Dugald Munro (OC 1948), Political Figure

On 11 June 1958 spectators crowded outside St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Darling Point, to peer at the glamorous dresses, furs and jewels on display at the wedding of Romayne Hordern (1936–2009) and Dugald Ranald Ross Munro (1930–1973).1

Photographs from an article in the Women’s Weekly titled "Paris Fashions at Sydney Wedding" depict an elegant bride with an attractive oval face framed by a soft bouffant of light brown curls, as popularised by screen sirens like Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren.2 Romayne is dressed in a fine tulle gown with a graceful cream skirt falling from a high empire waistline. Her beaming husband’s smile matches his crisp white shirt.

This wedding united two well-known pastoral families: Horden interests extended throughout Australia, while Dugald owned Winton Station in Goondiwindi, Queensland and Ross Farm in Marulan, New South Wales, where the couple would spend their married life.3

A former Cranbrookian, Dugald started at the school in 1946. Looking back almost thirty years later, the Headmaster, Mark Bishop, remarked that while “most new boys in the Senior School settle into place, Dugald took longer than many because he was at first ‘an honest and forthright … rebel’”.4 Unable to “easily settle to his books”, Dugald instead channelled his energy into sport, qualifying for the 1st XV and winning the Queensland State Junior Tennis Championship.5

Although a restless teenager, Dugald was known for holding high the Cranbrook values of integrity and fair play. This is demonstrated by his actions following a night when he left the school premises with a group of other boys. Dugald was the only student to admit that he had shirked the school curfew, despite knowing that this would result in his demotion from the position of House Prefect.6

Following school, Dugald chose to be an active steward of integrity and fair play by taking a stand on local issues as the Liberal MP for Eden-Monaro from 1966 to 1969.7 On his Channel 7 show and other platforms, Dugald lobbied for the Snowy Mountains Authority to remain headquartered in Cooma, arguing that it was a significant national hydrology research organisation.8 In large part due to his lobbying, the Snowy Mountains Authority (now Snowy Hydro) still retains its head office in that location.

Dugald also campaigned to keep the Canberra Abattoir open to save the jobs of forty men, supported independent schools, and argued for a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam War, noting that “power does not grow out of the barrel of a gun”.9

Tragically, on 29 June 1973 Dugald's life was cut short under shocking circumstances. After attempting to enter a lift on Oxford Street, he was crushed against the lift well wall when it ascended without warning.10 His brother, a sixteen year old girl and the lift driver – all trapped inside the lift – were unable to free him.11

Dugald left behind his wife, his sons Walter and Michael, who had just started at Cranbrook, and his daughters, Emma and Belinda. Sadly, this incident reflected the untimely death of Dugald’s own father, who fell from a balcony when his son was only eight.12 The former student will always be remembered at Cranbrook for his affection, integrity, and active responsibility for others, qualities that we hope his story will continue to inspire in current students.13

  • 1. "Paris Fashions at Sydney Wedding", Australian Women's Weekly, 2 July 1958, 3.
  • 2. Ibid.; Victoria Sherrow, Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History (Westport, CT; London: Greenwood Press, 2006), 192.
  • 3. "Paris Fashions at Sydney Wedding", op. cit., 3.
  • 4. "Dugald Munro", The Cranbrookian (1973): 8.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. "Liberal to Stand in Eden-Monaro", Canberra Times, 10 March 1966, 23.
  • 8. "Decision on S.M.A 'Needed'", Canberra Times, 1 May 1967, 2; "S.M.A. 'To Stay in Cooma'", Canberra Times, 11 December 1967, 3; "Future of S.M.A.", Canberra Times, 23 March 1967, 6.
  • 9. "TV Debate on Vietnam", Canberra Times, 13 February 1965, 3; "Munro Explains His Views on Vietnam", Canberra Times, 9 September 1968, 7; "Munro Replies on Abattoir", Canberra Times, 3 October 1969, 11; "Hospital Asks for New Ward", Canberra Times, 27 August 1969, 32; Peter Sekuless, "300 at Meeting on Education", ibid., 22 September, 3; "M.P. Backs Plan for Per-Capita Grants", ibid., 14 July, 8.
  • 10. "Coroner's Finding on Lift Death", Canberra Times, 20 December 1973, 10; "Estate of Mr Munro", Canberra Times, 6 June 1974, 8.
  • 11. "Lift Kills Former M.P.", The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June 1973, 2.
  • 12. "Obituary: William Ranald Munro", Balonne Beacon, 17 March 1938, 5.
  • 13. "Dugald Munro", op. cit.