Celebrating Australian Manufacturing – GOR Woolen Mill

@AuManufacturing’s Celebrating Australian Made editorial series today looks to a revival of local wool processing and spinning. Peter Roberts talks to Nick Renters of GOR Woolen Mill.

It’s hard to remember when Australia had a vigorous fiber processing, spinning, weaving and clothing industry – an entire value chain that all but disappeared by the time China sucked in the dirty, job-creating companies of the developed countries.

But a few hardy souls such as Bendigo Woolen Mills and Waverley Mills in Launceston have survived the exodus and, like many small, fast-growing newcomers, are keeping the dream alive and building on Australia’s strengths in the fiber culture.

GOR Woolen Mill, formerly Great Ocean Road Woolen Mill, is a spinning and knitting mill that has grown in just seven years from an alpaca farm to a producer of the most sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly yarns in the world. world, according to founders Isabel and Nick Renters. .

The couple started spinning in 2015 when they couldn’t find any local mills to take their own alpaca wool.

They have since added Australian superfine merino wool, producing a range of yarns for the craft market for knitting and crochet. They also make knitting yards for their own knitting brand, Zauber.

Nick Renters said: “We changed the tree and ended up with 20 hectares and a few alpacas.

“We started with a small Belfast knitting machine…and now, with one or two people, we can easily do five to 10 tons a year.”

The company recently purchased seven cases of Italian spinning equipment and expanded with a new plant and farm at Burrumbeet near Ballarat in Victoria, bringing the total investment in machinery to over $1 million.

GOR Woolen Mill also uses other Australian manufacturers, such as Geelong Dyeing, where possible.

“There aren’t many factories left in Australia, but at the new site, the public will be able to see the entire transformation process, from fiber to finished garment, in one place.

“Unfortunately Australian fashion houses or Australian Wool Innovation didn’t want to do much more in Australia.”

Instead, Australia’s craft sector and the revival of home crafts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is driving demand for the local product.

Others are growing on the back of renewed consumer support, including luxury scarf maker Zauber Knitwear and Cashmere Connections, both of Victoria and Nundle Woolen Mill of NSW.

But while Australia’s largest factory in Bendigo struggles to employ 100 people, it is an area where there is still plenty of room for growth.

Image: GOR woolen mill

@AuManufacturing’s editorial series – Celebrating Australian Made – is brought to you with the support of the Australian Made Campaign Ltd, licensor of the Australian Made logo. For more information on the use of the logo, visit this link.

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