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Alfred Ernest Dahlenburg (1886–1973)

by Marjorie Waite

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Edward Walter Dahlenburg

Edward Walter Dahlenburg (1882-1970), wheat farmer, and Alfred Ernest Dahlenburg (1886-1973), stud breeder and stock-and-station agent, were born on 18 September 1882 and 23 June 1886 at Winiam, near Nhill, Victoria, second and fourth of nine children of Heinrich Ernst Dahlenburg, farmer, and his wife Rosalie, née Harders, both South Australian born. Educated at the local state school, they worked on their father's Wimmera property, Oakdene. On 14 October 1908 Edward married Marie Caroline Bertha Liemering (d.1942) with Methodist forms in her father's home at Noorak; Alfred married Martha Weir at the Methodist Church, Winiam, on 30 March 1911.

Edward Walter ('Watty') inherited Heinrich's interest in scientific agriculture. After acquiring his own property, Ellerslie, at nearby Salisbury, from 1920 he conducted cereal experimental plots in association with the Department of Agriculture. Pasture demonstrations and field-days attracted many visitors from overseas. He published a booklet, Wheat Growing in the Wimmera (1926), and represented west Wimmera on the executive of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers' Association.

Keenly involved in local affairs, Watty was a committee-member (1921-48, president 1927-28) of the Nhill Agricultural Society. He was, as well, a Lowan shire councillor (1931-50, president 1934), a commissioner of the Nhill Waterworks Trust, and sometime chairman and a member of the Nhill Hospital management committee. Instrumental in the formation of rural fire brigades, he captained the Noorak brigade for several years. During World War II he was associated with the Commonwealth government's Manpower Committee. Woodworking was his favourite hobby and, according to his family, he could make anything, though the finish usually smacked of bush carpentry. He was also a keen photographer.

A quiet, kindly man who endeared himself to all who knew him, Edward was a devoted husband and father. On 24 June 1954 he married a widow Olive Blake, née Banfield, with Methodist forms at Collingwood, Melbourne. They lived at Brunswick, but his son Eric continued his cereal experiments at Ellerslie until the property was sold in 1967. Survived by his wife, and by the three sons and six daughters of his first marriage, Edward died on 12 May 1970 at Nhill and was buried in the local cemetery; his estate was sworn for probate at $77,041.

After their marriage, Alfred took his wife to New Zealand where they settled on their first dairy farm at Thornbury, in the Southland region. In 1921 they returned to Winiam East, bringing their best, purebred, Friesian cattle, a new breed in the district. His father had been the first to introduce Clydesdale horses locally and Alf also showed an avid interest in these active, strong and hardy animals which were eminently suited to work in the wheatlands of the Wimmera and Mallee. A founder of the Nhill horse parades and foal shows, he exhibited horses and cattle with much success and in 1934 won first prize for a two-year-old filly, Dalholme Coreen, at the Melbourne Centenary Royal Show. In 1936 he was nominated to the council of the Royal Agricultural Society as the representative of Clydesdale breeders. He became chief steward and an active member of the horse and arena committee, and was prominent on the farm produce committee. An honorary life member of the R.A.S. from 1960, he attended every Royal Melbourne Show for thirty-six years.

In 1942 Alf gave up farming and became a partner in a stock and station agency at Nhill. Retaining his interest in every aspect of farming, he judged stock at numerous shows and also judged the Victorian ploughing competitions. As president of the draughthorse memorial committee, he was largely responsible for the bronze statue that was unveiled in 1968 in Goldsworthy Park, Nhill, as a reminder of the important role the breed had played in the Wimmera. In addition, he was president of the local hospital committee and of the original committee of the Nhill Lake Development Scheme.

Despite being confined to a wheelchair in later years following the amputation of his leg, Alf retained his keen sense of humour and love of the land. Survived by his two sons and two daughters, he died on 22 October 1973 at Nhill and was buried in the local cemetery with Presbyterian forms; his estate was sworn for probate at $30,588.

Select Bibliography

  • L. Blake, Land of the Lowan (Maryborough, Vic, 1976)
  • A. P. Dahlenburg (ed), Dahlenburg Australia 1849-1981 (Adel, 1981)
  • F. H. Noble and R. Morgan, Speed the Plough (Melb, 1981)
  • Journal of Agriculture (Victoria), Jan 1969
  • Nhill Free Press, 10 Oct 1968, 14 May 1970.

Citation details

Marjorie Waite, 'Dahlenburg, Alfred Ernest (1886–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 24 July 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

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


23 June, 1886
Winiam, Victoria, Australia


22 October, 1973 (aged 87)
Nhill, Victoria, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.