Remembering the life of Pat Dillon

The life of Pat Dillon, 1922-2016


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PAT Dillon was born on 17th September 1922 to Bessie and Frank Dillon, then manager of the Alpha district station, Surbiton, and on November 8 this year.

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Pat Dillon, photographed in 1998.

Pat Dillon, photographed in 1998.

PAT Dillon was born on 17th September 1922 to Bessie and Frank Dillon, then manager of the Alpha district station, Surbiton, and on November 8 this year. 

In 1933, he attended the Rockhampton Grammar School with his older brother Bob.  Both bothers left school at the end of the year and returned to Surbiton full-time as their father was very unwell. 

At 21, Pat assumed management of Surbiton for his father’s estate and with his wife and eldest son bought Surbiton in the mid eighties.

Pat’s keenest interest beyond family was without doubt, racing. 

He participated in the Sport of Kings as a breeder, an owner, and an administrator with excellent knowledge of both laws and ethics of the sport. 

He served on the Central Queensland Racing Authority from about 1978 to 1990 and for many years as President of the Alpha Jockey Club.  He was a Trustee of the racecourse land until his death.

Pat stood many metropolitan-winning Thoroughbred stallions at Surbiton including Yukon, from which he bred Yukon River, winner of more than 30 races including two Queensland Cups.  

Kanieri was Pat’s best-performed horse, winning the 1953 Townsville Cup in record time. In 2009, Kylie’s Star was Pat’s last winner.  

Pat loved livestock and had an excellent eye for quality in stock horses, cattle, and sheep.  He bred Shorthorn cattle up until the mid sixties, when he crossed them with Santa Gertrudis to reduce the impact of ticks. 

Surbiton prime bullocks were renowned by buyers of prime stock for their quality.  

Under Pat’s leadership, Surbiton carried commercial Merino sheep until about 1975, when after a series of wet years, spear grass became too great a problem. 

But he continued to stock smaller flocks including British breeds for meat production.  

As a manager of land, Pat will be remembered as having a very light tread, stocking his country conservatively and spelling routinely. 

He understood ecology before he knew the word, and had a deep and abiding love of land.  

Pat served the general community in local government, serving three terms from 1976 to 1985 on the Jericho Shire Council during the chairmanship of Steve Hack and Eddie Hoch.

Surbiton is a rainfall recording station for the Bureau of Meteorology of very long standing. 

No doubt this requirement to record rainfall for posterity helped Pat to develop an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of rainfall and its patterns along the Belyando River and Companion Creek. 

His memory of flood patterns and heights has been instrumental in saving stock, property, and in some cases, possibly lives.

Though it’s eighteen years since he and Denise left Surbiton, in the district he continues to be held in the highest esteem even by newcomers who don’t personally know him. 

In 1948, Pat married Denise McAuliffe, from Stagmount near Aramac and had seven children, Jack (deceased 2008), Eileen, Mary, Patrick, Kate, Claire, and Ken. 

Twelve grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren complete the family. 

In 1998, Pat and Denise retired to Rockhampton. 

In February this year, they moved to McAuley Place.  Surrounded by his family, Pat died on 8th November after a short illness. 

His funeral at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Rockhampton on 17th November was attended by many of his former employees as a mark of their respect for his leadership, his many friends, and his large family.

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