If the stone walls of the Cordillo Downs Woolshed could talk… Throughout the years the station has witnessed many significant events; Shearers chalked up an impressive 85,000 sheep shearing record, it was once regarded as the largest shearing shed in the world, was overrun with rats and in 1952, was even the location of an apparent meteor landing.

First known as ‘Cardilla’, the property is located halfway between Birdsville Queensland, and Innamincka in South Australia. A settler, John Frazer, ran the 7,800-hectare station in 1875, and 8 years later the property was acquired by the Beltana Pastoral Company, who ran 10,000 sheep, close to 600 cattle and nearly 30 horses.

Carrying hauls of stores and wool, Afghans with camel teams traveled to and from Cordillo Downs up the famous Strzelecki Track, in a round trip that could take up to two months. Surrounded by the bare, grass covered tablelands of SA, it’s easy to imagine the camel trains passing through the flats in the dry heat, taking the 1200 km journey to and from the station.

Using camels to transport the materials, the Beltana Pastoral Company built fences, stockyards and the station buildings, which included the large woolshed, with stands for 120 shearers. Unlike other woolsheds of the time, the structure was built from stone, instead of timber, due to the lack of material from the bare, treeless surrounds.

Local Indigenous men and women were employed to assist around the station, and to carry mail from property to property. Eventually, as the employees grew, the station employed a teacher, blacksmith and a saddler, and built a meat house, police station and the property even had its own post office and postcode!

In 1903 the property amalgamated with Cadelga and Haddon Downs, and after years of battling ravaging dingoes inside its boundaries, killing and injuring countless sheep, the owners eventually switched to a safer option, deciding to run cattle in 1942.

The Beltana Pastoral Company owned the station until 1981, when it was sold to 81 year old Bill Brook, from Brookman Holdings Pty Ltd, who was a worker on the station back in 1918, when he toiled as a ringer for 30 shillings a week.

Still owned by the Brook family, the property remains a cattle station and hosts about 40,000 Hereford cattle and produces certified organic beef. The Cordillo Downs Woolshed itself is now listed on the South Australian Heritage Register. You can read more about the history here.