History

The area of Drysdale River Station was first taken up in January 1882 by the Victorian Squatting Company. Regretfully, this company is best known for their failed attempt to settle at Camden Harbour in 1864. A most beautiful book was available, 'Bradshaw Art of the Kimberley' by the late Graham Walsh. Regretfully, only a small number were printed and the book is now a hard to find expensive collectors item.
The Drysdale River was named in 1886 by Charles Burrows during an exploration of the area on behalf of the Victorian Squatting Company.

The lease was next taken up by Captain Joe Bradshaw. Bradshaw took up the lease of a large area extending along the Prince Regent River and he intended to establish a cattle station. It was during his attempts to reach some of his leases on the Prince Regent River overland, that he first saw and recorded in April 1891, the style of rock painting now known as Bradshaws. As Bradshaw was unsure of his exact location at the time of recording, it took until 1998 for these particular paintings to be found again. Bradshaw had his own ocean steamer, the Red Gauntlet and he sent Mr. Aeneas Gunn ahead by sea, to build stock yards ready for his herd (Mr Gunn's wife Jeannie wrote the famous novel "We of the Never Never"). Bradshaw went to bring his herd of cattle from Queensland, but on reaching the border between the NT and WA he was met by a party of police who informed him he must pay one pound per head tax to bring each animal into WA. Bradshaw refused to pay, turned his cattle down the Victoria River and took up land there instead. His successful station was then known as Bradshaws Run, now Bradshaw Station.

One of the great problems this area faced was it's isolation. Although the Gibb River Beef road received funding allocation, it only went as far as Gibb River Station. The Kalumburu Road was surveyed by Surveyor J.F. Morgan in 1954, this then opened the area up a great deal more.

In 1967 the lease was taken up by Dick Condon, he had a vision and put a large amount of time and money into the place. Sadly the cattle prices were not favourable and, added to the then time required and high cost required to truck out cattle, he made the decision to sell the station.
The high cost to get things both in and out of here, the providing of own power and water supplies plus many other high expenses makes the running of these places far more costly than most people realise.

The story goes that when the current homestead was built in 1967, the trucks arrived with building materials which were unloaded at the chosen position at the top of the river bank. Thankfully someone happened to look up and notice flood debris a very long way up, in the tree tops. The homestead was then positioned 1.5 km back from the river. In the floods of 1986 and 1997 the river level rose to within 200 m of the house and 5 meters off the staff quarters. All I can say is I am glad they did not build it on the first choice!

The whole area has been and still is, subject to many mining exploration leases. Miner's Pool got it's name because Stockdale Prospecting had a long term base camp set up there in the early eighties.

After Dick Condon sold out, the station had overseas ownership. No money was put into the place and it was very run down with almost no plant or equipment by the time we came along.
We purchased the lease in the wet of 85 / 86. With 3 4WD vehicles and a truck we set of from Derby only to be caught in the floods from cyclone Hector and had to do a dash back to town. We barely made it , crossing the last river when it was 2 feet over the bridge. After waiting two weeks for the floods to drop we tried again, and it took one day to do the first 300 km and 4 more to do the next 180 km. At one point we were stuck between two rivers and one of our children suddenly became very ill, not an experience I would like to repeat. Luckily she got better, the river dropped and we finally arrived.
At that time there was no telephone service to the area at all, the only means of communication was by the Royal Flying Doctor radio service.

This experience taught me the futility (and looking back, the stupidity) of attempting to travel these roads when they are very wet. I now have the greatest admiration for early settlers to the area. Back then, even in a time of dire need it was just not possible to radio or phone for help. Now, we are pretty spoilt in the knowledge that even if a plane can't get to you, then a helicopter probably can. The size these rivers can get to is amazing, the depth of water running down the road makes it appear to be a creek. Please keep this in mind if someone suggests an adventure holiday over the Wet season traversing North Kimberley dirt roads. The Main Roads Department don't just close the road because they are concerned over damage; they close them because they can be very dangerous ! Both the Main Roads Dept. and the locals are tired of the damage done to the road by people forcing through just for fun when it is still soft and boggy. You may get through but the ruts you create hold the water and make it a lot longer before the road dries out and all are able to use it.

Drysdale River Station is a family owned, family operated, million-acre working cattle station, running approximately 6,500 head. 2017 will be our 31st year here, making our family by far the longest resident leaseholder since this land was first released. As we have no intention of departing, we hope you get to visit us and to enjoy the wonderful North Kimberley.


Anne & John Koeyers and family.

Cattle Yards
Mustering

Please Note: Regretfully, we are unable to offer traveller's involvement in mustering operations.