Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thurloo Downs

Left to Right. Jim Cotter, Plummer Cotter,the owner of Thurloo Downs/Elsinora Station Mr Killen?,and Frank Cotter.

I have recently discovered and am researching my families pastoral history here in Australia and our links with the Darling River. My great grandfather, Plummer Cotter and his wife Mary, had three children born in a town called Wilcannia. For my overseas friends, the Darling River is one of the great rivers of the world and would be similar to the mighty Mississippi.

Darling River at Wilcannia in drought 2006

Wilcannia Is situated north of the Menindee Lakes and was Australias third largest port. Paddle steamers worked the Murray-Darling river, and with the boom in the wool trade, mining etc, Wilcannia thrived. Today Wilcannia is a shell of its former glory. Many of its old buildings remain,sadly many have become burnt out.

Darling River at Wilcannia with paddle steamer "Tolarno" circa 1906

The town itself is on the Barrier Highway east of Broken Hill. Many travellers refuse to stop in this town. There has been a history of riots and violence.
The three children were Margaret Valentine Cotter, James Cotter and Frank Cotter. Frank is my grandfather.

Plummer managed a station called Glenlyon. (Note- we call large farms "stations" here in Australia).

Sheep in the main street of Wilcannia circa 1900

The most significant piece of this history is the property called Thurloo Downs. Now a 1.3 million acre holding owned by Mr Peter Hughes. Plummer and his sons managed this property which included Elsinora Station until 1907. Set further north, between Wanaaring and Tibooburra in the States north west. The Paroo River features in my family history too, and it flows into the Darling river. I have recently discovered that Urisino was also incorporated with Thurloo and Elsinora. A huge area of land

Left to right Mr Killen?, Plummer Cotter, Frank Cotter

You can enlarge the historical photos and see the men and their work. My family worked for the Killens, Sir Sam Wilson, and the McGraths. I shall post more soon.


  1. Simon, that's great you have found those pastoral settlement links in your family history. You have always shown a lively interest in the history of so many of those places you have visited, and have recounted it here for us.

  2. I love this sort of thing. Last night I had to go & look for a map. So now I'm straight on where you're speaking of. But I forgot the questions I had in mind, so I'll have some coffee (it's early a.m. here).

    Most important: I now want to change my name to Plummer. Much cooler than my name.

  3. Kiwi yes you are right. there is much more i have discovered too and it al explains why Frank and Jim were very difficult men. It was a harsh existence.

    Susan- if you google earth it you will be amazed at the terrain- not much out there.

    Plummer is pretty cool imo too.