Vale Ian Alexander

The passing of a pastoral legend

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With a lifetime dedicated to the land, the life of Ian Alexander was a rich one.

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Ian Alexander passed away unexpectedly in Sydney aged 85 years, on Sunday April 2.

A grazier of pioneering stock he was born on October 20, 1931 at Fairview Private Hospital Moree, to Frederick John and Florence Josephine Alexander. Governess educated on the family property, Murki at Boomi in north-western NSW, he later attended the Knox Grammar school in Sydney where he excelled academically and was remembered as one of the kindest boys at the school. Declining a scholarship to BHP and later the opportunity to manage a cattle ranch in Argentina, he elected instead to return to Murki.

Following his father’s death in 1955, at age 23, he became the third generation to inherit the property. He managed Murki and his associated holdings through drought, floods and fires, working the land until his retirement aged 84 to Moree in 2016.

Murki was first selected in 1893 and in the 124 plus years of ownership the Alexander families’ rural interests have included seven holdings in the Boomi/Goondiwindi district as well as the 44,500 hectare Yathong Station in western NSW, now a national park. One of the original family holdings, Mona at Boomi, lost during the depression was repurchased by Ian as soon as it came back on the market and is still held by the family.

A mixed agricultural business comprising dryland cropping, merinos and beef cattle, Murki was initially a sheep station. The original merinos were overlanded from another Alexander property at that time, Kulki at Inverell, in 1893, by Ian’s grandfather.

Ian maintained the Murki Stud for a number of decades with a predominantly Haddon Rig bloodline and was a regular fixture at the Dubbo ram sales. In later years he concentrated on Hereford cattle, breeding large framed beefy types and was a great supporter of the annual Glen Innis Hereford Bull sale. The recent downsizing of the Alexander’s Boomi holdings eighteen months ago saw the retention of two properties in the area, allowing the family to concentrate on their commercial Hereford breeding herd.

A fearless rider in his youth and race horse enthusiast, the stud sire Valiant Lee stood at Murki during the 1950s.  In later years Ian’s passion for racing saw his involvement with many racehorses including Continent, Summer Escape and the well-known picnicker Sahara Bounty who won the Moree Picnic Races Boolooroo Cup among others.

Ian was a Life Member of the Moree Men’s Club and the Moree Picnic Race Club, Club President of the Moree Picnic Race Club in the 1990s and a member of the Australian Jockey Club and the Royal Agricultural Society for over fifty years. A director of Radio 2VM Moree and Appledore Investments Sydney, Ian was also a signatory for the Pindari Dam development and NSW Grazier representative to the ANZ bank for a decade. He was heavily involved in the Country Party and the Combined Churches Boomi Camp Draft, to which he contributed cattle for many years.

Gifted with a great recall for poems, he could recite many a verse by Banjo Patterson by heart. With a lifetime dedicated to the land, his was a rich life. He loved people and animals, enjoyed a yarn and was passionate about the bush. Ian’s pastoral knowledge was vast and he will be remembered for his love of the land and family, terrific sense of humour, hospitality – the parties at Murki were legendary and generous spirit. He is survived by his wife, Mrs Marita Alexander, nee Head and their four children, John (Houston, Texas), Nicole (Moree), Scott (Sydney) and Brooke (Sydney) and their families.

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