Legendary shearer John Hutchinson may have hung up his handpiece but that hasn’t shelved his passion for the industry and its hard working people.
Shearing legend John Hutchinson still at work in his Waitpinga shed last week. Pic: Bryan Littlely
A third generation shearer, John grew up at Inman Valley on the Fleurieu Peninsula. He won six Open Shearing Championships of Australia, was three times Australia Shearer of the Year and placed third in the World Shearing Championship at Bath and West Show, England in 1977.
From 1992 to 2002 he was the Senior Shearer Trainer in South Australia and ran the Shearer Shedhand Training Program.
He trained hundreds of young Australians - some of whom are among the nation’s top shearers.
In 1970 he demonstrated shearing at Expo 70, Osaka, Japan. In 1998 he went to the Jordan Badia to train Jordanians in mechanical shearing.
In 1999 he received the Order of Australia Medal in recognition of his services to the Wool Industry and in 2002 was inducted into the Shearers Hall of Fame, Hay, NSW.
John says technology, with easier access to entertainment options and better transport for shearers and shed workers, meant a lot of the "colour and character" of the shearing industry had gone but he was proud of the hundreds of young men and women his training had an impact on.
"It is hard to comprehend, but the industry has changed quite a bit with that colour gone now,'' he says.
"They used to make their own entertainment with a yarn and some drinks and maybe a fight or two... there were some real characters in the sheds back then.''
He says two-time World Champion shearer Shannon Warnest, from Angaston, is likely Australia's best ever shearer but there had been many great industry workers who had commited their working lives to the tough job.