ANU Archives celebrate the Australian Agricultural Company at Beef Week

17 May 2024

Last week ANU Archives’ Rachel Armstrong headed to Rockhampton in Queensland as part of Beef Week to curate and host an exhibit celebrating 200 years of the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo). The exhibition featured photographs, drawings and a variety of records from the AACo held by the Noel Butlin Archives

It was a big week, with thousands of people vising the exhibition, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Agriculture Minister Murray Watt. 

Other highlights from the week included:

  • talking to AACo’s CEO Hugh Killen about the important work the Archives do in maintaining historical documents and the work still to be done digitising AACo’s records
  • seeing thousands of people peruse the exhibition and ask questions about the collection; 
  • and learning more about the role AACo plays in the Australian beef industry landscape.

The event was a brilliant opportunity to showcase the extensive and first collection taken in to the ANU Archives in 1955. The exhibition illustrates the ongoing value and importance of the Archives’ work in sharing, maintaining, and preserving documents that constitute tangible elements of Australian history. 

While it was wonderful to take the exhibit on the road and share this amazing collection more widely, the team were only able to include a fraction of the AACo’s materials held by the Archives. The full exhibition, which is currently on display in the ANU Archives and online, includes hundreds of archival materials dating from the early 1800s and exploring the Company's history through a selection of archival photographs, maps, drawings and papers. 

About the Australian Agricultural Company

Having operated continuously for 200 years, AACo is the oldest company in Australia still conducting business under its original name. The Archives are fortunate to hold approximately 500 metres of the Company's records, which tell the story of the AACo’s rich history in the sheep, cattle, and coal industries. 

The 200 Years of the Australian Agricultural Company exhibition captures the history of one of Australia's largest and most successful companies, from its beginnings operating sheep stations across New South Wales, to its present as the operator of Australia's largest cattle herd, with pastoral stations across Queensland and the Northern Territory. 

See the exhibition

You can visit the exhibition on display in the Menzies Library at ANU until mid-July. 

For those who can't make it to Canberra, there is an online version of the exhibition that you can view on the Archives’ website