The Blackall Wool Scour is now one of a kind in Australia and has fortunately been preserved with a Heritage Listing to ensure it is maintained as a valuable, and interesting, link to the past. It no longer scours wool though, it is used purely as a tourist attraction.
Blackall is fortunate in that it draws water from the Artesian Basin deep in the earth below. It comes to the surface steaming hot at 58 degrees Celsius.
Although the scour stopped operations in 1978 the magnificent steam driven machinery, dating from 1907, has been restored and maintained by enthusiastic volunteers with the help of Government grants.
Massive boilers generate the steam, driving the machinery that runs smoothly and quietly despite it being over 100 years old.
The wool goes through a washing process in several tanks.
Paddles push it through the tanks … they look like pitchforks attached to a conveyor belt!
After washing to remove dirt, oils and plant matter the wool goes through a massive dryer containing several levels.
Once dry it is ‘pressed ‘ into bales by a wool press.
And then shipped around the world.
Well, that is my very simplistic description of the process. I found this diagram that explains it in more detail – and have a look at what a ton of wool contains! No wonder they have to wash it!
I found this tour to the Blackall Wool Scour very interesting. The grounds are also very well maintained and have old machinery and tractors dotted around.
And to finish off? A bit of good old Aussie bush tucker – damper with a drizzle of Cockies Joy (Golden Syrup)!