Yanga Portrait of a National Secret
During the golden century the wool industry enjoyed in Australia, great swathes of land across the Outback were enclosed in what became colloquially known as ‘sheep stations’. There were varying degrees of success. Some squatting ventures failed miserably in the first generation whilst there are more than a few sheep stations still in the family five and six generations after they were formed and continuing to be relevant in the twenty first century. It was sometimes a matter of luck; of being in the right place when seasonal and commercial conditions were favourable to producing numbers of surplus stock for sale or having many bales of Merino fleeces grown for export to the woollen mills in Yorkshire. Drought, floods, wild fluctuations in sheep and wool prices all contrived to bring pastoralists undone if not for their management skill and sheep breeding expertise. There have been inevitable changes to those stations as they were developed from the natural state. Fences, yards, woolsheds and homesteads were erected, each proclaiming individual ownership. The original mix of fauna and flora has also inevitably changed, but the fact that sheep stations exist continue to remind us of their place in the history of this country. They were essential in determining our commercial, political and cultural independence. One such sheep station was Yanga.
About the Author
Graduating from the C.B. Alexander Agricultural College, Tocal, Paterson in 1971, Alistair Cox began his pastoral career as a jackaroo with the Naroo Pastoral Company. He served on many well-known sheep stations and Merino studs, including Mungadal, Wonga and Raby in a long association with the pastoral industry.
That interest in the Merino industry led to two publications about the Merino sheep in Australia – Once, a splendid coin and Tom Culley, a reflection.
Stephen lives in the Riverina where he writes for the rural newspaper, The Land.