Anna Creek – The Biggest Cattle Station in Australia
Anna Creek is not only Australia’s biggest cattle station; it’s the largest in the world. The station covers a total of around 24,000 square kilometers. When you consider that the country of Israel is only 21,000 square kilometers in size, you realise how vast this station is.
It dwarfs the biggest ranches in the USA and is far bigger than the other largest Australian cattle stations which are:
- Clifton Hills Station – 17,000 square kilometres.
- Alexandria Station – 16,116 square kilometres.
- Davenport Downs Station – 15,100 square kilometres.
You can see by these figures that all Australian cattle stations tend to be large. This is due to them being located in a dry climate. This means that the amount of vegetation available can be limited.
Therefore, stations need to contain a large amount of country so that there is enough vegetation to support even an average number of cattle. Even by these standards, Anna Creek is exceptionally large.
History of Anna Creek Cattle Station
The first Anna Creek Station was located at Strangways Springs. It was moved to its current location in 1872. At this time, John Hogarth managed the station. His brother Thomas took over in 1893 and managed the station until 1913.
Others managed Anna Creek Station until Sidney Kidman purchased it in 1935. Kidman had run away from home at 13 and worked as a drover, stockman and livestock trader. Eventually, he made enough money to buy his own station.
By the time he bought Anna Creek, he already owned a lot of land including Stuarts Creek Station and The Peake Station. He also received the accolade of becoming Sir Sidney Kidman. These were major achievements for someone who had been a runaway at one time.
The Kidman family continued to own the station for over 100 years. During that time, the McLean and the Nunn families managed Anna Creek. However, after more than a century, the Kidman connection to the station came to an end.
In 2016, the Kidmans sold Anna Creek Station to the Williams Cattle Company. The company continues to operate the station to the present day.
Operations at Anna Creek
Today, Anna Creek Station remains a massive operation situated 160 kilometers east of Coober Pedy which is the nearest town. Coober Pedy is an unusual place that was founded when a teenage boy found an opal in the area in 1915. It has sustained as an opal mining location, and the closest town to Anna Creek Station, since then.
The area within the station itself is a mix of sandhills, swamps and Gibber tableland. The operations of the station are managed by Matthew Williams and involve the breeding and fattening of cattle in season.
The size of Anna Creek Station may be large but only a handful of staff live at the site including around eight station hands, a plant operator and a cook. Currently, there are less than 10,000 head of cattle at the station but there have been as many as 17,000 in a good season.
The Australian climate, and the common droughts, have caused problems at Anna Creek over the years, much as they have at other stations in the country. However, going by the current situation, Anna Creek seems likely to remain at the top of the list of largest cattle stations in Australia and the world. There is nothing to suggest that another station will be created to challenge its vast size, in the immediate future.