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Alfred Robert Withers (1863–1956)

Alfred Withers, n.d.

Alfred Withers, n.d.

from Pastoral Review and Graziers' Record, 15 September 1956

A successful pioneer of the lower West Darling country, and most highly respected by a legion of friends for his outstanding character, in which kindness and humility always predominated, Mr. Alfred Robert Withers died at his home, Woodhayes, Glen Osmond, Adelaide, on 3rd August, aged 93. The last few years of his life were in great and unfortunate contrast to the energetic career upon which he embarked as a lad, for he had been confined by illness to his lovely home. Nevertheless, he remained a very happy man and revelled in a yarn with old friends who dropped in.

His father, the late John Henry Withers, of Woodhayes Farm, Exeter, Devonshire, England, came to Australia in 1876 with his wife and son, who was 13 years of age, and took up a small area of virgin country on that part of the Darling River known as the Anabranch, near Wentworth. He formed Yarvallah, Rosedale, and Woodlands Stations, and later Boxgrove out of small beginnings.

Mr. A. R. Withers took over Woodlands, which still remains in the possession of his sons and grandsons, and in 1911 purchased Mallee Cliffs Station, near Mildura, from the late Ben Chaffey. He made this latter place his home until its sale in 1926, when he went to live at Nalpa Station, near Strathalbyn. This 10,000-acre property 22 miles south of Murray Bridge, at the confluence of the river Murray and Lake Alexandrina, had been purchased four years earlier from the trustees of Estate late Sir Edward Stirling. Here he put into effect a progressive policy of water and fencing improvements to run a high class flock of Merino sheep and a herd of stud Shorthorn beef cattle that are now ranked amongst the best in Australia. Nalpa homestead was transformed into one of the nicest pastoral homes of South Australia and today is surrounded by an extensive garden, flowering gums, and other shady trees.

When in 1925 the late Mr. Withers decided to breed stud cattle he chose Shorthorns from the John Dunne Estate, at Netley, as these represented the best families of the celebrated Collingrove stud bred by the late C. H. Angus. His foundation sire was a son of Masterkey (imp.) which he took to Adelaide and won champion honours in 1926 and 1928, the only times shown. One of this bull's sons, Lord Nalpa, won the reserve championship at Adelaide in 1928. Breeders were added to the stud from the studs of the late A. J. Simpson and A. J. Webb, and a sire by Collynie King Edward (imp.) was purchased at Sydney Royal Show in 1929. This bull also was taken to Adelaide and won the champion award. As the stud progressed the owner imported a number of sires from Scotland, amongst the more recent of which were Royal Statesman (imp.) from Kirkton, and Kirkton Forrester (imp.).

The success of his stud was a source of pride to the late Mr. Withers, just as were the successes of his thoroughbreds on the South Australian turf. To him it was all a matter of accomplishment. Life was a game to be played hard but fairly, strictly to the rules, with no excuses for failure, and kind feelings towards all. The Lucknow gelding Lahara was one of his favourite horses to win good races, while others were Panka, which won a Goodwood handicap, Plana, Plica, Murray Magpie, and Biara. He was a member of the leading turf clubs of his State, and a keen supporter of local bodies in the districts in which he lived.

In 1888 Mr. Withers married Margaret, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Edward Stewart, of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, and throughout her brief life she was a devoted partner, especially when they were struggling through hard times on Woodlands Station, building up their family and fortunes. He always gave her full credit for the achievements which came his way. The family consists of two daughters—Mrs. W. Garnet Kain, of Mildura, and Mrs. R. H. Ayliffe, of Adelaide—and three sons—Alfred R., of Adelaide (formerly of Yararoo, near Port Wakefield), Edwin R., of Nalpa, and Bertram, who is at Woodlands.

Original publication

Citation details

'Withers, Alfred Robert (1863–1956)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Alfred Withers, n.d.

Alfred Withers, n.d.

from Pastoral Review and Graziers' Record, 15 September 1956

Life Summary [details]


Devon, England


3 August, 1956 (aged ~ 93)
Glen Osmond, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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