Ranching Down Under

Over the last 55 years the cotton industry has boomed and in doing so has created many jobs in rural areas in Australia. (Photo by Samantha Hall)

By Samantha Hall

You could say the cotton industry in Australia has had somewhat of a rollercoaster ride since cotton seed was first introduced to Australia in 1788. Most of the lows occurred in the early years and most of the failed cotton crops seemed to stem from a severe lack of knowledge of cotton, ranging from planting times to fear of the unknown to what climate conditions best favoured cotton production.

In 1920 the owner of the local Narrabri newspaper “The Courier” had his own idea. He persuaded the Department of Agriculture to distribute packets of cotton, linseed, and tobacco seed for use in trial plots. The cotton thrived in the Namoi Valley, but the venture was discouraged due to risky rainfall supply and lack of cheap labour. In actual fact, after many tried and failed cotton crops, the cotton industry had become almost non-existent by the 1950s. To read more pick up the May 2016 issue of NTFR.