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 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 agold 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.
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.