Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Pethard, George Albert (1885–1961)

by Charles Fahey

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

George Albert Pethard (1885-1961), businessman and mayor, was born on 5 December 1885 at Ballarat East, Victoria, second child of George Albert Pethard, an English-born storeman, and his Victorian-born wife Miriam Hurst, née Peatling. After serving in the British Army in India, George senior worked as a storeman for the Phoenix Foundry Co. Ltd, Ballarat, before setting up as a produce merchant at Warragul. He later transferred his business to Kyneton, and then to Numurkah where he established a soft drink factory, producing the brand name of Taraxale.

Educated at Kyneton State School, George junior entered his father's soft drink business in 1898 and moved with the firm to Bendigo in 1909. At Golden Square on 7 July that year he married Hilda Leed with Methodist forms. In 1918 he began working as an auctioneer at Rochester. By 1921 he had returned to Bendigo as a real estate agent. To publicize and sell blocks at Robinvale, Pethard chartered a train to take buyers to the site. In 1924 he secured the General Motors-Holden's Ltd franchise for northern Victoria and built a service station at Bendigo. A keen traveller, he visited the United States of America on business in 1927; he returned convinced that Australia was insufficiently promoted abroad.

In 1938 Pethard entered the Bendigo City Council as an alderman for Darling Ward, a division he was to represent for the ensuing twenty years. Elected mayor in 1940, 1947 and 1951, he took a particular interest in tourism, and was responsible for the construction of an information pavilion in the heart of the city. He was prominent in local affairs as president of the Art Gallery (1943), Rotary Club (1945) and District Bowling Association (1946), as chairman (1944, 1947) of the Easter Fair Society, and as a board-member of the Bendigo and Northern District Base Hospital and the Bendigo Benevolent Home.

Pethard proved to be a tireless promoter of local industry. He belonged to the Bendigo Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the Victorian Decentralisation League, the Loddon Regional Committee and the Bendigo Industrial Expansion Committee. In 1956 he toured the U.S.A. as part of a team chosen by Premier (Sir) Henry Bolte to encourage investment in Victoria. Pethard also served on the Provincial Sewerage Authorities' Association of Victoria and the Bendigo Local Repatriation Committee. Dubbed the 'Father of the City Council', he retired from office in June 1958 and became chairman of Tarax Drinks Holdings Ltd.

Known affectionately as 'G.P.', Pethard described himself as a 'real goer'. Others recognized his vision, versatility and 'tremendous capacity for getting a job done quickly'. In 1961 he donated £5200 to build a nurses' home at the base hospital; it was posthumously named (1964) after him. Survived by his wife and one of his two sons, he died on 20 September 1961 at Kurmala Hospital, Bendigo, and was buried in the local cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £481,874.

Select Bibliography

  • D. F. Jones, Not by Myself (Syd, 1976)
  • G. V. Lansell and W. J. Stephens (eds), Annals of Bendigo, vol 5 (Bendigo, 1938)
  • D. Lockwood (ed), Annals of Bendigo, vol 6 (Bendigo, 1981)
  • F. Cusack (ed), Annals of Bendigo, vol 7 (Bendigo, 1988)
  • Tarax Drinks Holdings Ltd, Annual Report, 1959-72
  • Bendigo Advertiser, 21-23 Sept 1961
  • Bendigo City Archives, newsclippings, 1938-61.

Citation details

Charles Fahey, 'Pethard, George Albert (1885–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pethard-george-albert-11379/text20329, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 17 September 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2019