Madura Station

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Madura Station is located in Western Australia
Madura Station
Madura Station
Location in Western Australia
The Nullarbor Plain
View of the Madura Pass towards the roadhouse, 2012
View of the Nullarbor from Madura Pass

Madura Station also known as Madura Plains is a pastoral lease and sheep station located about 700 kilometres (435 mi) east south east of Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia. It is within the locality of Madura and the Eyre Highway runs along the boundary of the station.


The station occupies an area of approximately 7,082 square kilometres (2,734 sq mi) or 1.75 million acres – making it larger than the nation of Brunei – in the remote south east of Western Australia.[1][2] It is the third largest sheep station in Australia, after Rawlinna and Commonwealth Hill Station and is currently owned by the Jumbuck Pastoral Company.[1]

In 1927, the extent of the Madura Station was reported as two million acres.[3]

The station has a carrying capacity of 50,000 sheep, which are merinos raised for their wool. The company employed eight staff in 2012 working under the supervision of the station manager, Matt Haines.[1]

The land is mostly gently undulating calcareous plains with eucalyptmelaleucamyall woodlands and chenopod shrubland interspersed with saltbush shrubland and bindii grassland.[4] Many caves can be found amongst the limestone bedrock of the Nullarbor Plain.[5]


The traditional owners of the area are the Mirning people, whose territory stretched across the Nullarbor and into South Australia.[6]

Europeans settled the area in 1876 to breed horses, which were sent to India to be used by the British Army.[7] The first recorded lease encompassing the old homestead was by G.Heinzmann for a period of one year; the lease was not renewed for 1878.

The station underwent significant improvements through 1884, including the addition of fencing and water tanks. Bores were sunk and brackish water was found and then drilled through in the hope of finding permanent freshwater.[8]

In 1888 the Madura Squatting and Investment Company was floated to raise £100,000 capital to take over the leasehold, and many surrounding blocks to have a total usable area of over 4 million acres or 6,250 square miles (16,187 km2). The property included a good homestead and a well provisioned store. The property had been recently depastured and was only carrying 800 merino ewes and a few horses.[9]

The Ponton brothers and John Sharp were the next to take up the lease in 1898, when the property was known as Clifton Downs Station.[10]

A rabbit plague swept through the area and continued westward in 1901. William Ponton reported that millions of rabbits were already between Eucla and Nullarbor.[11]

Shortly afterward Mr A. J. Talbot took over the property, along with Mundrabilla Station. Talbot was also raising mostly cattle along with horses as well as a small herd of camels at Madura. The artesian bores were pumping 37,000 imperial gallons (170,000 l) per day from a depth of 2,200 feet (671 m) to water stock.[12] Cattle from Madura were routinely being overlanded to the Kalgoorlie saleyards.[13]

In 1927 the Madura Pastoral and Settlement Company successfully acquired 5 million acres 7,812 square miles (20,233 km2) around Madura Station with the intention of developing it for settlement. The company wanted the federal government to spend £100,000 on dog-proof fencing and water boring to make over 15 million acres of land able to carry an additional one million sheep that would be able to produce an additional 30,000 bales of wool.[14] The station changed hands at some point around the same time and was owned by Mr Charles Bowen from 1927[15] to 1932 when he became ill and was no longer able to operate the rationing depot for the department of Aboriginal Protection.[16]

Several hundred brumbies were roaming Madura station in 1933 along with a substantial herd of wild cattle. The station owners erected trap and stockyards at an artesian bore that had been flowing continuously for 28 years. Other men from the district had come and had caught over 300 of the horses which were taken and sold. The bore was also a stopping place for overlanders with the warm water making it a popular bathing place.[17]

The area experienced heavy rains in 1934 resulting in boggy roads under 2 feet (0.6 m) of water.[18]

The station manager, Mr W O'Donovan had to be evacuated by an emergency flight by Goldfields Airways using a new Fox Moth airplane when he was dangerously ill in 1935. A doctor was on board and O'Donovan was flown to Kalgoorlie for treatment.[19] O'Donovan died the following day as a result of an internal haemorrhage.[20]

The acting manager and former stockman, Michael O'Brien, was charged with cattle stealing in 1937. O'Brien had taken 102 cattle to Loongana and put another brand on them before selling them, he defended himself saying that the Melbourne based company had not paid him any wages since the death of O'Donovan.[21]

In 1939 flooding occurred in areas around the station and Madura recorded 1 inch (25 mm) of rain filling dams and weirs. Strong winds blew down many trees causing problems on roads in the area.[22]

The station had been the target of thieves and vandals in 1940 prompting the station owners wife to carry a revolver whenever her husband was away. Sign-posts and water tanks had been damaged, articles had been stolen and even the homestead had been burnt down by a party of overlanders.[23] The manager at the time, Robert Mackie, was often away overlanding himself and often reported on the road conditions in the area, particularly the Madura Pass.

1941 saw heavy rains in the area with 3 inches (76 mm) of rain being recorded at the homestead. Mackie reported that 300 yards (274 m) of the pass being washed away making it impossible for even camels to traverse.[24]

Four young men were arrested at Madura in 1947 after they stole a car in Norseman, some 350 miles (563 km) to the west of Madura, and made for the South Australian border before their car broke down near the homestead. They fled into the bush but were found by Aboriginal trackers and apprehended by police.[25]

The station was gripped by drought in 1948 with 400 cattle dying as a result of lack of feed. The remaining herd of about 500 was to be driven to Loongana to look for feed and water.[26]

Rumours were rife in the press that the station had been abandoned in 1949, after several travellers found dead crows and rabbits around the homestead.[27] Mackie denied the claims saying he was in Kalgoorlie for an extended business trip.[28] Later the same year the Reverend Sopher, his wife and five children arrived at Madura to set up a home and school for Aboriginal children under the auspices of the Australian Aborigines Evangelistal Mission.[29] A few months later Mrs Sopher was badly burnt when a spark from the oven set her dress alight, she then had to endure the long trip to Norseman hospital for treatment.[30] In 1950 the mission was issued a writ claiming damages for breach of contract on behalf of Madura Ltd. concerning the sale of the station to the mission.[31] Later the same year Mackie began to convert the homestead into a stopping place following six years of drought. Although some heavy rains had fallen they were too far apart to be of any use and the station had virtually no stock left on it.[32] Petrol pumps were installed and the homestead was converted to a motel-hotel,[33] with a liquor licence granted later the same year.[34]

Mackie was taken to hospital in 1951 with heart troubles[35] and the station was sold later the same year to a group of developers who were to turn the area into a tourist resort.[36]

In 1960's the Birmingham family (Charlie Carter's grocery chain) held the lease, and the station manager was Brian O'Connor - brother of the politician Ray O'Connor.

The Jumbuck Pastoral Company acquired Madura in 1987,[1] adding it to the neighbouring Moonera and began sub-dividing large paddocks and installing extra windmills and water points. Matt Haines was appointed manager in 2011; in the same year 30,000 sheep were shorn producing 850 bales of wool. This followed a good season where the property received 17 inches (432 mm) of rain, nearly double the annual average.[37]

In 2012 a fire burned for three days near Madura covering the Eyre Highway in smoke. Over 300 hectares (741 acres) of bushland was consumed by the blaze.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Madura". Jumbuck Pastoral. 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Countries of the World (by largest land area, including indigenous water)". World Atlas. 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Madura Station—2,000,000 Acres". The Sydney Mail. 20 July 1927. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Appendices Station Summaries" (PDF). Government of Western Australia. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Underground Caves". The Cairns Post (Queensland: National Library of Australia). 3 February 1938. p. 11. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "Aboriginal People in Western Australia" (PDF). 6 August 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Madura". Explore Australia. 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Eucla Country". The Inquirer & Commercial News (Perth: National Library of Australia). 23 July 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Advertising.". The Argus (Melbourne: National Library of Australia). 12 March 1888. p. 9. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Technical Bulletin No.97: An inventory and condition survey of the Western Australian part of the Nullarbor region" (PDF). Government of Western Australia. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Western Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald (New South Wales: National Library of Australia). 5 January 1901. p. 9. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Bight Country". Kalgoorlie Miner (Western Australia: National Library of Australia). 27 July 1912. p. 2. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Advertising". Kalgoorlie Miner (Western Australia: National Library of Australia). 3 October 1925. p. 7. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Our open spaces". The Daily News (Perth: National Library of Australia). 13 July 1927. p. 5. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "General Notes". The Advertiser (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 9 July 1927. p. 11. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "South coast natives". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 2 March 1932. p. 10. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "Ceduna men trap brumbies". The Advertiser (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 12 July 1933. p. 8. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "Overland to Adelaide". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 3 July 1934. p. 17. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "Doctor's emergency flight". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 11 July 1935. p. 18. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  20. ^ "Pastoralist's death". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 24 July 1935. p. 19. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "Station manager charged". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 24 December 1937. p. 17. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  22. ^ "Kalgoorlie Mines Reopen Monday.". The Mirror (Perth: National Library of Australia). 21 January 1939. p. 1. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "Truth about the Track.". Sunday Times (Perth: National Library of Australia). 18 February 1940. p. 24. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "Trans Tack Now Unusable.". The Daily News (Perth: National Library of Australia). 1 May 1941. p. 21. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "Four arrests at Madura". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 2 May 1947. p. 15. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  26. ^ "Drought Brings Cattle Losses.". Sunday Times (Perth: National Library of Australia). 10 October 1948. p. 7. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  27. ^ "Harrowing sight for desert travellers". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 16 April 1949. p. 9. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "Eyre Highway". Kalgoorlie Miner (Western Australia: National Library of Australia). 21 April 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  29. ^ "New native mission". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 26 May 1949. p. 5. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  30. ^ "State news summary". Western Mail (Perth: National Library of Australia). 22 September 1949. p. 14. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  31. ^ "Claim for damages". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 3 April 1950. p. 2. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  32. ^ "Six years of drought". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 4 July 1950. p. 12. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  33. ^ "Modern hotel". Kalgoorlie Miner (Western Australia: National Library of Australia). 23 September 1950. p. 5. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  34. ^ "Liquor Licence granted for Madura station.". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 17 October 1950. p. 9. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  35. ^ "Goldfields Personals.". Sunday Times (Perth: National Library of Australia). 14 January 1951. p. 27. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  36. ^ "Tourist plans for Madura.". The Mail (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 24 February 1951. p. 46. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  37. ^ "Jumbuck News" (PDF) 2 (10). Jumbuck Pastoral Company. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  38. ^ "Fire rages on at Madura Station". The West Australian. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 

Coordinates: 31°53′01″S 127°01′25″E / 31.8835°S 127.0235°E / -31.8835; 127.0235