Leslie Hopetoun Osmond was born in 1901 in Marrickville.1 At the age of 10 years he was orphaned and, with his sister, was taken in by Mr and Mrs Dreyer at Koribar (Dyer’s Crossing). Leslie’s uncle wrote to the Dreyers saying “the little girl is very gentle and of a loving disposition” but Leslie is “wild”. The uncle asked the Dreyers to find the children another home if they couldn’t look after them.2 From these humble beginnings, Leslie became a successful businessman and outstanding citizen.
Leslie’s first success came at the age of 18 when he won the Butter Makers’ Prize at the Winter Show Sydney in 1919 and was gifted a medal and gold watch.3 He worked at both Dyer’s Crossing and Cape Hawke Butter Factories before moving into mechanics buying the Gloucester-Krambach Service Run. After marrying Fanny Brewer in 1923,4 he bought the Krambach garage just when petrol bowsers were first being installed.
To give his children better schooling opportunities, the family moved to Taree in 1933. Leslie purchased a garage on the corner of High and Commerce Streets (Aldi in 2020) which was on the Pacific Highway at the time, called the Highway Garage. He bought a petrol franchise and secured the Nuffield car agency. During WWII, the garage made munitions in the back workshop. 1939 was Leslie’s real break when he was offered the Ford agency. He became the highest seller of new cars of any country town in NSW.
Over the years the garage business expanded with branches set up in Olympia Street, Commerce Street and a modern garage and showroom established in Victoria Street which was managed by son Harry.
Leslie served the community in many roles including Rotary, and Ambulance and Hospital Committees.5 His motto was “work hard, pay attention to business and give service to the public”.6
Author: Janine Roberts
1 NSW BDM, birth index for Leslie Osmond, Index No. 4940/1901.
2 A letter held by son Harry Osmond-Dreyer, 2020.
3 The gold watch held by son Harry Osmond-Dreyer, 2020.
4 NSW BDM, marriage index for Leslie H Osmond Dreyer and Fanny N Brewer, Index No. 8946/1923.
5 Northern Champion, 26 June 1953, 1.
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 7 September 1953, 2.