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Wallace, Donald Smith (1844–1900)

by Alan W. Black

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Donald Smith Wallace (1844-1900), pastoralist, racehorse owner and parliamentarian, was born at Ballark station near Morrisons, Victoria, on 10 August 1844, eldest son of John Wallace, squatter, and his wife Elizabeth, née Smith. He was educated at Charles Goslett's Academy in Melbourne. After pastoral experience at Alexander Wilson's property, Vectis, he went to Queensland about 1870 to a series of sheep station partnerships, including large ventures with (Sir) Samuel Wilson. He returned to Victoria in 1878, and in 1880 failed to win the seat of Grant in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. Next year he headed a syndicate that sought to establish an agricultural college on crown land at Dookie, and in December an authorizing bill was introduced. David Syme did not doubt Wallace's integrity, but questioned the site and doubted the wisdom of the proposed terms and conditions; the bill was discharged.

He inherited his father's pre-emptive rights to the Ballark estate in 1882; he also bought Terrick Terrick, a 535,000-acre (216,509 ha) station in Queensland, and Mewburn Park, Gippsland, Victoria. In 1883-88 Wallace represented Clermont in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, but spent much time out of the colony, leaving his brother-in-law R. G. Casey as managing partner of his four properties; they covered 1,387,000 acres (561,305 ha), were valued at £412,000 and mortgaged for £350,000.

Wallace raced several horses. Calma won the Caulfield Cup for him in 1883 and Mentor the Melbourne Cup in 1888. His most famous horse, the great Carbine, won thirty-three races out of forty-three starts, including the Sydney Cup in 1889 and both the Sydney and Melbourne cups in 1890. He is reported to have said to Lady Hopetoun at a dinner: 'I love you because you love old Carbine'. His pastoral enterprises were less successful. Bad seasons, together with falling wool prices, made it difficult for him to meet capital repayments and interest charges; by 1890 the debt on his Queensland stations had reached £650,000. The partnership with Casey was dissolved in 1893 and the properties realized little more than their liabilities.

Casey complained that Wallace disregarded the properties and seldom answered letters. In parliament he was equally casual. He spoke three sentences in four years in the Queensland Legislative Assembly and one in five years in the Victorian Legislative Council, where he represented South-Western Province in 1889-94. Described by many as a genial sportsman, Wallace served, with a year's break, on the committee of the Victoria Racing Club in 1881-98 but gradually had to sell most of his property including his stud. At his death at Ballark station on 27 May 1900, he had been a councillor of the Ballan Shire since 1889. A Presbyterian, he had one son John Vivian from his marriage to Ida Australia, daughter of George Thorn.

Select Bibliography

  • Lord Casey, Australian Father and Son (Lond, 1966)
  • R. Mortimer and P. Willett, Great Racehorses of the World (Lond, 1969)
  • Leader (Melbourne), 10 Dec 1881
  • Australasian, 1 Nov 1890, 2 June 1900
  • Ballan Times, 31 May, 28 June 1900.

Citation details

Alan W. Black, 'Wallace, Donald Smith (1844–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/wallace-donald-smith-4791/text7979, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 22 October 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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