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Sheep droving in Kings Canyon, Utah

Droving is the practice of moving livestock over large distances by walking them "on the hoof".

Droving stock to market, usually on foot and often with the aid of dogs, has a very long history in the Old World. The settlement of new land in Australia and North America led to drives of sheep and cattle over great distances by men on horseback, supported by wagons or packhorses.

Droving feats[edit]

In the 18th century English graziers of Craven Highlands, West Riding of Yorkshire, went as far as Scotland to purchase cattle stock, thence to be brought down the drove roads to their cattle-rearing district. In the summer of 1745 the celebrated Mr Birtwhistle had 20,000 head brought "on the hoof" from the northern Scotland to Great Close near Malham,[1]:53 a distance of over 300 miles (483 km).

William James Browne owned Nilpena Station in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia in 1879. He contracted the drover Giles to take 12,000 sheep from there and overland them all the way to his new properties Newcastle Waters and Delamere Stations in the Northern Territory. Only 8,000 sheep survived the journey.[2]

The Tibbett brothers droved a flock of 30,000 ewes in the early 1890s from Wellshot Station to Roma in Queensland, Australia, a distance of over 700 kilometres (435 mi), in search of grass for the stock. The sheep were all sheared in Roma and lambing started as relieving rains came to Wellshot. The flock was brought back with an additional 3,000 lambs.[3]

In 1900 a drover named Coleman departed from Clermont with 5,000 sheep, the country was drought stricken and he had been instructed to keep the mob alive. Coleman wandered an incredible 5,000 miles (8,047 km) through south-western Queensland finding feed as they went. When he eventually returned he brought back 9,000 sheep, had sold over 5,000, and killed nearly 1,000 for "personal use".[4]

20,000 head of cattle were removed from Wave Hill Station and overlanded to Killarney Station, near Narrabri in New South Wales, in 1904. At the time it was considered a "remarkable" feat of droving and took 18 months to complete.[4]

Another famous drove is by William Philips in 1906 who overlanded 1,260 bullocks from Wave Hill Station some 3,400 kilometres (2,100 mi) to Burrendilla, near Charleville in just 32 weeks.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hartley, Marie; Ingilby, Joan (1968). Life and Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. ISBN 0-498-07668-7. 
  2. ^ Michael Pearson; Jane Lennon. Pastoral Australia: Fortunes, Failures and Hard Yakka : a Historical Overview 1788-1967. CSIRO publishing. p. 104. ISBN 9780643096998. 
  3. ^ "Epic droving trips". The Charleville Times (Brisbane, Queensland: National Library of Australia). 8 February 1951. p. 10. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Remarkable droving feat". The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (New South Wales: National Library of Australia). 11 July 1922. p. 4. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "A record droving trip". The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 29 November 1906. p. 5. Retrieved 14 January 2013.