John Macarthur is regarded as being a man of great influence in the early years of settlement. He was a British army officer with skills in architecture, and was involved in politics. But he is best known for his work in setting up the wool industry and introducing the merino sheep to Australia. This was reflected by Australia where there is an image of John Macarthur and a merino sheep on the old $2 note, which is not in circulation anymore.
In 1790, John Macarthur and his wife Elizabeth Veale arrived in Port Jackson to join the Corps as a lieutenant and was appointed as commandant at Parramatta. THe journey for his family was part of the second fleet of ships which also transported many convicts where the conditions were very bad. Macarthur was an argumentative man and would not get along with Governor Phillip at the time.
Later Major Francis Grose arrived, who would indulge with many of the officers of the Corps including Macarthur. In 1793 Major Francis Grose, who was acting Governor, granted Macarthur 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land at Rose Hill near Parramatta, where he improved the land using convict labour. As a result, he was awarded a further 100 acres in April 1794.This property was named ''Elizabeth Farm'' after his wife.
In 1796 Macarthur bought some Spanish merino sheep from South Africa. At the time the use of sheep''s wool was not highly regarded, and instead the sheep was primarily used for its meat. Macarthur realised the potential of quality wool production. Many other farmers cross-bred their sheep which often produced poor quality wool. The pure merino sheep which were originally bred in SPain, produced high quality wool suitable for spinning and weaving for clothing.
In 1801 he returned back to England to stand trial over a dispute with a Colonel. During this time he met with authorities and was able to get support for a grant of 10,000 acres for a large sheep-run south of Sydney. The land granted was later reduced to half. While Macarthur was away, Elizabeth ran the farm, and continued to concentrate building up their and by 1803 they had over 4000 merino sheep.
In 1808 Macarthur was in trouble for his role in the ''Rum Rebellion'' where he resigned from the army. He was exiled from New South Wales and didn''t return from England until 1817. In England he spent his time learning about sheep and wool and convinced the government in England that Australia could could become an important producer of fine wool. Elizabeth remained on the farm and used many labourers and servants to help run the farm.
Today both John Macarthur and Elizabeth Macarthur are remembered for their contribution in establishing the wool industry in Australia. Now there is the Elizabeth Agricultural Insitute while John was commemorated on the old $2 note.