Originally from Brisbane, Chantel McAlister has made it her mission to share what the Australian wool industry is really like through her photographs.
Chantel began her love affair with wool as a novice woolhandler, and has devoted her life to it for the past 11 years to become a respected masterclasser.
She credits finding her love for wool with meeting her partner Jason Murray, a shearer, who got her into the industry.
“If I never met my partner, I don’t think I would be where I am today,” Chantel said.
“After meeting Jason, I went with him to a shearing and absolutely loved it.
“I rang his contractor and said ‘I’m from the city and don’t know anything about it, but I would love to give it a go’.
“We are still with the same contractor now.”
It is her passion for the industry which drives Chantel to promote it so avidly with her photographs.
“When I started out in the wool, Facebook was just starting to take off,” Chantel said.
“I started off by putting some of my photos on there just to show my friends and family back in Brisbane what it was like.
“The more I photographed it and looked deeper into it, the more I became an advocate for it.
“At the time when you searched Facebook or Google, there really wasn’t much out there – not much good stuff anyway.
“I was really proud of my job and I get a really big kick out of photographing it.”
In 2017, Chantel began her Truth About Wool National Tour to tell the stories from behind the farm gates in the hope of continuing to shed light on the industry to those on the outside.
Chantel also hopes the tour will dispel misconceptions about the sheep industry.
The tour was put on hold after six months when she fell pregnant with her son Travis, who is now four months old, but Chantel and Jason have big plans for the not too distant future.
“We are starting the tour up again in October,” Chantel said.
“We have a caravan and are going to travel Victoria then.
“From there, we are going to travel across Australia until 2019 and hopefully find somewhere with a lot of sheep in Western Australia to settle down.
“While we are travelling, I am going to be conducting photography workshops as well.
“Part of my Truth About Wool tour is trying to encourage people on the land, especially sheep properties, to put themselves out there more on social media and flood it with positive imagery.
“So I am going to hold these workshops at places where they wouldn't usually get a photographer out there.
“I will just do some basic camera workshops to help them promote the industry a bit better.
“I also can’t wait to restart visiting two or three properties a week as part of the tour and getting people’s stories out there again.”
- Follow Chantel’s tour at www.thetruthaboutwool.com