Tambo is sheep country!
The district was discovered by Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1846 and first settled in the early 1860s, the town itself was gazetted in 1863. By 1864 there were 64,000 sheep grazing across the vast Mitchell grass downs country.
By 1893, the sheep population was over 570,000 and the people population was 1057 across the district of which 430 resided in the town. In their heyday in the 1950s sheep numbers rose to over one million and there were around 1200 people living in the district.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there and when the wool prices crashed dramatically following the stockpile fiasco. Coupled with severe drought in 1991, many growers around the area went out of sheep.
A year later the Government came through outback Queensland towns holding community workshops to uncover new ideas and projects to drive economic development and alternative employment.
In Tambo, there were three initiatives the community came up with; Tambo Teddies, the Tambo Sawmill and the formation of a community organisation to promote tourism and community projects, the Tambo Tourism and Business Assn Inc. All three initiatives are still active today, the Sawmill operated for ten years after it opened in 2001 until it shut in 2011. The Council then purchased and upgraded the facility and leased it in 2017 which has again stimulated the local economy.
The community group, TTBA, has undertaken a range of projects since its inception. The group continues to support local businesses presenting skills development opportunities, development of tourism projects and on-going promotion of the region.
And of course, Tambo Teddies is going from strength to strength! The original concept was to use wool pelts from the local properties. This wasn’t practical in the end as the processes to tan skins is complex and consistent supply would have been an issue. Also, most sheep in the district are merinos which have a softer skin which is not always ideal for teddy bear making. We are proud that we can support the Australian sheep industry by using the softest Aussie skins we can source.
The influx of wild dogs in the 2000s pushed more graziers into a position where they could no longer sustain the losses. Large scale fencing projects have been undertaken over the past few years which will hopefully halt the decline in the local sheep industry.
Declining sheep numbers over the past three decades has driven a decline in our population. There is no longer a single person living in Tambo and working in the shearing industry where at one stage there were three or more shearing teams. Tambo currently has a district population of around 560 with about 400 people living in town. Today there are only six stations that are running a combined total of approximately 60,000 sheep in the Tambo district.
While the numbers may be down there is hope that the feral fencing will provide the security Landholders need to enable them to re-enter the industry and numbers will gradually increase.
We hope so as we love sheep!