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David Marwedel Archer (1897–1959)

by Lorna L. McDonald

This article was published:

David Marwedel Archer (1897-1959), merino studmaster, was born on 21 February 1897 at Gracemere station, near Rockhampton, Queensland, son of Robert Stubbs Archer, grazier, and his Tasmanian-born wife Alice Manon, née Marwedel. David Archer was his grandfather. Young David was educated at Rockhampton Grammar School, Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) and Hawkesbury Agricultural College.

Brown haired, hazel eyed and 5 ft 9½ ins (177 cm) tall, on 4 February 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and embarked in May with the 3rd Mobile Veterinary Section. From England, his unit was directed to France where, on occasion, he performed as a baritone singer and violinist in army concerts. In April 1918 Archer was transferred to the 26th Battery, 7th Field Artillery Brigade, as a bombardier. At the end of the war he had planned to study stock-breeding in England, but his leave was cancelled and he returned to Australia through North America at his father's expense. He was demobilized in Sydney in October 1919. Although he survived France (as his father wrote that year) 'without a scratch', he suffered throughout his life from the effects of mustard gas.

The postwar collapse of the beef-cattle industry led Archer in 1920 to jackerooing on Oondooroo, a sheep station at Winton, where he became overseer. In 1922 he moved to Strathdarr station, near Longreach; there, on 7 July 1926 he married with Anglican rites Alison Claire, daughter of Angus Nicholson Mackay whom Archer succeeded that year as manager of Strathdarr. During his thirty-five years on the station he was to establish a reputation as one of the best merino studmasters in Queensland. Archer's letters to the press revealed not only his keen mind, but a realistic and forthright attitude, especially in any sheep-breeding controversy. He was prepared to defend his theories about breeding animals to suit the environment and was vindicated by his results. Strathdarr sheep were the major winners in State shows, taking out sixty-three grand championships over eighteen years. In 1951 he judged merinos at the Sydney Sheep Show. He resigned from Strathdarr in 1957 to breed stud sheep at his own property, Honan Downs, Dartmouth.

Archer was also a fine horseman, and a breeder and trainer of the hacks, hunters and stockhorses so essential in his lifetime. A successful exhibitor of horses at Longreach shows, he was an active participant in racing in the central west. He was vice-president (1941-45) of the Queensland Merino Stud Sheepbreeders' Association, its longest serving president (1945-59) and a life member (1951). Chairman of the Longreach branch of the United Graziers' Association, he was a life member and vice-president of the Longreach Pastoral and Agricultural Society. In 1959 he was appointed C.B.E. Archer died of cancer on 10 June 1959 in St Martin's Hospital, Brisbane, and was cremated; his wife, daughter and two sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • L. McDonald, Rockhampton (Brisb, 1981)
  • Queensland Country Life, 6 Dec 1958
  • Longreach Leader, 29 Aug 1930
  • Archer family papers (Rockhampton and District Historical Society)
  • private information.

Citation details

Lorna L. McDonald, 'Archer, David Marwedel (1897–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 1 March 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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