Brien Cobcroft.

This story about Brien Cobcroft, and the Cobcroft family was sent to me by Jenny Cobcroft, from "Parraweena".  Without doubt, the Cobcroft family have been one of the most successful families who have lived in the district and took up land from the A.A.Co. warrah estate subdivisions. The core Parraweena blocks were part of the 1923 subdivision. Brien's father Gavin Cobcroft purchased blocks 12, 13, 14, and 15 from that subdivision in 1932.


As most would know, Brien Cobcroft won a bronze medal at the Mexico Olympics.

By Jenny Cobcroft.



The main part of “Parraweena” (approx. 7,700 acres) was purchased by the Cobcroft family in 1932, with the balance, Telegherry (3000 acres) purchased in 1936.

The main section of “Parraweena Highlands”, was purchased by the Cobcroft family on the 18th December, 1972.   The two Warrah Creek lots Chesney Oaks and Warrah Vale were added in 1987, to give a total area of approximately 13,000 acres.


Brien was born in 1934 and his brother John in 1938.  In Brien’s words........ –



 “ my parents had me on a horse long before I could walk – and from that moment horses were my main priority.   After years of riding and chasing cattle here on Parraweena, I had my first run in a camp draft at Wingen when I was about 14 years old.  In those days we would ride our horses from home to where ever and ride home again gathering a lot of experience on the way.   As the years passed (by this time we had a truck) I was lucky enough to win a lot of championship camp drafts including two NSW titles and the Australian Championships in 1961.   In the off season I played A Grade polo with my brother John, Sinclair Hill, and the late Ken Mackay from Dungog – we won a lot of tournaments including  most of the majors.   In 1961, the late Murray Bain, my father and Bill Hyem talked me into having a go for the Three Day Event team that would be competing at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.   Luck has it – I made the team and four years later in 1968 competed in the Mexico Olympics winning a bronze medal.” 


Brien grew up at “Parraweena”, attending the Shore School in Sydney, then jackarooing on properties at Dirranbandi, where he thrived on the horseback stock work. Back home at Willow Tree in the mid 1950’s he competed in camp drafting events and won the open camp draft event a the Quirindi Show for 11 years running and as he stated, he won two State Championships and the Australian championship.


As he mentioned, a taste for polo developed and he and his brother John formed a Willow Tree team with Sinclair Hill and Ken Mackay, quickly becoming almost unbeatable at the major events on the national circuit. 1962 marked his entry into three day eventing – the sport at which he would achieve international fame. His early coaching came from Bill Hyem of Kibah Station, Gunnedah, winning him selection two years later for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where his team finished in 13th place.


At the Mexico Olympics, four years later he won the bronze medal with team members Bill and Wayne Roycroft and James Scanlan. His horse was Depeche, a six year- old gelding he spotted at Wyong racecourse (where it ran second last) and bought for 600 pounds, turning it into a champion eventer in just three months. Depeche was the youngest horse to ever represent Australia at an Olympic Games.

Brian Cobcroft and Depeche at the Mexico Olympics 1968
Brien on the 3rd place medal podium at the Mexico Olympics in 1968. Brien is 2nd from right. L-R. Bill Roycroft, [Warrathoola], Wayne Roycroft, [Zhivago], Brien Cobcroft, [Depeche], Jim Scanlon [Furtive].



The final phase of his equine love affair began in the early 1980’s when he discovered the western horse sport of Cutting – a sport demanding expert riding skills and also fine coordination between horse and rider.  It was tailor-made for somebody of his abilities and he was soon intimately involved, both as a competitor and a breeder.    In 2001 he was inducted in the Non Pro Hall of Fame – he was at that stage the 10th leading non pro rider in Australia having won a string of Non Pro events in the 1980’s and 90’s which include Futurity and Derby Championships.  He also represented Australia four times in the USA/Australia Teams Challenge.


There would be few horsemen, if any, in Australia today, who have competed in so  many different disciplines and reached the upper levels of competition as this man.


For his many years of equestrian sports input, Brien Cobcroft was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000, received from Prime Minister, John Howard.

Brien, with Les Howard at the Willow Tree leg of the Sydney Olympic torch relay. September 2000.

There is a lovely photo and information tribute to Brien hanging in the entrance way to the "Gateway Coffee shop" at Willow Tree.


Brien passed away in July 2010, aged 75. His brother John passed away in 2005.

Another photo of Les and Brien in the olympic torch relay.

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Myles | Reply 28.03.2019 06:58

Warrah Estate 3rd subdivision was held at the Oddfellows Hall, Quirindi on Wednesday 5th December 1923 according to the sales brochure I have. Not 1932

Richard Pennefather | Reply 24.11.2018 20:00

I was fortunate enough to know Brian and the family as incredibly close friends ,I competed with and against Brian and there was never a more fun genuine mate

Julia Sundin | Reply 01.10.2018 22:26

Any images of the historic Paraweena?
I’m not on Facebook or Instagram.

David | Reply 19.12.2017 18:40

Remembering Brien from Parraweena rocket days! Sadly missed.

Shauna Knee | Reply 04.04.2014 19:56

Stumbled upon site when searching for Chesney Oaks. The Knee family were the original owners of Block 34 Chesney Oaks of 1912 subdivision. God's country :)

geoff barwick 05.04.2014 10:20

The Knees were mentioned in Terry's interview
When Billy drowned down a well in 1936.

wayne mcphee | Reply 06.03.2014 21:49

no one is ever gone while ever a single memory still remains
in my mind he will be around for a long time yet

Chris Graham | Reply 23.02.2014 11:01

I am just a simple man that was lucky enough to become mates with Brien. I will always miss him and never forget him. A giant amongst big men.

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Latest comments

25.09 | 09:36

Absolutely delighted to come across a part of my direct ancestors history about which I knew very little and shall endeavour to find out more
Thank you Prof. A.

23.09 | 22:23

Very interesting Kelaher family history. Impressive number of trained nursing sisters. Jack lent the Copelands a cream horse, Playboy, in 1950's, ridden by Kate

09.09 | 17:58

Wonderfully informative. Thank goodness for Jane and John Atchison's work

06.09 | 14:33

I am Jack Kelaher and I am proud of my pop, dad and ancestors.

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