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George Gordon Gooch (1893–1967)

by Wendy Birman

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George Gordon Gooch (1893-1967), pastoralist, company director and philanthropist, was born on 1 June 1893 at Yankee Town station, near Carnarvon, Western Australia, son of George Joseph Gooch, pastoralist, and his wife Fanny Grace, née Snook. Partially crippled by poliomyelitis at the age of 2, Gordon used crutches throughout his child and adulthood. He attended Scotch College, Claremont, in 1906-12 and stayed on to teach commercial subjects. From 1914 he gained experience in sheep-breeding as a jackeroo at Koonoona and at Winnininnie, South Australia. Back in the West, he worked briefly on his father's stud, Bacton, near Mingenew, before returning to manage Wandagee, the family's sheep station in the Gascoyne. He inherited Wandagee in 1923, owned Cobra in 1926-28 and acquired Wahroonga in 1948. At Wandagee, Gooch had introduced Koonoona rams to produce big, robust merinos carrying long, strong wool which topped the district's prices in 1917 and 1918. At St Mary's Anglican Church, West Perth, on 7 February 1923 he married Doris Hilda Irene ('Girlie') Campbell.

An able and enterprising pastoralist, Gooch was also an astute businessman. He was a member of the Australian Woolgrowers' Council and the Graziers' Federal Council of Australia, and vice-president of the Pastoralists' Association of Western Australia. In addition, he was a director of Elder, Smith & Co. Ltd, West Australian Newspapers Ltd, Caris Holdings Ltd, Caris Bros Pty Ltd, Leroya Industries Pty Ltd, the West Australia Trustee, Executor & Agency Co. Ltd and the Pastoral Labour Bureau. While president (1957) of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia, he oversaw a large building programme which included a new members' stand.

Beyond his commercial commitments, Gooch gave practical and financial support to the disabled and disadvantaged, particularly children. Shy of publicity, he quietly donated large sums to the Crippled Children's Society, Lady Lawley Cottage and other charities. He was a long-term patron of the Paraplegic Association and served on the executive-committee for the first Commonwealth paraplegic games, held in Perth in 1962. Scotch College benefited substantially from Gooch's generosity. President (1928-30, 1945-48) of the Old Scotch Collegians and a member (from 1944) of the college council, he chaired the committee for the memorial hall appeal. In 1954 he and his wife contributed £14,000 for a new sports pavilion; that year he was made a life member of the college council. He was appointed C.M.G. in 1958.

In his later years Gooch was confined to a wheelchair. Although unable to play, he retained a passionate interest in watching sport. He was patron of the Gascoyne Racing Club, and closely associated with the Perth Polo Club and the Nor' West and Murchison Cricket Association. A genial man of medium build, with an open face and twinkling eyes, he was friendly and hospitable, and never indulged in alcohol. He belonged to the Weld, West Australian and Carnarvon clubs. Survived by his wife, son and three daughters, he died on 1 May 1967 at Shenton Park and was cremated; his estate was sworn for probate at $252,254.

Select Bibliography

  • F. W. Gunning, Lure of the North (Perth, 1952)
  • Elders/GM Weekly (Perth), 4 May 1967
  • Paraplegic Assn (Perth), Fortitude, May 1967
  • Scotch College (Claremont, Perth), Scotch College Reporter, 1967
  • West Australian, 12 June 1958, 17 Oct 1963, 2 May 1967, 4 Jan 1968
  • Countryman (Perth), 17 Sept 1959, 4 May 1967.

Citation details

Wendy Birman, 'Gooch, George Gordon (1893–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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