Janet Lane remembers Reg Wilson, ‘father’ to the Waler horse and the Timor Pony.
Reg was a good friend of mine (Janet). From the beginning in 1986, when I started the Waler Society (no longer anything to do with it) he was a rock, his knowledge of Walers incredible. He knew the pastoral history of the Territory like the back of his hand. Reg was born in outback South Australia, his young years spent on Newcastle Waters – good water made it a welcome stopover for drovers. Legendary horses.
Many phone-calls, books, ideas and research shared – Reg was a super historian. A mutual interest in Timor Ponies – Reg then saved some, a difficult task when on government land. He also saved many good Walers in central Australia. It was the peak of the brumby eradication under the TB-Brucellosis campaign – heading to extinction.
We all fought to save as many as we could. Reg, who lived in Darwin, came to Tasmania to visit, and got me up there as a rough rider (breaker, my living then) in Arnhem Land on Murwangie, traditional owners. We went mustering wild cattle too. Reg wanted me to see how Walers were at the work they were bred for. The difference to other horses is like a rusty old bike compared to a Rolls Royce.
The man on the horse is Reg Wilson, The little horse/pony was a Timor Pony cross bred on the Top End and mustered wild when young, I (Janet) broke him in (was the roughrider up there for a bit). These little horses are very touchy and some ppl can’t break them, but if one realises they are super intelligent, and remains patient, they come to hand very well. Ghengis Khan was a Rolls Royce after cattle; you would not find a better stock horse.
Reg was an ace rider, experienced after wild cattle. He rode a Timor-Waler cross on Murwangie, named Irish, man that was a top little horse! His research skills were super, honed by being a surveyor where patience and being correct is everything. Like many, the era of the internet was too much – he stuck to books and papers. Out bush in camp, which he was brought up doing then as a surveyor in the Territory, he always took care of himself and looked immaculate. A kind and gentle man, very humble too. Never smoked, drank or swore. Loved Irish songs. And poetry. He had a run of his own, Manton, south of Darwin, where he put in a giant dam and loved to see the bird-life there, such as his beloved magpie geese.
Reg attended many of our meetings in those times, usually Victoria, always great support for research and saving Walers, and a good friend to Peter Fischer who took over the Society, and later formed the Association (WHOBAA). In later years Reg and I lost touch.
I know Richard Crispin, bless him, always kept in touch with Reg. That is one of the shirts Reg is wearing, which Richard had made for one of our Waler get-togethers, which he arranged, at Dalgety in the Snowies (still have one somewhere Richard). Thank you for letting us know of his passing Richard, and thank you to Pat Fischer for telling me too. We will all miss him.
Reg was 80 when he passed away on the 7th of March 2020. Had a good innings, and he helped many people over his life in so many ways. History, horses and family were his passions. His legacy will be the survival of the Waler, and Timor Pony. Reg leaves a large family, to whom we pass our sincere condolences.
Happy trails up there Reg. Many good horses and good people waiting to see you old friend. Put the billy on!
Vale Reg Wilson 1931-2020, Historical Society of the Northern Territory
Reg was born on Nicholson Station on the WA/NT border. His birth was assisted by Aboriginal women who worked at the station as his father was away mustering. Reg’s parents worked for Vesty’s and moved around the Territory managing stations for the company. Just before the bombing of Darwin, Reg, along with many other children were sent to Adelaide. Reg’s professional life was spent in the NT Public Service where he rose to become the Supervising Surveyor in the Department of Lands. His work took him and his family all around the Territory.