Good Old Days on Cooplacurripa

Good Old Days on Cooplacurripa


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Featured Image: ‘Old’ Cooplacurripa believed to be Cooplacurripa homestead in the mid-1800s



Written ‘The Wingham Chronicle.’



I was about eleven years of age when I first went to Cooplacurripa Station. I was born at Cooplacurripa, and my father— the late James Hinton— was stockman, horse breaker, and blacksmith on Cooplacurripa for years before I was old enough to play a part m station work and station life.


I was hired by Mr. J. K. Mackay, and he had a share in Giro Station. When on one occasion I was sent over to Giro Station, there was mustering work being carried out at the time at Glenrock, and I was instructed to go there. I met some of the crack riders of the day at Glenrock.


There were three dark fellows there. They were Jimmy Doyle, Jack Cook, and Albert Widders. These three men were great horsemen. Jack Cook was out on his own for breaking in horses and as an ‘all round’ horseman. Albert Widders was the best man I ever saw in a yard drafting wild cattle on foot. I have seen wild cattle charge straight at him. Albert would just step neatly aside, and the wild beasts would pass on. Under similar circumstances most other men would have been on the top of the fence.

Alec. Campbell was Boss on Glenrock Station at the time to which I am now referring. Billy Bristo was the head stockman on the same station.


On one occasion I remember we went from Glenrock Station to what was known as ‘Tuglo.’ This place is part and parcel of the Station property.We camped at ‘Tuglo’ for the night.

When morning dawned, we went to look for our horses. I did not bother taking a bridle with me. I could see a grey horse up on the ridge, and I thought it was mine. When I got up to the animal, I dis covered it was not mine. I did not bother going back for a bridle. I got on the tracks of the two horses I was looking for and followed them down the creek for about two miles. They were making towards Giro. I eventually overtook the two horses, put the hopple straps round one fellow’s neck, and the other one followed me. As I was returning up the’ river again to where we had camped the previous night, a mob of wild horses happened along. Some of the Glenrock chaps had started them when they were after their horses. My horse caught sight of the wild mob, and he set out after them at full gallop, 1 only had the hobble strap round his neck, and no saddle on.


I stuck him going down into a steep gully. He jumped over the gully, and was cutting out the pace in fine style going round a steep sidling. I thought it about time to leave him, and I seized a favourable opportunity and threw myself off. I rolled about 25 yards down the hill before I struck a tree. However, I was not seriously hurt.

The two horses caught up with the wild ones and went on with them. When I returned to the camp, I told Mr. Campbell what had happened. He sent two men after the horses. They got them on a high top, and the wild horses kept the two station horses away from them. The two station horses were duly caught and brought back to camp. One of them had been ‘bit’ about a little by the wild horses.


Some of the happiest and jolliest stockmen I ever’ met I was brought into contact with at Glenrock in my young days. There were many smart horsemen amongst them— men who could hold their own with the best men that ever hopped into a saddle.


When I was at Glenrock, Mr. Alec Campbell bought an outlaw horse at Muswellbrook. He brought him over to Glenrock Station, and wanted some of his men to ride the outlaw? None of them showed any burning desire to mount the animal. Jack Cook, who was in the employ of Mr. Augustus Hooke at Curricabahk, was at Glenrock Station at the time. Cook was helping them to muster at Glenrock. Mr. Campbell said to ‘Cook: ‘What about you having a seat on him, Jack?’ Cook replied: ‘No, Boss. I’ll buy him from you.’ So Campbell finished up by selling the outlaw to Cook for the same money he had paid for him at Muswellbrook.

Cook took the outlaw over to the blacksmith’s shop and shod him. I helped to hold him whilst this was being done. After he had been shod, Jack Cook saddled the outlaw, and mounted him. He took him over into a little paddock near the homestead before he got on him. He was a very hard horse to get on. He used to rear straight in the air as soon as Jack put his foot into the stirrup. Jack managed to get into the saddle anyhow. The outlaw wheeled round, and bucked clean over the fence without touching it. From there he bucked down over a steep bank into the creek. He then bucked down the bed of the creek, in the water. He struck a rock while bucking in the creek, and the result was that the girths broke.

There were quite a number of station hands watching the exhibition of horsemanship. We sang out to Cook that his girths were broken. Cook jumped off. As soon as he did so, the saddle slipped round on the outlaw, and he gave it one kick and sent it flying yards up along the bank of the creek.

Cook still held the bridle and stuck to the outlaw. He brought him up into the same paddock again and saddled him once more. He then hopped on to him. This time the outlaw bucked over the fence on the opposite side to that he had cleared in the first instance. It was a two-rail fence. Cook had the best of the outlaw, and the outlaw never touched it. Shortly after and rode him to a standstill. He was the only man who ever did so.

Cook had this outlaw for years. He could ride him all right, but no one else ever succeeded in sticking him. Cook sold the horse at various times to different people— on trial—but every time he got him back— none of them could ‘sit’ him.


I have ridden with many rough riders in my younger days, but I would say that the late Duncan McPherson and W-. H. Mackay were out on their own— that is to say, as real rough riders. They did a lot of rough-riding on Cooplacurripa years ago.

I do not want to blow about myself as a rough-rider in my young days, but I can honestly say this, that I could generally keep in sight of the best of them. The two roughest stations I ever rode on were Giro and Glenrock. They had some splendid horses on both those stations in my young days— no better’ or more spirited animals ever looked through a bridle. . .

My experience of bush riding is that you will find a lot of good riders downhill. However, where the good riding and judgment count is going round steep sjdings and into steep gullies ”at a good bat.”


To get away from rough-riders for a moment, might I mention another matter. Many years ago, Tom Briton used io run’ the mail’ from Gloucester to Walcha. He carried the mails, of course, on horseback. Tom was a hard old case and could pitch a good yrn with the best of the hands of his day.

Tom used to stop at Nowendoc at night— at Mr. Thomas Laurie’s— and he frequently had a great job crossing the rivers in flood time. He had to cross the Little Manning but went round the rest of the rivers. Whenever he came to a flooded stream, and he was mounted on his well-known black pony, Tom Briton was never afraid to put the animal into the stream. He used to reckon this animal was the best thing he ever saw in water. Tom said he would sometimes come to a river, find it was running a banker; but he would secure the mail matter, put it in bags, tie the bags up tightly, and fix them securely to the saddle.

Then he would put the black pony into the stream. Tom used to say that the only thing that troubled him was holding his breath long enough—as the mare used to ‘walk straight across the bottom of the stream.’ Tom swore by the ashes of his fathers that many a time ‘he ‘ ‘heard’ the logs’ clinking over the top of him.’


On one occasion Tom Briton went on to Walcha, and a heavy snowstorm came on. Coming back from Walcha with the mail, he lost his track in the snow. He got two miles out of his course, and then ‘struck’ a fence. Fletcher’s boundary rider from an ad joining station was on his rounds, and saw a horse tied up to the fence and covered with snow. The boundary rider went up, brushed the snow off the bags, and off the pony, and discovered it was Tom the mailman’s property.

Eventually the boundary rider found old Tom Britain lying against a big log. Tom had half a bottle of rum lying alongside of him. The boundary rider pulled the cork out of the rum bottle. Tom could not speak, nor could he open his mouth. It was frozen. So, nothing could be done with the rum just then.


The boundary rider got Tom on to his own horse and led him down to a hut about two miles distant. There he got Tom off the horse, and laid him down inside the hut, whilst he made a fire. He put on a quart of water. It was soon pretty well. boiling. He poured some of the hot water on Tom’s mouth, and through the medium of the hot water Tom the Mail

man recovered his speech, as he was able to open his mouth. He was also able to sit up and take a little nourishment—liquid and otherwise. Tom stopped there till the rum was finished, and he felt all right. Then he proceeded on his way to Gloucester, little the worse for his cold experience.


Tom Briton was one of those kind good-hearted old mailmen. There was a woman on his mail route those days who was always asking Tom to bring heavy parcels up from Gloucester for her. One day she asked Tom if he could bring a flowerpot up for her. Tom’s reply was pretty effective. He said: ‘No, Missus, I have a plough and harrow to bring up next time on horseback with. me, so it will be quite impossible to bring a flower, pot without breaking it.’

That was the finish of requests from the woman in question to bring ‘cargo’ along from Gloucester— and Tom was not sorry.

Tom died years ago at Gloucester. He had many genuine friends amongst the old hands, all of whom had a good word for him and at least some of the readers of this article will remember him.

Cooplacurripa Cattle Droving

Cooplacurripa Cattle Droving


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The Gloucester Advocate (NSW : 1905 – 1954)  Fri 22 Jul 1932 Page 4 


Top of Form


Written for the ‘Wingham Chronicle’


Article. No. 14.

Featured Image: Cattle Droving Photograph c. 1950s


I remember in the very early days a big mob of mixed cattle being shifted from Cooplacurripa Station to the Barwon. Mr. J. K. Mackay had a station out on the Barwon, and also owned Cooplacurripa at the same time. ‘Mercadool’ was the name of Mackay’s Station on the Barwon.

As far as I can recollect, it was either J J Gallagher or John Higgins who had charge of that mob of cattle. John Higgins is dead — died some years ago. He has two sons at Gloucester to-day — Thomas and J. R. Higgins. Mr. J. J. Gallagher is still in the land of the living and has extensive property interests at Krambach and Bundook. J. K. Mackay was a very fine general in selecting men to do his droving. He knew just what qualifications were required for a big job, and ‘ he also knew the men who were likely to possess those qualifications.

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Chester or Chester?

Chester or Chester?

Not to be confused. The ‘Scone Equine Walk of Fame’ lists ‘Chester’ in the category including Performance and Polo Horses.

Featured Image: Chester 1874 by Yattendon (AUS) by Sir Hercules (AUS) out of Lady Chester (GB).



This entry should not be confused with the great thoroughbred CHESTER owned and raced in the 19th century by leviathan giant of the turf the Hon James White.

See: Chester – Scone Vet Dynasty

Darley Flying Start

Darley Flying Start

Also known as Godolphin Flying Start

See: Godolphin Flying Start | Leading to Success

Featured Image: Godolphin Flying Start Graduates 2022 featuring Angus Robertson of Scone

Back L to R: Tommy Lyon-Smith, George Broughton, Donncha McCarthy, David Skelly, Angus Robertson

Front L to R: Erin McLaughlin, Devon Dougherty, Brigitte Murphy, Marine Moussa, Solene Hudbert, Samantha Bussanich

Education has been the lynchpin of my life. I’ve documented this quite extensively in my prolix ramblings in both ‘hard copy’ and online. A fellow ‘Ten-Pound-Pom’ of my generation reminded me we were the luckiest generation – ever. We were the beneficiaries of the largesse of the immediate Post-WWII Government in the UK. Everyone, except the electorate, expected this to be headed by wartime leader and national hero Winston Churchill. It wasn’t. It was Labour PM Clement Attlee. He instituted social reforms which included the National Health Service (NHS) and ‘free’ secondary and tertiary education. How lucky were we? Churchill said of Attlee: “He was a very modest man with a lot to be modest about”. I’ll leave that evaluation to better judges!

Godolphin (Darley) Flying Start is one of the most select and ‘elite’ compacts I have encountered in over 60 years of continuing professional development. I’m privileged to have played a small part myself in the early days.


By now the world of thoroughbred racing and breeding is infiltrated by many outstanding graduates of the training program. Some of these come from privileged backgrounds such as a member of the aristocratic Sackville family in England and the grandson of Hollywood Mogul Louis B Mayer. Others are from a range of backgrounds and countries representing a large personal and geographic spectrum indeed.

Two local Scone identities are distinguished beneficiaries of the program. These are Adrian Bott (ex-Segenhoe Stud) and Angus Robertson of ‘Turanville’, Scone. The latter boasts a long and distinguished pedigree in both pastoral and thoroughbred enterprises. Thomas Cook owned Turanville over a century ago. He was one of the Hunter Valley’s most prominent breeders of horses. Angus’s great grandfather purchased ‘Turanville’ in 1938 and was directly associated with both the formation of the Scone Race Club (1944) and the Scone Cup Races first run in 1947. His legacy prevails in spades!

Not to be outdone, Angus has another historic legend on the distaff side of the family.


Junling Sun in Scone

Junling Sun in Scone

Featured Image: Darley Flying Start pen picture of Junling Sun.

It may come as a surprise, but Junling Sun aka ‘Jimmy’ has a close association with Scone. He was resident here at ‘Willowgate Hall’, Kingdon Street in 2008.

I first met Junling Sun (‘Jimmy’) in 2004 when I was with a group from the Australian Stock Horse Society on an exploratory trade mission to the People’s Republic of China. CEO Steve Guihot led the ‘charge to China’ accompanied by Ray Hynes, Mike Thew (Scone TAFE), Terry Blake, Duncan & Jill Macintyre, Craig Young (Gloucester) and a few other interested parties. It was an eye-opening expedition to the then emerging PRC.

One of the most impressive individuals we met was Junling Sun. He was an undergraduate student at the Nanjing Agricultural University and delivered a most enthusiastic address in perfect English to our group. We all agreed he was a ‘find’ and should be nurtured as a significant contact.

Through the aegis of TAFE NSW, we invited ‘Jimmy’ to visit Australia funded with a ‘travelling fellowship’ arranged by Mike Thew, then head of SCONE TAFE Campus. The first thing we discovered was that Jimmy was not as proficient at English as we thought! He’d learned his address in Nanjing by rote and carried it off with aplomb. Nonetheless the trip was great success. My great friend and professional colleague Derek Major at Agnes Banks gave him the sobriquet ‘Jimmy’ which delighted him! Until then we didn’t know whether to call him ‘Sun’ or ‘Junling’? He was very gregarious. In retrospect ‘Sunny’ would have been apposite.

Fast forward a few short years to 2008. Through foundation CEO Ollie Tait I developed an association with Darley Australia, then newly established at ‘Kelvinside’, Aberdeen. Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, had developed a grand vision of global hegemony in the esoteric world of Thoroughbred Racing & Breeding. Few individuals on the planet could ever have nurtured such a far-sighted concept! It’s worked.

See: | Australia (

See: Godolphin Flying Start | Graduates of 2008 – Godolphin Flying Start

Through and early association suffice it to say I managed to ‘orchestrate’ an application for Junling Sun access the intake for 2008. Ollie Tait was the catalyst , conductor and Master of Ceremonies.

The Sewer of Social Media II

The Sewer of Social Media II

“Perhaps the greatest threat to civilization”

Featured Image: ‘Welcome to X’ Wilcox SMH 22/04/2024

The Cathy Wilcox @cathywilcox1

Here we are. My @smh@theage cartoon.

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Recent ‘convergence of atrocities’ (Peter Hartcher, ‘Nation must look in the mirror’, SMH 20/04/24) has honed in on the social media companies who provide the platforms for ‘ratbags and their ilk’ to coordinate their criminally egregious agendas. The stabbings at Bondi Junction and the knifing at Wakeley shortly thereafter were disastrous sequelae to horrendous acts of violence. While apportioning of blame is a burning hot topic, a cautionary tale is to take a step back and contemplate. “The social media companies reflect the world in which we live” (SMH correspondent 22/04/24).

Ian Biggs writes in ‘Comment’ SMH April 23, 2024:

“With or without: A social dilemma”:

“In the wake of a pair of stabbings earlier this month, misinformation and hate on social platforms made the fallout far worse. And yet, millions of us remain hooked. If we wanted to, we could leave it behind? From experience – and anecdotal evidence – the answer is “not easily”, but it’s worth trying. I did; and I succeeded!

Dr Eliot Forbes heads NZ Racing Integrity Board

Dr Eliot Forbes heads NZ Racing Integrity Board

I’m always intrigued when a fellow professional aspires to high office in the racing industry. Especially as I once nurtured hopes for similar situations for myself! In fact, I ‘ran a place’ in seeking at least two of the positions cited in the dossier below. I was unsuccessful in Tasmania and with the Australian Stud Book. Fellow veterinarian John Digby ‘trumped me’ in the latter, a wise choice by the combined administrators, the AJC & VRC. I was invited to join the Harness Racing Board when Brian Judd and Barry Rose were in charge but declined.

Featured Image: Dr Eliot Forbes


Posted by: Bernard Kenny at 3:34pm on 22/4/2024

Posted in: International Horse Racing

“I am honoured to accept the role of Chief Executive of the Racing Integrity Board,” said Dr Eliot Forbes, “as Integrity is a critical enabler for the success of the racing industry.”

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Born: December 10, 1998

Black-brown horse

Race Record: 36 starts: 26-3-2

Prizemoney: $5,790,510

Group 1 wins: 11


Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Australian Cup, Caulfield Guineas, George Ryder Stakes (twice), Caulfield Stakes (twice).


Australian Horse of the Year – 2003-04, Australian Champion Sire – 2010-11.

Equine Walk of Fame, Scone

‘Lonhro’ is one of only two thoroughbreds to have been allocated two (2) plaques in the Scone Equine Walk of Fame. The other is ‘Vain’. In the opinion of the scrutineers, they were the only two outstanding individuals to attain ‘Championship’ status on the racetrack and also Champion Thoroughbred Stallion. ‘Lonhro’ was actually the only stallion to achieve championship status based at the famed thoroughbred nursery ‘Woodlands’, Denman although he had relocated to Darley, Aberdeen by the time he was ‘crowned’.

See: ‘The people’s champ’: Hawkes, Beadman lead tributes to Lonhro (

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By Ray Thomas

Hall Of Fame trainer John Hawkes has paid the ultimate accolade to champion Lonhro by describing him as the “complete thoroughbred”.

“Lonhro did it on the racetrack and did it at stud,” Hawkes said.

“There are not many horses that can do it on both sides of the fence like he did.

“He was a champion racehorse and then a champion at stud. He did it all.”

The Hall of Fame trainer was moved to pay tribute to Lonhro after learning of the great horse’s passing on Friday.

Hawkes said Lonhro took on and beat the best of his era including Sunline, Makybe Diva, Grand Armee, Defier, Private Steer and Shogun Lodge.

“I define a champion by the quality of horses they beat during their career and Lonhro took on some outstanding horses and beat them all,” Hawkes said.

“In my opinion, his three greatest wins were in the Australian Cup, his second George Ryder Stakes win and the day he ran down Sunline in the Caulfield Stakes.

“The Australian Cup was something I will never forget because he struck plenty of trouble in the straight and still got up to win.

“The day he won the Ryder, I don’t think a horse anywhere in the world could have beaten him. Grand Armee was in great form but Lonhro sprinted straight past him.

“Then there was Lonhro’s win over Sunline. It was a two-horse race and he had to really dig deep to win.

“Lonhro’s record speak for itself, he was one of the superstars. I would like to have one like him in the stable now.”

Godolphin Australia’s Ross Cole confirmed Lonhro’s passing on Friday afternoon.

“It is with a heavy heart Godolphin Australia announces the passing of former Darley stallion, Lonhro,” Cole said.

“A wonderful contributor to the Australian racing and breeding worlds, and as ‘the people’s champion’ Lonhro will be forever remembered for what he was able to achieve on the racetrack.

“Lonhro had a huge and well-earned following, and he earnt the admiration and respect of everyone within our Godolphin teams over his years as a Darley Stallion and in his retirement.

“We were honoured to have him as part of our operation.”

Lonhro was a December foal when born at Woodlands in 1998. He was the son of another Hawkes-trained champion, Octagonal.

During an outstanding 35-start career, Lonhro won 26 races, 11 at Group 1 level including the Caulfield Guineas, Caulfield Stakes (twice), Mackinnon Stakes, Chipping Norton Stakes (twice), George Ryder Stakes (twice), Queen Elizabeth Stakes, CF Orr Stakes and George Main Stakes.

Darren Beadman was Lonhro’s regular rider and made mention of the champion’s incredible win in the Australian Cup 20 years ago as one of the highlight of the champion’s career.

“People still approach me in 2024 to discuss the Australian Cup, it’s a testament to how he captured so many people’s imagination, which speaks volumes about his career,” Beadman said.

“It’s a very sad day. It was a shock when Ross (Cole) rang and told me. It brought a tear to my eye. He will be a horse that gets talked about for generations to come, remembered not just for his victories on the track but also for being the people’s horse.

“He was very dynamic in his racing career, his acceleration, and the way he won with superiority and toughness. He oozed class. He was class with a capital C.”

Lonhro was voted Australian Horse of the Year in 2003-04 then at stud became Champion Sire in 2010-11.

He was the first horse since the legendary Vain in 1984 to win both titles.

At stud, Lonhro has sired 86 stakes winners of 168 stakes races including 12 individual Group 1 winners, including champion Pierro, Denman, Exosphere, Impending, Kementari, Beaded and Lindermann.

Lonhro’s best son, Pierro, was a five-time Group 1 winner and made a clean sweep of the 2012 juvenile triple crown comprising the Golden Slipper, ATC Sires Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes.

Coolmore Stud’s Pierro is continuing the Lonhro legacy at stud and has already sired 34 individual stakeswinners including Pierata, Arcadia Queen, Levendi and Regal Power.

Pierro is also the sire of the Winx yearling filly which sold for a world record $10 million at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sales earlier this month.

Bert Lillye & Runyonesque Touch

Bert Lillye Runyonesque Touch

Featured Image: Courtesy of the Australian Media Hall of Fame

I thought I’d have to put Bert Lillye next to Max Presnell in the “Racing Writer’s Barrier Stalls”

“A prolific and versatile racing writer with a Runyonesque touch” (Wayne Peake)

See: Bert Lillye – The Australian Media Hall of Fame (

See: Bert Lillye | Racing Victoria

See: Biography – Albert John (Bert) Lillye – Australian Dictionary of Biography (

Albert John (Bert) Lillye (1919–1996)

by Wayne Peake

This article was published online in 2020

Albert John Lillye (1919–1996), sports journalist and racing administrator, was born on 9 July 1919 at Paddington, Sydney, only child of New South Wales-born Cecil Florence Myrtle Lockhart, née Smith, and Tasmanian-born Albert Lillye, wharf labourer. Bert recalled living opposite the Rosebery Park pony racecourse and watching races from the roof of his home. He was educated at Chatswood Public and Chatswood Boys’ Intermediate High schools. Aged fourteen, he left home and became a copy-boy on Smith’s Weekly, the Referee, and the Arrow—the latter two papers largely devoted to horseracing.

At the Presbyterian Manse, Hurstville, on 3 July 1941 Lillye married Amelia Bernice ‘Bonnie’ Kendrigan, a printer. On 1 October 1941 he began full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces for service in World War II. He was employed as a cook in support units in New South Wales and Queensland. When stationed near Toowoomba he watched the promising colt Bernborough on the track. In 1942 he had twice briefly absented himself without leave to attend race meetings but in September 1945, having been refused a posting to be near his sick wife, he absconded for forty days and was court martialled on return. Discharged in November, he returned to Smith’s Weekly. He then worked at the Sydney Morning Herald for thirteen years before being lured to the Daily Mirror for five years. In 1969 he returned to the Herald and was racing editor until he retired in July 1984.

A prolific and versatile racing writer with a Runyonesque touch, Lillye obtained tip-offs in bars and stables and produced topical copy for the dailies and well-researched columns for the Sunday papers. In addition he wrote countless uncredited features for Turf Monthly and Racetrack magazines. He delighted in documenting the behind-the-scenes world of racing, including his visits to stud farms, and bemoaned the passing of the racetrack characters who abounded before the Totaliser Administration Board era of regulation.

In November 1961 Lillye learnt that the champion racehorse Martello Towers and several others were lost, feared drowned, in the flooded Nepean River. He recruited a photographer-driver and headed for Windsor. They tracked down Martello Towers and several other missing horses, and were instrumental in their rescue, which he reported in Turf Monthly. In 1973 the Australian Jockey Club, acting on his suggestion, set up an exhibition at Randwick racecourse. At about the same time he began recording the history and folklore of both pony and AJC-registered racing in his ‘Backstage of Racing’ column in the Sun-Herald. A selection would be republished in book form in 1985.

Lillye was tall and broad-shouldered, with an unabashed Australian accent. In later life he wore thick framed glasses. He was jovial and avuncular and mentored many fledgling racing journalists, including Steve Crawley and John Holloway. Introducing them to trainers, jockeys, and administrators, he also tutored them in the bonhomie of drinking which he considered part of the craft of racing journalism. He formed close friendships with his mates from the track and participated in social cricket matches between jockeys and journalists. An ardent gambler, he was noted for charging through betting rings to place bets. For his articles he was twice awarded (1979, 1983) the Sydney Turf Club’s Golden Slipper writers’ prize.

Since 1976 Lillye had taken an active interest in the Kembla Grange racecourse, near his Woonona home. After its controlling club was placed in receivership, he and the sports administrator Keith Nolan formed the Illawarra Turf Club and lobbied for government support, helping to secure the long-term future of the site. He became vice-president of the ITC and a trustee of the Kembla Grange recreation reserve. In the early 1980s his story featured on the television program This Is Your Life, and his portrait by Craig Taylor was commissioned by John Fairfax Ltd. Survived by his wife and their son and two daughters, Lillye died on 18 February 1996 in the Illawarra Regional Hospital, Wollongong, and was cremated. He had attended Kembla Grange races the previous afternoon. At the course, a lounge in the grandstand and an annual race was named after him. He was inducted into the Australian Racing (2015) and Australian Media (2018) halls of fame.

Research edited by Nicole McLennan

Select Bibliography

  • Crawley, Steve. ‘A Thirst for the Good Oil of the Turf.’ Australian, 27 February 1996, 17
  • Lillye, Bert. Backstage of Racing. Sydney: John Fairfax Marketing, c. 1985
  • [Lillye, Bert.] ‘Here’s How We Found Martello Towers!!’ Turf Monthly, January 1962, 2–5, 9
  • Lillye, Mervyn. Personal communication
  • National Archives of Australia. B884, N24441
  • Presnell, Max. ‘Bert Lillye.’ Australian Media Hall of Fame, Melbourne Press Club. Accessed on 18 December 2019. Copy held on ADB file

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Wayne Peake, ‘Lillye, Albert John (Bert) (1919–1996)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2020, accessed online 20 April 2024.


Max Presnell the Last of the Great Turf Writers

‘The last of the great turf writers’: Max Presnell’s time at the Herald comes to an end.

After a staggering 67 years, Presnell has written his last column.

By Andrew Webster

APRIL 19, 2024

See: Max Presnell’s time at The Sydney Morning Herald comes to an end (

Featured Image: Max Presnell ‘On Golden Pond’

It’s fabulous article by Andrew Webster. Max says he will never retire because it IS the journey of his life. Like his late great mate Bert Lillye, he will live on in memory. There are tributes galore from far greater racing critiques than me. They include James Cummings, Les Bridge, Jim Cassidy, Ron Quinton, Ian Craig, Kerrin McEvoy, Darren Beadman, Craig Young, Peter V’landys, Robbie Waterhouse, Greg Radley, Ken Callander, Chris Waller, Gai Waterhouse, Ray Murrihy, Peter McGauran,

I will only remark that it’s been an honour to have Max as an official guest at our annual ‘Bletchingly Lunch’ during the Royal Easter Show. He always richly augments the field.

One comment is from “Wookey” who wrote:

“My Grandfather Richard Wootton built the Doncaster Hotel as a place where racing people could go for a drink after Randwick races.

The Presnells were a part of racing history and folklore for >90 years”.

This links Max directly to the famous Wootton family. His family ran the ‘Doncaster’ for the owners, the Woottons.



Max also penned a classic defining his virtual addiction to racing journalism.


He both outlived and outlasted early competition from Ray Flockton & predicted ‘dud’ Richie Benaud! John Pilger was also ‘on the starting blocks’.