Crookwell and Goulburn districts farewell Trevor Picker

WOOL DYNASTY: The late Trevor Picker (right) with sons Danny, Murray, Grant and Brett at wool sales in Goulburn in 1982. Photo: Leon Oberg.
WOOL DYNASTY: The late Trevor Picker (right) with sons Danny, Murray, Grant and Brett at wool sales in Goulburn in 1982. Photo: Leon Oberg.

The region lost a leader in Australia's superfine wool industry on Friday afternoon with the death of Trevor Picker.

Plaudits have freely flowed for the 91-year-old Bigga man since his shock death in a multi-vehicle car crash. Described as "nature's gentleman," he is credited with putting the region's wool industry on the map.

Mr Picker was driving home from Crookwell after visiting his wife, Janet, in an aged care facility when he was involved in one of three collisions at Junction Point Road, north of Binda, some 35km from Crookwell, about 4.50pm

Police said a white Nissan, being driven south by a 24-year-old male P-plater from Crookwell, initially collided with a northbound white Subaru driven by a 64-year-old Goulburn woman. The Subaru rolled completely over, landing on it wheels off the road.

The white Nissan then collided head-on with Mr Picker's black Subaru. A third crash occurred when the driver of a northbound Kluger tried to avoid that wreckage but struck the Nissan.

Police said Mr Picker died at the scene. The 24-year-old Crookwell man was airlifted to Canberra Hospital with what police said were soft tissue injuries.

The Goulburn woman was taken by road ambulance to the Base Hospital with minor injuries, along with both occupants of the Kluger, who were from Greystanes.

Two helicopters were called to the scene, along with numerous paramedics, community first responders, Fire and Rescue NSW, RFS and SES volunteers. The road was closed in both directions to allow emergency services to respond. Crash investigators examined the scene well into the night. The cause is not clear at this stage.

Family, friends, the Crookwell and Goulburn district, and the wider wool growing industry were shocked by Mr Picker's death.

His family's property, Hillcreston at Bigga is renowned Australia-wide for its superfine wool growing. The family settled there in the 1870s and the industry has continued down through the generations, including with Mr Picker's four sons - Danny, Murray, Grant and Brett.

He loved his life with Janet. They did everything together. She was always quietly in the background supporting him.

Ray Moroney

Former Goulburn wool seller Ray Moroney said Mr Picker's death was a big shock. He sold Hillcreston wool over many decades and has maintained strong ties with the family since his semi-retirement.

"He was a lovely bloke," Mr Moroney said.

"...He'd come into the woolstore with all the wool on display and act like any other person. He wasn't stuck up."

It could have been different. The records started tumbling in 1964 when Mr Picker fetched 1800 pence for a pound of superfine merino wool, a world record that stood for nine years. Mr Moroney recalled that the bale was flown to England strapped in tight after the sale.

It wasn't the first. Farmers and Graziers, for which Mr Moroney worked, was selling up to 12,000 bales a day in the Lilac Time Hall, the Goulburn Soldiers Club and the Workers Club.

By the 1980s and 1990s, Japanese, English, Korean and Italian buyers were scrambling for top quality lines.

"World wool record!" the headline trumpeted in 1985 when Hillcrest fetched 17,000 cents for an extra superfine (15.5 micron) merino bale. Big Merino owner Louis Mokany paid $17,500 for the bale and employed a security firm to guard it.

The following year, another superfine Hillcreston bale sold for $28,500, leaving Mr Picker stunned. He told The Post at the time that he "never in his wildest dreams expected the bidding to go so high."

Mr Moroney recalled another auction he did at the Soldiers Club where international buyers were trying to outdo each other.

"He (Mr Picker) would have been happy with 40,000 cents/kilo but when it ended at 110,000c/kg he jumped up out of his seat and said: 'Christ, if you keep doing this it will be the end of me.'"

The room burst into applause at the result, Town and Country Magazine reported at the time.

Inspecting the sample boxes on another occasion after fetching a world record price, Mr Picker told Mr Moroney he hadn't sold his best wool as he revealed a line at the very end.

A young Trevor Picker with father Sam at a wool sale. Photo: Leon Oberg.

A young Trevor Picker with father Sam at a wool sale. Photo: Leon Oberg.

The property's prime position in hilly, cold country made for ideal superfine merino country. But a skillful hand guided by generational experience added the necessary expertise. The merino stud was established by Mr Picker's father, Sam, in 1925 and handed on to his son.

"He classed all of his own wool because in those days there was no testing and everything was done by touch and look," Mr Moroney said.

"...He (also) had a good eye for a sheep and how to improve wool quality. They had their own way of skirting wool and then they introduced rugs for the sheep as a way of keeping dust off."

He was continually improving the wool clip through careful ram selection and was generous helping other producers buy stud stock. Mr Picker also played an integral role with the Superfine Wool Growers' Association, of which his son Danny is current president.

Mr Moroney said there were no airs and graces about Mr Picker; he loved a yarn and was generous in passing on his knowledge to others.

In his younger years he played rugby league for Bigga, as did his father, Sam.

"It all revolved around sheep, football and beer. There was nothing else to do," Mr Moroney said.

Ray Moroney (right) auctioned much of Hillcreston's wool throughout his working life at Farmers and Graziers and its successors. Hillcreston principal Trevor Picker is pictured left with Ken Woodfull, representing Melbourne based buyer Fujii Keora. Photo: Leon Oberg.

Ray Moroney (right) auctioned much of Hillcreston's wool throughout his working life at Farmers and Graziers and its successors. Hillcreston principal Trevor Picker is pictured left with Ken Woodfull, representing Melbourne based buyer Fujii Keora. Photo: Leon Oberg.

Later, Trevor took great pride in seeing his grandsons Joe, Michael, Ben and David play for the Canberra Raiders in various grades, despite being a one-eyed Manly fan himself.

Wife Janet was by his side through it all.

"He loved his life with Janet," Mr Moroney said.

"They did everything together. She was always quietly in the background supporting him. He was just a lovely bloke."

Former Goulburn Post photojournalist and Town and Country Magazine editor Leon Oberg covered most of the record-breaking wool sales.

But he first met him while working for Farmers and Graziers in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Mr Picker fetched 1800 pence per pound of wool.

As a journalist, he visited Hillcreston for sheep sales or at shearing time.

"He had a unique wool of skirting wool for best advantage," Mr Oberg said.

"Whereas most people did a single skirt, Trevor would do a double skirt. He taught me that and I was fascinated by it as a woolclasser and a writer.

"In all of this, Trevor was nature's gentleman."

Mr Oberg said almost every year Hillcreston would make global headlines with record-breaking prices.

"He helped make Goulburn the superfine capital of Australia," he said.

"Other woolgrowers like Ron Brewer would buy into his flock's genetics and fine up their sheep uing superfine bloodlines.

"He was the father of the superfine wool industry in this region but it never went to his head.

"I am so, so sad to hear of his passing. The industry has lost a master."

Mr Picker is survived by wife, Janet, their four sons, their spouses, 14 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.

Trevor Picker loved spending time with his extended family, including great-grandchild Evelyn last week. Photo: Leanne Picker.

Trevor Picker loved spending time with his extended family, including great-grandchild Evelyn last week. Photo: Leanne Picker.

While you're with us... 

Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.

This story Family, community mourn loss of 'wool master,' Trevor Picker first appeared on Goulburn Post.

Comments