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Govett, John (1832–1920)

Mr. John Govett, who died on December 7th, 1920, aged 88, was the second son of Mr. George Govett, originally from Somersetshire, England, and afterwards of Pastoria, Kyneton. John Govett was his father's right hand man at an early age in pastoral pursuits in Victoria–at Springfield, Pastoria, and Tandara, on the Terrick Plain, near Bendigo. When Bourke and Wills, the explorers, were passing through Tandara, John Govett and his brothers rode part of the way with them on their memorable journey. John Govett went to Western Australia after the sale of Tandara to Ra'eigh Bros, with the view of taking up country, but not being pleased with the outlook there returned to Victoria. In 1863 he came to Queensland, and took up Terrick Downs, purchasing sufficient cattle to stock a large tract of magnificent country. These cattle he obtained from Northampton Downs, then owned by Henry Harden. In 1864 his brothers, Robert and Edmund, joined him at Terrick, and afterwards Govett Bros., with W. H. Greene and others, acquired great pastoral properties on the Barcoo. Ellis Bros, (nephews of the Duke of Portland) took up Portland Downs, but after a few years of extravagant management the bank took it over and sold it by auction in Sydney to Govett Bros, and Company. Later on Lumley Hill and partners sold Isis Downs and Tullundilla (afterwards called Albilbah) to Govett Bros, and Company. Previous to this John Govett and Burnley Hill had taken up Westland near Longreach (which did not exist in those days), and when the rush for that country came along sold out. Having too much country on hand, John Govett sold Terrick, and then went to England. A little later Govett Bros, and Company sold Tallundilla, with cattle, to Captain Smith and Macansh (who changed the name to Albilbah), called after a large waterhole on the Barcoo. Previous to this Govett Bros. and Company had sold Portland to W. D. Clarke, of Melbourne, and began to fence Isis Downs, which was a very costly matter in those days, as their wire was imported from England. Later on John Govett took a second trip to England, and on his return Avington was purchased from Lumley Hill, with a good herd of cattle. Shortly after this Govett Bros, and Company sold Isis and Avington to Oliver Smith and Company at a high figure, also a large tract of country on the Diamantina, called Sleighford, to Walter Douglas These sales wound up the firm, of Govett Bros, and Company, About this time John Govett plunged into Portland Downs on his own account at a very big price, after selling Culloden cattle property on the Landsborough to his brothers. For the next few years disastrous seasons followed, and in one year over 180,000 sheep perished, bringing about the ruin of one of the most enterprising, and one of the earliest Queensland pioneers.

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Citation details

'Govett, John (1832–1920)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 October 2020.

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