Let’s not forget

Historical information about the Waler horse and its significant role in Australian colonial settlement and appearance on the world stage.

Think back to when horses were all we had for work and transport, in peace and in war. Your active engagement is part of the future for our now rare breed Waler horse, so please explore and learn from our information, and share with us what you know so we can continue building on this important social history resource.

Some Waler History

The name Waler is derived from New South Waler – meaning a horse bred in NSW, as the colony was first referred to – where horses were shipped from on the eastern seaboard, NSW then including Qld. It was coined as a term for horses sent overseas for remounts for the British armies in China and India, and for Indian regiments. Rajahs as well as the English in India bought Waler ponies for polo. We were sending horses away by the 1840’s – it quickly became a major trade for Australia.

Continue Reading Some Waler History

  • Yalca: the Pony that went to War

    Yalca: the Pony that went to War

    Ponies weren’t accepted by the army, this is only the third one I’ve found going to the war, however as it was privately owned and by an officer, a blind eye was turned to his height. What a champion indeed, thank you Yalca.

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  • Irvinebank, Atherton Tablelands

    Irvinebank, Atherton Tablelands

    This fabulous photo is Craig’ Marsterson’s great great grandmother, photo taken in Irvinebank, 1891.

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  • Never Forgotten

    Never Forgotten

    We have been gratefully enjoying the many personal photographs and stories sent in to our FaceBook page and love to take the opportunity to record and share them.

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  • Walers in the Philippines

    Walers in the Philippines

    Before North America took over the Philippines in 1898, we’d had a good horse trade to the Spanish there, who’d been the occupiers for 333 years.

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  • Snake Island Droving

    Snake Island Droving

    This has been a success story between Parks Victoria and local traditional use, for almost a century.

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  • Welbourn Hill Station

    Welbourn Hill Station

    In 1909 Welbourn Hill station was taken up by the father of Jack and Phil who later ran it, Mr W. Giles.

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  • Julius Gove

    Julius Gove

    Gove had his own company, Julius Gove and Co., and specialised in shipping to Bombay. He created such a sound company, it traded on long after his death in 1922.

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  • Cobb & Co

    Cobb & Co

    Cobb & Co was probably Australia’s most famous coaching line, running in Western Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

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  • Sir Sidney Kidman

    Sir Sidney Kidman

    Sir Sidney Kidman, born in 1857, is the subject of books, as he should be, having worked his way up from nothing to being the biggest landowner in the world.

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  • Ernabella Station

    Ernabella Station

    Ernabella in the Musgrave Ranges, was named by John Carruthers who did extensive surveying and exploring there in the 1880’s. He was based there for four years doing trigonometric surveys for government.

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  • James Edward (Jim) Robb

    James Edward (Jim) Robb

    The Grand Hotel in Calcutta (now the Oberoi) had a “Waler Corner” where Australian horse traders met; often after the horses were sold at the Army Remount Depot at Alipore. Some traders such as Jim Robb stayed here.

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  • Feeding Horses in WW1

    Feeding Horses in WW1

    An army marches on its stomach and horses have big tum tums! Especially Walers – a large gut area means they thrive on low quality feed. In war the feed is mostly low quality.

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  • Bago State Forest

    Bago State Forest

    Bloodlines would go back to some of the earliest horses brought to Australia, they are wise, good natured, strong, safe horses.

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  • Frank D. Brown’s Cobs

    Frank D. Brown’s Cobs

    Frank D. Brown bred superlative cobs on his property Pleasant View – 22,000 acres on the upper Monaro.

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  • Packhorse Mailman Jim MacDowall

    Packhorse Mailman Jim MacDowall

    Jim (James) MacDowall was a legendary mailman who did the Laura to Coen run north of Cooktown in Queensland – riding one horse and taking several packhorses.

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  • Lancelot Lewis

    Lancelot Lewis

    Lance, aged twelve, rode one pony and led another with his swag and supplies on the 800km ride from Burra to Warrnambool.

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  • The Nackeroos

    The Nackeroos

    2/1st North Australia Observer Unit (NAOU) set up in WW2 in Australia was based on the Boer commandos.

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  • Captain A.E. Callow

    Captain A.E. Callow

    Feature photo for this post was sent in by Neville, of his great great grandfather, Captain Andrew Edward Callow. Veterinarian.

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  • Not Forgotten

    Not Forgotten

    In recent weeks we have received an influx of precious family photographs, shared for the enjoyment of all, with whatever information is known about the photograph.

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  • Observation Balloons

    Observation Balloons

    Observation Balloons. .. slightly off topic but why not… horses in WW1 became familiar with giant observation balloons – these were captive balloons, meaning tied to a stationary object such as a waggon or truck with the winch.

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  • George Sunter, Buffalo Hunter

    George Sunter, Buffalo Hunter

    Please be aware this is an image of an Aboriginal person of the past, who has passed on, which may cause distress to some people. Frank worked for George Sunter, a buffalo hunter, for many years. In 1914 they caught a lot of brumbies Frank knew of at Black Jungle N.T.

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  • Topsy the Famous Performing Pony

    Topsy the Famous Performing Pony

    Topsy was a famous performing pony – a Timor-Shetland cross, once a very popular cross. She stood 10.3 hands high. Performing through the 1940’s and ’50’s, Topsy was bred by Tom Dennis at Huntington stud, Dunbible, on the Tweed River northern NSW.

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  • Bill the Bastard

    Bill the Bastard

    Most of us know the story of this gutsy horse, a chestnut stallion, but here’s a bit for those who don’t…

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  • Todmorden Station

    Todmorden Station

    Owned by one of the great Waler breeders, J.A. Breaden, Todmorden Station (known in earlier times as Mount Todmorden) is north-east of Oodnadatta and not far from the N.T. Border in South Australia.

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  • Watering Horses

    Watering Horses

    Watering was usually the task of engineers and transport corps. Sourcing water relied on maps, geography, season and local knowledge; often a job for officers and intelligence.

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  • Shipping Horses from the Port of Newcastle

    Shipping Horses from the Port of Newcastle

    Newcastle port was a key shipping port for horses to India, assisted by the infrastructure needed for coal, and the need for ships to take on coal for power.

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  • Charles (Hellbent) Kenyon

    Charles (Hellbent) Kenyon

    Found some more details and photos to fill out the story of the amazing Charles Kenyon, initiated by Greg Reeves sending us three tremendous family photos.

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  • St Patrick’s Day Parades

    St Patrick’s Day Parades

    Happy St Patrick’s Day! Once we held big public parades for this special day. It all started on March the 17th, 1601…

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  • May Day Parades

    May Day Parades

    May Day parades on 1st May were huge in Australia once, now known as Labour Day the event was to celebrate gaining the 8-hour day. Many decorated horse floats in the parades.

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  • School Ponies

    School Ponies

    School ponies was once a class at agricultural shows, and also a prime mode of transport to and from school.

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  • Ned Kelly’s horses

    Ned Kelly’s horses

    Ned Kelly had a grey mare named Music when he was taken in June 1880. When he was under fire at his last stand at Glenrowan, the grey mare followed him about among the trees.

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  • Mollie McWilliam

    Mollie McWilliam

    Mollie McWilliam – equestrienne and athlete extraordinaire! Her name was Alice Mary McWilliam but she was always known as Mollie. She rode from age six, and doted on horses so much her Dad, Fred McWilliam, got her a taffy pony named Dolly when she turned seven.

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  • Jules Gascard

    Jules Gascard

    “The best coach horses in the entire world” – a deserved compliment often given to the horses of Jules Gascard in W.A. Jules was based in Victoria and traded in horses all his life, including sending the first shipment of horses to India from Port Augusta. Please note there may be images of Aboriginal people…

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  • Kinnear’s and Buckjumping

    Kinnear’s and Buckjumping

    The Kinnear family started saddlery in Australia in 1852, Bill’s father George Kinnear established saddleries at Kilmore and Euroa in Victoria. Three of his sons became saddlers.

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  • Calliope Station

    Calliope Station

    Good horsemen owned Calliope. It was known as Calliope Stud Stock Station when the Thompsons had it for their cattle and horses.

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  • Wanneroo Ponies

    Wanneroo Ponies

    A Timor Pony population was established at Wanneroo from the 1830’s and continued into the 20th century. Apparently, a Wanneroo Pony was the bees-knees for Perth children once.

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  • Food for Thought

    Food for Thought

    The Waler story is fascinating, broad-ranging, inspiring, and sad, but far too little known. Fortuitously, once you start exploring, it is very difficult to stop!

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  • It’s (not) a Furphy

    It’s (not) a Furphy

    The furphy was a lovely strong water tank designed by Joseph Furphy. It could be pulled by a single horse and became very popular.

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  • The Camels Also Charged

    The Camels Also Charged

    When we remember the famous charge at the Battle of Beersheba on 31st October 1917 let’s not forget the camels, who also charged earlier in the day.

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  • Waler Poem – Rupertswood

    Waler Poem – Rupertswood

    A poem written by a student at Salesian College Rupertswood for a competition to win a place on the podium to read the poem at their 2017 ANZAC Day Service.

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  • Sir Rupert Clarke

    Sir Rupert Clarke

    Sir Rupert was as enterprising as his ancestors, the horses he shipped to Colombo and India were described as the best ever sent from Australia.

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  • Norman Richardson’s Amazing Mail Career

    Norman Richardson’s Amazing Mail Career

    Mail coach owner and driver extraordinaire – Norman Richardson held mail contracts probably the longest of anyone in Australia – over 42 years – from age 20 until age 62, said to be the biggest mail contractor in South Australia for a good while.

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  • Draught Horse Derby

    Draught Horse Derby

    Draught Horse Derby… started during WW1 – held as part of Heroes Day events, raising funds for the families of men killed in the war and the Red Cross.

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  • Glen Innes Experimental Farm

    Glen Innes Experimental Farm

    In our horse days, the government ran many excellent experimental farms. These were also training schools for those going into any of the many branches of agriculture.

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  • Trout on Horseback

    Trout on Horseback

    As well as horses being used for stock work and wild ones being mustered and droved to various sales – sold both here and overseas – horses were widely used in the Snowies to transport sightseers, skiers, scientists, trout fishermen – and trout!

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  • Wool Carting

    Wool Carting

    They said “Australia rides on the sheep’s back” but they forgot everything depended on the horse, including moving wool to sell. The horse market was giant too.

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  • Battle of Beersheba

    Battle of Beersheba

    The Charge of Beersheba is celebrated as one of the best in history. Here is the who, why, where, when and how of that day. An intrinsic part of Australian identity, a tremendous example of courage and the spirit of Australians in what seem insurmountable situations.

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  • Horse Sales in Queensland

    Horse Sales in Queensland

    For decades Toowoomba had one of the biggest horse sales in Australia. The big buyers for overseas as well as buyers for Australia attended. Draughts to ponies all sold well. Auctioneers themselves became very wealthy from the horse trade.

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  • John Hull: Gentleman and Waler Supporter

    John Hull: Gentleman and Waler Supporter

    John had a big, truly beautiful farm at Saltwater River, Tasmania; still in the family. Back in 1986 when I formed the Waler Society, John was very supportive. I hadn’t met him before but heard he had a Waler – after a phone call he kindly asked me down to his farm, Blackjack.

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  • Those Were the Days

    Those Were the Days

    Horses were essential for everyday life, serving in a multitude of roles, with no equivalent today. They had to be safe, dependable, strong, and easy to keep.

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  • Shipping Horses to War

    Shipping Horses to War

    Ships were requisitioned by the Navy for war transport of horses and troops. Horse export was part of our economy – most ship crews and horsemen were old hands at the game.

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  • Old-fashioned Names for Old-fashioned Horses

    Old-fashioned Names for Old-fashioned Horses

    Walers are rare and old-fashioned horses who were developed at a time now long gone. Using horse names from when horses were key may help to create ongoing links to our history.

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  • Scoop Horses

    Scoop Horses

    Scoops were a bit of horse drawn equipment used to scoop up earth, sand, rocks, gravel, mud or snow. These days a bulldozer pushes it out of the way…

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  • Horse Bazaars

    Horse Bazaars

    Horse bazaars were once the place to be seen. They did a multitude of horse services, primarily sales. Some held a weekly sale, some monthly.

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  • Known Historical Waler Names from WW1

    Known Historical Waler Names from WW1

    It’s not unusual for old photographs relating to WW1 to show a name for the person in the photo but not the horse. We think the horses should also be acknowledged by name for their service.

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  • Lyndavale Station

    Lyndavale Station

    Lyndavale, on the Maratjura waterhole, was established in 1929 by William Leslie Pearce, known as Snowy Pearce; he had it throughout the1930’s and early 40’s.

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  • Jinka and Jervois Stations

    Jinka and Jervois Stations

    Jinka station (Ilperle, NT) is approximately 340 km north north-west of Alice Springs. Jervois, the adjoining station, is 380k from Alice. Mining was carried out on both places, then pastoral leases were taken up later.

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  • First Horses to NT

    First Horses to NT

    We have direct descendants of those horses. Andrew Tennant and John Love took a big mob of horses from South Australia to Undoolya, next door to The Garden, in 1880.

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  • Newhaven Station

    Newhaven Station

    Newhaven Station is on the traditional lands of the Ngalia-Warlpiri/Luritja people where native title was acknowledged in 2010. Newhaven is in the Tanami region north west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and is now a conservation reserve.

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  • Harness, Saddlery & Transport

    Harness, Saddlery & Transport

    Australia had an extremely high standard of saddlery and harness, once, these places were tremendous employers too.

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  • War Facts for Kids

    War Facts for Kids

    Ambulances, famous battles, bugles and more: basic WW1 facts for children to help answer some of those difficult ANZAC Day questions.

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  • Mt Weld Station

    Mt Weld Station

    Mount Weld since 2011 has been a mine site in Western Australia leased by Lynas Rare Earths. It’s still a pastoral property too, this has been its history for over a century.

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  • Todd River Downs Background

    Todd River Downs Background

    Todd River Downs (TRD) is approximately 155km east of Alice Springs, a remote station at the edge of the Simpson Desert, Central Arrente country (the traditional owners are the Johnson family).

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  • The Garden Station

    The Garden Station

    The Garden Station is east of Alice Springs, snugged into the MacDonnell Ranges. It got its name as market gardens there once supplied the nearby mining community of Arltunga of some 300 people. It is now a cattle station.

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  • Suffolk Punches to NT

    Suffolk Punches to NT

    Suffolk blood went to the NT with the first horses taken there, the bloodlines were Ned Bagot’s stallions, being the preferred draught for crossing with lighter mares.

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  • Roadsters


    The Roadster was an active, robust horse with excellent action – and good looking. They are an important ancestor of the Waler.

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  • Early Arab Horses NT

    Early Arab Horses NT

    A chronological record compiled from the archives, including some photos, bringing to life to our substantial horse history and the day-to-day antics.

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  • Mark Radium Record Jumping Waler Pony

    Mark Radium Record Jumping Waler Pony

    Small, ugly, mean – yet the star of the times! Bigger than any filmstar – when Mark Radium competed at shows he was so popular that sideshow alley closed! He’s not descended from the Radium made popular by the ASH, but from a Radium far better known in those times.

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  • Timor Pony in History

    Timor Pony in History

    Tracing Timor Pony history in Australia is a fascinating exercise, reading through old newspaper articles paints a real picture of how plentiful and well regarded these ponies were.

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