Michael Durack

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Michael Durack
Born(1865-07-22)22 July 1865
Died3 September 1950(1950-09-03) (aged 85)
Education St Patrick's College, Goulburn
OccupationPolitician, Western Australian pioneer
Spouse(s)Bessie Ida Muriel Johnstone
ChildrenKim Durack, David Durack, Reginald Durack, William Durack, Mary Durack, Elizabeth Durack
Parent(s) Patrick Durack & Mary Costello

Michael Patrick Durack, (22 July 1865 – 3 September 1950) was a pastoralist and Western Australian pioneer, known as "M.P." or to the family as "Miguel". He was the son of Patrick Durack and Mary Costello, both Irish-Australians. [1]


Durack was educated at St Patrick's College, Goulburn along with his brother, John Wallace.

In 1881 he bought 57 square kilometres (14,000 acres) in Queensland and established the Archerfield pastoral run. [2]

In 1882–83, his family went on an expedition to the Kimberley region of Western Australia. On his 21st birthday, he made the first sale of Kimberley cattle to a Halls Creek butcher for £1,200 in raw gold. [1]

In 1894, a new shipping trade was established by Francis Connor and Denis Doherty from Wyndham to Perth. The Durack family became one of the main suppliers in this market, and eventually merged with their shipping agents to form Connor, Doherty & Durack Ltd, which controlled nearly 16,000 square kilometres (6,000 sq mi) of property on the Western Australia-Northern Territory border. His firm was a major influence on the Kimberley pastoral industry for the next fifty years. [1]

He negotiated a shipment of 3,612 cattle to Natal in 1902, which was long hailed a record overseas consignment of live cattle. [1]

In 1917, he entered the Western Australian Legislative Assembly as the Nationalist Party member for the Kimberley. He became discontented with the Mitchell government, and in 1920 joined the Country Party, subsequently retiring from politics in 1924. [1]

In 1921 M.P. Durack assisted the scientific party which had arrived at Wyndham, Western Australia, for determinations of the north Western Australia border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory. [3]

Circa 1939, the Connor, Doherty & Durack tract became the subject of the Kimberley Plan to resettle Jewish refugees from Europe. The proposal was vetoed by the Australian government in 1944.

He died on 3 September 1950 and was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery. [1]

Notable family members

Jerry Galway

Jerry "Galway" Durack was the youngest son of Michael and Mary and the first to be born in Australia, when the family were still in Queensland. Jerry married Francis Neale, of New South Wales, in 1880. [4]

In 1901, Galway Jerry was killed on his station while most of the family were in Perth. [5] The incident, in which Jerry and Francis's eldest son Patrick was also wounded, and the subsequent chase, capture and trial, made waves across Australia. It was the subject of more than one hundred newspaper articles spread across every corner of the country. Despite this, Francis returned to the station and continued rearing the rest of the family, until it was sold in 1913. [4]

John "J.P." "Roaring Jack" "Black Jack" Durack

John Peter William Durack founded the Perth Law Firm Dwyer Durack in 1915 [6] and was born to Jerry "Galway" Durack and Francis Neale in 1888. After John's birth in Ipswich, Queensland, the family relocated to the Kimberly region of Western Australia in 1889. Francis, described as an intellectual woman, insisted her children received a good education and as a result John and his brother Neal traveled from the Kimberley to Perth to attend the Christian Brothers College until 1907 where he excelled in boxing demonstrations and reciting poetry and Shakespeare, as well as receiving the elocution prize from JS Battye. [7] In cricket, he was an all-rounder. [8]

After being articled to one ML Moss KC, JP Durack was admitted to the bar in August 1913, and took up practice on Howard Street. [9] At this time he started using the name "John Peter", as Peter had been his nickname in college, to distinguish himself from his cousin, the identically initialled John Wallace Durack, who also had his office on Howard Street, which meant a lot of misdirected mail, and constant meet-ups to amend this. The name stuck, and he was known as John Peter, or JP forever more, although it seems he was still referred to John William on the odd formal occasion. [10] In 1917, JP took leave of his practice to enlist as a serviceman during World War 1. [11] He served with the 10th Light Horse Brigade in Egypt, Palestine and Syria and by World War 2, he had the rank of Major in the Army Legal Corps. [12]

JP married Pleasance Rowe in April 1922 and lived at "Strathmore" at 18 Chester Street, Subiaco, which was built in 1904 for Walter David Cookes, founder of the Ezywalkin Boot and Shoe Company. [13] Together they had one son, Peter, in 1928. [14]

A hobby for JP was hunting, serving as President of the Hunt Club of Western Australia and he and Peter kept horses to ride through Kings Park. [15]

In a long and distinguished legal career, JP Durack took on all kinds of cases with all kinds of people. He represented farmers, tradesmen and unionists, workers, lumpers, barstaff, beleaguered husbands and wives, politicians, store owners and recent migrants. He was involved in divorce, licensing, probate, criminal, litigation and commercial cases. He was appointed a Kings Counsel in June 1939, at the age of fifty. [10] He was also President of the Law Society of Western Australia from 1943 to 1945. Some of the most intriguing cases he was involved in come from the 1950s, including one which went to the Privy Council in London.

JP Durack continued practising law at Dwyer Durack until the 1970s, when he was well into his eighties. He died in 1978.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bolton, G. C. (1981). "Durack, Michael Patrick (1865–1950)". Australian Dictionary of Biography . Archived from the original on 30 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  2. "Archerfield". Queensland Places. University of Queensland . Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  3. "1921 WA-NT Border Determinations". Kununurra Historical Society Inc. (KHS), Kununurra, Western Australia. 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  4. 1 2 "Obituary". The Daily News. 24 September 1921.
  5. "Murder By Natives". The Daily News. 26 February 1901.
  6. "History of Firm". Dwyer Durack.
  7. "Christian Bros College". The Daily News. 13 December 1907.
  8. "College Sports". Western Mail. 7 May 1906.
  9. "News and Notes". The Daily News. 3 May 1914.
  10. 1 2 "King's Counsel". The West Australian. 7 June 1939.
  11. "Personal". The West Australian. 19 March 1917.
  12. "Kings Counsel". The Daily News. 6 June 1939.
  13. "Social notes". The West Australian. 15 May 1922.
  14. "Liberals 'go to' mind in 1980s". The Age. 17 July 2008.
  15. "Hunting". The West Australian. 13 August 1906.