57 – Macarthur & Wool

John Macarthur was a divisive character in the first decades of the New South Wales penal colony and he was instrumental in the overthrow of Governor Bligh (see the Bligh series Eps 52-55), along with the discomfort and early recall of a number of other Governors.

But he and his family did manage to build a farming dynasty in NSW and he was often later promoted as the ‘founder’ of the Australian Wool industry.  This episode takes a look at the Macarthur family, the development of his sheep flocks and the early development of wool production in the new colony, and consider the impact of the Macarthurs in that important industry.

(64 mins)

 Enjoying the podcast? 

Help support the show with a one-off donation

John Macarthur (GutenbergOnline)
Elizabeth Macarthur (SLNSW)
Elizabeth Farm (Sydney Living Museums)
Elizabeth Farm -1825 (Camden History Notes)
Camden Park House
Camden Merinos (Belgenny Farm)
Samual Marsden (Female Factory Online)
Simeon Lord (NZ Encyclopedia)
Elizabeth Macarthur $5 memorial coin
Merino Shilling 1946
Macarthur Merino Stamps
Elizabeth Macarthur 1845 (SMO)

Podcast recommendation:   Destination History

Chantelle traverses the historical landscape, discovering the stories behind local & international destinations we know. Each place has their own narrative to tell, and Destination: History highlights these interesting places and associated characters.   destinationhistorypod.com


SCOTT TUCKER, MICHELLE, 2018. Elizabeth Macarthur: a life at the edge of the world. Melbourne, Victoria: Text Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-925603-42-2.

GARRON, J.C. and WHITE, L., 1985. Merinos, myths and Macarthurs: Australian graziers and their sheep, 1788-1900. . Rushcutters Bay, N.S.W: Australian National University Press. ISBN 0-08-032972-1.

STEVEN, M., 1967. Macarthur, John (1767–1834). In: Australian Dictionary of Biography. Online. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. [Accessed July 2021]. Available from: https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/macarthur-john-2390

MASSEY, CHARLES, 2011. Breaking the sheeps back: the shocking true story of the decline and fall of the Australian wool industry. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press. ISBN 978-0-7022-3885-7.

HUNT, DAVID, 2013. Girt: the unauthorised history of Australia. Carlton, Victoria: Black Inc. ISBN 978-1-86395-611-6.

AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS (ABS), 2003. The wool industry – looking back and forward (Feature Article). Online. 24 January 2003. [Accessed February 2022]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/1301.0Feature%20Article172003?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=1301.0&issue=2003&num=&view

SCREEN AUSTRALIA DIGITAL LEARNING. Riding on the Sheep’s Back (1994). Online. [Accessed December 2021]. Available from: https://dl.nfsa.gov.au/module/1592/

AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS (ABS), 2013. Wool. Online. 6 March 2013. [Accessed February 2022]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/7124.0Chapter132010-11

AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS (ABS), 2021. Livestock Products, Australia, September 2021 | Australian Bureau of Statistics. Online. 17 November 2021. [Accessed February 2022]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/industry/agriculture/livestock-products-australia/latest-release

BELGENNY FARM. Macarthur Merinos. Online. [Accessed February 2022]. Available from: https://www.belgennyfarm.com.au/history/agriculture-at-camden-estate/macarthur-merinos

CAMDEN PARK HOUSE. Camden Park | Australia. camdenparkhouse. Online. [Accessed February 2022 a]. Available from: https://www.camdenparkhouse.com.au

CAMDEN PARK HOUSE. Camden Park: History. camdenparkhouse. Online. [Accessed July 2021 b]. Available from: https://www.camdenparkhouse.com.au/overview

Colonial Secretary’s Papers: 14 Sep 1801 – John Macarthur arrested after a duel, 2021. Online. [Accessed February 2022]. Available from: https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/archives/magazine/onthisday/14-september-1801#OnThisDay

DAWE. Wool. Online. [Accessed December 2021]. Available from: https://www.awe.gov.au/agriculture-land/farm-food-drought/meat-wool-dairy/wool

DFAT. Trade Through Time. Online. [Accessed December 2021]. Available from: https://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/minisite/tradethroughtimegovau/site/index.html

DOWLER, KATE, 2015. A man of the land and the people. Weekly Times. Online. 24 March 2015. [Accessed February 2022]. Available from: https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/malcolm-fraser-a-man-of-the-land-and-the-people/news-story/31989866808d60ab123bc5e15504d7be

AUSTRALIAN ROYALTY. Edward Macarthur 1789–1872. Online. [Accessed February 2022]. Available from: https://australianroyalty.net.au/tree/purnellmccord.ged/individual/I83727/Edward-Macarthur

AUSTRALIAN WOOL INNOVATION LTD. Sheep Numbers By State | Australian Wool Innovation. Online. [Accessed 10 February 2022]. Available from: https://www.wool.com/market-intelligence/sheep-numbers-by-state/

MCCANN, Nicole, 2016. AACo – Perfecting the Art of Australian Beef. Online. 28 June 2016. [Accessed March 2022]. Available from: https://aaco.com.au/

Sir William Macarthur letters and miscellaneous papers, 1824-1882. Online. [Accessed October 2021]. Available from: https://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110373430

SYDNEY LIVING MUSEUMS. Elizabeth Farm. Online. 1 November 2013. [Accessed March 2022]. Available from: https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/elizabeth-farm

SYDNEY LIVING MUSEUMS. A turbulent past. Sydney Living Museums. Online. 4 December 2013. [Accessed July 2021]. Available from: https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/stories/turbulent-past

SYDNEY LIVING MUSEUMS, 2017. Remembering John Macarthur. Sydney Living Museums. Online. 25 August 2017. [Accessed December 2021]. Available from: https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/stories/remembering-john-macarthur

TENCH, WATKIN. The Settlement at Port Jackson. In: Chapter XII: Transactions of the Colony in Part of December, 1790. Online. Available from: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/tench/watkin/settlement/chapter12.html

THE BIG MERINO. History of Wool – The Big Merino. Online. [Accessed December 2021]. Available from: https://www.bigmerino.com.au/history-of-wool/

WIKIPEDIA: BANK OF AUSTRALIA. Online. [Accessed March 2022]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bank_of_Australia&oldid=1020172879

WIKIPEDIA: ELIZABETH MACARTHUR. Online. [Accessed March 2022]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Elizabeth_Macarthur&oldid=1075194245

WIKIPEDIA: John Macarthur (wool pioneer). Online. [Accessed July 2021]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Macarthur_(wool_pioneer)&oldid=1034747679

WIKIPEDIA: PARRAMATTA. Online. [Accessed March 2022]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Parramatta&oldid=1076223573

ABC NEWS, 2020. National sheep flock headed for lowest point since 1904, but hope springs from rain. ABC News. Online. [Accessed February 2022]. Available from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-17/confidence-remains-high-despite-sheep-numbers-plummeting/11971426

Music & other links:

  • Intro/Exit music modified from: ‘Grand Canyon’ by LÃHSTANA DAVID [CCFM Music]

ABC RADIO NATIONAL, 2018. Elizabeth Macarthur, colonial farmer and wool pioneer: Michelle Scott Tucker. Radio National: Saturday Extra. Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 18 May 2018. [Accessed March 2022]. Available from: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/elizabeth-macarthur-life/9666242