Cobb and Co

Cobb and Co

Cobb and Co is the name of a transportation company in Australia. It was prominent in the late 1800s when it operated stagecoaches to many areas in the outback and at one point in several other countries, as well. It was established in 1853 by four Americans (Freeman Cobb, John Murray Peck, James Scanlon and James A. Lamber), but only rose to prominence when bought by James Rutherford and several partners in 1858. Rutherford's partners included Alexander William Robertson, John Wagner, Walter Russell Hall, William Franklin Whitney and Walter Bradley. Rutherford re-organised and extended the Victorian services and secured a monopoly on the mail contracts.

In 1861 Rutherford proposed extending the business into New South Wales, but his partners opposed the plan. They reversed the decision following news of the Lambing Flat (Young) gold rush. Rutherford moved ten coaches from the Castlemaine Depot in Victoria to Bathurst in 1862, and re-established his headquarters there. He transported passengers from the railway station at Penrith, all the way to the new goldfields.

The first Cobb and Co service in Queensland was between Ipswich and Brisbane in 1865. The coach stage stops were at Goodna and at the Oxley hotel. This service ended when the railway link was completed in 1875.

Cobb and Co's operations were eventually superseded by the development of the automobile and, in some areas, by railways. Their last horse-drawn coach service ran in 1924.

The company name has been resurrected in recent years by various operators and horse drawn coaches still operate at various locations throughout Australia The name stands for "Cobb & company," although the full stop after "Co" is often omitted.


  • A Cobb & Co stagecoach was used during the stage musical The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular.
  • Cobb & Co operated its lines after nightfall and its coaches were known for their triangular arrangement of lamps which were set on either side of the coach and a large central light was placed on the roof. This triangle of lights was visible for many miles across open country and is remembered in Henry Lawson’s poem, 'The Lights of Cobb & Co.'
  • William Henry Ogilvie mentions Cobb & Co in his poem 'How the Fire Queen Crossed the Swamp'.
  • Whiplash was loosely based on the life of Freeman Cobb, founder of Australia's Cobb & Co. coach line and starred Peter Graves as Christopher Cobb.
  • Cobb Highway received its name in 1947 in commemoration of the Cobb & Co. coach company.

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