Wild Ride

By Sam Everingham


In 1853, a young American arrived in the new colony of Victoria hoping to make his fortune from the world’s greatest gold rush.

He soon realised that the real money was to be made from the miners’ need to travel from the fields where they found their gold to the towns where they spent it, and established a coach company that would literally carry his name into every household in the land: Cobb & Co.

But Freeman Cobb himself was long gone by the time the company bearing his name became an Australian legend. wild ride is the story of the two extraordinary men, James Rutherford and Frank Whitney, who along with their business partners took Cobb’s humble company and made it into the Qantas of its day, dominating transport and communication from Castlemaine to Cooktown, and owning much of the land in between. These were pioneers, carving a path through otherwise impassable terrain, settling unsettled land, enduring bushrangers and terrible accidents, and making their fortunes. The Rutherford and Whitney families became two of the most significant of their era, unrivalled in their influence and, finally, vicious in their falling out.

Written with unprecedented access to these families’ letters and diaries, wildride reveals the Cobb & Co story in all its drama, conflict and tragedy. It is the compelling and human story of Australia’s first great company and the people who made it an icon.

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