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Morrison, Alexander Leslie (Alec) (?–1925)

by Old Hand

Alexander Morrison, n.d.

Alexander Morrison, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 March 1925

On the 20th February there died at his home in Randwick, near Sydney, in Alexander Leslie Morrison, probably the best known sheep man of this or any other time. He spent his early days at Paika, in New South Wales, and at Ercildoune, in Victoria, where under James Cruikshank (Victoria's leading stud master) he gained his earliest experience of stud sheep. Even in those days he left his mark, for years afterwards Sir Samuel Wilson spoke most highly of both Morrison and his work, although he was a junior at the time he lived at Ercildoune.

Alec Morrison was a Scotsman, who spent nearly fifty years of his life in New South Wales. He was one of the best all-round stockmen I ever met, being equally at home with sheep, horses and cattle, and he could handle them in any sized mobs that came his way.

I first met him on Toorale Station in the West Darling country, and we and others fought a great drought through under the direction of the then managing owner, John McCaughey, Alec rode "Gongolgon'' through that drought, and at least one man in Riverina to-day (Donald McLarty, of Bundure, who once owned "Gongolgon") could tell you what a stayer and grand hack he really was. "Nevertire" should have been his name, for he carried Alec Morrison 85 miles straight off one day, and neither horse nor rider turned a hair.

The Toorale station-bred horses, too, were wonderful. John McCaughey loved a good horse, and bred thousands of them for the Indian remount service, and provided a man could ride a bit, as Alec could, he might have as many mounts on Toorale as he pleased. They took some riding, but we gladly chanced a spill for the sake of having a horse that would see one through a long day's mustering, and then be ready for next day if necessary. Alec was head overseer on Toorale in those days. Matthew Robinson and Thomas Vincent were then on Dunlop, and later these two purchased both runs when Sir Samuel and John McCaughey sold their interests and John McCaughey went to Yarrabee.

There was a racecourse on Toorale in those days, and one could see a gallop now and then by getting up early enough; and those horses never galloped too fast or too far for Alec and other young braves who rose extra early when they got the tip from the trainer.

Alec Morrison early showed great aptitude for stud sheep work, and when he left the Darling country he added to his knowledge under the late Sir Samuel McCaughey at Coonong. Later he managed the Widgiewa stud (now North Boonoke) until some time after F. S. Falkiner and Sons purchased from the late J. S. Horsfall. Morrison then retired from stock work and started in business on his own account in Sydney, but his heart was always in the country, and when a favourable opportunity of selling out came, he returned promptly to sheep work, and during the past ten years or so has classed many of the leading stud flocks on properties where his unique knowledge and interesting personality will be sadly missed by all with whom he came in contact.

Alec Morrison was richly endowed with brains; but his life's work, while it took him right to the front as a sheep man, never gave him the fullest opportunity of showing just how able he really was. Still a great number of men less gifted, many of whom he helped in times of stress, loved him for qualities all too rare, recognising besides the ability, honesty and courage that led him upward and onward to the end.

He leaves a widow and two daughters, both of whom are married, to mourn the loss of a most excellent husband, father and good friend.

Original publication

Citation details

Old Hand, 'Morrison, Alexander Leslie (Alec) (?–1925)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/morrison-alexander-leslie-alec-749/text750, accessed 18 June 2019.

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Alexander Morrison, n.d.

Alexander Morrison, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 March 1925