Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Donald de Burgh D'arcy (Dan) Mackinnon (1900–1963)

by Jenny Mills

This article was published:

Donald de Burgh D'arcy (Dan) Mackinnon (1900-1963), pastoralist, was born on 17 December 1900 at Madras, India, son of Victorian-born parents Donald de Burgh d'Arcy Mackinnon, businessman, and his wife Edith Mary, née Orr. His father, a kinsman of (Sir) Lauchlan Mackinnon, was a bloodstock-dealer and horse-trainer at Madras who returned to Melbourne and established the firm of Mackinnon & Cox Pty Ltd which reputedly sold the racehorse Bernborough to A. O. Romano.

Young Donald, known as 'Dan', was privately tutored before attending Geelong Church of England Grammar School in 1915-17. He returned to the family's Western District property and later went jackerooing in the Riverina, New South Wales. In the mid-1920s he arrived in Western Australia as overseer of Edjudina, a sheep station near Leonora. Appointed manager (1926) of Pinnacles station—part-owned by (Sir) Chester Manifold—in the vicinity of Lawlers, he was responsible for converting the 760,000-acre (307,564 ha) cattle-run to a sheep station. The run was fenced, windmills erected, and quality breeding rams were imported from M. S. Hawker's North Bungaree station, South Australia. At St Columba's Presbyterian Church, Cottesloe, on 15 January 1934 Mackinnon married Marion Adeline ('Angie'), daughter of Robert Bunning.

Pinnacles became recognized as one of the best improved properties in the region, renowned for its superior wool clip, its training of jackeroos and its cricket matches. Jackeroos were taught station-management, and expected to behave like gentlemen. They stood as women entered the room and dressed for dinner, wearing properly knotted bow-ties; they also learned to converse on all subjects, and to play cricket and tennis. Mackinnon gave his sons similar instruction. When they came home from school they shook hands with all the station staff, and did the same again when they left.

Mackinnon was a leader in the Leonora district. He served on the Lawlers Road Board (chairman 1928-29) and the reconstituted Leonora Road Board (chairman 1954-56). In 1947 he acquired a share in Pinnacles Pty Ltd, but his family did not own the station until after his death. As vice-president of the Liberal and Country League and chairman of its Kalgoorlie division in the mid-1950s, Mackinnon campaigned vigorously throughout the constituency in support of L.C.L. candidates. He was also an executive-member (1957-62) of the Pastoralists' (and Graziers') Association of Western Australia.

A small man with a touch of red in his hair that matched his forthright and sometimes fiery nature, Mackinnon gave of his best and expected others to do likewise. He was passionate about sport, keen on reading and staunch in argument. His relationship with one particular bishop was characterized by a long-running difference of opinion over ownership of the bell from the old Lawlers Church which Mackinnon had acquired and refused to return. By the banks of the Murchison and in the North-West, he regularly organized cricket matches; Pinnacles had its own cricket pitch, tennis-court and swimming-pool. Mackinnon died of cerebrovascular disease on 31 January 1963 in Perth and was cremated; his wife, daughter and three sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Elders-GM Weekly (Perth), 7 Feb 1963
  • Pastoralist and Grazier (Perth), 12, no 19, Feb 1963
  • Countryman (Perth), 21 Feb 1963
  • Pinnacles station papers (State Library of Western Australia)
  • family papers (privately held)
  • private information.

Citation details

Jenny Mills, 'Mackinnon, Donald de Burgh D'arcy (Dan) (1900–1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 19 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 December, 1900
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India


31 January, 1963 (aged 62)
Perth, Western Australia, 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.