Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Malcolm Athol Wallace McLeod (1894–1989)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

Malcolm Athol Wallace McLeod (1894-1989), sheep-classer, was born on 27 April 1894 at Coolac, New South Wales, fifth of seven children of Donald McLeod, farmer, and his wife Lydia Letitia, née Glasscock, both born in New South Wales. After his father’s death in 1897 his mother ran the family property, Valley Vista, Coolac. Educated at Goulburn schools, Malcolm completed the sheep and wool course at Sydney Technical College where he won awards for wool classing and sheep judging. He worked on Valley Vista and as a wool-classer before undertaking training in classing sheep under Alexander (‘The Wizard’) Morrison, starting at Garangula stud, Harden. When Morrison died (1925), McLeod took over many of his clients. On 4 March 1920 in the vestry of St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Sydney, McLeod married Margaret Julia Sullivan.

From 1936 to 1971 McLeod classed sheep at G. B. S. Falkiner’s Haddon Rig merino stud, Warren. He and the manager A. B. Ramsay made the stud famous throughout the world for its soft, attractive medium-type wool. The popularity and influence of the stud were promoted by the sale of thousands of stud sheep a year; for thirty-five consecutive years from 1936 it took the highest aggregate at the Sydney sheep sales. McLeod served (1965-76) as a director of the Falkiner family company, formed in 1961. Among other notable studs classed by McLeod were Mungadal (Hay), Dalkeith (Cassilis), Havilah (Mudgee) and Gingie (Walgett). He also advised a number of small stud-owners, and (from 1927) ran his own merino stud at Valley Vista.

Interested in animal genetics and all aspects of the wool industry, McLeod made two overseas tours. In 1950, with assistance from the Federal government, he studied sheep genetics in the United States of America. In 1969 he visited Britain, the Continent and South Africa, examining sheep breeding and the requirements of textile manufacturers. He judged at New South Wales country shows and at major sheep shows including those in Sydney and at Christchurch, New Zealand. A successful breeder in the 1960s of poll Shorthorn cattle at Valley Vista, he also won trophies for rearing and training sheepdogs.

On 2 December 1961 at St Canice’s Church, Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, McLeod, a widower, had married with Catholic rites Coralie Lillian Mater, née Taylor, a widow and a nurse. He sold his Coolac property in 1974 and two years later retired to Dubbo. In 1979 he published Handbook on Merino Sheep Breeding, based on his Haddon Rig experiences. He believed in inbreeding, and opposed the embargo on the export of Australian merinos. While he supported fleece measurement (in microns), he averred that it could never replace visual classing.

Called by Sir John McEwen ‘the top sheep man in Australia’, McLeod was an inspirational and practical educator of generations of jackeroos on Haddon Rig who benefited from his knowledge and enthusiasm for the merino. Survived by his wife, he died on 1 December 1989 at Dubbo and was cremated with Anglican rites. He had no children.

Select Bibliography

  • 75 Years’ Progress at Haddon Rig (1957)
  • S. Falkiner, Haddon Rig, the First Hundred Years (1981)
  • C. Massy, The Australian Merino (1990)
  • Daily Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 4 Dec 1989, p 4
  • The Land (Sydney), 14 Dec 1989, p 38.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'McLeod, Malcolm Athol Wallace (1894–1989)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 20 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


27 April, 1894
Coolac, New South Wales, Australia


1 December, 1989 (aged 95)
Dubbo, New South Wales, 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.