Deposit 131 - Australian Agricultural Company (Australian Office) deposit 4

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Reference code



Australian Agricultural Company (Australian Office) deposit 4


  • 1824 - 1952 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

18 m

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Name of creator

(1824 -)

Administrative history

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.

Name of creator

(1916 -)

Administrative history

The company was registered in New South Wales on 6 July 1916 as James McLeish Estates Limited until 18 May 1937 when it became a proprietary company. It was acquired in July 1946 as a subsidiary of AA&P Joint Holdings Ltd, a company jointly formed by the Australian Agricultural Company and the Peel River Land & Mineral Co Ltd.

Name of creator

(1897 – 1950)

Administrative history

The firm was incorporated in Australia as Connor, Doherty and Durack Limited on 14 May 1897. The company was closely associated with Ivanhoe Grazing Co Pty Ltd and owned cattle properties at Auvergne and Newry (Northern Territory) and Argyle Downs (Western Australia). It was acquired by Union Pastoral Investments Limited in March 1950, a company formed by the Australian Agricultural Company and the Peel River Land & Mineral Company Ltd.

Name of creator

(1920 - 1950)

Administrative history

The company was incorporated on 10 January 1920 and owned Ivanhoe Station (Western Australia). It was closely associated with Connor, Doherty & Durack Ltd. In March 1950 the company was acquired as a subsidiary of AA&P Joint Holdings Pty Ltd.

Name of creator

(1912 - 2010)

Administrative history

The refrigeration machinery and storage company was originally founded in 1912 by Newcastle merchant Samuel Dark. Dark’s Ice Works & Cold Storage Ltd was located on Australian Agricultural Company land at Wharf Road, Honeysuckle Point. The company was registered in New South Wales on 25 June 1920.

Name of creator

(1914 – 1949)

Administrative history

Hebburn Limited was formed in 1914 to take over the Australian Agricultural Company’s (AACo) interests in the Hebburn Colliery and the Aberdare-Cessnock Railway. The Australian Agricultural Company became a shareholder in Hebburn Limited. The whole of the AACo shareholdings in this company was sold as of 31 December 1948.

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Scope and content

All types of company and station records including annual reports, financial records, parliamentary papers, deeds and related papers, legal records, industrial arbitration and court papers, General Superintendent's correspondence, ledgers, journals, cash books, wages records; wool, livestock and land returns for Bladensburg, Corona, Warrah, Sandycamp, Brewon, Caldervale and Headingly stations; land, leasing and valuation records for Newcastle Estate, Hamilton, Platt's Estate, Port Stephens Estate, Warrah Estate and Queensland pastoral leaseholds; miscellaneous printed material, photographs and plans. The deposit includes papers and transcript of proceedings of the Northern Collieries' Conciliation Board and Chairman's decision during the Hebburn Colliery dispute in 1909. Also in this deposit are directors' reports, minutes, financial records and correspondence, memorandum and articles of association, shareholder records, correspondence, lease agreements, mortgages, shares and wages records, station stock and staff returns for the following companies: Hebburn Limited, James McLeish Estates Ltd, Connor Doherty & Durack Ltd, Ivanhoe Grazing Company Ltd, Dark's Ice & Cold Storage Ltd and other associations involved with the Australian Agricultural Company.


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Researchers must sign an access agreement

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Related units of description

NBAC 118-8 indexes the correspondence files NBAC 131-15-1 to 131-15-502 for the period 1936 - 1939.

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Notes area


The records of the Australian Agricultural Company are inscribed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Entered from deposit descripton on 26 March 2012




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