“The Return to Coree” – Book

The rise and fall of a pastoral dynasty

Murray T Pheils

Coree is an historic pastoral property situated in prime grazing country between Yanko and Billabong creeks in the Riverina district of southern New South Wales.

Gazetted in 1848, Coree was acquired in 1865 by Samuel Wilson, the entrepreneurial Irish pastoralist who bought up large tracts of grazing land in Victoria and southern New South Wales and was one of the pioneers of wool production in Australia. Wilson sold Coree to another enterprising Irish immigrant, his nephew Samuel McCaughey, in 1881.

From then until it was sold , just on a century later, Coree was owned and managed first by Samuel, later Sir Samuel, McCaughey and then, through succeeding generations by his brother David’s descendants. Sir Samuel made generous bequests to the Presbyterian Church, the University of Queensland and Sydney University, where several chairs were established in his name. In 1945 the McCaughey Memorial Institute was set up with a gift of money from the McCaughey family and the donation of a sizeable portion of the Coree property. Established to honour family members who lost their lives in World War II, the institute has funded various research and educational activities in sheep breeding, animal husbandry and irrigation.

The Return to Coree chronicles the history of Coree and the McCaughey family over more than a century and a quarter – through periods of prosperity and times of adversity, personal triumphs and tragedies and the vicissitudes of drought and flood.

In recounting this fascinating story, Murray Pheils, who was for many years a Trustee of the McCaughey Institute, vividly evokes the experience of station life through the decades and brings to life a rich gallery of real-life characters, many of whom made significant contributions to the development of the country’s pastoral industry.


 Murray Pheils is an Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the University of Sydney. He graduated in Medicine from Cambridge University in 1941 and married Unity McCaughey in the same year. After serving in the army in Africa, India and Burma he returned to London in 1947 to become a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and to set up a consultant surgical practice.

He migrated to Australia in 1966 and became foundation Professor of Surgery at Concord Hospital and subsequently Head of the Department of Surgery at Sydney University in 1979. His major surgical interest and publications have been in the field or bowel cancer. He obtained the degree of Master of Surgery at Cambridge University in 1952 and was awarded an Honorary M.D. at Sydney University in 1994.

In 1994 he published an article in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal entitled ‘Thankyou Mr Shaw’, which was an account or the correspondence and friendship between his father and George Bernard Shaw.

To purchase a copy of The Return to Coree, please send a message to the Secretary by clicking here

RRP $49.95

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