Shipment courier

WOOL WONDER: A silky expedition hints at the future of green production

GEELONG’s illustrious wool industry has opened a new chapter in a zero-emission garment production trial that could soon be rolled out across Australia.

Three bales have arrived in the city after a two-week journey from Tasmania to be made into knitwear, as a national menswear brand continues to push for local and sustainable manufacturing.

The century-old Riversdale factory in Newtown has accepted the 35-kilogram bundle of wool, which will be spun, spun and hand-knitted into prototype products for MJ Bale in the coming months.

Sailor and adventurer Grant Maddock, also known as ‘Two Dogs’, was the chosen courier last month and embarked on a 16-day solo, fuelless journey from farm to factory .

Mr Maddock cycled 200km from carbon-accredited Tasmanian wool farm Kingston to Hobart before cruising in a yacht along the state’s east coast and through Bass Strait to to Eastern Beach and bike to Newtown.

Grant “Two Dogs” Maddock drove his boat Ratu into Geelong Harbour. Photos: DANIEL POCKETT/GETTY IMAGES.

The Tasmanian farm has produced 105kg of carbon-neutral wool from 48 sheep through a partnership with Sea Forest, which provides seaweed-based feed supplements that significantly reduce methane production from livestock.

Riversdale Mill has since washed and scoured the three bales of wool for delivery to Bacchus Marsh, for further processing.

Mr Maddock said he was a long-time campaigner for the environment and climate change and was delighted to be part of the knitwear trial.

“I am proud to be part of the solution offered by MJ Bale, Sea Forest and Kingston,” he said.

The wool has since undergone processing at Geelong and Bacchus Marsh before becoming MJ Bale products. Photo: DANIEL POCKETT/GETTY IMAGES

MJ Bale founder and CEO Matt Jensen said the company aims to expand the zero-emissions transport trial to its 70 Australian stores.

“Our first global trial of zero-emission wool products is a major step forward for the global fashion industry,” said Jensen.

“This trip is also about revitalizing Australia’s wool processing and manufacturing industry, seeing if we can create a supply chain for our products entirely in Australia.”

MJ Bale’s essay, which he called his ‘The Lightest Footprint’ project, is part of company-wide initiatives to reduce its carbon output.

The brand achieved carbon neutral certification at the end of last year.