15 million sheep disappear from Australian pastures

MORE than 15 million sheep have disappeared from paddocks across the country and a Darling Downs man is calling on the government to buck the trend.

Speaking at the Jackie Howe Festival of Golden Shears at The Woolshed at Jondaryan over the weekend, wool-broker Bruce Lines said there were huge challenges facing the wool industry.

"In 1991 we had 16.8 million sheep, to this day the figure is 1.7 million sheep... the reduction has been huge," Mr Lines said.

Competitive wool handler and passionate advocate for the industry Bruce Lines at the Jackie Howe Festival of Golden Shears at Jondaryan Woolshed, Saturday, September 3, 2016.
Competitive wool handler and passionate advocate for the industry Bruce Lines at the Jackie Howe Festival of Golden Shears at Jondaryan Woolshed, Saturday, September 3, 2016. Kevin Farmer

"I'm working with local communities in western Queensland to get merinos back on the ground," he said.

He said the wool industry could create jobs and grow communities. One highlight of the festival was a re-enactment, which allowed visitors to experience what working in a woolshed was like before the introduction of steam-powered shears.

In those days strength, sweat and persistence were necessities as Australia "rode on the sheep's back" to prosperity.

Mr Lines, from Roma, said it gave people a first-hand experience of shearing a sheep, seeing the wool removed, skirted and pressed ready for market.

"With the harvesting shed here, right on the doorstep of Toowoomba and Brisbane, for people to come out an experience what happens in western Queensland is a great experience," he said.

He said a fashion parade at the festival showed how wool could be lucrative.

Bonnie Elvin on the catwalk for Runway to Runway fashion show during the Jackie Howe Festival of Golden Shears at Jondaryan Woolshed, Saturday, September 3, 2016.
Bonnie Elvin on the catwalk for Runway to Runway fashion show during the Jackie Howe Festival of Golden Shears at Jondaryan Woolshed, Saturday, September 3, 2016. Kevin Farmer

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