Robert Stanley White (1889-1951)
Phyllis Cecelia O’Neill (1903-1979)

Phyllis O’Neill (known as Molly, then later Poll) was one of 12 children to John O’Neill & Amelia Crimmins. She was born at Metz near Armidale NSW on 29 Jan 1903 and died on 23 Jun 1979 at Eskdale in Queensland.

Molly went to live with Robert Stanley White (known as Scamp, and some 14 years her senior) at Eskdale Station in Queensland, purchased by Scamp in 1931 (see the Brisbane Courier article on Wed 27 May 1931).

They had no children. Scamp was a thorough scoundrel, as the commentaries below attest to.

The following (undated) letter was written by (Phillip) Noel Johnson (son of Alice May O’Neill, Polly’s oldest sister) when he was resident of a Residential Care Home at Arundal near the Gold Coast.

I would have been 8 or 9 years of age when I first set eyes on this evil minded man and the year was 1928 or 1929. My dad was Les Johnson and he was the school master at a little village called Upper Orara, which sat on the Orara River, about 10 miles inland from Coffs harbour. (My mother (née May O’Neill) had three lovely sisters, Aunt Norn Rafferty, Aunty Bunty (Stella Kirkby) and Phyllis O’Neill who was single at the time of 1928/29. She was very young and beautiful, and we boys, Ron, myself, Kevin, Paul and Brian idolised her. Phyllis was always known as Aunty Molly to we boys, and having no home at the time virtually lived with us.

Scamp White was forever stalking Aunty Molly and that was the reason why he landed on our front veranda in 1929.

He had a pilot’s [license] and owned his own plane. I can remember he landed his plane on the beach at Coff’s Harbour and somehow made it to our home, where Aunty Molly was staying at the time. I can distinctly remember seeing this out-of shape rather grotesque looking man standing with Dad, their backs to an open fireplace in the study of our home. He wore a long leather coat down to his shins and a leather cap, similar to that worn by aviators. He was a short very stout man maybe 5 6”, but he was very broad across and his large head sat upon those massive shoulders with hardly any neck to separate them. He resembled a clothes peg in that area of his body. All the time I was still intrigued by his long leather coat and a leather belt about 4/5 inches wide tightly wrapped around his very large girth. I would have thought his age would have been about 33/35. Behind all this exterior of Scamp White, everything about the man, to me, appeared evil. He had rather small eyes which were a very dark brown, very piercing a cruel looking, as which could be seen as unforgiving. His nose and mouth were set into a rather round head with grey hair beginning to sprout across his temple and his ears. He also wore spectacles. His mouth was almost lipless, comprising of a long, straight cavity, at the ends of which was a vertical 90’ drop of approximately one inch .

He stayed that night and I can’t remember seeing him next morning, nor whether I can remember whether he took Aunty Molly with him. However, the memory of his visit will and has been everlasting.

They would not have been married for Aunty Molly used to come back and stay with us at Woodburn, but I think they married about 1934 while Dad had the school at Mullumbimby. Between Orara and Mullumbimby, I can remember that Scamp stole nearly all the cattle which belonged to the O’Neill boys families in the Georges Creek area and various other parts of the New England area, and there was much hostility. He still pursued Aunt Molly – by now called Aunty Poll.

It was 13 years since I next encountered Scamp White. I was 23 years old and he and Aunt Poll, now married, were on one of his 3 properties – Eskdale, a really a magnificent place. My holiday fell due in the Bank which I was employed, and Aunty Poll, with Scamp’s permission asked me to visit them. I caught the Moree mail train, thence the mailman took me in his van to Goondiwindi, then train to Toowoomba, and cattle train to Esk. I was the only human passenger on it. – only 25 miles but it took about 2 ½ hours. I remember staying at people named McDermotts until Scamp and Aunty drove in to pick me up. He seemed to want to ignore me. I was dressed in a very nice double breasted pencil stripe navy blue suit, plenty of black wavy hair and polished shoes. I wanted to impress him but I soon convinced myself that he was not of that ilk. So I went to him and told him my name and who I was. He said “So you are the cleric.” I didn’t like that and I stumbled for an answer. He said “Suits aren’t worn around these parts, especially on my property“. I told him that “I had plenty of work clothes and looked forward to doing plenty of work during my stay with you” . “Can you ride a horse?” “Yes, but I haven’t been on one for quite a while.” “I’ll see how good you are at 6.30 in the morning.” I didn’t like the sound of that. At 6.30am he got one of his black slaves to saddle this horse who was frisky. Aunt Poll yelled at Scamp “Don’t you give that horse to Noel, its too wild!” But Scamp, evil man that he was, insisted. I mounted and he gave the horse a sharp smack across its rump and it took off. Well, I swear to this day that for every 20 or 30 times the horse’s hooves hit the ground my arsehole hit the saddle once. Fortunately I managed to keep control of the stirrups and that saved my life. The horse finally stopped down near the stables and I patted him on the neck, and he cantered back to where we started. Aunt Poll was in tears, Scamp was laughing. I am sure I would have been killed if I had lost the stirrups. What he did to me was characteristic of Scamp White. Despite this very traumatic event which took place, our relationship began to improve slightly, for I worked hard for him and became a very willing servant for him. There was always things to do, and I was constantly under his supervision. However, an incident occurred one day which angered him immensely and I thought he was going to make me pack up and give me the boot. He, two blacks and I went mustering cattle to bring them back for tick dipping. I had a good horse. We set off and he told me what gully to follow and round up as many as I could. After riding for about an hour along the gully which twisted and turned and over a ridge or two, I thought I had enough cattle to bring back. Next thing I realized … I was disorientated and completely lost, and no cattle. “Shit” I said. I gave a few Coo-ees to no avail. Fortunately the horse know where he was, and I gave him the rein. He got me home and Aunty Poll sighted me … I had gotten lost. In about 2 hours time Scamp and his two fellow stockmen arrived back with hundreds of cattle, looked up at the veranda and I heard him say “There’s the fuckin bastard!” I knew I would be in for it. Well he abused the shit out of me. I explained as well as I could how I became lost but he was not at all sympathetic to my cause. “Tomorrow, you and I will go out and get those fuckin cattle” he said.

I saw Scamp White whip a dark employee and gave him a horrible hiding. He had a gym at his home which he used to work at every day with his gloves. He used to belt the darkies. And on this day a darkie landed a good punch on Scamp which stunned him. In revenge he tied this unfortunate fellow up and thrashed him until the poor screaming fellow lay in a heap on the Gym floor. I never forgave it.

Scamp White, ever the schemer and evil-doer had a couple of good race horses. His best was named Auburn River in Sydney where the big money was, but more often than not he used to run it dead, especially when it was short priced. The evil man used to wait when the horse was 10/15/20 to 1 on the market betting. He would not appear on the course, but my being in the bank, he used to give me thousands of pounds, take it out to the course and put all the money on when a good price. I used to take a fairly big bag out with me to carry the winnings. This was around the years 1946/7/8. Sometimes the bookies did not have enough money to pay me and was given tickets to be settled at Tattersalls on the Monday. However the A.J.C caught up with Scamp and he was summoned to appear before the full committee on charges relating to the running of his horses and reversals of form. He failed to appear on numerous, occasions, sending down medical certs stating he was too ill to attend. The inevitable occurred and Scamp was barred for life off all racetracks in Australia. There were no boundaries to this rascal’s dirty, nefarious tricks. Scamp’s cattle were as good, if not better, than any in the land. Big cattle sales were scheduled to be on at various saleyards throughout Q’Land. Hearing of this he booked and hired every Railway truck in the state to ensure that it was only his cattle that got to the yards. All other property owners were denied ever making it to the yards. He made a fortune.

Now, Scamp, the Sleuth. To my surprise, he one day told me to go into Esk – approx 8/12 miles from the property. I was to drive the utility there, get a new tyre for the rear wheel put on and also an extra one for spare, together with a 44 gallon drum of petrol filled up. I was happy to do all this for I thought that he was growing in confidence in my trust and ability. I got to Esk and told the garage Prop. what I wanted done, on behalf of Mr White. I can remember not speaking in glowing terms of Scamp, but business was business. Not having had a beer since I left Sydney, I went over to the pub to put in the time I had to spare. While in the Pub I felt uneasy about being there, for knowing Scamp he was the sort of man who would spy on me. Sure enough, all my expectations were proved correct for he sprung me, nice and sweet. Well, once again he abused the living shit out of me all in front of the patrons and publican. Any explanation from me proved futile however and we proceeded back to the garage where they had finished what they had to do. We drove back home, he following me. Each day my hatred for this man grew stronger and stronger.

Scamp was forever and perpetually in conflict with the Dept of Taxation. He seemed to be continually under investigation. The cunning devil got word that a posse of tax investigators were coming out to his home with bagfuls of incriminating evidence enough to convict him of a prison term and of fines totalling thousands of pounds. To get to Scamp’s home one must cross this bridge over the little stream which supplied the property with its water. Scamp, not to be outdone, blew the bridge up with dynamite and so thwarted the attempt by the tax chaps. They were powerless to carry out their investigations for the bridge was on private property.

Scamp was a very cruel and merciless character and would never have used, or known of the word “love”. Ulterior motives with criminal tendencies was ingrained right throughout his veins and sinews. Here is an incident which typified this man’s mind. When he and Aunty Poll went down to Sydney (once or twice a year) they would stay at the Hotel Australia. He always brought Aunty Poll with him and used to get her to do some dirty tricks on his behalf. Something happened that went wrong and he flew into a raging temper, bashed Aunty Poll and grabbed her by one leg and suspended her from the window of the 8th floor of the hotel. We were living at Paddington where Dad had the school. My mother went into town to see her sister who had fainted during this awful ordeal. He shot through and scampered back to Esk. Aunty Poll stayed with us a few days before she too went back to Esk.

Now at the end of the war in 1945, Ben Chifley, the then prime Minister of Australia and one of the best Australia has ever had, decided to pull into the Treasury all pound notes which were of high denominations, 1000 pound and 500 pound notes. Well this news got Scamp immediately up off his arse. He got to work on his combination locked safe at Esk and pulled out bag fulls of all in high value notes, packed Aunty Poll off to Sydney and my being a teller at the Haymarket Branch of the B.N.S.W., I was used as the intermediary to change them into small denominations. We met every day for a fortnight for these transactions I remember until her big notes were all changed. For my efforts I didn’t get a cracker, although Poll gave me 20 Pounds. He didn’t even send me a letter of thanks or kiss my arse. Really I can’t recall this sinister rascal to have one redeeming feature in his character. Evil to him who evil thinks – when translated from French [honi soit qui mal y pense].

Now finally to my summing up in this process, thesis or miniature biography of this person. He never called me by my name – Noel. He wouldn’t bring himself to say it. He treated me with utter distain and perhaps I can count myself lucky that I was not black. He would not allow me to dine with him and Aunty Poll. He was the master and was known and called Master by all on his property. I used to call him Sir or Mr White. My first sighting and impressions of this scoundrel, and my last sighting of him had unique and grotesque similarities. I saw this bad man dead in his coffin which lay on a bier in Kinsella Chapel at Taylor Square, Darlinghurst. As he lay there dead, many thoughts surged to my mind. I could still see this rogue in that long aviator leather coat with with a matching 4/5 inch leather belt wrapped around that ugly girth of his. I looked for some signs of compassion in that dead face but there was none, just like there never was. That lipless cavity still was there and I was so pleased to see his eyes were closed forever. It was a pleasure to know that from that point that no soul on earth would ever suffer again this man’s hands.

I believed he died an ignominious man’s death with Aunty Poll at his side. He died of cancer and was in a raving rage until such time when he succumbed. I was the only Johnson who attended his funeral, but it wasn’t out of sympathy why I went. I wanted to see him dead, after which I found a pub and got pretty drunk. There were no tears, just memories of the most villainous, treacherous, evil minded man upon whom I’ve come across in my life.

Noel Johnson
Room 1C – 29 Melbourne Rd
Arundel (Q) 4214

Eskdale Station homestead, 1970, courtesy State Library of Queensland.

Scamp White was born in 1889 in the Gosford area and firstly married Myrtle Nadine Hallisey in March 1913. In 1918 Myrtle petitioned for divorce on the grounds of desertion. Scamp then married Irene Una Nord in September 1918, and in 1928 this marriage was also dissolved on the grounds of desertion.

Pol and scamp married in St Luke’s (Presbyterian) Church, Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand, on 22 Mar 1937. A niece of Pol, Liz Kebby, provided a copy of their marriage certificate:

O'Neil Marriage 1937_03_22

It appears that at the time the couple were living in Bucklands Beach, some 13km east of the CBD. Scamp gave his usual address as Waharoa, some 55km east of Hamilton in the North Island, and described himeself as a bachelor.

His first tangle with the courts appears to have involved cattle theft at Tumbi Umbi (near Gosford) when Scamp was in his late 20s. From The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 24 Mar 1916:

(Before the Chief Justice, Sir William Cullen, and jury )
Mr. Herbert Harris, Crown Prosecutor.


Robert Stanley White, 29, pleaded not guilty to a charge of stealing 13 steers, five cows, and seven heifers, the property of Thomas Pemberton at Tumbi Umbi, near Gosford, on December 15. Mr. E. R. Abigail appeared for the defence.

The case for the Crown was that accused and an employee of his removed Pemberton’s cattle from a paddock at Tumbi Umbi, and took them to Gosford railway Station. They were then consigned in the name of A. B. Beale to a firm of auctioneers at Flemington, and some days after they were sold the employee went to the Gosford Post-office and received a letter from the auctioneers, containing a cheque for £92, which was afterwards negotiated by a local storekeeper, who said it was tendered by a man named Beale – not the accused – whom he had known eight to 10 weeks. The accused was in the post-office when the employee received the letter: but when asked by one of the postal employees, he said that he did not recognise his employee.

At the close of the Crown case Mr. Abigail raised the point that there was no corroboration of the evidence of an accomplice, and that his Honour should at that stage direct an acquittal.

After argument, his Honor said the corroboration was not wholly clear, but he thought the case should go to the jury.

The defence was then entered upon.

Accused denied that he had anything to do with the removal of the cattle. He had never handled the cheque, and knew nothing about it.

At the close of his Honor’s summing-up the jury, without leaving the box, acquitted White, and he was discharged.

Whether the Beale mentioned in the last report is the same as the Beale mentioned in the following is unclear. By 1924 Scamp had become a grazier in Queensland, as reported in The Brisbane Courier on Thu 18 Sep 1924:


SYDNEY. September 17.

In the Banco Jury Court to-day James Henry Beale, trading as J. H. Beale and Co., estate agent and auctioneer, sued Robert Stanley White, a Queensland grazier, claiming money alleged to be due to him on accounts for commission, etc, between them. The case involved the review of several transactions, and narrowed down to a claim for £1672, to which the defendant pleaded that he was never indebted. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for £2385 over and above the sum of £102, which had been paid into court.

By 1929 White had branched out into owning racehorses – and apparently into throwing races. The Cairns Post on Wed 27 Feb 1929 reported on his first disqualification:


BRISBANE, Feb, 26.

At the adjourned inquiry into the running of Karadui in the Trial Handicap at Ascot on February 16, by the Q.T.C. stewards to-day, R. S. White, the owner, F. Stanfield, the trainer, H. Hornery, the Jockey and the gelding were disqualified for twelve months for alleged improper practices.

All three gave notice of appeal.

The Chairman, during the hearing asked White if he was perfectly satisfied that Hornery did his best to win on Karahui. White replied that he did not see the race. He was keeping an eye on his horse while the race was being run.


The Chairman said it seemed extraordinary that White should have something like £100 on the horse in the race and yet take no interest in the running.

White said that was not a large amount for him. He might put £500 on a horse and never go near the course. It was, he said, quite a common thing for him to do that.

Replying to the Chairman, Hornery said he could not have done any better in the race, but had he drawn a better position at the barrier, he might have got closer at the finish.

The case received quite a deal of newspaper exposure. For example, an appeal was reported by the Barrier Miner (Broken Hill) on Mon 13 May 1929:

Brisbane. Friday.

In February, at Ascot, the horse, Karadui; R S. White, owner; F. Stanfield, trainer; and H. Hornery, jockey; were disqualified for 12 months. An appeal was heard and the sentences were reduced. White’s case was adjourned till to-day. Mr. M’Gill, for White, objected to the committee going on with the case on the grounds that the charge was unwarranted by any rules of racing, and that the proceedings were contrary to natural justice.

Mr. M’Gill and White then left the room and the committee proceeded with the inquiry and the appeal was dismissed. Mr. M’Gill subsequently announced that the matter would be taken to the courts.

While the disqualification period was reduced to three months for the others, White had refused to accept the jurisdiction of the Committee and took the Turf Club to court. The Brisbane Courier, Wed 29 May 1929 reported the start of the court case:



When the appeal in the case of R.S. White was before the Q.T.C. Committee on May 10, Mr. A. D. M’Gill, appearing for White (owner of the racehorse Karadui), addressed the Q.T.C. committee as follows:- “We refuse to accept the jurisdiction of this committee, and I propose to test the proceedings in the Supreme Court.”


Messrs. D. J. O’Mara and Robertson, solicitors, acting for R. S. White, had a writ issued yesterday, and Messrs. O’Shea, O’Shea, Lukin, and Corser, solicitors for the Queensland Turf Club, undertook to accept service.


A summons was issued out of the Supreme Court yesterday morning, on behalf of Robert Stanley White, of Brisbane, in the matter of an action to be commenced against the members of the Queensland Turf Club and the members of the committee thereof, asking that Charles Andrew Morris, of Brisbane, in the State of Queensland, barrister-at-law, a member of the Queensland Turf Club and chairman of the committee thereof, be appointed to be sued on behalf of himself and of all other members of the Queensland Turf Club, and all other members of the committee thereof. An order was made by Mr. Justice Henchman in Chambers giving leave to sue Mr. Morris, on behalf of himself and on behalf of all other members of the Queensland Turf Club, and of all other members of the committee thereof, costs being reserved. On the order being taken out a writ was subsequently issued against Mr. Morris, the chairman of the Queensland Turf Club, on behalf of himself and of the Queensland Turf Club, and of all of the members of the committee thereof. The endorsement to the writ claims:

(1) A declaration that the decision of the stipendiary stewards of the Queensland Turf Club made on the twenty-sixth day of February.1929, whereby the plaintiff and a horse named Karadui, the property of the plaintiff, were disqualified for a period of 12 months, is invalid and inoperative.

(2) A declaration that the decision of the committee of the Queensland Turf Club made or pronounced on the 10th day of May, 1929, whereby an appeal by the plaintiff against the said decision of the said stipendiary stewards was dismissed, and the said decision of the said stipendiary stewards was confirmed, is invalid and inoperative.

(3) An injunction restraining the Queensland Turf Club, its committee members, stewards, and its agents and servants, and all of them from in any way acting upon or advertising the said disqualifications, or either of them, and in particular,from keeping or exhibiting the name of the plaintiff or of the said horse on any list of persons disqualified or suspended, and/or of horses disqualified, or from transmitting to the committee or stewards of any registered club orclubs, or/or any registered race meeting or meetings, or to any race club, whether operating within the State of Queensland or in any other State, colony, or country, any such list on which the name of the plaintiff or of the said horse appears.

(4) £1000 damages against the members of the Queensland Turf Club, and in the alternative, against the members of the committee thereof.

In court White’s barrister made his plea but after much argument he and White withdrew from the proceedings. Subsequently the committee announced that they had dismissed the appeal. Karadui was embroiled in further legal proceedings. In a race in Newcastle a false name was submitted as the horse’s owner (Sat 2 Aug 1930):

Messrs. G. Williams and W. Brecht, stipendiary stewards acting for the Newcastle Jockey Club, announced this afternoon that the inquiry into the association with the disqualified gelding Karadui of S. Spilsted, whose name appeared in the last Newcastle race book as owner, and of L. Haigh, whose name appeared in the book as trainer, had been concluded.Spilsted was fined £10 under rule 16 for allowing his name to be used as owner of the gelding, and Haigh was fined £50, under rule 16, for a breach of rule 43, which provided that every person having any interest in a horse should be shown on the nomination form.

White sold Karadui by 1939 because in that year the horse was illegally re-branded and registered as Wood King under a different owner.

The next tale comes from

Keeping Your Mouth Shut For Betting Plunges

There’s an old saying that goes something along the lines of “a secret isn’t a secret once more than one person knows about it”.

Such was the case in February 1950 and a sad lesson to be learned for then big punter and prominent owner, Harry Whittle, who was based in Sydney. Harry was very keen on a horse called Corinthian that was due to compete in a race at Canterbury.

Being a student of form, Whittle was convinced that Corinthian was close to a good thing and its only danger was a three year old entered for the same race called Auburn River.

Auburn River was trained at Newcastle by Keith Tinson and owned by a pretty sharp operator called “Scamp” White.

Whittle happened across White a day or two before the big plunge race was due to be held and called him aside asking him if Auburn River was fit because he thought Corinthian was a real good thing if Auburn River needed a run or two before showing its best.

White didn’t say much – just listened to Whittle’s big wraps on Corinthian – and, at the end of one way conversation, told Whittle to ‘put a couple of hundred on Corinthian for me’.

Whittle took this to indicate that Auburn River wasn’t fit and the green light was on for the big plunge on Corinthian. (What was that about assumption being the mother of all stuff ups?)

Come race day and Whittle, who was a big punter, put heaps on Corinthian. No sooner had the commissioners got together after raiding the betting ring, than an avalanche of money came for Auburn River at bigger odds than what was expected and the horse duly won by eight lengths.

Whittle immediately realised that he’d been ”scalped” by White who was a pretty shrewd punter himself and allowed Whittle and his commissioners to make the market on his Auburn River before punting it himself. It was estimated that around $20000 was invested on Auburn River – a huge amount in 1950.

Whittle was furious and, without thinking clearly, went and complained to the stewards (!!) who were most bemused and told Whittle it had nothing to do with them and that Whittle had simply been dudded by White. However, in unusual circumstances, because Whittle had “given them false and misleading evidence”, according to the stewards, they disqualified him for 12 months.

Nothing like this had ever been recorded before in Australian racing and, as far as can be ascertained, nothing like it has happened since.

White must have been nearly gagging as Whittle spilled the beans on Corinthian. Whittle must have walked away thinking “he’s a quiet chap”.

The moral to the story? I’m sure you can write that.

Robert Stanley White was also involved in 1932 in legal proceedings to settle the estate of his mother Bertha White and a brother Clarence White who had died just three months prior to his mother. The problem was a complex story of split families. Then there were actions against White for paying station hands less than the award wage, for cattle theft, failure to deliver cattle, taking cattle unlawfully across the NSW-Queensland border, failure to complete contracts. See for example, The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton), Thu 07 Dec 1933 for a Supreme Court Writ on behalf of Samuel Conrad Becker, a grazier of Theodore, against Robert Stanley White claiming the rescission of a contract dated November 8, 1933, and damages for alleged fraudulent misrepresentation. Another example is from The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton) Thu 20 Sep 1934:

Graziers’ Dispute

BRISBANE, September 13.

The sale of 1850 cattle was examined before Mr. Justice E. A. Douglas and a jury in the Supreme Court to-day. The parties to the deal were Robert Stanley White, of Eskdale, Toogoolawah, grazier, and M. R. Shannon, of Olive Downs,Kebo, grazier.

The contract for the sale of the cattle was disputed, and White brought an action against Shannon, claiming the return of £1527 10s. and £1314 15s. 6d. damages for an alleged breach of contract or, alternatively, £2842 5s. 6d. damages.Mr. A. D. McGill, K.C., appeared for plaintiff and Mr. N. Macrossan for defendant.

According to the statement of claim defendant contracted to sell to plaintiff 1850 head of Olive Downs station-bred cattle, and the delivery was to be made at the end of February, 1934, or earlier at the purchaser’s option. The price agreed upon was £2 10s. per head, delivered at the Iffley yards. Plaintiff was also to have the option of buying 250 head of Nos. 8 and 9 cows on Olive Downs, with not less than 50 per cent of the calves given in free, for £2 10s. per head, and these also were to be delivered at the end of February, 1934. Plaintiff said he paid defendant £4625 for the 1850 cattle. On about February 1 defendant delivered 738 head.

On February 2 a further contract was made, by which defendant was to be relieved from supplying any more No. 1 steers, but should supply 400 of Nos. 8 and 9 cows and older cows at the buyer’s option or No. 0 cows in excess of the 250 mentioned in the original contract. According to plaintiff, the total number of cattle delivered was 1239, excluding calves, and the balance undelivered numbered 611, in respect of which he had paid £1527 10s. He claimed that he was entitled to an additional 440 head, 250 of which should have at least 50 per cent of calves.

Defendant admitted that between February 12 and February 15 plaintiff obtained in delivery from defendant’s servants at Olive Downs in his absence 501 cows and 487 calves and young cattle. Defendant’s servants had authority to deliver 146 of these cows and 140 of the calves and young cattle, but not the remainder, as plaintiff knew. Defendant alleged that plaintiff in bad faith induced defendant’s servants to deliver certain other cattle valued at £500. At all times defendant had been willing to return the £1527 10s. paid by plaintiff when the cattle were delivered, and he had brought that sum into court. As to the residue of plaintiff’s claim, without admitting it, defendant had brought £100 into court, and by way of a counter claim he sought £500. After the hearing of evidence the case was adjourned.

BRISBANE, September 14.

The defence was commenced in the Supreme Court to-day in the case in which Robert Stanley White, of Eskdale, Toogoolawah, grazier, is proceeding against M. R. Shannon, of Olive Downs, Nebo, grazier, alleging breach of contract for the sale of 1850 cattle and claiming the return of £1527 10s. and £1314 15s. 6d. damages, or, alternatively, £2842 5s. 6d. damages.

There is a counter claim by the defendant for £500.

The action is being heard by Mr. Justice E. A. Douglas with a jury. Mr. A. D. McGill, with him Mr.E. T. Real (instructed by Messrs.E. J. O’Mara. and Robinson) appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. Macrossan (instructed by Messrs. McNeish, Macrossan and Dowling, town agents for Messrs. Macross and Amiet, Mackay) for the defendant.

Evidence in the plaintiff’s case was closed.

Opening the case for the defence, Mr. Macrossan outlined the negotiations resulting in the original and the supplementary contract in relation to the sale.

A first mob of about 738 head was delivered to the plaintiff on January 31 last. A second mob was to be delivered a fortnight from February 4.The defendant then left to go to Sydney with his wife. Flying to Brisbane, the plaintiff caught up with the defendant at Brisbane and had a conversation with him at the Hotel Canberra. As a result of that conversation and representations which the plaintiff made to the defendant the defendant gave the plaintiff a letter to Mr. Dillon, defendant’s manager at Olive Downs.

Armed with that letter the plaintiff returned to Olive Downs and obtained delivery, not only of cows, but also of young cattle running with the cows, but could not, it was alleged, be regarded as calves. In addition to that, it was alleged that the plaintiff also represented to Mr. Dillon that the defendant had stated that he wanted as big a mob as possible to go, up to 750 head.

The oral evidence and that of the receipt given by the plaintiff, said Mr. Macrossan, would show that the number of young cattle also taken was about 200. Upon his return from Sydney, and on finding out what had been done, the defendant wrote to the plaintiff, expressing grave dissatisfaction, calling the contracts off, and offering to refund the value of the undelivered stock.

The verdict must have gone against Scamp White, because an appeal was lodged unsuccessfully three months later. Here is the report is from The Courier-Mail (Brisbane) on Wed 13 Feb 1935: (but is there a conflict of interest here?):


The hearing was concluded in the Full Court yesterday of the appeal arising in the action of Robert Stanley White, of Eskdale, Toogoolawah. grazier, against M. B. Shannon, of Olive Downs, Nebo, for alleged breach of contract respecting the sale of 1850 head of cattle. On the Bench were their Honours Mr. Justice Macrossan, S.P.J., Mr. Justice Webb, and Mr. Acting Justice Hart.

R. S. White appealed against the findings of the Jury, and the Judgment pronounced in the action, which were generally in favour of the defendant. Mr. A. D. McGill, K.C., with him Mr. E.T. Real (instructed by Messrs. D. J. O’Mara and Robinson), appeared for the appellant, and Mr. N. Macrossan (instructed by Messrs. Macnish, Macrossan,and Dowling. town agents for Messrs. Macrossan and Amlet, Mackay) for the respondent.

When argument was closed the Court dismissed the appeal, with costs.

Although he appears to have avoided being found guilty, it appears that he deliberately set fire to his plane. From The West Australian on Fri 27 Oct 1939:

Evidence Against Suspect.

BRISBANE, Oct. 25.-Despite suggestions by counsel that at the relevant time, Robert Stanley White, of Eskdale, was in a city professional man’s chambers, an apprentice -ground engineer for Qantas Empire Airways maintained in the Coroner’s Court, Brisbane, today, that he had seen White with a middle aged man seated in White’s car at Archerfield aerodrome, two nights before six planes, including White’s Stinson Reliant plane, were destroyed by fire on June 28.

John Walter Boiface, of Salisbury, said he was leaving Archerfield aerodrome between 8 p.m. and 8.15 p.m. on June 26 in a motor car when he saw White sitting in a stationary car without lights, about 30 or 40 yards from No. 2 hangar. As the lights of witness’s car shone round on another car, White put his right arm up to his face and the other man followed suit and looked out the window from the other side. Boniface remarked to his companion in the car with him: “That is White’s car. I wonder what he is doing out here at this time of the night?” Witness thought it queer that White was sitting there with lights out.

Mr. P. L. Hart (for White): Would you be surprised to know that from 7 p.m. to a little later after 8 p.m. that night White was in a professional man’s chambers and another professional man was present?

Witness: I would be surprised. It was White I saw in the car.

The inquiry was adjourned to tomorrow.

Also from The Argus (Melbourne), Sat 28 Oct 1939:

“Malicious Effort”

BRISBANE, Friday. — “It appears to me to be the successful malicious effort of an incendiarist who so far has managed to preserve his anonymity,” said the city coroner (Mr. J. J. Leahy, P.M.), when closing the inquiry today into the fire which destroyed six planes in the Qantas hangar at the Archerfield aerodrome at midnight on June 28.

Robert Stanley White, grazier, of Eskdale, owner of a Stinson Reliant which was destroyed in the fire, declined to give evidence on the ground that he might incriminate himself.

Sergeant J. Nicol said that he though that the car which was seen moving away from the aerodrome at midnight onJune 28 was connected with the fire.

A statement by White, in which he said that he had not the slightest knowledge of the origin of the fire, was tendered.

Scamp’s illness was reported in The Courier-Mail, Brisbane Tue 04 Dec 1951, and his death on Wed 05 Dec 1951:

R. S. White ill

SYDNEY, Monday. — Mr. R. S. White, of Eskdale station, Esk, one of the most spectacular betting owners of the Australian turf, is seriously ill in a private hospital in Sydney following an operation for a throat trouble last Tuesday.

Station owner dies in Sydney

Mr. Robert S. White, well known in the Queensland cattle industry, and in racing circles, died in Sydney yesterday.

Mr. White, whose home was Eskdale Station, near Toogoolawah, visited Sydney for a throat operation recently. Mr. White, who also owned Hawkwood Station, near Chinchilla, and was in his sixties, became well known before the war by his use of an aircraft in the course of his business.

He has left a widow.

Aunty Pol was one of two executors to White’s will, but probate took over two years, as reported in The Courier-Mail on Fri 23 Apr 1954:

Left £295,677

Probate of the will of prominent grazier, Robert Stanley White, late of ‘Eskdale,’ Esk, was granted in the Supreme Court yesterday. The late Mr. White, who died on December 4, 1951, left a gross estate of £295,677. Realty represented £43,534 and personally £252.143.

When Aunty Pol died in 1970 Eskdale Station was bequeathed to the Anglican Diocese of Toowoomba.

John McInerney, a nephew of Noel Johnson, has offered these newspaper cuttings to Scamp’s story:

Western Star and Roma Advertiser (Toowoomba, Qld.)- Sat 20 Jul1929 – Page 8:


At Hawkwood recently, Mr. R. S. White, who was inspecting a line  of cattle, chartered a Qantas plane, and after breakfasting in Brisbane, made the flight to Hawkwood, inspected and purchased the cattle, and returned to the metropolis the same afternoon. The landing of the ‘plane was quite an event at Hawkwood, being the first seen there, or, at any rate, the first, to descend to terra firma. No doubt, many saw the little flyers for the first time at close range, and the landing presages the coming of age of the commercial flying machine. The station abos. [sic] were content to inspect at a respectable distance.

The Brisbane Courier – Sat 13 Jun 1931 – page 7:


Through the agency of Mr Jack Allman, a visit by aeroplane was made to Warwick on June 9 by Mr S R White, Hawkwood Station. Mr White arrived shortly after noon and completed a deal for the sale or 800 head of cattle involving about £4000, had lunch and flew away from the town by 4 pm. The cattle were at Helidon at the time and are now on their way to New South Wales. Four months ago cattle owners declined to meet the then prevailing market in this district, consequently but few changed hands. That state of affairs is now altered due mainly to the large numbers of young stock lifted from the district by buyers from over the border. One New South Wales buyer Mr C W C Dennis of Tamworth during the past three months has bought over 8000 head of mostly young stock. The operations of these buyers have stabilised the market.

The Brisbane Courier – Sat 06 Aug 1932 – page13:

Journalist’s Experience.

Air-Pilot S. K. Howard and Mr. Owen O’Brien, a member of the staff of the “Bundaberg Times”, set out from Bundaberg at 11 o’clock on Wednesday morning for Cracow. On the way carburetor trouble set in, causing an over-consumption of petrol, and a forced landing was made for the purpose of refuelling. On Thursday morning they were unable to take off on account of the ‘plane being overloaded, and the pilot was obliged to leave Mr. O’Brien and all the equipment behind.

The matter was reported to the police by telephone from Delubra station, and Mr. R. S. White, of Hawkwood station, who was notified, agreed to allow his pilot to accompany Pilot Howard in an effort to locate O’Brien.

This morning Pilot Howard, accompanied by Pilot Brain, Mr. White’s pilot, left by ‘plane, and after a close search located O’Brien, approximately 43 miles west by south-west of Hawkwood. Food and water was dropped to him, with a note to remain where he was until assistance came. Search parties have been notified of his exact location, and it is hoped that he will be promptly picked up.

The Charleville Times – Fri 14 1934 – page 6:


Captain ‘Skip’ Moody left Brisbane on Saturday morning at 8 o’clock for Camboon, near Cracow, where he took on board Mr. R. S. White and flew him to Esk to attend the cattle sale that day, their destination being reached at 2 p.m. The following morning they left for Mr. White’s property Hawkwood, near Mundubbera, arriving there at 11 a.m. On Monday morning they left Hawkwood, and flew to Terrence Vale station, another of Mr. White’s properties, and after a brief inspection, returned to Hawkwood that day. Captain Moody stayed there the night, and left on Tuesday morning for Charleville arriving here at 2 p.m.

Townsville Daily Bulletin – Fri 03 Nov 1950 – page 2:


HUGHENDEN, November 2.— One of the best known pastoral properties in the basalt country to the north-west of Hughenden, Charlotte Plains, has changed hands. The property has been disposed of by Messrs. Ruthven Ltd. and the new owner is reported to be Mr. R. S. White.

Charlotte Plains is a property of 1060 square miles. At present it is carrying about 6000 cattle and 4000 or 3000 sheep. There are about 160,000 acres of excellent sheep country on Charlotte Plains, well watered and well grassed, netted against dingoes and subdivided into many paddocks.

Charlotte Plains – 57.6kms North West of Hughenden – 82.06kms North East of Richmond – Ruthven Ltd had the station in 1918 – sold to Robert Stanley White in 1950 – the Estate of R. S. White sold to R. K. Loughnan in 1953. In 1982 J. J. Loughnan was the owner. (“Tales from Bush Graves” by Anne Alloway, Roberta Morrison – see Courier Mail 11 Nov 1953).

Queensland Country Life – Thu 06 Dec 1951 – page 19:

Cattleman’s Death

Mr. Robert S. White died in Sydney on Tuesday after a colourful career as a cattle dealer and station owner.

The late Mr. White often bought up to 3000 head of store cattle at Queensland cattle sales and on several occasions bought the complete yarding at Eidsvold sales. In the early thirties he made history by using a small plane to fly to cattle sales and to inspect cattle on properties, often making precarious landings in out of-the-way places.

He started in a small way as a cattle dealer in the Kempsey district of N.S.Wales. He then came to Queensland and before the establishment of meat works on the border he became the biggest dealer in Queensland store and fat cattle for N.S.Wales buyers.

Later, he acquired Eskdale Station, in the Brisbane Valley, Hawkwood Station, west of Gayndah, and more recently, Charlotte Plains, in the Richmond district.
He was recognised as a very astute dealer, being always prepared to back his opinions with substantial purchases.

For many years he has owned racehorses continuously, his horses at the time of his death including Gay Wassat. He was a spectacular better, one of his best known “plunges” being an investment of £14,000 on Auburn River the first time it won at Randwick.

The Courier-Mail – Fri 23 Apr 1954 – page 8:

Probate of the will of prominent grazier, Robert Stanley White, late of ‘Eskdale,’ Esk, was granted in the Supreme Court yesterday. The late Mr. White, who died on December 4, 1951, left a gross estate of £295,677. Realty represented £43,534 and personally £252,143.

See The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1930 – 1956) – Thu 10 May 1956 – page 36 and Thu 17 May, 1956 – page 7 and 9 for a transcript of the Commission where T.A. Foley, the Minister for Lands in Qld, was quizzed about his questionable dealings with “Scamp” White.

Scamp purchased the lease of “Bladensburg” for £2,000 and sold it for £42,000 – however, wool prices had risen substantially in the time he owned it.

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