History of West Australia/William Dalgety Moore

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IN the fierce race for wealth the gold-seeker goes not alone. Men's minds are full of the golden messages which constantly rush through the world from the lean deserts of this colony. In every gathering of men, in Parliament, in clubs, in business houses, at street corners, on the seas, and even in the jarrah forests, gold is the all-absorbing topic of conversation. Meanwhile, we are apt to forget the splendid exploring pioneer developing work which is being laboriously and fructuously carried on by pastoralists and agriculturists. The history of the lives of those who have spent half a century or more in this colony are full of speaking incidents of useful work. Their yearly toil is not trumpet-tongued throughout the world. They do not stand on the housetops and claim the recognition and approval of every passer-by. They work quietly and sedulously, asking not for approbation. Their work, as they are hidden in their rural retreats, must end in rich future harvests for Western Australia. The history of every country shows plainly that tillers of the soil—the landed class—are the best and most valuable of the community, whether morally, physically, or in results of work.

Photo by


Nixon & Merrilees.

Western Australia natives have not been behindhand in this sphere of labour, and prominent among those who have been most successful is William Dalgety Moore, ex-M.L.C., who has had a varied experience which may be placed on the credit side of the colony's ledger. Mr. Moore was born at Oakover, on the Swan River, in 1835, his father, the late Samuel Moore, being one of the pioneers of the colony. At the age of fifteen years, Mr. Moore started his career in the office of Mr. J. S. Roe, Surveyor-General, where he remained four years. The adventurous spirit that caused the sire to leave home for the wilds of Australia proved to be inherited by the son, for at the age of nineteen years he relinquished his appointment in the Government service, and accepted a position on the station of Hamersley and Co., in the Irwin River district. The station, which was stocked with some 2,000 cattle and between seven and eight thousand sheep, was far away from any settlement, the only visitors being the wandering tribes of blacks. The painful experiences which so many pioneers have had with the natives were not shared by Mr. Moore, who by treating them kindly and firmly entirely gained their friendship. That his confidence in the blacks was not misplaced is shown by the fact that during the time he was on the station he frequently went on long exploring trips, and opened up a lot of new country, without being molested. His success among stock soon brought him reward, for, although very young, he was entrusted with the management of the property. While occupying this position he was asked to join an exploring party organised to open up country in the north-west. With this party, which consisted of Mr. F. T. Gregory, as leader, and Messrs. Roe, C. Nairne, and a Government chainer and a native, Mr. Moore did some splendid pioneer work. The party were absent for some five months, and in the following year Mr. Moore, accompanied by only two others, penetrated into the dreary wastes leading to the Murchison district. Stock from the Hamersley Station had to be driven some 200 miles to the market at Perth, and the prices realised for cattle, ranging from £7 to £8, are in marked contrast to those obtaining at the present day. In 1862, Mr. Moore decided to settle in Fremantle, and resigning the position of manager of one of the largest cattle and sheep stations in the colony, started business as a merchant in Fremantle. The keen business instincts which enabled him to conduct the affairs of his employers while managing so satisfactorily their property in the country, were of even greater value in the more varied business in which he embarked, and it goes without saying that he prospered. The business at the present time is among the most extensive of its kind in Fremantle, and is carried on in commodious premises situate in Henry Street. The management of the business was conducted by Mr. Moore up to three years ago, when he retired. A capacity for hard work enabled Mr. Moore to spare time to undertake responsible duties in connection with several important institutions. He was one of the most prominent members of the Chamber of Commerce, occupying the position of president for ten years, and he only retired from the chair eighteen months ago. He has been a director of the Western Australian Bank for seventeen years, is chairman of the local board of directors of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and on the board of advice of Dalgety and Co. Mr. Moore has large pastoral properties and farms on the Swan River, one being the beautiful estate known as "Millendon," and the other, "Oakover," where he was born. He was also the owner of "Cheriton," a splendid station property situate at Gin Gin, which he recently sold to Messrs. J. Edgar and Co. Mr. Moore, in 1870, was a member of the first elective legislature, representing Fremantle. After remaining in Parliament for three years, however, his multitudinous duties in the commercial world took up so much of his attention that he could not spare any time for politics, and he retired. In 1890, he was appointed a nominee member of the Legislative Council under Responsible Government and occupied a seat in the Upper House.

His knowledge of the country and its requirements, combined with his commercial experience, made him an invaluable member of the newly-constituted Parliament, and laws relating to the commercial and pastoral interests owe much to his acumen. It was, therefore, with regret that his fellow councillors heard of his determination to retire from public life.

This descendant of the worthy family of Moore gives an object lesson in his biography worthy of emulation. Pluck, energy, and observation were the qualities which brought him to his successful position.