Gulf Country Horses 1887

Featured Image: Haydon Family at Normanton in 1887 with 70 horses

I thought this was a classic image of Upper Hunter bred horses reaching out as far as it took in the 19th century expansion to the far north. The men involved were similar in fortitude.

Sarah and I were exploring the Gulf Country as ‘grey nomads’ recently on our way to Darwin for a family visit. Following the ‘Gulflander’ railway from Normanton to Croydon we were intrigued to find a ‘station stop’ named Haydon. There was nothing there other than a sign depicting the location. A large Cattle Station had erected the classic ‘American’ ranch-style entrance; also called ‘Haydon’. We contacted Peter Haydon (from Blandford) immediately to discover there was a very close family connection. Peter has mounted the following intriguing history of the original pioneers on his excellent website:

Haydon Pioneering Days

Peter Haydon arrived in the colony in 1830. He established Bloomfield being one of the original landholders and pioneers in the district. He was joined by his brother Thomas in 1836 who then built the sandstone homestead and took up more country. Thomas spent most of his time in the saddle, frequently using Aboriginal guides and realized the importance of breeding good riding horses. With his prized stallion Young Dover he started breeding top quality horses and started exporting horses as Army remounts known as the renowned “Walers”.

His son’s Stuart and Bernard’s journeys took them as far as the Gulf where they established various properties including Haydon, Vena Park, Claraville, Maggieville, Wondoola, Glenore, Timora, Waverley and Lily Lake. All stock were taken with them involving long droving trips, with hundreds of horses from Bloomfield, breaking them in as they went. Read more about droving horses from the Hunter to the Gulf and Droving to the Gulf .