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William Gilbert Forrester (1851–1924)

Another old northern South Australian identity has passed away, in the person of William Gilbert Forrester, of Minburra Station, who died on 28th May, in his 73rd year.

The lure of the northern areas, when first thrown open for selection, attracted Mr. Forrester, and induced him to select a farm in the Hundred of Belalie, situated about seven miles from Jamestown. A little later he acquired another farm near Black Rock, and in 1882 purchased Minburra Station from Mr. T. R. Bowman.

Subsequently he disposed of his farm at Jamestown in order to devote the whole of his energies to the grazing interests at Minburra. In those days the price of wool was very low, and stock cheap, and those who settled in that part of the country had a hard battle to make progress. During one of the droughts the then owner of Baratta Station, adjoining Minburra, had a mob of 7000 young sheep in very weak condition, with which he was travelling in search of feed and water. When passing through Minburra he offered the sheep to Mr. Forrester at a price at which they were refused. A few days later scattered thunderstorms occurred, which filled some of the dams on Minburra. The sheep were then turned back towards Baratta, the owner feeling confident that his country must have benefited by the thunderstorms. Mr. Forrester again saw him and said: —"I was nearly offering you 4d. per head for those sheep the other day," to which the owner replied:—"Well, had you done so you could have had them." Next day word was received from Baratta that no rain had fallen there. Mr. Forrester was then offered a half share in the sheep if he would provide feed and water for the mob. This offer he accepted, providing that the owner would care for the sheep until rain came. When the drought broke all that was left of those 7000 sheep was but 700. Later, in the 1896-8 drought, more than half the stock on Minburra perished.

Mr. Forrester, however, was a worker, and with that grit and energy that characterised the early settlers, struggled on through years of adverse conditions, and was ultimately rewarded by seeing a complete change in the financial outlook.

Mr. Forrester was a keen judge of stock and had a great attachment to horses, one of his greatest pleasures being in the handling of them. His name will long remain in the memory of the residents of Orroroo and district as one worthy of esteem, who battled hard and won.

The Minburra property was formed into a company in 1917, and the sons, Milton and Eardley, are now managing the business.

He leaves a family of five:—Mr. G. H. Forrester, of the West Coast; Mr. P. E. Forrester, of Southern Cross, W.A.; Mr. M. W. Forrester, of Orroroo; Mr. E. G. Forrester, of Minburra; and Mrs. H. Klopper, of Bridgetown, W.A. His wife, whom he married in 1876, also survives him.

Original publication

Citation details

'Forrester, William Gilbert (1851–1924)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


South Australia, Australia


28 May, 1924 (aged ~ 73)
South Australia, Australia