Bourke grazier, ex-mayor dies in plane crash

Bourke is mourning its former mayor and local grazier Wayne O'Mally, who died in a plane crash yesterday.

Mr O'Mally was mustering cattle on his property, Marion Downs, about 60km north-east of Bourke, in a two-seater Cessna before it crashed at 8.15am.

He was the only person aboard and was dead when police arrived at the crash site. Two investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are scheduled to arrive at the property by midday today.

Mr O'Mally became the mayor of Bourke in 2000 and served for eight years.

Councillor Wally Mitchell, a long-time friend, said, ''He was a confident western grazier from a family with four generations of property grazing in this area. He will be very sorely missed.''

Mr Mitchell described Mr O'Mally as a ''balanced and compassionate'' person who pulled the community through one of the toughest droughts.

''The community was doing it rough because of the droughts and trying hard to rebuild its industries,'' he said. ''Wayne had a great understanding of its needs.''

The mayor of Bourke, Andrew Lewis, said Mr O'Mally had pulled the council budget back into line. ''He was a fantastic man to work with,'' Mr Lewis said.

Mr O'Mally is survived by his wife, four children and grandchildren.