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Plains Producer, Wednesday February 5, 2014
ROBIN in his award-winning Two Wells garden.
ROBIN Trevilyan is a quiet man with
a humble nature. You may have en-
countered him, unknowingly, about
Two Wells over the years, volunteering his
time and experience to various community
The Uniting church benefits from his gar-
dening expertise as he manages the grounds,
tending to the garden – pruning, watering
and fertilising (he has won numerous local
awards for his own garden).
The Two Wells public school is fortunate
to have his help when the church holds a
barbecue for the students.
His involvement with the Rotary Club of
Two Wells has seen his handy work contribute
to the construction of the footpath from the
main street to the historic wells, and a garden
retreat at the school.
However, this discreet ‘man about the
town’also has a prolific resume in agriculture.
This, coupled with a creative sense of
entrepreneurialism, which started way back
during his school days when he sold stamps
to his classmates, makes his life, so far, a
Born in Adelaide in 1944, his family
moved to Banana in central Queensland for
eight years when he was 16, and he quickly
became a ‘rich teenager’ selling eggs from
the chickens he kept on their farm.
“Dad would drive me down to the mines
where I would sell them to the local miners
for 65 cents a dozen,” he explained.
His keen sense for business saw him
approach the workers laying the concrete
foundations for a new supermarket in a
He was pointed in the direction of the
site-manager, who gave him the details of a
gentleman in Brisbane who his contact with
culminated in Robin supplying the eggs to
the future grocery store.
He sold eggs for eight years and was
dubbed by the industry inspector, suspi-
cious of his production volume, “the most
efficient egg producer in Queensland,” he
Whilst still in Queensland, Robin be-
friended a local pig farmer who mentored
and assisted Robin with this new interest
and was able to show him the benefits of
growing livestock in a modern style piggery.
When his family returned to South
Australia in 1968 and settled in Two Wells,
Robin continued his venture in rearing pigs
and enjoyed much success.
This success was the fruit of his creativity
and hard work.
He built his own sheds, grew his own
grain, and produced feed in his own mill.
Due to his farm being a minimal disease
piggery he had to breed his own pigs, us-
ing artificial insemination (AI), which he
His quest for efficiency and attentiveness
to the science of his work saw him travel to
the United Kingdom on a study tour in 1980,
using the winnings of a substantial amount of
prize money in 1979 after showing his pigs.
He was 36 at the time and learnt much
about the industry that he was able to imple-
ment back home.
He appeared on the BBC television pro-
gram ‘Country Hour’, and also travelled to
Copenhagen and Brussels to broaden his
knowledge on best practice for pig produc-
After 39 years of production and financial
success, Robin took a leap of faith in another
agricultural direction. Olives.
“I didn’t want to farm pigs for the rest of
my life. It is a seven-day a week job, and I
am getting older,” he said.
His wife Lesley and two children, James
and Catherine, must have been relieved to
see him take an alternative direction.
He took advice from church friend, Ray
Bennett, and began the planting of 7000 trees
a year over four years.
He now has 28,000 Signore variety olive
trees, which produced 400 tonnes of olives
when last harvested.
Trevi Olive Estate is now branded and he
is in the process of securing bulk contracts. ,
all while gaining recognition for the quality
of his oil with numerous industry awards
Robin says the problem facing those in the
olive oil industry in South Australia is cheap
international imports of inferior quality.
Refined, adulterated oil is being put on
our supermarket shelves to be sold at a
cheaper rate than good quality local extra-
virgin olive oil.
Consumers are unaware of the health risks
associated with these cheap imports, not to
mention an undeniably poorer taste.
Robin was unable to foresee the drop in
price of local olive oil when he first ventured
into the industry.
However, supermarket giant Coles, is
doing its best to stock the Australian grown
brands, with Woolworths hopefully follow-
Robin explains that the growth of the
Chinese middle class is seeing a demand for
quality-imported foods, Australian olive oil
being one of them. He hopes to enter that
market in the near future.
In the meantime he is doing his best to
promote the olive industry in SouthAustralia.
“I enjoyed volunteering my time at the
Adelaide show promoting SA extra virgin
olive oil on behalf of the SA olive industry
and assisting celebrity chef Rosa
Matto with her cooking demonstra-
tions using the oil in the Taste SA
pavilion”, he tells me.
With his new found “celebrity
chef” experience Robin was able
to host a group a 39 ladies on his
estate, the Moonta Red Hatters, and
demonstrated his own cooking skills
using recipes that included olive oil.
The Trevi Olive Estate was also a
destination on the District Council of
Mallala History Week Tour in 2013.
Apart from future success with the
olive estate, Robin is looking forward
to being able to continue his associa-
tion with Rotary.
He was one of the founding
charter members of the Two Wells
Rotary Club back in 1988, and then
president for five years before the
club disbanded and handed in its charter in
Not only has he freely volunteered his time
locally with the club, he has also used his
own funds to travel overseas and lend a hand.
He travelled to the Solomon Islands to
help with the construction of a physiotherapy
clinic on a hospital site with Rotary in 1998.
Robin now enjoys attending the Playford
and Elizabeth Rotary clubs.
When talking with Robin, you get the
sense that he is unaware of how remarkable
the achievements he has made in his life so
far are. And that he is close to establishing
himself and his estate in the olive industry.
The town of Two Wells is privileged to
boast of many community-minded individu-
als, and Robin Trevilyan certainly qualifies
as one of them.
... ON ROBIN
in the olive
oil industry in
– Robin Trevilyan
NEWS FEATURE Two Wells
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