Poll Merino pioneer in Queen's Birthday honours

Poll Merino stud master Ken Riley awarded an OAM


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Ken Riley pictured at Gowan, Blackall with his wife Margaret. Photo supplied.

Ken Riley pictured at Gowan, Blackall with his wife Margaret. Photo supplied.

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The man who was responsible for much of the development of the poll Merino industry in Australia, Ken Riley has received a Medal in the Order of Australia.

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The man who was responsible for much of the development of the poll Merino industry in Australia, Ken Riley has received a Medal in the Order of Australia.

Mr Riley, 90, has lived at Kojonup in Western Australia for the last 21 years but his name is synonymous with the Gowan Poll Merino Stud at Blackall.

He managed the property from 1952 to 1983 and said it was a very exciting time in the wool industry.

"Gowan grew from nothing to be the biggest poll stud in Australia - I guess I've seen the ups and downs of the whole industry," he said, adding that he was quite overawed by the Queen's Birthday honour.

As well as managing Gowan he worked as a pastoral consultant, a sheep classer, was asked to judge at numerous shows, and took on numerous roles with the Queensland Merino Stud Sheepbreeders Association - councillor, vice-president and president of the poll division.

He said the life memberships he'd been awarded, to the QMSSA, the Barcoo Pastoral Society (the organisation that runs Blackall's show), and to the Blackall Polocrosse Club, were some of his proudest achievements.

Ken Riley played polocrosse for a few years, here on the left as a member of the 2B Terrick team with Stuart Geary, David Glen, Bob Fawckner, Paul McIntyre and Ian Oakes, but took on more administrative work for the sport.

Ken Riley played polocrosse for a few years, here on the left as a member of the 2B Terrick team with Stuart Geary, David Glen, Bob Fawckner, Paul McIntyre and Ian Oakes, but took on more administrative work for the sport.

He played polocrosse for two or three years but it interfered too much with his work so he got involved in the administrative side instead.

For his dedicated years of work, he became the patron of both the Blackall and Central West Queensland polocrosse associations between 1988 and 1996.

Fellow Kojonup residents have also benefited from Mr Riley's hard work - he was awarded the local Rotary club's Paul Harris Fellowship Award in 2015.

Mr Riley is now a great-grandfather and said he was only sorry his wife Margaret was not alive to share the pleasure of the honour.

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