Macarthur and Goulburn district mourns Lee Macarthur-Onslow's passing

Their first date was not quite what Jenny Fraser was expecting.

The very tall Lee Macarthur-Onslow, whom she had met through mutual friends at a 1984 party, asked her out to a movie in the city. Afterwards, he offered to take her to dinner.

"We went to McDonald's," Ms Fraser laughed. "I think he was testing my sense of humour."

Fortunately, the second date was much more romantic - a trip on his yacht to Doyles Restaurant, Watsons Bay for lunch and a memorable afternoon talking.

It was just a glimpse into the man variously described as humorous, humble, unassuming, generous and highly intelligent.

Lee Macarthur-Onslow, of Kippilaw, west of Goulburn, died aged 69 at Sydney's Saint Vincent's Hospital on Friday, August 13. His death, following a bone cancer diagnosis in May, has shocked family and his many friends.

"He was extremely kind and such a gentleman - a gentle giant who gave everyone a chance," Ms Fraser said.

"..He was very much a traditionalist with high morals and was forgiving of others; he never judged."

TEAM: Lee Macarthur-Onslow and partner, Jenny Fraser shared many happy years together. Photo supplied.

TEAM: Lee Macarthur-Onslow and partner, Jenny Fraser shared many happy years together. Photo supplied.

His family is steeped in Australia's pastoralist history. Mr Macarthur-Onslow was a direct descendant of wool pioneers John and Elizabeth Macarthur, Camden Park. His grandfather, Francis Macarthur Onslow, married Sylvia Chisholm, whose family had settled at Kippilaw in the 1830s. The extended Chisholm family owned numerous Goulburn district sheep grazing properties.

His cousin, Tony Morrison, said Mr Macarthur-Onslow was always proud of his Chisholm heritage.

"He was very attached to Goulburn and that's why (in 2019) he bought (Bradley Street property) Carrawarra. He wanted it back in the family," Mr Morrison said.

In the mid 1990s, Mr Macarthur-Onslow had tried to buy back Kippilaw Homestead after it had passed out of the family for the first time in 1989.

Hemissed out to Robert and Helen Rich, but was thrilled to secure a portion of the original property, on which he has run a beef cattle operation ever since. It is one of several properties Mr Macarthur-Onslow owns in the Goulburn district.

GRAND: The original part of Kippilaw Homestead was built by early Goulburn district pastoralist, James Chisholm in 1837. Photo supplied.

GRAND: The original part of Kippilaw Homestead was built by early Goulburn district pastoralist, James Chisholm in 1837. Photo supplied.

Mr Morrison described him as an astute manager, who bought and developed properties into "outstanding beef cattle operations." They were managed by local man, Roger Robertson.

"Over time the herd grew to 1500 Angus breeders, which, at the time of his death ranked him among the largest producers in the state, let alone the Goulburn district," Mr Morrison said.

It was a deviation from his dairy farming roots.

Born at Sydney's King George V Hospital on May 11, 1952, Lee was the first of two children to Denzil and Dorothy Macarthur-Onslow (nee Scott).

His father was a Major General in the Australian Army and in 1941 was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for an attack in Libya, which captured 2000 prisoners. He was knighted in 1964. Lee's mother, Dorothy, was a doctor.

Lee and younger sister, Katrina, grew up at the family home, Mount Gilead, near Campbelltown. He helped milk cows, was home-schooled to matriculation and then attended Cranbrook School, Bellevue Hill.

At Sydney University, he enrolled in Medicine, only to swap a week later to Geology and then Mechanical Engineering.

"It was his calling because he was very good at figuring things out," Ms Fraser said.

His lifelong friend, singer Billy Field, with whom he attended school, said Lee was a "brilliant man."

"He had a mind like a steel trap and he remembered everything," he told The Post.

"It's hard to find a guy who is so intelligent and still so humble and unassuming. He knew hundreds of people and had friends everywhere."

Army days

Bungonia grazier, Bill Dobbie, Lumley Park, first met Mr Macarthur-Onslow at Sydney University, while studying science in the 1970s. Both joined the university's Army Regiment, the oldest in Australia.

"Being so tall, (2.05 metres) it was very difficult to get an army uniform that fitted him. He always thought he looked rather un-military like," he said.

"(But) he was very sentimental about the old Sydney University regiment," he said.

The shearing shed at Kippilaw dates back to about the 1830s. The late Lee Macarthur-Onslow restored the structure.

The shearing shed at Kippilaw dates back to about the 1830s. The late Lee Macarthur-Onslow restored the structure.

The two reconnected in the mid 1990s and shared the highs and lows of farming, including biting droughts. Mr Dobbie described his friend as a good operator.

Like others, he was shocked by Mr Macarthur-Onslow's death and had only spoken to him weeks ago.

"He was a true gentleman," he said.

Mr Field said his friend was a clever pastoralist who switched easily to beef cattle and did his own drafting.

At Kippilaw, he worked in tandem with Mr Robertson, Darren Gregson and Elders Goulburn branch manager, Steve Ridley.

"They were the dream team," Ms Fraser said.

"Lee was very proud of their achievements and their ability to think outside the square. They had a synergy on crop and cattle management and could look to the future."

Mr Macarthur-Onslow injected his considerable financial management skills. Following his engineering degree, he completed a Masters of Business Administration at the University of NSW.

In the 1980s he managed Mount Gilead but later also oversaw properties at Camden, Sutton Forest and around Goulburn.

Ms Fraser said her partner found his niche with fund management and worked for several major firms, including Capita, in Melbourne and Sydney.

For many years he has divided his time between his Darling Point home and Kippilaw. When in Goulburn, he was a familiar sight at Greengrocer Cafe, enjoying a coffee with friends.

Mr Macarthur-Onslow loved socialising and had a wide circle of friends. He enjoyed the social aspects of polo, relished outdoor life and was a handy cook.

"He was just beautiful," Ms Fraser said.

Mr Field said his friend's death was saddening.

"He was loved and admired by everyone and his death has shocked us all," he said.

Mr Macarthur-Onslow is also survived by his sister, Lady Katrina Hobhouse.

Lee Macarthur-Onslow has been described as a true gentleman. He died on August 13. Photo supplied.

Lee Macarthur-Onslow has been described as a true gentleman. He died on August 13. Photo supplied.

His funeral service will be held at Saint Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point on Wednesday, August 25 at 11am. Due to COVID restrictions, only invited guests can attend.

The service will be livestreamed at: //youtu.be/M_YYtH37BF

Interment will take place at Saint James cemetery, Kippilaw, at a private graveside service two days later. Mr Macarthur Onslow had requested burial there, overlooking the old family home.

A bagpiper will play at both services in tribute to the Chisholm Scottish heritage.

This story A 'true gentleman:' Family, friends remember Lee Macarthur-Onslow first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.