james-smyth-head-shotAs the eldest of 4 children, there was not much opportunity to go to uni but I managed somehow.

I first went into Analytical chemistry with a pharmaceutical company F H Faulding & Co. They gave me time off to go to lectures but it was a struggle. Still, I learned basic Analytical chemistry before the Spectrophotometers and Gas Chromatographs were available. Great chemistry but the pay wasn’t up to much.

13 years of Fauldings then of to the Barossa to a cooperative winery where the pay was excellent but the staff were difficult. I remember one chap saying to me when I expected a better performance ” You can’t talk to me like that. I’m a shareholder”.

A mysterious ad in the local paper enticed me to apply, it turned out to be an olive grove in Robinvale , Victoria with 600 acres of olive trees just beginning to think about green olive pickling. They had a hand operated olive oil press with open bowl centrifuges and then hand operated press on mats.  Most inefficient.  ‘Oliveholme‘ was beginning to produce green table olives and some black .

They imported a Spanish scientist named Mateus Fernandez Diez Who worked for the Institute of Fats and Derivative in Seville and his task was to train me. He was a terrific bloke and trained me well and we became firm friends. We corresponded over the years from the early 70’s to the late 90’s when he passed away. I still miss him.

I moved to Loxton and worked for a fruit juice company making concentrated juice for the fruit juice people. This was interesting work but when a local food technologist said to me that there was an olive processing job gong at a place called New Residence I applied for it and got it. I worked there becoming General Manager in the mid-nineties. The owners then sold the business to Barkworth Olives and I left in 2003 and became a consultant to the Olive Industry.

I think this was the most enjoyable part of my career, very interesting, traveling widely and perhaps helping people.

I gave all that up in about 2012 but as you see I still get involved.

Presentation:  Table Olives – the whole story