Australian stockwhip

Australian stockwhip

What’s an Australian stockwhip?

An Australian stockwhip is a type of long Australian whip designed for mustering cattle. It consists of a stiff handle (the stock), the keeper, a flexible thong of plaited leather, the fall and the cracker.

Just like the North American bullwhip, the Australian stockwhip is capable of producing a sonic boom – a crack.

The Australian stockwhip has been used in Australia since the early 19th century is believed to have its roots in the English hunting whip.

Australian stockwhip

What is an Australian stockwhip used for?

The Australian stockwhip is used by mounted stockmen; the Australian eqvivalent of the North American cowboy. Today, both men and women work as stockmen in Australia, and the stockwhip is still an essential part of their equipment.

The stockwhip is a versitile whip with many uses, including:

  • Cracking the whip to encourage a mob of cattle to start moving or keep moving
  • A weapon against snakes
  • To keep contact with other mounted stockmen
  • A lead (leash) for an animal, such as a dog or a horse

The stockwhip was traditionally not used for herding sheep.


  • The stockwhip is part of the stipulated equipment in Australian stockman challenges.
  • In some Australian Stock Horse events, a stockwhip is included in the equipment.
  • In the contest “Stockman’s Chop”, the rider will use a stockwhip to chop down little pieces of paper attached to pegs.

How big is an Australian stockwhip?

Traditionally, the Australian stockwhip has been available in several different sizes, with 6 feet long being the standard size. Some of the smallest ones were just three feet in length (a child’s whip), while the longest ones are 10 feet or more.

Generally speaking, a stronger person will prefer a longer and heavier stockwhip than a weaker person, especially when mounted. Even a strong person can however find a shorter and lighter stockwhip handy for special environments, e.g. cattle yards and other crowded situations. Sometimes, short and lightweight stockwhips are called yard whips.

The length of an Australian stockwhip is measured by the length of the thong. So, a whip marketed as 5 feet long would have a 5 feet long thong. The measurement does not include the length of the handle, stock, fall and cracker.

What is an Australian stockwhip made from?

The traditional material for an Australian stockwhip is redhide, but greenhide leather and kangaroo hide have also been used. Today, kangaroo stockwhips are among the most expensive ones, and they usually have a fully plaited handle.

What’s redhide?

A cowhide that has gone through a specific tanning process and become deep red / brown coloured.

What’s greenhide?

The untanned hide of an animal.

The different parts of the Australian stockwhip

The stock (handle)

Compared to the famous North American bullwhip, the Australian stockwhip have a longer handle (stock). The standard stock is made from cane and has a part plaited leather grip. The stock is not integrated into the thong – a keeper is connecting the thong to the stock instead. One of the benefits of this design is that it becomes fairly easy to replace the stock.

The keeper

As mentioned above, the keeper is the part of the stockwhip that connects the stock with the thong. The keeper consists of a wide strip of leather and will pass over the end of the stock, loop through the end of the thong and then be joined to the stock.

The thong

The long and plaited section of the stockwhip is called thong. The standard length for the thong is 6 feet, but shorter and longer whips are available as well.

Traditionally, the thong of an Australian stockwhip was made from redhide, greenhide or kangaroo hide. Redhide whips will normally have four plaits, although six plaits is also quite popular. For kangaroo whips, eight or twelve plaits is the standard. On some kangaroo whips, the plaiting is made even finer by the use of cut narrow strands of hide. These whips tend to be very expensive.

The fall

At the end of the thong, you will find the fall. The fall is approximately 24 inches (60 cm) long and made from a single piece of tapered hide (typically rawhide or redhide). Unlike the thong, it is not plaited. The tapered design causes the whip to move faster towards the end.

When a stockwhip is used, the fall is subjected to a lot of wear and tear. If the fall is of low quality, expect to be changing it frequently.

The cracker

The cracker is attached at the end of the fall. It’s just 4 inches long or so, and consists of a twisted pieces of short rope with a frayed end. On some stockwhips, it is made from horsehair or hay band (baling twine).

The cracker aids in dispersing the sound of the sonic boom (the cracking sound).

A lot of stress is placed upon the cracker when the stock whip is used, so you should plan on replacing it frequently.