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Kidman, Sir Sidney (1857–1935)

from Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld)

Sir Sidney Kidman (78) one of the world's greatest pastoralists, died at his home Eringa, Millswood, today, after a brief illness. He had been known for many years as the 'Cattle King.' He had experience as a station hand, butcher, drover, stockman, bullock team owner and station proprietor, and his life was characterised by a high degree of enterprise in 68 stations, embracing 83,000 square miles of country and carrying about 176,000 cattle and 216,000 sheep. Victoria was the only mainland state in which his interests did not extend.

When 14 he set out for the back country, and, when in his 'teens, was dismissed from Mount Gipps station because he asked for a rise in pay. Before he was 21, fortune slipped through his fingers for he sold for $150, a fourteenth share in the Broken Hill Mine, which he exchanged for 10 working bullocks. It was later estimated his share was worth £1,250,000. However, he became a millionaire before the war and was knighted in 1921 in recognition of his support of war work. For many years he had been a dominating figure at the abattoirs cattle market and was easily the chief seller.

Innamincka, in the far north-east of South Australia, was the largest station owned by him, being 10,000 square miles in area. Gleylyle in Queensland has the largest carrying capacity running 20,000 cattle in normal seasons.

Sir Sidney is survived by his wife and only son, Walter, and three daughters. He commenced his career when he set out for the back country at 14, his sole asset being a horse he bought for 50/. In later years mail contracts formed a large part of his activities, and in one year he and his brother George received £20,000 in mail subsidies from the Governments of New South Wales, Queensland, West Australia and South Australia. He commenced dealing in lands in the early eighties and gradually extended his holdings. In 1908 he went to Europe with a commission from the Government to inquire into the meat trade. His contributions to war time funds included two planes, 200 horses and 100 frozen bullocks. The Inland Mission, was one of his chief interests and he was a strong supporter of the Salvation Army. Fulham Park racing stud, known throughout Australia, had been owned by Sir Sidney Kidman for many years.

The career of Sir Sidney Kidman must go down as an outstanding illustration of the opportunities a young country such as Australia offers to men of courage and enterprise, backed by the determination to succeed for Sir Sidney, who started his life work as a cowboy earning 10/a week lived to acquire the greatest extent of pastoral property possessed by any one man in the Commonwealth, and became widely known as the 'Australian Cattle King.'

Sir Sidney Kidman, who was born at Houghton, South Australia, on May 9, 1857, was tbe son of George and Elizabeth Mary Kidman (nee Nunn), immigrants from Suffolk, England. With an insufficient education secured at a private school in Houghton, he left home to seek his fortune at the age of 13, and as a cowboy on a property at Mt. Gipps, near the present mines of Broken Hill (Pty), Ltd, carted wood, and drove bullocks on the Darling. When the famous Cobar gold rush set in, he was one of the first men to arrive on the field, and with his brother George, he established an extensive business in horse and cattle dealing, which gradually extended into the greatest organisation of its kind in the Commonwealth.

At the time of his death, Sir Sidney was chairman of directors of the following companies: Yandama Pastoral Co.; Morden Proprietors, Ltd.; Weinteriga Pastoral Co. Ltd.; Lake Elder Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Yeeda Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Quinyamble Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Peake Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Naryilco Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Bootra Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Witchelina Pastoral Co., Ltd.

Sir Sidney also was a director of the following companies: Gnalta Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Corona Pastoral Co. Ltd.; John Lewis and Co., Ltd.; Olive Downs Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Lorraine and Talawatna Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Augustus Downs Pastoral Co., Ltd.; Pastoral Investments, Ltd.; and West Morelands Pastoral Co. Ltd.

In the following stations, Sir Sidney was part owner: Myrtle Springs, Copley; Mundowdna, Farina; Macumba, Oodnadatta; Eringa, Charlotte; Innamincka, Marree (all in South Australia); Iffley and Vena Park (Queensland); Rutland Plains (Queensland); and Fossil Downs (West Australia). He was a shareholder in Kidman Estates, Ltd., a director of the West Australian Insurance Co., Ltd., South Australian branch, and the Newcastle Co., Ltd., of South Australia. He was also a member of the Board of Zoological Gardens, Adelaide, life member of the Victorian Agricultural Society, and a member of the Royal Agricultural Society, South Australia. He had also membership in the following clubs: South Australian Jockey Club, Australian Racing Club, Amateur Turf, Port Adelaide Racing, Tattersall's, Onkaparinga, Licensed Victuallers', Adelaide Hunt, and C.T.A. member of the committee of the Amateur Turf Club.

Sir Sidney was created a Knight Bachelor for services rendered by him during the years of the Great War. In 1921, he and Lady Kidman presented their country house, Eringa, near Kapunda, to the South Australian Education Department, to serve as a high school.

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Citation details

'Kidman, Sir Sidney (1857–1935)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/kidman-sir-sidney-6948/text26417, accessed 22 November 2017.

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