Historically, Central Western Queensland has had a strong sheep industry. According to the Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD), wild dogs have been a big reason for the 75 percent decline in sheep numbers in the Central West between 1991 and 2018. To address the problem it’s managing the RAPAD Queensland Feral Pest Initiative Cluster Fence project in partnership with the Australian and Queensland Governments.
As well as keeping out wild dogs, cluster – also known as exclusion fencing - can help prevent feral animals from grazing on pastures that are still recovering from the 2019 North Queensland flood event or the ongoing impact of drought.
Winton falls in the RAPAD region, and is enjoying a resurgence in sheep farming. In 2019, Merino Sheep returned to the Winton Show for the first time in 34 years. Last month, an A-grade shearing and wool handling school was held at Goolma Station west of the town, to address the critical shortage of local shearers.
Shire Mayor and Agency Advisory Board member Gavin Baskett wants 100,000 more sheep in the shire, fully understanding that along with this increase comes more jobs and other flow-on benefits for the community. He talks of the merits of exclusion fencing to help minimise the impact of wild dogs. Grazier Shane Axford can attest to the benefits of the initiative, which he says has made a major difference to his business bottom line.
Bringing more sheep back to Winton is an example of a region broadening its agricultural base.
‘Broadening the economic base’ is one of the 5 strategic pillars of ‘After the flood: A strategy for long-term recovery’ which was developed by the National Drought and Flood Agency with and for communities affected by the 2019 North Queensland flood event. This Strategy is a blueprint for the region’s future, that can be used by anyone with a stake in its long-term prosperity. You can read more about it here.