Australian Agricultural Company

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Australian Agricultural Company

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • The Company
  • Australian Agricultural Company Limited

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1824 -


The Australian Agricultural Company (AACo or The Company) was formed in London in April 1824. Its purpose was to raise fine woolled sheep and sell wool on the London market. The formation of the Company was supported by an Act of Parliament and a Royal Charter. Its directors and major shareholders included directors of the Bank of England, the East India Company and Members of Parliament; with assigned convicts given the roles of shepherding and general labour. The Company’s initial land grant was one million acres in New South Wales plus two thousand acres in Newcastle. After some uncertainty the land, in the colony, was in three blocks: 464,640 acres between Port Stephens and the Manning River (Port Stephens Estate), 249,600 acres on the Liverpool Plains west of Willow Tree (Warrah) and 313,298 acres at the Peel River south of Tamworth (Goonoo Goonoo). The AACo operated in four major NSW locations during the nineteenth century – Port Stephens, Tamworth, Quirindi, and Newcastle – and from the last quarter of the century also in Queensland and eventually in Northern Australia. Its interests expanded to include wool, wheat, cattle, coal and land sales.

Within a year of its formation the AACo also became involved in coal mining at Newcastle, taking over the government’s operations there. After protracted negotiations the Company’s first pit was opened in 1831.The discovery of gold in New South Wales on the Company’s Peel Estate led to the formation of the Peel River Land and Mineral Company in 1854. Between 1825 and 1862 the AACo, with the Peel River Land and Mineral Company, brought from Europe to New South Wales over 700 men to work either at the colliery in Newcastle or on the extensive pastoral estates at Port Stephens, Tamworth and the Liverpool Plains. The new arrivals were managers, skilled mechanics, shepherds, miners and labourers. The first group of employees was managed by the Company’s first Agent, Robert Dawson (Agent, 1824-1828). Dawson’s successors included Sir Edward Parry (Commissioner, 1830-1834); Henry Dumaresq (Commissioner, 1834-1838); Phillip Parker King (Commissioner, 1839-1849); followed by several General Superintendents with Jesse Gregson, the Company’s longest serving General Superintendent from 1875-1905.

In 1864 the AACo began the development of the Warrah Estate for sheep breeding, investing extensively in wells, bores and fencing. The AACo purchased Corona (near Longreach) in 1912; Bladensburg (near Winton) and Highfields (between Corona and Bladensburg) in 1915; Headingly (Urandangie) in 1916; before moving into the Northern Territory with the purchased of Avon Downs (Barkly Tablelands) in 1921. From the 1930s gradually phasing out sheep the AACo became increasingly involved in beef cattle, developing the Santa Gertrudis stud at Goonoo Goonoo and purchasing Rockhampton Downs (Barkley Tablelands NT) in 1948, Wrotham Park (near Chillagoe, Q) in 1963, Brunette Downs (north of Tennant Creek) in 1979.

In 1975 the London-based directors resigned and the Company’s tax domicile was transferred from London to Tamworth, NSW and then to Brisbane in 1985 following the sale of Goonoo Goonoo. From 1976 the Company’s name was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange as the Australian Agricultural Company Limited. In 1995 Elders Ltd acquired the AACo and it was delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange. The Company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Futuris Corporation Limited after Futuris took over Elders in 1997. The Company was re-listed in 2001.


London; New South Wales: Newcastle, Port Stephens, Tamworth, Quirindi, Warrah, Goonoo Goonoo, Hebburn; Queensland; Northern Territory; Western Australia

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

sheep and cattle farming; stock and station agent; coal mining

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

Chief Agent: Robert Dawson 1825-1828
Chief Agent (acting): John Macarthur 1828 and James E Ebsworth 1828-1830
Commissioner: Sir W Edward Parry 1830-1834
Commissioner: Lt Col H Dumaresq 1834-1838
Commissioner (acting): James E Ebsworth 1838-1839
Commissioner: Captain Phillip Parker King 1839-1849
General Superintendent (acting): James E Ebsworth 1849-1851
General Superintendent: R Westmacott 1851
Deputy Governor: AW Blane 1851-1852
General Superintendents: MF Brownrigg 1852-1856, A Hodgson 1856-1861, EC Merewether 1861-1875, Jesse Gregson 1875-1905, FL Learmonth 1905-1913, JS Christian 1913-1920, J Henry 1920-1932, J Holloway 1933-1940, R Schmidt 1941-1962
General Superintendent/Managing Director: RT Schmidt 1962-1988
Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director: JLP Griffith 1987-1999

General context

Relationships area

Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Entered from deposit description on 5 March 2012




P A Pemberton, Pure Merinos and Others: the “shipping lists” of The Australian Agricultural Company (Canberra: Australian National University, Archives of Business and Labour, 1986)
In Good Company: 175 years of Australian Agricultural Company 1824-1999

Maintenance notes

  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC