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The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visit Tasmania

8th November 2012

The Prince of Wales during a visit to Leenavale Sheep Stud in Sorell, Tasmania.

The Prince in a Merino wool suit at Leenavale Sheep Stud in Tasmania

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Leaping lambs are an everyday site on farms but The Prince of Wales had to contend with a much older woolly jumper as he highlighted Australia's world leading wool trade.

The Prince watched as a sheep almost jumped out of a pen in its desperation to follow the rest of the flock during a visit to a Tasmanian holding.

The Prince had come to learn how the Thornbury family produced highly-prized merino wool, used to make luxury knitwear, jumpers and cloth for Italian suits, on their Leenavale Sheep Stud.

His Royal Highness was sporting a grey pin-stripe double-breasted suit by Anderson & Sheppard made from a rare quality of Australian Merino wool. The Prince did well to keep the mud off his expensive trousers when he was taken into a pen by Brent Thornbury who, with brother Jason, is the fourth generation of his family to run the sheep stud which covers 5,000 hectares and has around 12,000 merino sheep.

They watched as the sheep were moved along a narrow run into a pen before going into a shed where they would be sheared. One enthusiastic farm dog called Zig, an Australian kelpie, jumped up and ran on to the backs of the sheep, which then began leaping into the air.

Inside the shearing shed, The Prince and Mr Thornbury watched shearers expertly snip off fleeces in three minutes.

Lucy Byers, 35, was gathering up the wool and skilfully tossing it on to a table to be graded by other workers. The Prince tried his hand at throwing the fleece and sheepishly said afterwards: "I didn't do it to well".

His Royal Highness is Patron of the Campaign for Wool - an international initiative he launched in 2008 to help boost the wool trade which was experiencing a drop in demand and falling prices.

The Prince mentioned the jumping sheep when he met well-wishers later in the Tasmanian city of Hobart during a brief walkabout in torrential rain.

A six-month-old trainee guide dog called Indi caught his eye and he joked with her handler Melanie Rowe, saying: "How do you stop them cocking their legs?"

Ms Rowe replied: "We were more worried about her jumping up," and The Prince said: "It's bad enough with merino sheep." Brent Thornbury said after showing The Prince around his stud: "He was great, very laid-back and interested in what we were doing."

He described how The Prince has his own holding where he breeds rare sheep, saying: "He's got a fair patch of his own and was very interested in having a look at what we do and the wool in general."

During their day in the state of Tasmania, The Prince and The Duchess toured Richmond, one of the island's most historic towns with many buildings surviving from the Georgian period.

The royal couple went on a long walkabout and met dozens of residents who lined their route through the settlement waving flags and taking pictures.

In a woodcraft shop The Prince and The Duchess looked at bowls, jewellery boxes and kitchen utensils made from local woods, then stopped in a nearby hotel where The Prince had a half-pint of Cascade beer as he and The Duchess chatted to groups supporting producers and farmers. Later at a reception for rural women The Duchess chatted to many people including author Rachael Treasure who has written an outback romance called Fifty Bales Of Hay.

A speech by The Prince of Wales at the Diamond Jubilee Reception, Princess Wharf, Hobart, Tasmania

Published on 8th November 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,

I do apologise for this somewhat rushed visit but as you can imagine Australia is a very large place and trying to get round so much of it in this time isn't always as easy as it might be, but I can't tell you how much my wife and I enjoyed Tasmania.

It has been a great joy and we can't thank you enough for the most wonderfully warm welcome that you've given us today despite the weather. At least we've done something useful by bringing the rain because it is a blessing.

Of course it's one of the reasons why Tasmania is so special and is so productive and has so many remarkable producers of every kind of agricultural produce, not to mention the highest quality wool.

As the Premier mentioned, one of the things I wanted to try and highlight today was the importance of wool as a natural fibre and to remind people of its importance and the importance of the growers and indeed of wool to the whole economy in Australia.

If I may say so it has been a particular joy to see you all as part of the celebrations of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

I remember coming to Australia in 1977 and I went round the whole of Australia in 11 days to celebrate again that Jubilee. Now we have a very special occasion with the Diamond Jubilee and I know that so many of you gathered here today have done so much for your own communities in so many different ways-dedicated, devoted, so often unseen and unsung.

The contributions you've made are quite remarkable in so many voluntary ways. If it wasn't for all of you so little probably would hap ...

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