Donald MacDonellPrint Page Print this page

The monument erected over the grave commemorates shearer, trade unionist and politician Donald MacDonell (1862 - 1911). Annual pilgrimages were made to the grave site for many years. 

He had been a founding member of the shearers' union in 1886 and soon became prominent as a rank-and-file leader of the strike. He also defended arrested shearers in court and later was active in dealing with scabs—his immense physical strength and wiry 6 ft 3 ins (191 cm) frame probably helping to persuade recalcitrant workers to accept the union's point of view. During the 1891 Queensland shearers' strike he led a party from the Bourke sheds to assist the strikers, narrowly escaping arrest after an assault on a 'blackleg'. Yet he was widely respected for his kindness and generosity to complete strangers. As a 'ringer' he sheared 214 sheep with hand-shears in a day at Belalie station in 1892.

In 1893 MacDonell was elected secretary of the Bourke branch of the Amalgamated Shearers' Union of Australasia and was prominent in bringing about its merger with the General Labourers' Union; he moved the resolution which adopted the name, Australian Workers' Union, at its first convention at Albury in January 1895. 

When the first Labor government took office in New South Wales in October 1910, Macdonell became colonial secretary and minister for agriculture.

However, plagued by increasing illness over sixteen years, he suffered a complete breakdown of health in January 1911. In February he moved to Melbourne for rest, but went into hospital immediately and remained there. He retained his portfolio as chief secretary but relinquished agriculture in September, when his seat was formally declared vacant because of his absence from parliament. He was re-elected unopposed but died of cancer on 26 October 1911.


Address:Dalyenong Road, Cemetery, Stuart Mill, 3478
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -36.799011
Long: 143.295004
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State
Monument Manufacturer:George. F. Atyeo (Brunswick, VIC)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Tuesday 9th March, 1915
Front Inscription

Erected by members of the Australian Workers Union

In memory of Donald MacDonell

General Secretary A.W.U. 1900-1911
Chief Secy. McGowan Ministry N.S.W. 1910
Died October 26 1911 aged 49.

"He has mounted his horse and smiled farewell, and rides where the shadows fall; 
Honor him men of western sheds, honor him - honor him all!"

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au