Cobb & Co reviews

Reviewed by Fiona Capp The Age (Melbourne), May 26, 2007

SAM EVERINGHAM’S fascination with Cobb & Co began when he visited his godfather, the great-grandson of Frank Whitney – one of the owners of the legendary 19th-century coach firm – and stumbled across the dust-covered carriages and buggies that had once been part of the company’s fleet. Access to previously unknown letters and family papers has enabled him to tell the inside story of the rise and fall of the company …

A lively, popular history with broad appeal, Wild Ride is full of colourful detail and anecdotes about life on the road, and about the men and women – especially Whitney, his wife Bella, and Rutherford – who turned Cobb & Co into a household name.


Icon takes a wild ride

Reviewed by Alison Hetherington, Herald Sun June 09, 2007

…. Sam Everingham uses private letters left to the Mitchell Library to shed light on the personal and business machinations that propelled the company into its expansion across the eastern states.

A booming national economy and monopolies over coach routes that also delivered lucrative government mail contracts set up the company in its early years. Routes throughout Queensland helped overcome the effects of the creeping reach of the railways in the late 1800s, as did diversification into other industries.

Things really get interesting when Hall pulls back and Whitney’s wife takes the reins, quickly establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with at a time when women weren’t permitted to vote.

Unfortunately, her steady hand comes too late, as a drought and national depression render property and farming interests virtually worthless and Rutherford’s mental-health problems impact on his decision making.

This rollicking good yarn about a national icon and the people that stamped it into our consciousness is peppered with anecdotes about dashing drivers, bail-ups and famous passengers and is well worth the journey.

In short Non Fiction

Reviewed by Bruce Elder Sydney Morning Herald, Jun 23, 2007

There have been several histories of the transportation empire that was Cobb & Co but this one …. has the advantage of having access to many vital, and previously undiscovered, primary sources. It therefore enriches the well-known story with intimate details of the complex family histories that were part of the company’s story.

… The story is a great Australian yarn …


Reviewed by Paul Kraus Newcastle Herald, , Jun 30, 2007

… This history is highly readable, entertaining and informative. Its value lies in that we learn a great deal about the consortium that took over this famous company in 1861 and a great deal about regional Australia along the way … James Rutherford, Frank Whitney and Walter Hall took it over in 1861. We not only read how they expanded Cobb & Co into NSW and Queensland but we learn much about these men and their families.

This book’s focus extends beyond the history of the best known transport company in Australia; it opens a window on the social and economic life of the country.


On The Stage

Reviewed by: Barry Oakley, Bulletin with Newsweek,  26 June 2007

A galloping history of Cobb & Co’s conquest of Australia’s byways

….. As Everingham makes clear in this meticulously researched history, there was a dark side to this relentless expansionism. Rutherford was a manic depressive. His moods swung wildly, until he lapsed into depression and paranoia, which became so severe he was committed for a time.

…. Everingham drives the story along at a steady clip — until we bog down in Rutherford’s business squabbles in the final chapters. He always behaved as if Cobb & Co was his alone. It wasn’t, but he was its heart and soul. It was really Rutherford and Co.


Furious dash through history

The Weekly Times (Melbourne), Aug 08, 2007

The Cobb &Co story has left an indelible stamp on Australian history. This book explains how a transport company that began in Victoria’s gold rush era managed to spread across an untamed eastern Australia to become a pastoral giant.

…. Among the causes of the decline were an excessive debt burden, a failure to quickly adapt to motor vehicles, prolonged drought and internal management differences. In 1929, the company went into voluntary liquidation but, thanks to Sydney author Sam Everingham and other writers, the story of this iconic Australian institution lives on.

Reviewed by Steve Gome, Australian Book Review, Sept 2007

The history of Cobb & Co. belongs as much in the territory of folklore as it does in the annals of business … There is much ground to cover, and this book blazes new trails as it travels between the commercial and the iconic aspects of Cobb & Co’s operations….. This rollicking tale outlines social history as well as the particular concerns of the coaching industry. …Everingham’s research is extensive … Everingham maintains a firm grasp of his subject and delivers a fascinating story of North American enterprise that built an Australian icon.


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