Dr Charles Massy

Honorary Visiting Lecturer
Fenner School

Charles  has managed an 1820 ha. (4500 acre) sheep and cattle property (running an average 8,000 to 10,000 stock units) for 40 years. In addition he has managed other properties totalling 7,000 ha for city business interests. In the course of this he has led various local rural organizations plus was a regional bushfire captain.

Public Speaking/Lecturing/Education

Conducted over many years, initially in the fields of transformation and innovation in the Merino sheep and wool industries, and more latterly in the fields of regenerative landscape management, grazing systems for healthy landscape function, and addressing climate change and the current global ecological challenges for our species – including for such organisations as Greening Australia, Regional Landcare groups, and the Federal Governments Carbon Farming Initiative; plus lectures to Human Ecology students ANU.

More recent engagement has been in on-farm workshopping with farmers in regenerative agricultural fields, and also begun working with Aboriginal elders in regard to regenerating ‘Country’, including with cool patch-burning.

Relevant Awards

2011 – OAM for service to the wool industry and community

2008 – Power House Museum, Sydney – Distinguished Service Award (re. their Wool & pastoral Collection)

1992 – Silver Medal for contribution to the Australian Merino and wool industry – AASMB (Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders)

Research interests

Research interests

Developed consultancy work in environmental management/planning, flock and stud Merino sheep classing and management from 1985. Since expanded this into specialist genetic advisory services. More recently my consultancy work focuses on regenerative landscape management and healthy grazing eco-systems. This includes work in Australia, and in 2013 as a consultant for the international aid organisation ADRA in Myanmar’s ‘Dry Zone’.

1975 to present - Manager, grazing property ‘Severn Park’.

1975 to 2008 - Principal, partner and founder ‘Severn Park Merino Stud’. Over time, utilising molecular-genetic and biological knowledge, this involved innovative pioneering of a new type of Merino sheep under the SRS system, focused on elite fibre production and multiple trait incorporation (meat, fertility, disease resistance). Part of this was the development of a mules-free, animal welfare and environmentally friendly sheep type. The Stud was dispersed in 2008.

Between 1990 and 1996 was co-founder and Director of a specialist niche fibre-marketing

company involved in instigating direct supply and value-chain arrangements with leading wool mills in Australia, Italy, Germany, England and Asia. CM also designed and wrote Australia’s first organic wool processing and marketing QA system.

1993-1995 – Director specialist knitwear company Merino Gold Limited.

1993-1995 – Director International Wool Secretariat (IWS).

1993-95 – Director Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation (AWRAP).

1994 - Chief author and editor (as Chairman of the IWS/AWRAP Board R&D Committee, responsible for a $50 million R&D portfolio): Innovation & Best Practices.

1995-1998 – Director and then Chairman Centre for the Application of Molecular Biology to International Agriculture (CAMBIA).

Wide contact with business leaders (at Chairperson and CEO level) in more than fifteen countries involved in the international wool industry.

Other Relevant Experience

  • 1994-95 – Member CSIRO Strategic Review Committee into Future Directions for CSIRO’s Research in the Wool Industry.
  • 2006, February – Member 4-person international mid-term review of the sheep industry’s $30 million sheep genomics programme.
  • Reviewer for Journal: Agricultural History


The Australian Merino:  Viking O’Neil/Penguin. 1990. 1088 pp.

The Australian Merino The Australian Story: Random House Australia. 2007. 1238 pp. (a major revision and updated edition of the 1990 book).

Breaking the Sheep’s Back: UQP, 2011. 400 pp., paperback. This book was short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Australian History, and for the Ashurst Business Literature Prize.

Preface to Wool – the Australian Story – by Richard Woldendorp, Roger McDonald and Amanda Burdon. Freemantle Arts Press. 2003.

Preface to Around the Sheds, by Andrew Chapman. Five Mile Press, 2012.

Other Relevant Publications and Media Work

Engaged in freelance journalism, non-fiction and creative fiction over an extended period from 1977 – covering a range of subjects from mountaineering, ecology, history, sheep and wool, research management, regenerative landscape management, and short stories and poetry.

Numerous published articles on pathways to innovation in sheep breeding and value-chain wool marketing; on Merino sheep, wool and Australian history. These appeared in such publications as The Merino Year Book, Australian Geographic, the Veterinary Science Journal, National Merino Review, Australian Farm Journal, various major mainstream newspapers, and in Conference Proceedings. Also a contributor to Australian Dictionary of Biography.


Updated:  30 June 2023/Responsible Officer:  College of Science/Page Contact:  https://iceds.anu.edu.au/contact