RM Williams

RM (Reginald Murray) Williams was born on 24 May 1908 at Belalie North, which is near Jamestown in the Mid North of South Australia, the son of Joseph Hotspur Murray and Fanny Williams nee Mitchell. In his childhood he experienced the life of a rural family that was to impact on him in later life. At the end of World War 1 the family moved to Adelaide so that young Reginald and his two sisters (Effie and Daisy)could receive an education. School did not agree with him and at 15 he packed a swag, went bush and spent a number of years in the desert country living an almost nomadic life as a cameleer for a missionary working amongst the indigenous people. He also spent time in the Western Australian Gold Fields, as a stockman on Northern Territory Cattle Stations, and as a limeburner.
He married Thelma Ena Cummings at the Adelaide Registry Office on 25 May 1929. During the Depression they set up camp in the remote Gammon Ranges of South Australia. RM met an itinerant saddler called Dollar Mick, who passed on his skills. He began to craft boots and saddles that were in demand on surrounding stations.
In 1932, with the added expense of a son's illness Williams began selling his saddles to Sir Sidney Kidman. Williams soon had a small factory running in his father's back shed in Percy Street in the Adelaide suburb of Prospect that rapidly expanded making bridles, pack saddles, riding boots and eventually many other products used by bushmen including clothing. This business eventually developed into a huge enterprise with outlets around the world.
The family tired of city life and settled in the Flinders Ranges. The marriage, which produced six children, broke up in the early 1950s and RM purchased land in Dry Creek not far from the Yatala Prison where he grew vines and roses and conducted periodic rodeos. The government compulsorily acquired this property and RM left South Australia vowing never to return.
Williams made a second fortune when he purchased a potential gold mine called Nobles Nob, near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory from a widow.
He settled in Queensland and married Erica Nunn in 1955 and had three more children.
Williams was a member of Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. He founded the Australian Roughriders Association and was a founding member of the Equestrian Federation of Australia. He led a committee which initiated and planned the Bicentennial National Trail, the longest marked multi-use trail in the world, stretching 5330 kilometres from Cooktown, Queensland, through New South Wales to Healesville, Victoria. He founded the famous horse endurance race, named after Tom Quilty. RM Williams received recognition for these works with a CMG in 1985 and an AO in 1992. He died in Toowoomba on 4 November 2003.

Click to email Proformat Subscribe