The story of Bungaree Station begins on Christmas Day 1841, when our ancestor, George C Hawker and his brothers, James and Charles, selected this as the site for their "head station". They had purchased 2000 ewes from NSW, and on advice of the explorer, Edward John Eyre, went looking for sufficient good land along the Hutt River. They found "good drinkable water at a depth of 8 feet and plenty of it" and named the property “Bungaree”, after the aboriginal name for the area.
Bungaree became the headquarters of one of Australia’s most successful sheep flocks, running 100,000 merino sheep at a time when the country was said to "ride on the sheep’s back". With over 50 staff and their families living on the property, Bungaree soon resembled a small village, with its own Store, School, District Council Chambers, Blacksmith Shop and Church, as well as the Woolshed, Shearers Quarters, Homestead, Manager's House and other staff cottages.
We were surprised on reaching the shed to see so many men employed, and everything going on with the regularity of clockwork. There were 54 shearers on the boards, over 80 hands being employed in all, including pressers, fleece-pickers, yarders, branders and musterers. The shed arrangements seemed perfect.
Just as the famous Bungaree merino was refined over time, the property also evolved in response to new technologies and management techniques, as well as generational change. The division of the property into 4 smaller holdings in 1906 enabled George Hawker's six surviving sons to follow their own pastoral interests.
Each generation has risen to the challenges and left their mark on this iconic property. Today, cereal cropping complements the sheep flock at Bungaree, which remain a key part of the business. The heritage-listed station complex has been beautifully maintained and developed into a destination for visitors and locals alike, offering heritage accommodation for guests, day tours, and unique venues for conferences, weddings and other functions.
The property remains the home of the 4th, 5th and 6th generations of the Hawker family. George and Sally Hawker have handed over the reins for the day-to-day management of the farming activities to their son Edward, while their daughter Vicky manages the hospitality business with her husband Mark Stewart.
Rare experience staying at a spot where there is so much history and the effort around preserving it. The Hawker family should be very proud!
We are passionate about preserving and sharing the history of our property, recognising the contributions and connections of many others to Bungaree, and its significance to South Australia's pioneering past. Bungaree has received both State and National Tourism Awards for Heritage and Culture, including the prestigious RM Williams Outback Heritage Award and a UNESCO Achievement Award for Culture and Heritage.
We invite you to visit, whether you wish to simply escape to the country for a weekend in one of our beautifully renovated 1850s cottages, pick up some Bungaree lamb from our Station Store, or delve into our pastoral heritage.