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On the station

Spirited: Australia's Horse Story

On the station

Watercolour image showing a man on horseback chasing cattle through a small creek.
'Stockman', The Australian Sketchbook, by ST Gill, 1865. National Museum of Australia.

From the late 18th century, European settlers, together with their sheep, cattle and horses, spread inland across the Australian continent, occupying tracts of grazing land.

On pastoral stations, horses became indispensable for moving flocks and herds across open country, mustering animals for shearing or slaughter, patrolling property boundaries and recovering lost or stolen livestock.

By the late 19th century, the hard-riding, whip-cracking stockman – and his tough bush horse – had become a symbol of national identity.

Explore some of the stories and objects

Homemade packsaddle from the 1930s
Homemade packsaddle

Used by brumby runner Charles Carter in the Snowy Mountains from the 1930s.
Constance Faithfull’s side-saddle
Miss Faithfull's side-saddle

Used by Constance Faithfull on the prosperous Springfield sheep station in the 1890s.
Wooden rocking horse
Wooden rocking horse

Andrew Gibson's first steed, from the 1920s.