This week in history: 1894 shearers' strike


On August 27, 1894, at Pooncarie in NSW, 300 striking sheep shearers burned and scuttled the river steamer PS Rodney.

The shearers had gone on strike to protest against an attempt by the Pastoralist Association to lower the rate they had been paying the shearers. The Rodney had been carrying scab labour up the Darling River to Polia Station.

Shortly afterwards, Billy McClean, a union shearer, was shot and wounded as he entered a shearing shed. He was charged with unlawful assembly and imprisoned, but was later released because he was dying from the bullet wound. Banjo Patterson's famous song "Waltzing Matilda" is based on events in this strike.

From Green Left Weekly, August 24, 2005.

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