Western Australia

Contact: Andrew Stewart
Phone: 08 9381 5955
Fax:       08 9388 3237
Email: andrew@adhstewart.com.au

History of Buffalo in South Western Australia

Swamp Buffalo were first imported into the south-west of Western Australia in the late 1980s by Ron Taylor. Because of the perceived advantages of buffalo meat (low-fat, etc) and the potential for cheese manufacture from the milk, a number of individuals were sufficiently interested to obtain stock from Ron Taylor and also from the Northern Territory which, at that time, had an established breeding herd of some 300 head.

The inaugural meeting of buffalo breeders was held at Serpentine (on Ron Taylor's property) on Saturday the 24th of November 1990, with interested parties from Watheroo to Witchcliffe and points in between attending. An Incorporated Association with the name "Australian Buffalo Breeders Association (W. A) was formed.

By 1991 there were 25 registered breeders and financial members of ABBA (WA). From the outset the focus was on marketing but unfortunately the efforts of ABBA (WA) were not rewarded with increased sales. Marketing proposals for the association were prepared professionally, and also by Muresk College as an exercise for some of their students. A combined marketing venture with " The Emu Man" was explored but not pursued.

Export outlets proved very difficult to establish because of bureaucratic red tape, quotas, animal definitions, and arrangement with export abattoirs. Val Deutscher, who with her husband Robin, ran a substantial herd in Badgingarra, had been appointed Sales and Marketing Manager of ABBA (WA) and was particularly active in promoting the product. Intermittent orders from the Eastern states were filled, and the feedback about the products supplied was very favourable. It was hoped that regular orders would follow but this did not eventuate. Locally ABBA(WA) regularly promoted buffalo meat at such events as the annual Fremantle "Sardine Festival" and rural youth "food fests". The response from the public was very positive, but resistance from local supermarket chains such as Coles and Woolworths did not help to ensure an ongoing market.

With the difficulties facing breeders in finding abattoirs prepared to slaughter their animals and regular ongoing markets, members gradually relinquished their herds and ABBA(WA) was disbanded in 1996.

Of the original members only Andrew Stewart retains a herd of some 40 animals in Busselton, the majority a cross between Swamp and part Riverine stock.

John Starr in Esperance currently has the largest herd in Western Australia and has worked persistently to establish a market for his product.

For further information, please contact Andrew (details at top of page).