During the 1840's, an area known as Illawarra (50 miles south of Sydney), was cleared by the early settlers. This site became a popular area for the introduction of assorted cattle breeds, including Jerseys, Longhorn and Shorthorn Durhams, Red Lincolns, Red Aryshires. Here, the Osbourne family helped to develop and expand the Australian dairy industry.
The advent of the gold rush saw increased demand for dairy products; a demand met by the cattle of Illawarra. Since then, Illawarra has become a prominent site in the dairy industry. Later imports included Kerri Dexter, Guernsey, Shorthorn and Friesian stock. Australian Illawarras are a combination of the diverse breeds of the Illawarra area.
The Illawarra Dairy Cattle herd book was established in 1910. By 1930, the Illawarra Dairy Cattle Society and the Milking Shorthorn Society had amalgamated and became known as The Australia Illawarra Shorthorn Society. Later, the ‘Shorthorn' reference was removed in order to distinguish the breed from Dairy Shorthorns - a separate breed in its own right.
Illawarras have medium sized frames. Their coat colour is typically red with white markings. Dark pigmentation and hooves enables a high degree of protection from sunburn and skin cancer. In particular, the breed is known for its high rates of milk production, ease of calving (due to pelvic structure), climatic adaptability and longevity. Their milk is not only abundant (some cows produce more than 40 litres per day), but it is also high in protein and low in fat.
Illawarras have been introduced to Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Central America, New Zealand, the Middle East, the United States and the UK.