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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Moore, Kenneth Woodhead (1917–1990)

by Margaret Kowald

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Kenneth Woodhead Moore (1917-1990), grazier and businessman, was born on 13 April 1917 at Taringa, Brisbane, second of three children of Queensland-born parents George Henry Eric Moore, cattle-buyer, and his wife Mary Ann, née Woodhead. Ken was educated at Brisbane Boys’ College and played rugby union football with the GPS (Great Public Schools) club in the 1930s. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 1 May 1940, he served in the Middle East with the 2/2nd Anti-Tank Regiment and on Bougainville with the 15th Battalion. He was promoted to lieutenant (1942) and was mentioned in despatches. His AIF appointment ended in October 1945. On 27 April that year at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, he had married Betty Annette McGuigan, a nurse.

In 1948 Moore joined the Queensland Meat Export Co. Ltd as a cattle-buyer, and in 1953 became manager of the company’s Ross River meatworks at Townsville. He was appointed assistant general manager of the North Australian Pastoral Co. Pty Ltd, based in Brisbane, in 1956. Taking over from Douglas Fraser as general manager after a few months, he formed strong managerial partnerships with the successive chairmen, Fraser (1936-67), and E. M. Crouch (1967-90), who had been a friend since their football playing days. During Moore’s twenty-six-year term as general manager, the company owned Alexandria station in the Northern Territory and several cattle properties in western Queensland, including Marion Downs, Monkira, Coorabulka, Glenormiston, and Islay Plains. His knowledge of the meat export industry was invaluable to the company. Under his direction NAP pioneered the trucking of cattle from properties to railheads and undertook a tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication program from 1971, soon after the Australian co-ordinated campaign came into effect. His ability to co-operate and liaise with public servants helped enormously when the company was negotiating with the Federal and Queensland governments to have leases extended.

Five ft 9 ins (175 cm) tall and known as ‘KW’, Moore could be firm, even ruthless, in his decision making. But he was also remembered for his jovial attitude towards life and his ability to get along with others. Staff on the stations appreciated his support and encouragement. He was not afraid of new ideas—with one exception: he was never completely convinced that a change of breed from the Shorthorn was in the company’s interest and Brahmans were introduced into the herd only after he retired as general manager in 1982. From 1968 he also ran his own property at McKinlay. In 1974 he took up a small parcel of shares in NAP; in 1980-90 he was a director and, after 1982, he was retained as a consultant.

Despite having a total laryngectomy, the result of cancer, in 1983, Moore maintained an interest in the company and its people. Survived by his wife and their two sons and three daughters, he died on 21 September 1990 in his home at Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Kowald and W. R. Johnston, You Can’t Make it Rain (1992) and for bibliography
  • Queensland Country Life, 11 Oct 1990, p 13
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Margaret Kowald, 'Moore, Kenneth Woodhead (1917–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 23 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

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