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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hardie, John Jackson (1894–1951)

by John Atchison

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

John Jackson Hardie (1894-1951), rural adviser and author, was born on 8 November 1894 at Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland, son of James Hardie, master mariner, and his wife Agnes Hawthorn, née Johnstone. Educated at Troon and at the Royal Academy, Irvine, he migrated to Australia in 1911 and jackerooed at Avon Downs, Northern Territory.

On the declaration of war Hardie rode to Cloncurry, Queensland, to enlist in the Light Horse. Rejected, he reached Townsville and shipped to England to join the 2nd King Edward's Horse in April 1915. He served in France from July until August 1917 and was attached to the 59th Training Battalion from October. Commissioned as temporary second lieutenant in March 1918, he joined the Indian Army in September and served with the 3rd Skinners Horse on the North-West Frontier, in the 3rd Afghan War. He returned to Australia in 1920.

From 1921 to 1925 Hardie grew bananas at Highfields, Terranora Broadwater, near Tweed Heads, New South Wales. Driven out by bunchy-top infestation, he learned wool-classing and, in 1926, joined the Graziers' Co-operative Shearing Co. Ltd. He joined the company permanently in 1938 as technical services officer and was responsible for checking wool purchases in New South Wales and Queensland. Well-liked and widely known, he had a sound grasp of stockowners' and breeders' problems and bridged effectively the traditional gap between pastoral research and rural practitioner. His articles in agricultural journals and the Bulletin's 'Man on the Land' page were expanded into three practical manuals.

Hardie wove his experiences into four well-written and popular minor novels. All relayed an authenticity which gained him a wide readership. Cattle Camp (1932) is the romance of a Scots-born bushman and his war experiences; it won third prize in the Bulletin's novel competition; its two main characters reappear in Lantana (1933). The other novels are The Bridle Track (1936) and Pastoral Symphony (1939), the first of an unfinished trilogy.

At St Patrick's Vestry, Sydney, on 30 November 1935 Hardie married a typist Margot (Marguerite) Ernestine Daly, from New Caledonia; they lived at Neutral Bay. Hardie's knowledge of cattle and fluency in French enabled him to act as agent for the French government between the Noumea veterinary office and Australian stockbreeders for bulls to improve New Caledonian livestock. An initial draft of stud cattle was selected at the Sydney Royal Show (1940).

In November 1940 Hardie was placed on the Reserve of Officers as a captain. He joined the Volunteer Defence Corps in 1942 as a private and was promoted lieutenant (1942) and captain (1943). In September 1945 he was discharged and returned to his previous status in the reserve. While Hardie recuperated from heart trouble, he and Marguerite decided to visit New Caledonia. Hardie suffered an attack on the flying boat and died immediately after transfer to Noumea hospital on 26 September 1951.

Select Bibliography

  • G. W. L. Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919 (Ottawa, 1962)
  • Pastoral Review, 16 Oct 1951
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Feb 1940, 2 June 1950, 6 Oct 1951
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

John Atchison, 'Hardie, John Jackson (1894–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 25 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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