In 1839, one of the most amazing movements of stock in the fledgling colony Australia was undertaken.
In 1797, the first Merino sheep, derived from the famed Royal Merino Flocks of Spain, were introduced into Australia. Although these sheep had already evolved a fine fibre, further selective breeding by Australian farmers soon produced the authentic Australian Merino with its even finer wool. This wool was unlike any other, being built for extremes: breathable in summer, insulating in winter, yet exceptionally soft and lightweight.
During the 18th century, the British navy halted merino-wool imports from Saxony and Spain, hence allowing Australia to rise and fill the gap. The original stock had been introduced via the Second Fleet, and crossbred to reach a current population of around 70 million, with some 70% descended from that original foundling flock.