The Booyoolee Pastoral Lease was taken up in 1846 where Herbert Bristow Hughes occupied 770 sq. kms. of untamed land that he turned into a prosperous sheep and cattle station. The eastern boundary extended north to Mt Lock, westwards through the site of Stone Hut and across to the Southern Flinders Ranges as the western boundary.
As the young colony expanded this land was resumed by the government in 1870, but the Hughes family managed to purchase a large area. They continued with their sheep and cattle and introduced many new ideas. Purchasing Kinchega Run, a sheep station on the River Darling in NSW and Nocatunga, a cattle station where horses were also bred on the River Wilson in Qld, Booyoolee was used for fattening stock before transportation to Herbert’s paddocks at Netley before sale.
Transport was difficult between properties so Herbert had a steamer (Decoy), and barges (Reliance and Croupier) built in Glasgow and shipped to Australia in sections. This enabled stock movement down river to Morgan with relative ease. When railways eventuated, these vessels were sold.
Herbert Hughes was one of the first pastoralists to use wire fences to form paddocks and introduce lucerne into the area.
In 1854 Herbert married Laura White. Her brothers had taken up land immediately north of Booyoolee. They had 8 children.
Booyoolee Head Station today is not the original site. The first headquarters were at Coocerpoo in the south of the run somewhere between the current sites of Gladstone and Georgetown. Later they shifted to Knangwea not far from the present sit of Laura and then to the head station’s current site.
The station although now smaller in size is still administered by Hughes Family descendants.