The Wool industry is a vital component of the Australian economy. The Royal Australian
Sheep were first imported to Australia in 1797 by John Macarthur and Reverend Samuel Marsden. By 1840 a thriving wool industry had emerged with over two million kilograms of wool was being produced annually. The wool business quickly became essential to Australia's economy eventually supporting the establishment and growth of local shipping companies and consignors. Today the Australian wool industry continues to be significant and has won numerous awards for the quality of its product. The worlds largest sheep and wool show, the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, is held annually in the regional Victorian town of Bendigo. First run in 1877 the show today displays the finest Australian wool with hundreds of woollen fashions on display. Competitions and smaller attractions are also held at the event with sheepdogs, speed-shearing, and animal nursery's. Australian merino is considered among the worlds finest. The reason for its exceptional quality can be traced to the knowledge and proficiency of Australian wool farmers. Their knowledge of breeding and their understanding of how to utilise Australia's harsh climate allows for the creation of natural fibres that are fine but exceptionally durable.