Robert Christison (pastoralist)

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Robert Christison (8 January 1837 – 25 October 1915) was a pastoralist in Australia.

Christison was born in Foulden, Berwickshire, Scotland, sixth son of Alexander Christison, Church of Scotland minister, and his first wife Helen, née Cameron. His uncle was Sir Robert Christison.

Christison was educated at the local school and then migrated to Victoria in 1852 along with his brother, Tom. Initially Christison worked in Werribee, Victoria for the Chirnside brothers. He was a fine horseman and an amateur jockey. Christison thought of joining the Burke and Wills expedition but instead explored the interior with an Aboriginal boy as far as southern Queensland. He shipped horses and himself to Bowen in northern Queensland. From there he travelled inland for an area discovered by William Landsborough which was regarded as good sheep country. Christison grazed sheep there and, later, cattle. In 1870 he drove 7000 sheep over 1,500 miles (2,400 km) to Victoria.

In 1881, Christison became interested in the frozen meat trade. He went to London and formed the Australian Company Limited, which was granted a lease at Poole Island near Bowen in northern Queensland. This was the first export frozen meatworks in Queensland. However a cyclone devastated the area on 30 January 1884 and the company did not recover.

Christison sank dams on his properties and by 1900 had 40,000 cattle and 500 thoroughbred horses.

Christison published two pamphlets: United Australia and Imperial Federation (London, 1888) and The Flocks & Herds of Queensland (Brisbane, 1896).

In 1910, Christison rejoined his family in Scotland after selling his interests. He died in Foulden in 1915.


  • Serle, Percival (1949). "Christison, Robert". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  • E. M. Allingham, 'Christison, Robert (1837 - 1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, MUP, 1969, pp 394–395.