About Australian Cashmere Goats
Long before the British settled
Australia goats were released on the islands off the coast of Australia by
Dutch and Portuguese navigators. These goats come from a great variety of
backgrounds and they acclimatized readily to the Australian environment.
In 1832 William Riley, imported
goats animals to his property at Raby, New South Wales. Also he delivered a
paper to the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of New South Wales in an
effort to encourage the development of a cashmere/angora fleece industry in
Australia. In addition more goat where imported from India.
Unfortunately a gold rush brought the demise of the infant
goat industry. Prior to the gold rush, flocks of grazing animals, goats, and
sheep were controlled by shepherds. Most abandoned their animals and went to make
their fortune on the gold fields. The landowners then had to make some attempt
at fencing their runs. Rudimentary fences were erected to control sheep, which
on large runs without fences would keep to the open plains. The goats were not
controlled by fences and actively sought the rougher country for grazing, thus
forming the large herds of wild (or bush) goats that became well established in
much of inland Australia.
Over time this genetically-diverse
group of goats roamed free in increasingly large numbers. In 1879 herds of
goats roaming the streets of Sydney created such a nuisance that the police had
to become involved to get rid of them. Also goat racing became very popular at
the end of the century, particularly in Queensland.
However, today that Australian
cashmere goat industry succeeds, with a breed of goats that are hardy and unique
like their owners.
Australian Cashmere goats today retain the fertility and hardiness of
their bush goat ancestors that once roamed free but they are quite different in
appearance and temperament. In mid-winter they have an excellent overall
coverage of long, dense, and very soft cashmere.