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Edward Herbert (Ted) Morey (1902–1982)

by Bill Wilson

This article was published:

Edward Herbert Morey (1902-1982), police officer, horseman and writer, was born probably on 2 March 1902 (although his birth date was registered as 5 March) at Mannum, South Australia. He was the fourth of nine children of Sidney Edgar Morey, house-painter, and his wife Ellen, née Sobey. Educated at Mannum and Flinders Street Public schools, Ted left when he was about 13 to work in the pastoral industry. He drove teams of bullocks, camels and donkeys, and horses for (Sir) Sidney Kidman; he also caught and broke in horses for the South Australian Police. An excellent rider and a horse lover, he was one of four Australian riders in ‘Snowy’ Thompson’s troupe at the 1924 Great International Rodeo at Wembley Stadium, London. On his return to Australia he joined the South Australian Mounted Police. He left after a dispute with another constable and in 1927 he became a member of the Northern Territory Mounted Police.

First stationed at Emungalen, near Katherine, Morey worked at the remote settlements of Borroloola (1929-31) and Timber Creek (1932). In 1932 he spent four months looking for the Aboriginal leader Nemarluk along the Victoria River; he suffered long periods of hunger because he started the patrol with only one month’s supply of non-perishable rations. Next year he led the search for the alleged murderers of five Japanese trepang fishermen. With three other constables, Jack Mahony, Victor Hall and Albert Stewart McColl, he travelled to Blue Mud Bay, eastern Arnhem Land, in pursuit of the offenders. McColl, left in charge of a group of Aboriginal women on Woodah Island, was speared to death by Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda (Tuckiar). The Arnhem Land patrol having failed, Morey moved on to Lake Nash and, later, Newcastle Waters. On 20 April 1935 he married with Methodist forms Kathleen Audrey Reilly in the shire hall, Camooweal, Queensland.

Despite objections by his senior officers, Morey began full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces in April 1942 as a lieutenant, Australian Intelligence Corps. In November he transferred to the Australian Imperial Force. He carried out intelligence work in the Northern Territory and Queensland and broke in 1100 horses while posted (August-September 1944) to the 2nd Pack Transport Company. His service (1944-45) on the staffs of the Darwin area camp and the Northern Territory details depot included a period as acting town mayor, Darwin. Before his demobilisation in September 1945, he prepared a detailed plan for the development of the Territory’s Indigenous population, encompassing the location of training settlements and instruction in a wide range of skills.

Returning to his beloved ‘bush’, Morey retired from the Northern Territory police force in 1948. Manager of the Darwin Club in 1949, he also shot buffalo and crocodiles on Nourlangie Creek and Wildman River and conducted tourist safaris. From 1950 to 1956 he managed Beswick cattle station; in 1953 it became the Beswick Aboriginal Reserve where Aborigines gained pastoral training. Between 1948 and 1960 Morey wrote ‘Two Man’, an unpublished murder mystery set in Central Australia, and articles for the North Australian Monthly and the Northern Territory Newsletter. Injured by a kick from a horse in 1957 when manager of Coolibah station, he sought medical treatment in Adelaide, where he became stableman to the South Australian Police ‘greys’. Also a horse-breaker for the trainer Bart Cummings, he worked with the champion thoroughbreds, Galilee and Light Fingers. At 77 his doctor urged him to take life more easily and he worked as a part-time bank guard at Glenelg for the remainder of his life.

Six feet (183 cm) tall, square-shouldered, bronzed and handsome, Morey was quiet and good-natured with a ready smile. He was lithe and agile, with an easy rolling gait, and had great stamina. In 1962 a fellow policeman Vic Hall described him as ‘rock steady’. Survived by his wife and their son and two daughters, he died on 24 April 1982 at Woodville and was cremated with Churches of Christ forms.

Select Bibliography

  • V. C. Hall, Dreamtime Justice (1962)
  • S. Downer, Patrol Indefinite (1963)
  • D. Carment et al (eds), Northern Territory Dictionary of Biography, vol 1 (1990)
  • Northern Standard (Darwin), 29 Aug 1933, p 3
  • Herald (Melbourne), 21 Dec 1933, p 21
  • Northern Territory Newsletter, May 1978, p 18
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 28 April 1982, p 11
  • E. Morey personal file (Northern Territory Archives).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Bill Wilson, 'Morey, Edward Herbert (Ted) (1902–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 26 May 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]


2 March, 1902
Mannum, South Australia, Australia


24 April, 1982 (aged 80)
Woodville, Adelaide, South 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.