Record volumes of alpaca fleece are being shipped to China as growers work at developing a major export industry.
A regular fixture of bed-and-breakfasts, wineries and boutique hobby farms, the long-necked animal is more likely to be associated with the cottage industry than big-scale farming.
But alpaca farmers from across the country are banding together to ramp up their herd sizes and meet burgeoning demand in Asia, reports ABC Rural.
Producers from across NSW, Victoria and South Australia have this month agreed to set up a co-operative, which will band together to fuel emerging farmers.
A deal with a Chinese manufacturer which wants the product for fine clothing, doonas and carpet, will see a record 10 tonnes of raw fleece shipped out of Australia each month.
Push to ramp up national alpaca herd
The industry is embarking on a concerted push to double Australian herd numbers within the next few years, and this will be key to meeting Chinese demand.
Mick Williams, a co-founder of the new co-operative, runs about 1,200 alpacas across the NSW Southern Highlands and says producers were rising to the challenge.
"I don't think we'll ever have enough fleece to fulfil the world's most populated country in the world," Mr Williams told ABC Rural.
Mr Williams said he was excited about breaking new ground in the agricultural exports space.
"We sent raw alpaca samples to China last month and in doing that it was the first time raw alpaca fibre had ever been sent to China (officially)," he said.
"We had to create the actual code to ship it."