Saturday, October 3, 2009

RM Williams

RM Williams.

Who is that?

Let me go see......

Well, this should be interesting. Lord Wiki says RM Williams is a businessman. He's known for his line of bushwear.

Baby Reginald Murray was born on 24 May 1908 in a town four hours north of Adelaide called Belalie North. It's right near another town called Jamestown.

When Williams was ten, his family moved to Adelaide so he and his two sisters could attend a proper school. Williams didn't like school. When he was thirteen, he left and returned to the bush. Does this mean he ran away? Where did he sleep?

At the age of eighteen, Williams began working as a camel driver. He spent three years in the outback. There he lived with Aborigines, and learned to deal with the harsh climate.

In the 1930's, during the Great Depression, Williams returned to Adelaide. There he met his wife.

Lord Wiki says his marriage broke down in the 1950's. Does this mean it ended, or they just had problems?

Around this time, Williams bought some land. It was right near a prison. The Yatala Labour Prison. Was it a prison back then, or is Lord Wiki saying it later became a prison?

Well, Lord Wiki says it built in 1854, so it was a prison when Williams bought the land nearby. The prison is supposed to close in 2011. Lord Wiki says David Hicks was here for awhile.

Williams made a nice home for himself near the prison. He planted vineyards. He planted roses. He held rodeos.

Then like in that movie The Castle, the government came along and said they needed to acquire his property. They needed the land. Williams left for a property he owned in Queensland. He vowed never to return to South Australia. I guess he was angry.

Williams got married again in 1955.

All right. Now Lord Wiki explains HOW he got all the money to buy the property with vineyards and all that.

He had learned leatherworking skills in the 1930's. I guess he got pretty good at it. One of his son's from his first marriage became very ill. In order to pay the hospital bills, Williams began selling his saddles to Sidney Kidman.

Lord Wiki says that Williams is known most for his boots. Although he's dead, his company is still in business.

Here's the company website. It's fun to look at their catalogue. It's like McLeod's Daughter's world.

This website sells RM Williams boots. They provide a photo of Williams, and they also talk about how the boots are made. Some mass production stuff is used, but for the most part it seems the boots are made by hand. It takes over a week to make one pair.

They say they break the boots in before you buy them. That's cool. I wonder if it really works.

The website uses a friend analogy a few times. In one instance they say, Like any good friends, your boots will continue to look after you, if you look after them. We suggest you clean and polish them regularly with RM Williams' specially formula ed boot polish or saddle dressing. Yes. We need to treat our friends well.

Later they say, A smart idea for airing your boots between wears is to alternate them with a second pair of boots, because we believe that you can never have too many good friends.

Yes. In our materialistic world, inanimate objects made with the skin of dead cows make great friends. Who needs fellow humans or other animals when you can have multiple pairs of boots?

I'm joking. I understand. I consider some of my inanimate stuff as friends. My computer is my friend. My water bottle is my friend. The toilet is kind of my friend...I suppose.

I have two pairs of sandals that I really love. I've probably had them for more than ten years. I feel very attached to them, but probably not enough to rescue them in a fire. Still. I might consider them to be my friends.

That ABC kid's biography thing has an entry about Williams.

William's father trained horses.

The family had no running water or electricity. Wow. It's hard for me to imagine living a life like that, although people still manage it today.

This website says he left Adelaide at fifteen rather than thirteen.

He learned to read while out living in the wilderness. I guess his school's literacy program didn't work for him?

This guy's biography is great promotional material for homeschooling.

The illness that William's son had was in his eyes. I wonder if it was that disease that Fred Hollows worked against....Trachoma.

Williams approached Sidney Kidman. Kidman helped him start his business by buying the saddles. Then Williams used that money to create a small factory on his father's property. I wonder if Williams and his family moved in there when they moved to Adelaide.

At one point, Williams went into debt. This happened because he had to borrow money to keep up with all the orders he was getting. I would think that would be a debt that would take care of itself. But maybe something went wrong. Maybe people put in orders and then changed their mind?

Then an old woman came along and offered to sell her Northern Territory gold mine to Williams. This sounds like something out of a fairytale.

Of course, Williams alone didn't have enough money to buy it. He got together with friends and family. They pooled their resources and bought the mine. They worked the mine, and struck gold! They were very successful.

Williams became a rich man.

But he was an unhappy rich man. He was living a life that was not suited to his personality. He didn't like the wealthy lifestyle. He realized he liked the simple life of the bush.

This all happened during his first marriage. It might be why his marriage broke down. I'm just guessing here. Maybe the wife enjoyed the wealthy lifestyle. Maybe she resented that her husband didn't like it.

This website doesn't mention the stuff about the government acquiring the land. Was Lord Wiki making that up? I don't know. But this website and Lord Wiki both agree that Williams moved to Queensland. He bought a rundown property with wild cattle. He wanted that challenge.

This man who hated school ended up writing five books of poetry.

Now I'm going to look at the South Australia History website. They say:

Reginald Murray Williams, better known as RM was not only a Jack of all trades but a master of them as well. At various times he has been a bushman, camel boy, bricklayer, businessman, tea grower in New Guinea, builder, horse breeder, grazier, explorer, miner, tycoon, raconteur, well sinker, stockman, avid reader, author, drover and the list could go on.

See. This is what happens to children who do not get enough formal education! Stay in school!

This website says Williams left school at fourteen.. That's a good compromise between Lord Wiki's age thirteen and the ABC website's age fifteen.

Williams and his first wife had their first child in 1930. Williams would have been about twenty-two then.

At one point, the family left Adelaide and lived in the northern part of the Flinders Ranges. It was there that Williams met a man with the nickname Dollar Mick. Dollar Mick taught Williams how to work with leather.

The Williams family lived a pretty wild and simple life. But then the illness struck. I was right. It was Trachoma.

The website says that the RM Williams boots have been sold worldwide. Even President Clinton had a pair.

Williams bought Governor Gawlers mansion in Adelaide. I guess this was the home near the prison? This is where he spent those very wealthy years....the ones that made him unhappy. Or the place near the prison might have been another property. I'm not sure.

I just looked at the prison's website. It's in Adelaide, so it might be near the Governor's old mansion.

Someone has made a video tribute to Williams. I'll watch that. Then I think I'm done for the day.

That's a nice video for an inspiring man.


  1. Great how you're uncovering the success stories down here ... Good One ... Thanks for reminding me how proud I am to be an Aussie ... Oi, Oi, Oi!

  2. Redness,

    I'm loving all the stories!

    Hey, I've seen the oi, oi, oi many times, but I've never heard it.

    How is it pronounced? Is it like wi wi wi, or more like a Jewish oy, oy, oy?

    Or is it neither of those?

  3. shitters!
    I wrote the entire message then had to register.
    Gist was....As RM Williams eldest daughter was knocked over by your research...been to the commemorative weekend where bust of RM was unveiled. was catching up with Williams family members and found your blog.
    You just have to be a journalist. great work.

  4. Diane,

    You're RM William's daughter? I'm so honored you came to my blog!

    I'm so sorry you lost your original comment though. I hate when that happens : (