Kangaroo Island flock stranded at Australian Wool and Sheep Show in Bendigo

As all of us head into lockdown, spare a thought for David and Jared McArdle, who travelled all the way to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show at Bendigo, only to have it cancelled.

David McArdle of Taljar Polwarth Stud said it was a bitter blow as the 12 Polwarth sheep they took over were in fine form, prepared perfectly for the show.

He fully expected to win more ribbons and Australian titles in the various categories they entered.

Jared said the day after they arrived at the Bendigo showgrounds on Tuesday last week, the first announcement came at Thursday lunch that the show would proceed but without the general public attending.

But by the evening, the worst news came that the whole show was cancelled as Victoria entered a five-day COVID-19 lockdown.

What was worse, by then the ferries back to the Island were being cancelled due to the weather, so the pair decided to stay in Bendigo until the weekend when the weather improved.

The cancellation impacted on hundreds of exhibitors, and as many as 2000 sheep, which all had to find their way home. One Tasmanian exhibitor was in the same boat at the McArdles, unable to get home.

"We did not want to get stuck on the road somewhere so we decided to stay and are very grateful to the Bendigo show society for letting us stay," Jared said.

The McArdles spent thousands to get to the show and so being unable to compete was a financial blow. But they do still have their ribbons from last year and are also now looking forward to the Royal Adelaide Show, where they compete every year.

"The logistics of getting to the Adelaide Show are a little less complicated," Jared said.

It's been a tumultuous couple of years for the McArdles, losing their farm and houses, and 170 sheep, in the fires.

Since the fires they've had another mini-Mugga baby born but also lost their mother and wife Lynne, who passed away in April. Jared and his partner Cherrie meanwhile were married on the June long weekend.

Jared and David finally got back home to the farm on Sunday evening and were straight back into farm duties.

The late break to the season had added challenges for all KI graziers, but the good news as that while the boys were away, the lambs started being born on the farm. And who knows, one of them could be the new Australian champion.


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