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Ernest Edward Duckett White (1879–1956)

Mr. Ernest Edward Duckett White, of Woodlands, Greenmount, Qld., one of the best known livestock breeders in Australia, died at Brisbane last month at the age of 77. He was the elder son of the late Albert William Duckett White, and a grandson of the late Hon. William Duckett White, M.L.C., who went to Queensland from Ireland in 1847, and purchased Beaudesert Station, Nindooinbah, on the Logan, and Bluff Downs, Charters Towers. The late Mr. E. E. D. White was born at Bluff Downs, which passed into his hands on the death of his father in 1914. In 1938 he sold to the Vestey interests all but the portion known as Toomba, which he owned at the time of his death.

Bluff Downs was stocked with Shorthorns in 1873, but during the 1875 drought a few Devon bulls were introduced with such good results that large numbers of Devon bulls were imported in subsequent years from England, as well as from New South Wales and Victoria. Mr. White, who judged at several Royal Shows at Brisbane and Sydney, also maintained a high-class herd of Shorthorns at Toomba. He was also interested in the possibilities of the Brahman cross in North Queensland, put eventually abandoned a project for introducing bulls of the breed.

The late Mr. White was best known to Australian cattle breeders as studmaster of the Woodlands Hereford stud, which he bred to withstand the hard conditions in the tropical north country. One of the leading bulls at Woodlands was Golf Hill Vulcan, while the stud was the birthplace of Woodlands Saxon, champion Hereford bull at the 1955 Brisbane Royal National, and later sold for the Queensland record price of 6000 gns. Some years ago he made over the stud to his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. George Bassingthwaighte, who have since continued to breed along the lines which had made Woodlands one of the foremost Hereford breeding establishments in Australia.

Mr. White, who was educated at The King's School, took a keen interest in secondary education, and his efforts contributed to the establishment in Charters Towers of All Souls' School -where White House provides evidence of his benefaction—and Thornborough College. He also interested himself in public affairs in general and was actively associated with the Dalrymple Shire Council and the Graziers' Association.

Mr. White was also one of the most successful blood stock breeders in Queensland, two of his best known horses being Coniston, winner of a Doomben £10,000, and Tea Rose, who won a Rosehill Guineas and an A.J.C. Derby. Until his recent retirement he was vice-chairman of the Queensland Turf Club.

An Appreciation
by Henry G. Lamond

With the recent passing of Ernest White we lose a stockmaster and a gentleman. He served with distinction in the First War; he managed his property with skill. As with the Annings, his name is not a part of North Queensland pastoral history: it is history. He loved his properties; he bred the best stock horses and cattle—and he was a just employer.

All conditions were alike to Ernest White. I heard of him swimming a fast-running creek in flood just to have the fun of battling the current. I first saw him when he was presiding at a vice-regal banquet; without bothering to change his clothes, and only altering his manner to fit the occasion, he immediately took the chair at another meeting which, decidedly, was not graced by royalty. He met all men fairly, whether opposed to them or in their favour. My outstanding impression of him was at a meeting of the U.G.A. I had prepared a speech which would raise blisters on an iron tank. Mr. White met me before the meeting and listened to what I had to say. He agreed I had a just grievance. He passed the remark: "It's so damned easy to be destructive; the hard part is to be really constructive." I did not deliver that speech.

He was famed as a stock judge in States other than his native Queensland, and I'd say, at a guess, his chief love of stock was thoroughbred horses and Devon cattle. I know he bred magnificent Suffolk Punches and that his Shorthorn and Hereford studs were famed. I have read he was devoted to the best racehorse he ever owned, Coniston, which won the £10,000 among other races. But in his secret heart I think Ernest White had his old stallion King's Scholar emblazoned with a laurel wreath about it. And, unknown to outside fame, I have an idea some old and good camp-horse was honoured in his memory. He was noted as a sportsman. I prefer to remember him as a stockmaster and a gentleman.

Original publication

Citation details

'White, Ernest Edward Duckett (1879–1956)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

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