Legend of Cobb & Co.
Freeman CobbWhen gold was discovered in Victoria in the 1850s people from all over the world rushed to the 'diggings' and mining settlements sprang up over night. These new towns needed fast and reliable transport.
Four young Americans - Freeman Cobb, John Murray Peck, James Swanton and John Lambert started a stagecoach company like those in the United States. The first Cobb & Co. coach ran on 30 January 1854 carrying passengers from Melbourne to the Forest Creek Diggings, now Castlemaine.
The coaches came from America, and 'Yankee' or 'Canuck' (American and Canadian) drivers were employed as drivers. These drivers had experience driving coaches in the American West. Cobb & Co. halved the travelling times of competitors. Horse teams were changed at stations every 30 kilometres. Coaches averaged 12 kilometres per hour over rough bush tracks. Drivers took horse teams and coaches through forests, flooded creeks, and over mountain ranges. They faced bushrangers wanting money and gold.
Cobb & Co. coaches carried passengers and mail for 70 years and carried passengers and mail in every mainland colony of Australia as well as New Zealand, South Africa and Japan.