Jack McCraith made an empire from rabbits where Karoonda became the hub of his activities in the 1950’s.
Excerpts from The Rabbit King, Catherine Watson.
It is good wheat country now, but in the 1950s it was good for little else but rabbits. One of the most important social events of the year in Karoonda was the Rabbit Trappers’ Ball. They called it a ball, but it was basically a booze-up because most of the trappers were only average waltzers but pretty good drinkers. They came from all over South Australia and even Victoria. Trapping could be a lonely life, and this was a good chance to get together with people who shared the same interests ~ booze and gambling.
Recognising Karoonda’s potential (but never for one minute dreaming just how much it would be worth to him), Jack put in Jack Weir to co-ordinate the trappers and do the buying. Soon he had trucks travelling all through that rabbit-infested country emptying the little chillers at the trappers’ camps and bringing the rabbits back to Karoonda. Twice a week for more than 10 years a semi-trailer load of rabbits left Karoonda for Melbourne. They averaged about 25,000 rabbits a month, but many times it reached 50,000. At its height, the small town was the basis of an industry that kept hundreds of people employed, both around Karoonda and back in Melbourne. It was the most profitable depot Jack ever established. Karoonda made him rich.
In fact Jack named his house Karoonda in Essendon, Victoria.