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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

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Sir William Gaston Walkley

1958
William Pidgeon

oil on canvas (frame: 99.0 cm x 84.0 cm, support: 76.5 cm x 61.0 cm)

Sir William Gaston Walkley CBE, oil company director, served in World War 1 before setting up an accountancy practice in the farming district of Hawera in his native New Zealand. In 1931 Walkley co-founded the Associated Motorists' Petrol Co., which was established partly in protest against the petrol prices charged by foreign oil companies. Walkley moved to Sydney in 1935 to join the newly-formed Australian arm of this company which was to become Ampol Petroleum and which later merged with Caltex Australia Ltd. Audacious and ebullient, Walkley campaigned against petrol rationing during World War 2 and later used his significant influence to gain exclusive rights for oil exploration in Western Australia, believing that Australia's progress was hampered by its dependency on oil imports. Walkley was enthusiastic about development and encouraging investment in industry and other enterprises, in 1961 claiming that Australia was 'under-populated and under developed'. He was a keen supporter of sport and was involved in organisations including the Surf Life Saving Association and the Australian Soccer Federation. Walkley actively courted journalists and, in appreciation of the media's support for his business efforts, he endowed the annual Walkley Awards for journalism in 1956. Walkley retired as Managing Director of Ampol in March 1963 but maintained his fundraising work, most notably for the Royal NSW Institution for Deaf and Blind Children. He was appointed a CBE in 1961 and knighted in 1967. He died at Manly in 1976, survived by his wife (and former private secretary) Theresa, whom he had married in 1945.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Caltex Australia Ltd 2008
© William Pidgeon/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

William Pidgeon (age 49 in 1958)

Sir William Gaston Walkley CBE

Subject professions

Business, trades and industry

Related portraits

1. Dr J.R. Vickery, O.B.E., 1967. All William Pidgeon.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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