Golden Fleece Company
TypePublic (1947–1981)
IndustryOil and gas
FoundedMelbourne, Australia (1893)
Defunct1981 (merged into Caltex Australia)
Key people
Harold Crofton Sleigh and John McIlwraith
ProductsPetrochemical products and retail service stations
ParentH. C. Sleigh and Company 1893–1981
Caltex Australia 1981

Golden Fleece was an Australian brand of petroleum products and service stations operated by H. C. Sleigh and Company. A partnership was founded in Melbourne, Australia in 1893 by shipowner and merchant Harold Crofton Sleigh (1867–1933) and manufacturer and shipowner John McIlwraith (1828–1902). In 1913 the company took delivery of its first consignment of motor spirit from the United States and marketed it in Australia as "Golden Fleece".[1]

Initially, motor spirit was sold in drums only—the first Golden Fleece pump being installed in 1920. Golden Fleece was a pioneer of single-branded service stations (as opposed to the more common multi-brand offerings of the era), and its distinctive "golden merino" trademark was soon a common sight for Australian motorists.

A Golden Fleece roadhouse in Kondinin, Western Australia, photographed in 2014
A Golden Fleece roadhouse in Kondinin, Western Australia, photographed in 2014

The post-war era saw a massive expansion of Australia's motor industry and car ownership soared. The company was made public in 1947. These were boom times for Golden Fleece and expansion and acquisitions were the trend throughout the 1950s and 1960s. H.C. Sleigh Limited acquired the fledgling "Kangaroo" and "Phillips 66" brands in 1962 and 1967 respectively. During these years, many (if not most) Golden Fleece service stations became roadhouse-style outlets with restaurants and bold signage.

Some time during the 1960s or 1970s[clarification needed] Golden Fleece gained a major contract by the, then small, major trucking company Linfox, that is still held by Caltex Australia today, due to a friendship between Regional Manager for Victoria Max Collins and Lindsay Fox.

The company never had its own oil refinery and depended on Caltex to facilitate the importation and refining of crude oils at Kurnell Refinery in Sydney on its behalf. In the late 1970s the industry started to mature and rationalise due to soaring crude oil prices, and Federal Government oversight of petrol and diesel prices which was a subtle form of price control. Inevitably Golden Fleece was itself acquired by Caltex in 1981 and no longer trades under that name, though its unique livery can still be seen on some older roadhouses in rural Australia. A particular treasure for collectors are the globes (in the shape of the Golden Fleece ram) that sat atop the company's pumps until the 1970s, when the pumps were standardised.[2]

Purr Pull was a brand marketed by Independent Oil Industries of Sydney. They also sold Purr Star and Resis Oil. The company was bought out by Smith Wylie (Aust) Pty Ltd in Queensland who ran the company as Purr Pull Industries and then in June 1954, H.C. Sleigh merged with Purr Pull Industries, with the Purr Pull and Star brands dropped and all operations rebranded as Golden Fleece.[3]


See also


  1. ^ Petrol and Oil Company Timeline, Unique Cars and Parts. Retrieved on 11 July 2009.
  2. ^ Caltex absorbs Golden Fleece Canberra Times 16 March 1981 page 6
  3. ^ £6M Assets in Australian Oil Merger The Courier-Mail 4 June 1954 page 1