In January 1838, Joseph Hawdon overlanded from the River Hume 335 head of cattle, arriving completely unexpected in Adelaide on April 3 1838 and subsequently selling the stock at a handsome profit.(Maurovic Richard, The Meat Game, P2, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, SA (2007)) This was followed by a number of “overlands” of sheep and cattle, providing food for the colony and the breeding basis for the State’s flocks and herds.
Photo No.: 103765 Title: Droving Northern store cattle to trucking yard for road transport. Date: May 1959
As mentioned above the first transport role of cattle involved their use as draught animals. The overlanding of cattle from NSW was the way cattle numbers gained a foothold in SA, and droving remained the only way to move cattle until the railways were constructed. In “Pastoral Pioneers” it is noted that Dutton also overlanded in late1838, with Lieutenant WG Field and A Baker overlanding 600 to 700 arriving June 1839.(Various Government Statistical Registrars and Livestock Statistical publications) By 1844 they were grazing 1000 head at Yankalilla. Eyre and others brought cattle across but those that arrived in best condition were the first herd by Hawdon. John Bull was an early stock agent on East Terrace and later grazier in the Adelaide Hills, where he bought overlanded cattle for £13 10/- but sold them after fattening for £4 when the market collapsed demonstrating he fickleness of the market.!
George Hamilton followed others in 1839 with 800-900 from Port Phillip to Adelaide. “Mr Hamilton immediately set about disposing of his cattle, which had increased largely by purchases on the journey and by the progeny of the cows. We find the following advertisement in the Adelaide press of October 1839:- ‘The undersigned has for sale a superior herd of cattle, consisting of aged bullocks and dairy cows, selected expressly for the Adelaide market from two of the best herds in New South Wales. They are in good condition and can be seen at Mr. Mundy’s station near Mt Barker. A great number of cows have calves by their sides, and would suit any persons desirous of establishing a dairy. The bullocks are the finest that have yet been brought from Sydney’. George Hamilton, 17 October, 1839.”(Pastoral Pioneers of South Australia Vol 2, Publishers Limited, P45, (1925))
Similarly Captain John Finnis overlanded “no less than 800 head” in 1840 but the market had been filled and he “found considerable difficulty in disposing of the original herd of cattle brought overland. They arrived in store condition but Eyre’s consignment was sold at £9 a head and Finniss’s cattle had to be fattened over summer. While he thought of starting a butcher shop, a heat wave with temperatures up to 119ºF dissuaded him. “No one got rich out of the speculation, although the party had risked their lives with the natives on the banks of the Murray.”(Pastoral Pioneers of South Australia Vol 2, Publishers Limited, P47, (1925))