Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Social and Cultural Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Supervisor

Professor Geoffrey Bolton AO


Thomas Kilfoyle (1842-1908) participated in the 1883-1885 overlanding expedition from Queensland to the newly opened Kimberley district. There he became one of the founders of Rosewood Station, a property which under the guidance of Kilfoyle and son Jack (1893-1962) became an outstanding example of successful owner/management of a north Australian beef cattle station. Among the objectives of this thesis it is important to identify the major features in the Kilfoyles' management policies which enabled them to survive environmental and economic changes which brought many of their neighbours into financial difficulty. An important element was their successful management of Aboriginal labour, which set an unusually enlightened standard among their contemporaries. Attention is also directed to their consistent policy of planned improvements, as well as an at times unconventional approach to legal restraints. Consideration is also given to aspects of northern Australia social history, including the role of women. The Kilfoyles provide an illuminating case history against which to test the interpretations offered by earlier historians such as Mary Durack in Kings in Grass Castles and Sons in the Saddle, Ann McGrath in Born in the Cattle and Alan Powell in Far Country.