Charles Ledger was born in London, 4th March 1818.
In 1852 while Sir Titus Salt was producing his renowned Alpaca Fabric, Charles Ledger visited Sydney. Whilst in Sydney, he was offered £15,000 and 10,000 acres of land if he could bring a herd of breeding alpacas to Australia to establish an Australian alpaca industry.
He arrived in Sydney on 28th November 1859 with 243 camelids (159 llamas and 84 alpacas) and “11 non-Europeans” who attended the llamas and alpacas.
Charles had spent the previous 7 years riding 7,000 miles and risking 10 years gaol for exporting alpacas. He fought off Indians in the mountains, spent his entire fortune, and bred and lost hundreds of alpacas.
The animals were accommodated in the Domain and are believed to have spent their first few months in Australia grazing just outside the Mitchell Library.
Charles was expecting to be given his land grant and be paid the agreed sum, but unfortunately the new Governor of NSW was not really interested in new rural industries.
Charles was eventually appointed Superintendent of Alpacas, a post he held for several years, until the NSW Government decided to dispose of the entire herd.
No-one really knows what happened to those alpacas, but no alpacas were reported in Australia in the early 1900s.
Charles Ledger went on to bring the seeds of the Cinchona tree out of South America, and he made his mark indelibly in the world. To quote his epitaph: “Charles Ledger. He gave Quinine to the world.”
Charles died in Leichhardt, Sydney, 19th May 1905.
The Australasian Alpaca Breeders Association chose to inaugurate our new association on the 101st anniversary of Charles Ledger’s death.
We salute the man who was the first to bring alpacas to Australia. He was a fighter, an adventurer, a trail-blazer, and an entrepreneur. He displayed a spirit that we at AABA hope to emulate and foster in all our dealings.
We celebrate his spirit and his life today.
We pledge to take responsibility for the heritage that belongs to our industry, and we take pride in supporting the maintenance of Charles and Charlotte Ledgers’ graves. Charlotte is buried in Goulburn Old General Cemetery, NSW.
Our service closed with a glass of champagne and the AABA toast:
“To Charles Ledger’s Dream”.
Friday 19th May 2006