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McKellar, Thomas (1820–1900)

Thomas McKellar, n.d.

Thomas McKellar, n.d.

from Australasian Pastoralists' Review, 15 August 1900

The death of Mr. Thomas McKellar, which took place at his residence, Moorakyne, Malvern, near Melbourne, on 2nd inst., at the age of eighty-one years, removed one of the small remaining band of the pioneers of the Western District of Victoria—men whose names will always be held in memory for their hardiness, shrewdness, and religious character.

Mr. McKellar was the eldest son of the late Mr. John McKellar, of Knebsworth, one of the early Victorian woolgrowers, and was born in Scotland in 1820. He came out to Victoria in 1848, and gained his first colonial experience in the Wimmera with his cousin, Mr. Dougald McPherson, who was at that time in partnership with Mr. William Taylor, of Overnewton, a well-known colonist. Then, after taking a look round, he purchased Hyde Park Station, with Mr. James Cochrane for a partner; and subsequently bought Mr. Cochrane out. Some years after he bought Kenilworth, the adjoining station, and worked them together for several years. Both these stations are in the immediate neighbourhood of Hamilton. He eventually sold Hyde Park to Mr. A. McGill, and Kenilworth to Mr. John Mackersey, with the intention of returning to Scotland and settling there; but, on second thoughts, decided to remain in the colony, and in 1859 purchased Kanawalla, from Mr. W. Skene. This turning out a profitable investment, he bought the Grange Station from Mr. John Moffatt, and after settling there for a time he changed the name to Strathkellar. Later on he bought Croxton Station, also in the neighbourhood of Hamilton, from Mr. John Macpherson, who was at one time Minister of Lands for Victoria. He sold Kanawalla to Mr. Austin, and bought Reedy Creek Station, in the south-east district of South Australia, from Messrs. Davenport and Glen. This station was afterwards called Gillap. Again he made up his mind to return to the old country, and selling his South Australian property to good advantage, he sailed in 1863 for his native land, taking his wife and family with him, and leasing Strathkellar and Croxton, now freehold estates, to his brother, Mr. David McKellar.

On his return from the old country he bought Tarrone, near Warrnambool, and subsequently handed over that property to his three sons, John, Thomas, and James, who all died some years ago.

He made frequent visits to Scotland, living there, in fact, a good deal on the estate of Lerags, in Argyleshire, which he purchased from his wife's cousin, Mr. J. B. Campbell. During his earlier absences from Australia he leased his estates, but subsequently left them under the management of Mr. John Todd, who was his attorney at the time and had been intimately associated with him since 1855. Recently Strathkellar has been taken under lease by Mr. Donald, who is the present occupier. Besides Strathkellar, Croxton, and Tarrone, in Western Victoria, Mr. McKellar owned Raglan Station, in Queensland.

Mr. McKellar was a far-seeing man, with great confidence in the future of Victoria, shrewd, good at figures, and one who did not go into a speculation before he made all his calculations, providing against every possible adverse contingency, and his success proves how accurate these calculations were. His word was his bond, and once he had spoken it was as good as writing. A keen sportsman, he was also a very charitable man, and always to the front in support of every philanthropic and patriotic scheme. With Sir W. J. Clarke, Sir Samuel Wilson, and a few others, he subscribed the fund which enabled Ernest Giles, the explorer, to undertake his second expedition through the interior of Australia. He will also be remembered in having been the introducer of hares into Western Victoria.

Mrs. McKellar has survived her husband, and of their family two sons and four daughters are alive. The sons intermarried with the Cumming, Urquhart, and Rutledge families, all pioneer settlers of Western Victoria.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • probate, Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 19 October 1900, p 5

Citation details

'McKellar, Thomas (1820–1900)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 30 September 2020.

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