New icon for Kojonup
Kojonup has the established reputation of being the first Shire with one million sheep. From its strong wool growing history, the idea of building a one and a half times normal size replica wool wagon was envisaged. Kojonupís three service clubs, Rotary, Apex and Lions, combined forces to see this project to fruition.
Many hours of planning and consultation with others in the community, in particular the Shire of Kojonup, led to this large icon being constructed out of steel and timber with fibreglass simulated wool bales on the tray. It depicts the early history of the wool industry and its worth to the Kojonup community and has been warmly received as a gift from the service clubs.
The project was financed by the service clubs through local fund-raising efforts, and a successful grant submission to the Centenary of Federation and, to a lesser extent, the Lotteries Commission of Western Australia. Much of the work has been undertaken by members of the service clubs who worked hard to ensure the Big Wool Wagon is a high quality public monument.
The wool industry first boomed in the mid 1800s and by 1906, there were 10,500 sheep in the Kojunup district. In 1989, over 1 million sheep were shorn in the Kojunup Shire. Wool wagons were used by the early settlers to transport their bales to market. Horses were harnessed to the front of the wagons and considerable skill was required to operate and manoeuvre these large vehicles.
Loading the bales onto the wagons was backbreaking work and each farmer had to identify his wool clip with his own brand, which then became unique to the property from which the wool was produced.
To recognise local wool farmers, and to raise revenue for the Big Wool Wagon project, an auction of the bales gave farmers the chance to have their brand placed on a wagon bale on the Big Wool Wagon. Some 30 brands now appear on the replica wool bales.
The Wagon, officially opened on Australia Day 2001, is yet another tourist attraction for Kojonup with its large presence on a stone platform on the Albany Highway.Considerable interest has been shown in the Big Wool Wagon by the media with the Wagon now featuring on the front page of the white pages telephone directory for the Great Southern Region.