolla, intermittent mobile phone reception and often vague verbal mud maps from distant shearing contractors on patchy phone lines to find her way to sheds in places like Tibooburra in the north-west corner of NSW and Packsaddle - a mere flyspeck on the map, half way between Tibooburra and Broken Hill.
"I loved it, the culture of the sheds - I just loved working in the sheds," she said.
"There's not many workplaces that haven't changed a lot in the past 50 years, but essentially shearing hasn't changed all that much and it's kind of magical because of that."
Ms York also returned to WA some years to work the Wheatbelt sheds and some sheds out from Port Augusta in South Australia.
"I did that three months of the year for 10 years and it gave me enough money to travel overseas," she said.
Then, armed with her degree, she left the wool industry for the art world.
She worked at indigenous art centres at Maningrida and Elcho Island in Arnhem Land in the NT, then got a job based at Martumili Art Centre, in Newman, for two years before managing the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery for a further two years.
She returned to Perth to be closer to her family for the birth of her daughter Audrey, now three and a half and son Frank, 15 months, before looking to rejoin the workforce.
"I was originally looking for work in the arts, but I stumbled across an ad for Nutrien," Ms York said, explaining her return to wool.
"I already knew (Nutrien wool team member, auctioneer and broker) Cam Henry from wool classing out in the Wheatbelt, so that was a nice connection as well."
She is currently working at the Nutrien wool team's Spearwood headquarters, next to the WWC, on auction day and another day a week valuing wool, but is hoping that later on she will get the chance to go out onfarm to visit clients.
"It's been really good, I'm enjoying it and I don't think I've forgotten anything about the wool," she said.
"But I'm amazed just how looked at the wool is at this end of the industry - everyone wants to look at it.
"That's something I didn't realise when I was working in the sheds."
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