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John Alexander (Jack) Foyster (1893–1988)

by Brett J. Stubbs

This article was published:

John Alexander (Jack) Foyster (1893-1988), mineral sands mining entrepreneur and horse-racing enthusiast, was born on 26 November 1893 at Mullamuddy, near Mudgee, New South Wales, fifth, and second surviving, of eight children of William Alfred Foyster, dairyman and former schoolteacher, and his wife Margaret, née McLeod, both born in New South Wales. In 1906 the Foyster family moved to Myrtle Creek, in the Richmond River district, and in 1913 to Crabbes Creek, in the Tweed River district. Jack later grew sugar cane and grazed cattle, and worked in Sydney for a time as a hairdresser. On 16 June 1928 at St John’s Church of England, Darlinghurst, he married 17-year-old Olga May Easterbrook. They had four sons. Travelling periodically to Canadian Lead, near Gulgong, to mine for gold, he acquired a knowledge of mining techniques.

In the early 1940s when he was farming at Cudgen, Foyster observed the growing wartime interest in the `black sands’ of the local beaches. In 1944 he applied for leases over beachfront areas near Bogangar and Cudgen Headland. Development of the mineral sands business subsequently occupied the whole family. In 1947 they began stockpiling mineral sand, recovered from beach seams with a horse-drawn scoop. Despite postwar difficulties, plant and sheds were installed at Cudgen—some buildings were obtained from a former American army barracks at Grovely, Brisbane, and timber was cut on the site. The first sales of separated rutile and zircon concentrates were made in 1950. Business expanded rapidly, boosted during the Korean War by military demand for titanium.

In the mid-1950s the Foysters began prospecting the high dunes of North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, and in 1965 formed Consolidated Rutile Ltd to work their leases on the island. Cudgen R.Z. Ltd was floated in 1967. At this time the combined output of the two Foyster-controlled companies was 20 per cent of the total east coast rutile and zircon production. In 1969 all family members (apart from the eldest son, Clive, who had already left the industry) sold their shares in both companies for $13.1 million.

During the 1960s Foyster and his sons had begun to invest heavily in racehorses. Their bidding, particularly at Sydney and New Zealand yearling sales in 1967 and 1968, attracted much publicity. They bought and raced horses in varying co-ownerships within and outside the family, and three sons—Mark, Lloyd and John—established studs. Horses owned or co-owned by the Foysters included Just Ideal, Our Planet, Double Century, Stylish Century, John’s Hope, Ming Dynasty and Mighty Kingdom.

A wiry and athletic man, Jack Foyster was full of vigour even in his late eighties. He lived at Tweed Heads and amassed considerable real estate holdings, especially on the southern Gold Coast. He died on 27 November 1988 at Southport, Queensland, and was buried in Allambe Garden of Memories, Nerang. His wife and their sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • I. W. Morley, Black Sands (1981)
  • P. Pring, The Star Kingdom Story (1983)
  • Daily News (Murwillumbah), 13 Dec 1963 `Supplement’, 30 Nov 1988, p 2
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Jan 1968, p 12, 19 Apr 1968, p 1, 7 May 1969, p 24
  • Australian Bloodhorse Review, Jan 1989, p 5.

Citation details

Brett J. Stubbs, 'Foyster, John Alexander (Jack) (1893–1988)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 18 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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