About Us › the history

1900
N.H. Brown and his brother Reg owned stations near Dubbo, NSW. They were outstanding horsemen and they bred and played renowned polo ponies and picnic racehorses.
1912
NH and Reg travelled north by ship, wagon and horseback, determined to buy a large cattle station in the north. They found the land they were searching for in North West Queensland and made plans to sell their stations and move North.
1914
The First World War broke out.. Reg Brown volunteered for the First Light Horse, since his brother NH had recently married, and sailed with his horse Dipso, a former picnic racehorse, to the Middle East. They rode in the Charge of Bathsheba, and Captain Brown was later awarded the Military Cross for Valour.
On the day before the Light Horses were shot, a picnic race day was held by the Australian Army to celebrate the end of the war. The main race on the card was the Raffa Cup. Dipso – given by Captain Brown to his commanding officer after he was sent to Turkey – carried 19 stone to cover 2 furlongs in heavy sand and win from a field of 30.
After surviving postings to both Gallipoli and the Somme, Captain Brown was killed in an accident two weeks after peace was declared.
1918
His grieving brother NH Brown named his baby son after him.
1923
NH Brown had continued to run his station and breed racehorses. His filly Maltese (named in honour of the Maltese Cross won by his brother) won the Juvenile Stakes at Randwick in 1923. At the end of 1923, he moved North with his wife Leila Myrtle and their small children Reg and Nora to take up Nonda Downs, a station near Julia Creek, North West Queensland. He left his racehorses behind with trainers and remarkably, his success continued.
1926
His horse Grecian Orator won the Tattersalls Carrington Stakes and the AJC Christmas Handicap
1928
His mare Lipari won the Tattersalls Club Chelmsford Handicap (now Chelmsford Stakes)
N.H. Brown also left his band of broodmares with another of his brothers on his station at Dubbo. He continued to have his pedigree books sent North every year and bred his horses by letter, cablegram and the occasional visit south.
1939
With the war clouds gathering over Europe and the Japanese making threats to the North, NH Brown decided to sell all his broodmares. He believed that, should a Japanese invasion occur, those Australians living in the far North needed to have their affairs in order.
He sold Lady March, one of his favourite mares, who was already in foal to a stallion called Excitement. He had planned the mating to breed a stayer, and Lady March was purchased by Mr Joseph Leeds, a local stock and station agent. The mare later foaled a colt named Russia.
With the arrival of World War Two, Nonda Downs was well behind the Brisbane Line. The American troop trains travelled through the station on the railway line, the big hard clay pans were pegged out to make airstrips in case Darwin fell, mustard gas was buried nearby, and station owners were instructed on how to poison their bores with arsenic if the Japanese invaded. They were also instructed to shoot their women and children before they were captured.
1945
The war ended, and prosperity returned to the north.
1946
A horse called Russia won the Melbourne Cup. NH brown listened to the race on a crackling short-wave radio with his head-stockman Charlie Peno. “Well, there you go,” he shrugged. “I’ll just have to go and find another one.”
1953
NH Brown handed over the station to his son Reg and returned to live in Sydney. Before he left, Charlie Peno asked him what he planned to do in his retirement. ‘I’m going to find another Melbourne Cup winner,” he said.
1955
NH Brown travelled to New Zealand, for the Trentham Sales. He inspected the draft of Trelawney, and stud-master Seaton Otway advised him not to buy the colt he liked because he was a poddy foal, reared on the bottle and with a difficult nature. NH Brown wrote in the catalogue “Very tough, genuine customer. Will stay.” He brought him and shipped him home.
1956
NH Brown died in May, long before his colt had even seen a racetrack. He left the colt to his son Reg, who made a promise to himself to keep faith with his father’s judgment. He later turned down all offers for the colt.
1957
Reg Brown started to plan the racing strategy for his campaign to win the Melbourne Cup, all the way from an isolated station at Julia Creek, some 3,000 miles North of Melbourne. He flew south and changed trainers, switching the horse to Dick Roden, a former North Queenslander he met collecting suitcases at an airport terminal.
1958
Macdougal won the Queens Cup and a number of other important lead-up races.
1959
Macdougal won the Brisbane Cup, the Metropolitan and the Melbourne Cup within the space of six months. It remains the only Melbourne Cup to return to the Australian bush.
1960
Reg Brown rode Charlie Peno, a favourite station camp horse named in honour of his father’s head-stockman, to win the Hurry Scurry, a 2 furlong flutter for gentlemen riders over 10 stone at the Maxwelton (Pop 24) Picnic Races. “Hands and heels” he would say.
1963
Reg Brown trained Trees to win the Nelia (pop 26) Cup. Reg Brown also owned horses that won races with a variety of trainers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville and throughout North West Queensland.
He always kept his beloved ‘tin cups’ – the Maxwelton Hurry Scurry and the Nelia Cup –with all the rest of his racing trophies. “That’s what racing is all about,” he would say with a grin.
1976
Reg Brown handed the station horse books for the 200 Nonda horses to his daughter Heather. “It’s your turn now,” he said. They had ridden and mustered together for most of their lives, and they also trained and raced a number of horses together.
1983
Nonda Native Son Heather rides in the Winton to Longreach Hall of Fame Endurance ride beside bush legend RM Williams on Native Son, her station bred stock horse from the revered Rotorua family, which was owned by the family since 1923. He travelled 96 miles non-stop for the first leg of the ride and vetted through fully sound. The next day, the final 35 mile leg of the ride was covered by the horse in 2 hours and 11 minutes. He again passed all vet checks. Three days later, when Heather returned home to the station, her father Reg Brown passed away suddenly while he was unloading a mob of cattle.

Two weeks later, Nonda Native Whimsey – a station-bred filly sired by Native Son – won the station hack class at Brisbane Royal Show, becoming the first horse from North West Queensland ever to do so.
1984
The Cloncurry Stockman’s Challenge was launched in Cloncurry as a lasting Memorial. The solid silver Quart pot trophy is known as the Reg Brown Cup and the event – a grueling test of stockman ship and horsemanship – is now 22 years old. It is considered the “Melbourne Cup of the Bush’ – one of the greatest events of its kind in Australia.
1986
After the death of her father, Heather began to focus her attention on producing performance horses. She left Nonda Downs and moved South in 1986, bringing the finest mares form the Nonda broodmare band with her. She then carefully selected some ofAustralia’s finest horsemen to train and compete them. Legendary horsemen like Ian Francis and Terry Hall stepped into the saddle, and they have been riding Nonda horses – and generations of their descendants – ever since.
Nonda Night Bird (a sister to Native Son) wins the Queensland Junior State Champion at Dalby ASHS show. Star Carousel (owned by Nonda and ridden by Ian Francis) wins the Australian Cow Horse Futurity.
1987
Star Carousel wins the Cloncurry Stockmen’s Challenge.
1989
Nonda Tall Poppy wins the AQHA High Point Cow Horse of Australia. She was also awarded Runner-Up Reining Horse ofAustralia. Nonda Tall Poppy also won five ridden classes straight at Brisbane Royal Show on the same day.
1995
Nonda Let’s Talk Later (a granddaughter of Nonda Night Bird and bred from the Rotorua family of station camp horses owned by Nonda since 1923) is a Finalist in the National Cutting Horse Association National Futurity.
1996
Nonda Let’s Talk Later is a Finalist in the NCHA National Derby.
1998
Nonda Bebopaloopa (by Native Son) is awarded Champion Polocrosse Horse of Australia, Champion Horse of the National Finals, Champion Men’s Horse, Best No 1’s Horse, Champion Australian Stock Horse.
Nonda Yothu Yindi (a son of Star Carousel) wins the Stallion Draft at the Australian Stock Horse National Finals.
2000
Nonda Let’s Talk Later, a stock horse mare bred from a long line of station camp horses bred and owned by Heather, her father Reg and her grandfather NH Brown, won the Warwick Gold Cup (ridden by Terry Hall). The event is considered the World Cup of the sport. The mare is also a Finalist in the Canning Downs draft and sets a new course record (22 seconds). She wins the highest overall aggregate for the Gold Cup and the Canning Downs, and also wins the highest scoring ASHS and the highest scoring AQHA.
Nonda Let’s Talk Later also becomes the only horse in Australia to make the Final of both the NCHA Futurity, the NCHA Derby and the Warwick Gold Cup.
2001
The Nonda horses find a new home at Plaintree Farms, the new farm being developed by Heather Brown and Dr David Pascoe.
2002
Plaintree Farms announces the decision to move back into thoroughbred racing and breeding.
2003
Plaintree Farms announces they will stand Sunday Knight and Count Albrecht in a joint venture with Arrowfield and Mr John Messara.
2004
Plaintree Farms announces they will stand Conatus in a joint venture with Mr Gerry Harvey and the Conatus Syndicate.

Beware of him who has no use for horses.

—Winston Churchill from
Richard Carvel Volume 4