Woolly Jumpers required in Bendigo's Alpine Heights

Published 24 January 2014

Netherlands driver Steijn Schothorst (19) is a front-runner in the 2014 Toyota Racing Series and he was first up to wrangle a merino lamb when the group visited the massive Bendigo sheep station this week.

As the championship makes its way north, drivers are keen to fill their downtime away from the circuits with experiences that are ‘classic Kiwi’. In Queenstown they can bungy jump, ride mountainbikes on some of this country’s best tracks, parasail and more.

As they headed for Cromwell’s Highlands Motorsport Park this week, the drivers were given a four wheel drive tour of the 30,000 hectare Bendigo Station near Tarras.

Their ‘tag-along’ tour took them past extensive historic gold workings, climbing to 1,600 metres (5,000 feet) high above the snow line into the alpine station. In the ‘tops’ they were welcomed by station owner John Perriam at a high country mustering pen full of young merino sheep.

Steijn is sponsored by the respected international men’s clothing brand McGregor and leapt at the chance to get to grips with a merino lamb when offered.

Few if any of the group had previously been up close and personal with New Zealand’s finest wool export ‘on the hoof’.

After a tea break the tour continued back into the slightly warmer lowland areas and were met by Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn as they arrived back at the road.

Bendigo Station gained global fame as the home of the mighty Shrek, a neutered merino ram that decided the wilds of the station were his natural preserve and evaded muster for more than six years. When eventually found by station shepherds Shrek had a fleece weighing 27kg – enough to make suits for 20 men. An average merino fleece weighs about 4.5kg.

Though Shrek died in 2011 at the ripe age of 16, his story helped to profile the New Zealand merino wool industry and he is survived on Bendigo by more than 26,000 other merino sheep. More images are at the Toyota Racing New Zealand Facebook page 

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