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During the first 40 years Camden Park’s prime emphasis was on sheep, but after the droughts of the 1840s the sheep were sold to Victoria.  Descendants of the original flock were brought back to Camden in 1880 and can still be found at Belgenny.  In 1836 James and William favourably considered Governor Bourke’s request for a town on the western bank of the Nepean River alongside the main road southward from Sydney built in 1832, the land was surveyed and offered for sale in 1840.

James and William managed the estate with great enterprise and imported expert workers,  Australia’s first skilled wool-sorter from Silesia, shepherds from Scotland, vignerons from Germany and dairymen from Dorset.  In 1850 nearly 900 people lived on the estate. After the sale of the merino stud, wheat became the staple crop till the mid 1860s when rust and labour shortages led to a change to mixed farming – sheep and cattle fattening, mixed grains, wine, horses and Australia’s largest plant and tree nursery.  Two vineyards planted in 1830 and 1841 produced up to 60,567 litres a year including choice vintages, with as much as 113,562 litres in cellar.  They exported the first Australian brandy sent abroad in 1832 and had eight vintage and fortified wines varying from Muscat to Riesling at the Paris Exhibition of 1861.

Between the eras of sheep and cattle, wheat flourished in Camden.  In 1848 the Estate yielded a total of 1,088.6 tonnes.  After the rust plague put an end to wheat farming the commencement of the dairying industry resulted in more thought being given to fodder crops.

James Macarthur
William Macarthur
Emily Macarthur nee Stone