Wool classer named Arcadia’s Citizen of the Year

By Jamie Salter

Rowan Gribben felt what it was like to be famous for a day when he was recognised as Arcadia's Citizen of the Year.

“After I got the award, everyone knew me, I was very humbled and excited,” he said.

A wool classer for 38 years, Mr Gribben has been involved in local agriculture his entire life.

He joined Landcare when it first began in the 1980s and was a sheep steward and competitor in shearing competitions at the Shepparton Show for 50 years.

“My father used to be involved in helping with the sheep judging and I used to help him with that,” he said.

Mr Gribben said he loved working in wool classing to catch up on all the local gossip.

“I skirt the fleeces, class wool into various lines and keep everything moving,” he said.

“As a contractor we have about 10 local shearers.”

Mr Gribben was born profoundly deaf and had surgery for a cochlear implant 10 years ago.

Despite the struggles he has faced in life, Mr Gribben persevered and never let them hold him back.

“I never hear the alarm clock because I’ve been deaf all my life, I just naturally wake up in the morning to start work at 7.30 am and finish by 5.30 pm; it’s a very long day.”

Throughout the years, Mr Gribben has seen a shift in industry practices as new techniques were introduced.

“All the technology for farming these days has changed but you get used to it,” he said.

“Now there’s chemicals, phones and computers — you can’t keep up.

“For wool classing, we used to write out the specifications, now it goes online like all the paperwork.”

Mr Gribben's parents bought a farm on Gibbons Rd in Arcadia in 1927, where he still lives to care for the family home.

He works as a mixed farmer of sheep, cattle and cropping, with help from his brother John.

“I really enjoy farming, it’s in my blood,” he said.