It was a disaster when the five cows and two bulls of the First Fleet disappeared into the Australian bush in June 1788. The milk and fresh meat supplies for the new settlement were gone.
In 1795 aborigines gave information to Governor Hunter that strange horned animals lived in the forest to the south of Parramatta. A fine herd of around sixty young and old cattle were proved to be the Cape of Good Hope breed which had escaped.
By 1806 the herd was estimated to be around 3,000. Governor Lachlan Macquarie named the area where the herd was discovered Cawdor to honour his wife Elizabeth whose connection to Scotland was the Clan Campbell of Cawdor. The original name of the area was part of the Cowpastures, named after the runaway herd of cattle.
In 1805 John Macarthur obtained a 5,000 acre land grant from Governor King to establish a grazing property at the Cowpastures [Camden] where he built a small timber slab hut with a bark roof for shelter on a ridge above the flood plain of the Nepean River.
In 1820 a more substantial cottage was built and stands today on Belgenny Farm, part of the Camden Park estate. The buildings on the property represent Australia’s most complete authentic Georgian farm complex and is an educational centre operated by the State Government and the Friends of Belgenny.