Sidney Kidman

Sidney Kidman

Sir Sidney Kidman (9 May 18572 September 1935) was a pastoralist in Australia and owned huge tracts of land.

Early life

Sidney Kidman was born near Adelaide. His father died when he was just six months old. He was educated at a private school at Norwood and left his home near Adelaide at age 13 with only 5 shillings and a one-eyed horse that he had bought with his savings. He joined a drover, and learned quickly. He worked as a drover, stockhand and livestock trader. He made money trading whatever was needed, and supplying services (transport, goods, a butcher shop) to new mining towns springing up in outback New South Wales and South Australia (including Cobar, Kapunda, Burra and eventually Broken Hill. Eventually he and his brothers ended up working on the same station, then bought their own. The partnership with his brother Sackville lasted until his death in 1899.


He saved and bought a bullock team, and opening a butcher's shop and store at the Cobar copper rush, made good profits. When he was 21 he inherited £400 from his grandfather's estate and traded with it successfully in horses and cattle. He was in his middle twenties when he acquired a one-fourteenth share in the Broken Hill Proprietary mine for 10 bullocks worth about £4 each. He sold his share for £150 less £50 commission and was satisfied with the profit. He had mail contracts on a fairly large scale and in 1886 bought Owen Springs station. Gradually he extended his holdings until they reached out into Queensland and New South Wales. The great drought in 1901 was a disaster to him, but the Bank of New South Wales had faith in him and supported him. Within a year he had made £40,000 and began buying on a large scale again. He eventually owned or had a large interest in an enormous area of land variously stated to have covered from 85,000 to 107,000 square miles. Before World War I he was a millionaire

Over time, benefitting from their experience and observation, he had built a vast network of connected stations stretching from both the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Fitzroy River in Western Australia down into South Australia near the Flinders Ranges and also across New South Wales. He could grow and fatten the cattle on the remote stations in the north, and bring them down the lines of stations to markets in the south, providing good feed and water on the way to sell them in top condition. Starting from nothing, he built up a huge pastoral business, with over a hundred cattle stations with total area of more than 3% of Australia - allowing him to move his cattle from north to south along the great inland river systems and drought proofing his empire. He was also an entrepreneur with interests in many other rural industries such as transport.


"S Kidman and Co" is still the largest private landholder in Australia, although now on a much smaller scale.

In World War I he donated wool, meat, horses, ambulances and even fighter airplanes to the government. He also guaranteed the jobs of employees who went to fight in the war, and assisted the widows of those who didn't come back. He was knighted in 1921.

The Adelaide suburb of Kidman Park was named after him.

External links

* [ Kidman info at South Australian history]
* [ S. Kidman and Co website]
*Dictionary of Australian Biography|First=Sidney|Last=Kidman|Link=
* [ Biography of Sydney Kidman associated with ABC TV program "Dynasties"]
* [ Cattle Kings of Old Australia]

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