Nhill’s draught horse statue Commemorating “The horse breed that built a nation”

Nhill is a rural town in Western Victoria is located halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne. Nhill was the first town in Victoria supplied by electricity after Melbourne in 1890. With its grazing merinos and the largest single bin silo in Southern Hemisphere, tourists make Nhill a stopover point on their journey towards Melbourne or Adelaide. Nhill also captured world attention by successfully resettling Karen-Burmese refugees in 2010. This tiny little town even has a crater named after it in planet Mars. But what makes this rural town special is none of the above. When cities and towns around the globe pay respect to their leaders, war heroes and great noble souls, by installing their statues, this tiny town, pays its respect to the humble draught horse by establishing a bronze statue of it to commemorate the important role it played in building Australia.

The statue of the horse on a large boulder has a plaque that shows a brass relief of draught horses pulling a cart.

On one side there is an inscription that reads

Let all who stand here know that a major part of Australia`s development was due to the toil of the faithful draught horse.

On the other side the inscription reads

Erected by horse lovers of Australia unveiled by Hon. J. D. Anthony Minister Primary Industry 17th October 1968 cast by Joseph Oscar Swift. Mitcham, Victoria for Nhill Draught Horse Memorial Committee.

There is an audio recording which will play with the push of a button detailing how much the early settlers were dependent on the humble draught horse.

Draught horses were once integral to Australian society. Whether it was the ploughing of fields, deliveries of milk, or transportation of resources or even in adding spice to the country life by organised competitions that tested the endurance of these faithful animals. Australia was built on the back of the mighty working horses known as draught horses. Discovery of Gold in Australia required draught horses to provide faster load movements. Primarily they were used for farm work and pulling carriages. Until the 1850’s bullocks were used for heavy draught work, which was taken over by draught horses and they remained an integral part of Australian life until they were replaced by tractors by the 1950’s.

Draught horses are well known for their strength and good temperament.  Scottish settlers promoted the use of the Clydesdale horses.  The purebred horses from the English and Finnish cart breeds were heavy for the Australian Climate. It was important to cross breed to produce a breed that has sufficient bone strength but not too heavy. The Australian Draught Horse was developed over the years by crossbreeding pure draught horse breeds like Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire, Suffolk Punch. In 1900, a team of Australian draught horses made a record of carrying a load of 150 bales of wool.

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