Class of 1941
Thomas was a great all-rounder from an Aquinas family dynasty. Emerging from Aquinas as Dux of the College in 1941 he went on to distinguish himself in two disciplines that could not be more different: cardiology and winemaking.
Before leaving Aquinas College, he was a force to be reckoned with in whatever he turned his hand to. In his final year, Tom headed his year in English, Latin, French, Mathematics B and Chemistry consequently winning the Old Boys’ Memorial Prize for 1941. He was Vice-Captain of the Cricket team and won an Honour Cap in Tennis. He was a Cadet-Lieutenant and won the Perrott Cup as Best and Fairest player in Football.
He studied at the University of Western Australia for one year before moving to Adelaide where he graduated in Medicine in 1947. After many years’ practising as a cardiologist in Australia and the UK, Tom took it upon himself to branch out on a totally different path.
In the mid-1960s Tom started trial planting vines in the Margaret River region after a report likening the area to France’s Bordeaux caught his eye. He became the pioneer of the Margaret River region and the WA wine industry. He planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec and Riesling in what he named the Vasse Felix Vineyard.
He followed his dream: “to make the best wine possible” and kept going in the face of all opposition to “the mad Catholic doctor from Perth”. Tom faced down challenges such as disease and hard climatic conditions to establish what has become one of Australia’s best international exports and well known destinations for first-class wine and food.