Toomelah is an Aboriginal Community in the far north of inland New South Wales within the Boggabilla locality in Moree Plains Shire on the New South Wales-Queensland border. Toomelah is 14 kilometres from Boggabilla in New South Wales, and 27 kilometres from Goondiwindi in Queensland.
The Toomelah Aboriginal community is part of Goomeroi nation originally drawn from communities including Moree, Boggabilla/Toomelah, and Goondiwindi. Goomeroi country extends from the Upper Hunter Valley through to the Warrumbungle Mountains in the West and up through the present-day centres of Coonabarabran, Quirindi, Tamworth, Narrabri, Walgett, Moree and Mungindi in New South Wales, and to Nindigully in South-west Queensland.
What is now the Aboriginal community of Toomelah, began as a ‘reserve’ and then later became a ‘mission.’ Today, the people of the Toomelah Aboriginal community live at the old Mission site on the banks of the Macintyre River. The old Mission is only a few hundred acres in size, but is surrounded by thousands of acres of cotton farming and grazing.
Over the past few decades, the small community of Toomelah has been plagued by racism, poverty, appalling living conditions and community dysfunction. Since the 1980s Toomelah has gained national publicity for some of the worst living conditions in Australia.
KEY FACTS ABOUT TOOMELAH
Local Language Group: Gamilaray
Population: According to Government of New South Wales documents at the time of the 2011 Census, there were 233 people in Toomelah who identified as Indigenous, representing 72% of the total population of 323 persons.