Cobb & Co was the name of the company that carried mail and passengers in Australia from 1853 until the 1920s and pioneered passenger road transport in the country.

The company was formed by Freeman Cobb and a group of other Americans, and their first service for a distance of only 5km, was from the city of Melbourne to Port Melbourne. The coaches were uncomfortable, but they were well patronized. A year later the service was expanded to take diggers to the goldfields at Bendigo, In 1856 Cobb sold his share in the company, but his name was retained. When James Rutherford became manager in 1861, he made the company into the biggest coaching firm in Australia. Within a year he had extended routes across the border from Victoria into New South Wales and operations in Queensland began in 1865. Within another five years the company’s coaches were traveling 4,500 km a week in three Colonies.

The first drivers were Americans, whose experience was gained with Wells Fargo. Soon local drivers acquired the necessary skills and became familiar and welcome figures to thousands of Australians in the outback. When railways replaced Cobb & Co on certain routes, the company extended its services to more remote areas. Hotels were built to provide accommodation at major stops on the routes which sometimes became the foundation for the towns.

The company bought a motor coach in 1911, but developed no practical plan to mechanize their services. As the former routes became unprofitable the coaches were withdrawn, and the railways and motor vehicles deprived Cobb & Co of their main source of revenue, its mail contracts. However, the company continued to operate until 1924 when the last horse-drawn coach ran between Surat and Yuleba in Queensland.

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