Author(s): Nicola Crichton-Brown
A history of Cavan Station and the Riley legacy
Cavan Station near Yass, now owned by Rupert Murdoch, is one of the most important grazing properties in the history of the Australian wool industry. The cradle of early innovation in the growing of fine wool, it is the place where, alongside their operations at Raby, the famous pastoralists Alexander and William Riley, together with William Dutton, the first qualified vet in Australia, developed the Saxon merino sheep. One of only four strains that make up the modern Australian merino, the Saxon sheep is widely recognised as producing wool without peer - one that is extremely white and bright in colour, soft to handle and fine in diameter.
This book describes the extraordinary legacy that the Rileys left at Cavan, their influence well beyond its boundaries and the highly scientific approach they adopted to growing fine wool. This latter strategy, combined with sustainability, have become the hallmarks of the Murdoch family operation at Cavan today, which is setting new standards of production in the wool industry. With its location on the Murrumbidgee, just beyond the limits of occupation that prevailed in the 1820s, Cavan entered Australian history even before the Rileys came, lying as it did in the path of Hume and Hovell's momentous 1824 expedition from Appin to Port Phillip.
In a narrative that encompasses not only the Rileys at Cavan, but also the rich variety of its other significant occupants and neighbours in the district - including James Calvert, Louisa Atkinson, Samuel Terry and Hamilton Hume - the author takes us on a journey that brings to life the astonishing rise of the Australian wool industry and the contribution it owes to some remarkable individuals.