FAQ’s about Tambo Teddy Bears

We decided we should answer some of those little things you were wondering about ……….

  • Are they Tambo sheepskins?

No, the skins are Australian but they aren’t from Tambo. Tambo is traditionally merino sheep country and merinos have a very soft skin which would not be suitable for making teddy bears.

  • Do you  dye the wool?

No the skins come coloured from our supplier. There is a wide range of colours and they sometimes vary as different dye batches seem to produce variable shades of the colours we order.

  • How many years has the business been going?

Tambo Teddies was started in1992, the result of a government workshop held in the town to identify ways to stimulate the local economy and create new industry in western towns. The outback was in the grips of a drought and the wool market had crashed, the business was started to find ways to value add to the wool industry and provide employment in Tambo.

  • Is it a community organisation?

No, Tambo Teddies is a company. But it is an icon of Tambo and the whole community have a level of ‘ownership’ and a deep pride in the business. Kiralee, Alison and Tammy purchased the business in March 2014, and consider they have taken on a large responsibility and feel like custodians of a Tambo treasure.

  • What are these teddy bears made of?

The bears, koalas and echidnas are made of Australian sheep skins. The patterns are drawn up on the skins, cut out with a Stanley knife – they are then given to the sewer and they are sewn up on a special machine, a cup seam overlocker. Each seam is stitched twice, then the bear is turned out and stuffed through the back of the neck and sewn up.

All our bears are completely hand made.

  • Where do you get the sheepskins?

Our skins come from Australian Sheepskin Distributors in Narrangba, north of Brisbane.

  • Who names the bears and how do you get the names?

The bears are named after local Tambo properties and stations alliterated with a Christian name. Everyone at Tambo Teddies names the bears and we try to keep all the names fresh and new.

  • How many pieces to a bear?

NINETEEN! For both the Basil and Toby bears.

  • What is the difference between the Basil and the Toby Families?

The Toby bear was the first bear created at Tambo Teddies, the Toby has a flatter face, a straighter body shape and low set ears. Some visitors consider the Toby looks like a Koala – that is until they see our koalas!

The Basil bear family is the more traditional teddy bear style with a pointed nose, and much defined bear shaped head.

  • Who started the business?

Three local women started the business, Charm Ryrie, Helen Sargood and Mary Sutherland After a few years Charm and Helen left the business and Mary managed it on her own for around eighteen years. Kiralee, Tammy and Alison purchased it in March 2014.

  • Why do they all look different?

Tambo Teddies are all handcrafted and each bear is totally unique and different, one of a kind. It is amazing how two bears of the same style can be cut from the same skin but once they are sewn and stuffed they are turn out completely different. They all develop their own personalities and are individually identifiable.

  • What is a Bickie Bear and how did they get their name?

Our Bickie Bears are made from Sheepskin and come in a range of colours, they are called ‘Bickie Bears’ because they are flat and shaped like a gingerbread man biscuit. Soft and cuddly – ideal for baby.

  • What accessories are there for the teddy bears?

For the small Basils and Tobies you can purchase a small bear-as-a-bone coat, hat whip and swag. These items are best suited to the small Basil.

For the large Basils you can dress them as a Mr or Mrs Stockman, with a shirt, skirt, belt and hat for Mrs Stockman and a Bear-as-a Bone, pants, shirt, belt, hat, swag and plaited whip for Mr Stockman.

We have gorgeous tutus that fit both the large and small bears and can also supply tailor made special outfits to order.

  • How long does it take to make a bear from start to finish?

It takes over 1.5 hours to make a bear from scratch; draw up the pattern, cut it out, sew and stuff it, trim, ribbon and name it. Sometimes it takes a bit longer if the skin is a bit thicker and tougher.

  • How many people do you employ?

When we bought the business there was one part-time employee and the owner. Today we have 2 full time positions and several part time/ piece rate workers equating to another 2 fulltime positions. We have three sewers; two of whom are young Mothers who work from home.

  • Tambo

Tambo is a small town in the middle of central western Queensland, in the Outback. Located over 900km from Brisbane on the Landsborough Highway it is part of the Blackall-Tambo Region Council area. There are approximately 600 people in the Tambo region, and just under 400 in the town.

Tambo is the oldest town in the central west being officially gazetted on June 27th, 1863. In 2013 we celebrated our 150 year anniversary with a huge event that lasted over a week.

  • Funny question: How do we stick the fur on?

We don’t! Our skins come with their wool on already J