More than 100 years after its founder became known as the cattle king, the properties and people under the S.Kidman & Co banner are still among the best in Australia.

Story By Mark Muller

Life-giving water lays like liquid gold in the folds and swales of the Channel Country. Flying across this beautiful and remote place, seeing it garbed in the green and fertile splendour that the good rains and floods of the past season have bequeathed upon the landscape, is to fly across some of the best cattle country in Australia.
“November last year it started raining – late November – and then good rain in January and February and that’s continued,” says Graham Morton, long-time manager of Innamincka Station in north-east South Australia. “It’s beautiful here now, it’s looking the best it has been since 1974. We’re carrying close to 11,000 head. Normally we would have 14,000 on the place and in a year like this I reckon we could carry 20,000.”
It was the knowledge of this country’s strength, albeit without an aerial perspective, that formed a linchpin in the great Sidney Kidman’s chain-of-supply theory. The theory holds that with enough land linked through good waterways, a cattleman can operate successfully in the semi-arid areas and be shielded from the droughts that are an immutable aspect of life. By breeding and moving cattle through his chain of stations – the main one running from the Gulf, through western Queensland and down through South Australia to Adelaide, with a secondary chain running from the Victoria River District, down through the Territory and into William Creek and the Flinders Ranges – Kidman was able to feed literally millions of people throughout his life and turn considerable profit. His vision, plus a belief in hiring and retaining the best possible people, played no small part in his ascension to the title “cattle king”.

This story excerpt is from Issue #74

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2011