On our travels between Innamincka and Birdsville, we came across this massive stone woolshed, 60 metres long and 13 metres wide. On further inspection it was found to be the impressive Cordillo Downs station woolshed, which is the largest of its kind in the world!   

The woolshed is located about 116km north of Innamincka in South Australia, and 155km south-east of Birdsville in Queensland, and is along the Cordillo Downs Road.

 

 

After visiting, Al and I couldn’t stop talking about it, wondering just what some of the forgotten history of it must have been. Over the following days and taking into consideration the impression it actually made on us at the time, we just had to look into it further and see what I could find out about this amazing landmark.  So please take in my interesting findings further on in the post.  I hope you find it as intriguing as we did.  

Name: Cordillo Downs Woolshed

Where: Cordillo Downs Road, South Australia

Price: Free

Facilities: there are no facilities for travellers at the woolshed, 4WD accessible only

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History

Cordillo Downs, or Cardilla as it was originally known, was first taken up in 1875 by John Frazer.  It was then acquired by the the Beltana Pastoral Company in 1883.  At this time it was stocked with 10,000 sheep, nearly 600 cattle, 28 horses and one camel. The woolshed was built in 1883 and provided stands for 120 blade shearers.  A meat house, managers house, kitchen and blacksmith shop were also built to support the station. In 1903 Cordillo Downs amalgamated with nearby Cadelga and Haddon Downs, and by 1905 was running 85,000 sheep. Drought and depression hit the area hard, with the station completely closing down from 1931-1936. Once conditions started to improve, unsustainable sheep losses due to dingo attack resulted in the station turning to running cattle in 1942.

Over the years Cordillo Downs has endured many dry seasons which has reduced stock numbers, and survived isolation, drought and flood.

In 1981 Cordillo Downs was sold to the Brookman Holdings Pty Ltd for $1.2 million. Bill Brook, who bought the property, worked as a ringer on the station back in 1918.

Today, Cordillo Downs is an organic property stocking about 7000 head of poll Hereford cattle.

 

Cordillo Downs Woolshed

The Cordillo Downs woolshed

Work on the woolshed began in 1883.  The woolshed, which provides stands for 120 blade shearers, was built from sandstone rubble and is buttressed in order to support the large vaulted iron roof.  The structure is self supporting, dispensing with the need for wooden internal frames.  As all supplies had to be bought up the Strzelecki Track by camel teams, sometimes taking months to travel the 600km route from the Farina railhead, building material was largely sourced from the local surroundings.

The woolshed is now listed on the South Australian Heritage Register.

 

Cordillo Downs Woolshed

 

Visiting Cordillo Downs woolshed

The owners of the station have opened up the woolshed for the public to visit and learn about the history of the region. Visitors are permitted to walk around the woolshed, and interpretive panels have been erected with information about the wool industry at Cordillo Downs.

It should be noted however that the woolshed is immediately next to the station homestead.  The homestead and other buildings on the station are not open to the public.

Facilities

There are no facilities for travellers at Cordillo Downs Woolshed. Overnight camping is permitted at Cadelga Outstation Ruins, just north of the woolshed.

 

Cordillo Downs Woolshed

 

Further information

Further information about the history of the woolshed can be found here.

The Cordillo Downs woolshed is a continued reminder of the significance of the area to the South Australian wool industry and an absolute amazing sight to take in.

UPDATE

We visited Cordillo Downs woolshed in July 2019. Shortly afterwards, restoration work commenced, repairing the roof which was damaged in 2017.  Information on this restoration work can be found here on the ABC website.

 

 

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