History of West Australia/Mackenzie Grant

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Mackenzie Grant HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Barroni & Co.

THE love of pastoral and agricultural pursuit seems to be inborn in the Scottish Highlanders. Wherever in their native straths, or in foreign lands, they adopt the pursuit of their fathers, their attempts are followed in the most part with great success. There can be no doubt that the reason of that success, which cannot always be ascribed to the sacred wand of Fortune, lies with that intuitive faculty they have for judging the richness and poverty of soil. In Mackenzie Grant the love of wider fields, combined with a spirit of enterprise, must have been strong so that he could forsake the fertile glens of his youth. He was born in Strathspey in 1834. This glen is one of the most beautiful in the Highlands of Scotland, and the richest in agricultural soil. At the early age of sixteen years he came to Victoria, and settled in the Portland district. For a considerable period he remained there, gaining valuable insight into the methods of colonial farming, which differed so essentially from what he had learnt of it at home. In 1896, in company with J. E. Richardson, A. R. Richardson, John Edgar, and the late Mr. Anderson, he embarked on the Maria Ross for the North-West. Here they took up the Pyramid Station, and stayed there about eighteen months. They stocked it with the sheep and cattle they had brought with them from Victoria on board the Maria Ross. Then, in 1868, Mr. Grant, with John Edgar as partner, launched forth on a huge undertaking—the purchasing of the noted De Grey Station, with over a million acres. No doubt this was a large stride, and the unversed might judge it risky, but the "canny" Grant, with full mental equilibrium, knew well what he was about. At the present time there are over 80,000 sheep on the property—numbers conveying an approximate idea of the size of the station. The partners sold a part of it, called Muckin, to the Messrs. Darlot. Vastness, however, has got a great romance and affection for the mind; and no sooner had they parted with an inch than they bought a foot—taking over the large station of Mulye. It was soon after this that Mr. Grant, in conjunction with Messrs. Harper and Anderson, became engaged in the pearling industry. Anderson left the firm shortly after, and Edgar took his place. They were interested in the pearling industry for eight and a half years, and were highly successful in their collective efforts. Mr. Grant still holds a share in the De Grey Station. Pardu Station, adjoining the former, was acquired by Messrs. Anderson, Edgar, and Grant. Then, striking out on an investment of his own, Mr. Grant bought, fourteen years ago, Newinerricurra sheep and cattle station. Simultaneously with this purchase, he bought the Glengarry sheep station in the Victoria Plains district. He holds, besides all these enumerated, a huge paddock for cattle-rearing, which he bought from Sir John Forrest, and a thousand-acre estate near Geraldton, where he rears horses.

Virgil and other pastoral poets have cast such a ring of romance about a life like this as almost to deny to it any active, energetic nature. Mackenzie Grant was not, at all events, of that dreamy nature which leads to apathy and disconcern. Active and eager to give scope to his rich capabilities, he hurried on from one scene to one of greater scope. His speculations were always attended with considerable gain. At an early period of this colony, when as yet its mineral resources were unknown and undeveloped, it is to those men who farmed the agricultural and pastoral resources of the country that the chief thanks for its development is due. And no one deserves more than Mr. Mackenzie Grant.

[Since the above was written, we regret to hear of Mr. Grant's demise.]