History of Cairns in NSW

By Robert Bartram,2007.


Cairn Wishing Well
  • The Cairn Wishing well located outside of the Queen Victoria Building in central Sydney, NSW
  • was made circa 1974 or thereabouts and Jason Roberts was the sculptor.  
  • His inspiration for this sculpture was a painting by Sir Edwin Landseer's depicting  
  • Queen Victoria's Skye (as Cairns were known at the time), "Islay" c.1839.
  • He visited NSW Cairn Club members at the time and photographed quite a few of their dogs
  • very thoroughly, then made a small cold cast
  • followed by an exact copy in the larger version, all hand finished. There
  • were 16 replicas (8" x 10") made which belong to some members of the Cairn
  • Club at that time, and those who donated funds for the project have their
  • names on the plaque at the side. It is situated not far from a
  • large statue of Queen Victoria herself and the
  • proceeds from the wishing well go to a worthwhile charity.

It is difficult to say with any certainty when Cairns first appeared in Australia. Certainly by 1926 there were small numbers being regularly bred in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Obtaining stock from Miss Elsa Grice in Victoria Mrs Jessie Campbell was breeding Cairns in Sydney under her PICTON prefix as early as1930-33 .


It says a great deal about the charm and character of the breed that in less than two decades after the breed's recognition by the Kennel Club in 1912 it already had a foothold in this country and had clearly worked it's way in to the affection of those half a world away from the country of origin.


The 30s and 40s saw a number of people enter the breed many of them with stock acquired from Victoria and South Australia.


The principal source from Victoria was Miss Elsa Grice (RAHWEEN) an early stalwart of the breed in that State and the importer of a number of Cairns who were to prove a great influence on  early breeding throughout the country. Foremost among these were undoubtedly  Treblig Bouncer and Twobees Tinkerbelle of Hearn who were mated no less than four times and whose progeny were widespread. Indeed  it was very largely their progeny which carried the breed through the period of the Second World War. New imports  in the post war period were very slow to build up again in the breed and many kennels line bred quite extensively to this mating to keep going.


Mr J Bowden provided a number of people with ALLENBY stock from his kennel in South Australia. It was in the late 40s that Mr Bowden sent ALLENBY CHIEF and ALLENBY PEGGY to Mr and Mrs C Groom as foundation stock for their LUTON Cairns.The Grooms were already well known  in Fox Terrier circles In 1947 Mr and Mrs Perdriau bought a bitch PIXIE OF DURNSFORD from Mr J K T Watson in Tasmania and started their STROMNESS kennels. It was also in the late 40s that Dr E Coles got her first Cairn PICTON SILVER from Mrs Campbell. It was not until some years later that she got a bitch from Mr and Mrs Perdriau and registered her VIWA prefix.


The breed's popularity increased considerably in the 50s with a number of well known and influential kennels forming. Foremost among these was undoubtedly the CRATHIEs of Mr and Mrs A H Murray

founded on CH CAIRNTOUL BONNY SCOT bred here in NSW by Mrs Henry from basically Victorian

stock. The Murrays were very active in the breed and their home bred stock was extremely successful through the 50s to the late 60s enjoying considerable success at early Cairn Club Championship shows. Mrs Murray was Foundation Secretary of the Club and served it with great distinction over many years but more of that later.


Mr and Mrs Ken Lowe (ROMSEY) were very well known in Australian Terrier circles as well as Cairns. Perhaps best known of their Cairns was the South Australian bred CH ALLENBY PIRATE who won a BIS All Breeds quite possibly the first in this state for the breed. Mr Lowe was a well known and highly respected judge who was given the honour of judging the Terrier Group at a Sydney Royal in the 60s.


With the acquisition of VIWA BETA from Dr Coles in 1960 Margaret Hill had the foundation bitch for her RAWHITIs. She in turn provided foundation stock for Kitch Robinson's LOCHAWEs The three ladies of Homebush...VIWA...RAWHITI....LOCHAWE aided by their good friends Rosemary Boyd (TIRALUINN) and Dorothy Watkins (HOPELEIGH) have bred carefully over many years with much success. Margaret, Kitch and Rosemary are all Life Members of the Club having given sterling service over many years.


The late 60s and 70s saw not only an increase in the number of people involved in the breed but an upturn in the number of imports...mostly from UK. For the next two decades undoubtedly the most significant kennel was the LUTONs of Jean Groom. With a number of significant imports, the most well known being CH CRAIGLYN CROFTER (  twice British Terrier Club Top Terrier and twice BIS at BTC Shows), the LUTONs enjoyed an unequalled run of success at Royals, All Breeds shows and Breed Shows. . From 1974 to 1990 Jean bred and/or owned BIS at the Club Show on no less than 13 occasions. An impressive record!


My own CRAIGENDs founded in 1964 have enjoyed a fair measure of success over the last few decades. BIS at the Club Show in 1980 and 1985 they have then gone on to win BIS a further 13 times since 1991 the last time being in 2006 with CH CRAIGEND CANDLEBARK winning her 7th Breed Club show.


With the death of Jean Groom and the retirement of a number of other regular exhibitors the numbers shown in NSW in the last decade or so have  been considerably reduced. It is common to find most entries at the average weekend all breeds show in single figures and not unusual to sometimes find none entered at all.


However there are encouraging signs!


Mrs Palmer (TOWSYTYKE) started in the 80s in Queensland but has for some time now been based in Northern NSW. With a combination of existing Australian stock, American and more recently Swedish imports Mrs Palmer is actively breeding and exhibiting and doing much to promote the breed throughout the State.


Ginnette Loft and Peter Miller (EMERALDCITY) started their kennel in the '90's and are well know regular exhibitors enjoying considerable success and encouraging new exhibitors into the breed.


The first attempt to form a breed club took place in 1954 but it was obvious at that stage that there was not enough support so nothing came of it. It took best part of another decade for any further move. In November 1963 at St George Kennel Club Mr Lowe and Mr and Mrs Murray talked with other exhibitors and it was obvious that there was sufficient interest for an approach to be made to the then RASKC for permission to form a Cairn Club.


Permission was granted by the RASKC and at the Sydney Royal of 1964 an informal meeting was held under the guidance of Mr Lowe and the general feeling was that Mr Lowe and Mrs Murray should proceed with the formation of a breed club.


The first meeting took place on 17 April 1964 and the Club was formed with a foundation membership of 40. Mr Lowe was elected President and Mrs Murray Secretary. Well known All Breeds judge Mr Harold Norman agreed to be Patron.


The first Show was held on 15 November 1964 and was judged by Mr Norman. His BIS winner was Mrs Prince's BADENOCH KYLIE with Mr and Mrs Kennedy's CH KENCREST CAPTAIN McLEAN RUBIS.


The Murrays served the Club with great distinction during it's first decade....Mrs Murray up until 1973 as Secretary and Mr Murray in various positions  including President. The Club prospered under their stewardship with an increasing membership and ever larger entries at the Club's annual Championship Show.


In 1974 Margaret Hill took over as Secretary and continued to hold the position for most of the time between then and when she finally resigned in 2005.


 There was an interregnum when Jean Groom for a short period and Alan Barker  for a somewhat longer time held the position.


Alan and wife Bev joined the Club in 1985, he was elected president in 1990 resigning shortly thereafter in the same year to take up the position of Secretary which he held until 1997 when he  had to resign due to ill health. Sadly he passed away the following year.


So for roughly half of the Club's existence Margaret Hill served as Secretary and that long period of stability and good governance made for a harmonious and well run Club. Indeed it's extraordinary that in 42 years we have had only 4 Secretaries!


Upon Margaret's resignation in 2005 it was found that there were no Sydney based members of the Club in a position to take over. It  was possible to form an executive  from members based in southern NSW so the Club is now based in Queanbeyan where for the time being  Club shows will be held. The first show at the new venue was held in 2006.  Relying as  much as we do on our interstate colleagues for entries, it was heartening to see a slight increase  over the last few shows ,our Victorian exhibitors finding Queanbeyan somewhat more accessible. We can only hope that as the ease of access becomes better known that increase will continue!


The Club not only holds an annual Championship show but is also represented at Pet Expos both in Sydney and Canberra . Sydney members continue to hold Coat Care days and Puppy Picnics and it is hoped that similar functions will be organised in the Queanbeyan/Canberra area shortly. The Club publishes a quarterly newsletter which keeps members in touch with what is going on within the Club and allows them a postal vote each year for the election of both Club officials and judges for the Show.



There can be little doubt that changing the base of operations of the Club has been a fairly major change but given the Club's very solid foundations it is not one which would appear to be insurmountable . I know that all of the current Executive and committee are mindful of the need to uphold the very high standards set by those who served the Club and the breed so very well in years gone by. We hope we can live up to their trust.


In a brief article such as this it is impossible to mention everyone who made a contribution to both the Club and the breed . Inevitably some people will not appear. Please accept my apologies as it's impossible to include everyone but rest assured that your efforts on behalf of the breed and the Club have truly been appreciated.