Garnet Webster

Binda mourns loss of ‘local squire’

GARNET Webster of “Kenilworth”, Binda, who died early this month aged 69, was the closest thing any rural community could have to a “local squire”. From his home base at “Kenilworth”, Mr Webster for the past 50-odd years divided his time, energies and resources between management of his family’s extensive grazing interests and caring for the nearby village of Binda. 

Without this care, there is little doubt the village that is now a vibrant community, service centre and tourist stop would years ago have followed the fate of many similar rural settlements into oblivion. 

At “Kenilworth” he became the de facto business manager of the family’s pastoral activities, centered on the purchase, development and (at times) leasing of grazing properties to run Merino sheep. 

The driving force behind the family’s pastoral growth was Mr Webster’s father, also named Garnet though better known as “Gundy”, who became a legend in his long lifetime (he died in 1996 aged 92) as a pastoralist, dealer and stock and station agent.

Gundy Webster’s intimate knowledge of the state – and particularly of western NSW and its people – acquired during his years as a “roving representative” for Pitt Son and Badgery, nicely complemented his son’s financial and management skills.

Together they built a pastoral operation in the Crookwell district based on “Kenilworth” later incorporating another Binda property, “Garraroo”, and the 3000ha “Yarraman” at Bigga. 

At the height of the Websters’ grazing activities in the 1970’s and 1980s, they were regularly shearing more than 40,000 sheep, consigning more than 1400 bales for sale under the familiar “W/BINDA” brand and buying between 5000 and 8000 young restocker wethers each year. 

Garnet Webster drew increasingly on the pastoral knowledge and experience of Elders agent, Russell Fahey, a former protégé of his father at Pitt Son, who has now handled the Websters’ stock business for half a century.

He was named Citizen of the Year in 2001 by the Crookwell Shire Council and shortly before his death was awarded an Order of Australia Medal.

PETER AUSTIN THE LAND