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Sir Ernest Augustus Lee Steere (1866–1957)

One of the best known members of a pioneer Western Australian family died at his home in Perth last month. He was Sir Ernest Lee Steere, K.B., who was 91 years of age, and who during all his long life had given much service to his State. Born at Beverley in 1866, he was a son of Augustus Lee Steere, a brother of Sir James Lee Steere, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 1890 to 1903.

Sir Ernest's pastoral life began in the 1880's, when he rode with packhorses to the Murchison and started work on a station. In 1888 he bought Belele Station, in the Meekatharra district, a property which was then practically undeveloped, but which, over the years, was brought to a high state of production. Later, with his son Ernest, he founded the Merino stud at Chilimony and The Bowes, in the Northampton district, and this is now one of the biggest Merino studs in Western Australia. Another property was Hawthornden, at Toodyay, which is now run by Mr. Ernest Lee Steere, who has won the Governor's Cup at the last three Perth Royal Shows.

Sir Ernest had a variety of interests and did as much to promote the secondary industries as he had done for the primary industries of the State. He was partly responsible for the beginnings of the freezing works at Fremantle and the woollen mills at Albany, and for many years was closely associated with Elder, Smith and Co. Ltd., the A.M.P. Society, and the W.A. Trustee, Executor and Agency Co. Ltd. Some of his most valuable work was as a member of the committee of the Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra, which sponsored the migration of British children to Australia.

In 1946 Sir Ernest presented a farm at Mingenew, valued at £8000, for subdivision for the settlement of discharged servicemen. At about the same time he retired from active business, and most of his interests were taken over and continued by his son Ernest.

Sir Ernest, who was a former chairman of the Western Australian Turf Club, was well known in Australian racing circles as the owner of one of the greatest of Australian horses, Eurythmic, with which he won the Caulfield Cup in 1920. Eurythmic's record was 30½ wins, six seconds, and four thirds for a total of £36,891 in stakes. He also won the Caulfield Cup with the mare Maple in 1928. Another of his horses that made a name outside Western Australia was Second Wind, which ran second to Phar Lap in the Melbourne Cup of 1930, and won a King's Cup. In Western Australia he won the W.A. Derby with Eurythmic, Maple, and Second Wind, and, in partnership, with Yandil.

Sir Ernest married a daughter of the late C. Y. O'Connor, the engineer who designed the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme and the Fremantle harbour. There were three sons and three daughters of the marriage but two of the sons were killed in the 1939-45 war.

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'Lee Steere, Sir Ernest Augustus (1866–1957)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 July 2024.

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