Quilpie butcher Cameron McConnell, with wife Gina and daughter Alexis, 3, can't find local sheep for their business. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Quilpie butcher Cameron McConnell, with wife Gina and daughter Alexis, 3, can't find local sheep for their business. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Sheep disappear as Qld drought takes toll

QUILPIE in western Queensland should be the heart of sheep country, but the state's killer drought means butcher Cameron McConnell can't find any to turn into chops.

In a move akin to the old saying of taking coal to Newcastle, Cameron, the third generation of his family to be the town butcher, says he has to ship his lamb in from Brisbane.

He said he and his family - wife Gina and kids Chelsea, 8, Nate, 5, and little Alexis, 3 - are doing all right, but there are plenty hurting.

Butcher Cameron McConnell with his wife Gina and daughter Alexis, 3. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Butcher Cameron McConnell with his wife Gina and daughter Alexis, 3. Picture: Nigel Hallett

"We've been struggling to source fat sheep for slaughter now for months," Mr McConnell said.

"It always used to be sheep country," Mrs McConnell, who helps run the family butcher shop, said.

"They've been overrun with wild dogs and roos, who are obviously starving themselves and taking the feed. There's just not much left for them."

Mrs McConnell said Quilpie was getting quieter.

Mr McConnell said the killer dry was hurting the town.

"There aren't a lot of events that go on," he said.

"We haven't had a football team for the last two years."

Without rain there are no sheep. No sheep means no shearing teams and the money they would have spent in town.

"The nearest shearing team is in Thargomindah, and that's 200km away," Mrs McConnell said.

"It's all the chain reaction."

Mr McConnell said: "We are not looking for any handouts ourselves. We will keep afloat 'til we come out the other side, but it certainly might help some of those on the land."


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