Exposing the wool industry's beautiful truth world-wide
SHE calls it the beautiful truth.
"If you walk into a working woolshed it's like it's choreographed,” wool classer Chantel McAlister said.
"And if you just sit back and watch people working, it's like the shearers dance around the sheep ... and the wool handlers are perfectly timed.
"Although the woolsheds are so dirty and gritty, and we are sweaty and it's hard work, I just think it's all so beautiful.
"It's so raw - it's an important part of Australia.”
It's that passion for the wool industry - and desire to highlight accurate reflections of what happens in shearing sheds - that has led Chantel to launch a national campaign, the Truth About Wool Tour.
Next year, after almost 10 years in the industry, she is hanging up her wool stencil for a few month to travel Australia capturing photos and videos of the wool-making process.
Her goal will be to see her work educate people world-wide about how wool is produced.
Chantel has already been promoting the industry through her photography venture, Chantel Renae Photography, but this will be her first time pursing a creative project full-time.
"The idea sparked when I was crutching at home with my partner and I decided to film him and then I put together a video, which I called The Truth about Wool, Crutching.
"It was just explaining the whole process, explaining why he does it and how it benefits the sheep.
"It was really well received by the general public so I thought, 'I am onto something here'.
"People seemed to be uneducated about what crutching was - a lot of people thought it was mulesing.”
Chantel describes leaving her full-time work to pursue the tour as a "leap of faith”.
"I am nervous but I have faith in the support from the industry,” she said.
"And I just think, if I can get this message out there it will affect everyone in the industry right down the pipeline.
"I will sacrifice my income and my life for six months in hopes it can help the future of the industry.”
She has launched a GoFundMe page and is aiming to raise $10,000 so she has enough money for fuel and her expenses.
Her tour will cover parts of southern Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
Chantel will make the trip in her Toyota Hilux with the company of her dog Mia.
"Throughout the tour she will keep her followers informed on her social media platforms and website.
"I will have a path on my website where there will be an interactive map and people can actually follow me, they will be able to read blogs and see photos as the tour is progressing,” she said.
Later, she hopes to have her work correlated into a book that can be sold throughout Australia, and internationally.
"And my third phase is to take this on the road nationally, take my book and my gallery around Australia.
"I want to bring some people from the industry, farmers or shearers, and take the wool shed experience to the major cities.
"So people can come in feel and smell the wool, actually see it from a raw product to how it turns out at the end stage.”
Although this year, it seems as though animal activists have had their spotlight pointed firmly at the Australian wool industry - with two campaigns launched in 2016, one claiming shearing was cruel to lambs and the other stating there was a drug problem among shearers - Chantel shrugged off that her tour was a retaliation.
"They seem to target people who are uneducated on the industry, which saddened me ... my tour is about education, but I also want to celebrate the industry. It's a beautiful industry making a beautiful fibre.
"People can't pop down the road to see a working woolshed, so this is a way they can experience it.”
To support Chantel on her wool tour visit www.gofundme.com/ thetruthaboutwool
Keep up to date with Chantel's journey by following her on Facebook at Chantel Renae Photography or on Instagram at @chantelrenaephotos.