The Goolwa Paddle Steamer Squares

December 17, 2008

Here I sit inside my caravan annex writing this article whilst the welcome rain continues to pour down, it's been raining steadily for about 4 hours now.  I say the rain is welcome because Adelaide is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years; the grass is brown our gardens are barren and many of the trees in our parks and streets have died.  

My wife Helen and I decided to get away in our new caravan with our two dogs, to try things out at the Victor Harbor Holiday Park.  This is where the Wild Frontier Square Dance Club will be having its annual weekend away next March with some of the Shooting Stars club members.  We are greenhorns at this caravanning business, still learning the ropes, and thought it would be a great idea to try out the Park before the Christmas rush.

We arrived on Thursday 11 December and after an hour of struggle I at last hammered in the last peg to hold the annex in place.  Now square dancing is a funny (but pleasant) business; at this very moment my wife said to me "isn't that Trevor Hunt" (the caller from Shooting Stars).  Indeed it was and on enquiry we found he was doing the same as us, a bit of reconnaissance for the March event.  Trevor has a huge caravan called a "fifth wheeler" which fits onto the back of a utility or flatbed truck like a semitrailer; he said he was checking out the size of the sites to find out where he could fit it in.  He told us that he, his wife Loraine and two friends from Shooting Stars were also going to surprise a newly formed square dance club in nearby Goolwa; they were going to drop in unannounced.  We thought that would be a great idea and agreed we also would go along for some fun.

My research reveals at th time of writing that the Paddles Steamer Squares have only been going for 7 weeks.  Their caller Ken Overton has not called for some 10 odd years.  Ken a migrant from Dagenham in the UK (famous for the Ford Motor factory and Dagenham Girl Pipers) served an apprenticeship for a battery manufacturer before working for Ford  (as many many people do in Dagenham) and then migrated to Australia.  He lived in Adelaide's northern suburbs (as most British migrants did in those days) and did some calling with Trevor Hunt at the local square dance club Shooting Stars.  About 20 years ago Ken moved down to Victor Harbor prior to moving to Goolwa.  He called at a small local square dance club in those parts for a while, people from Adelaide used to visit, but like so many other clubs it became extinct.

Ken is fairly well known in the Victor Harbor, Port Elliot, Goolwa region due to his involvement as a DJ with Victor Harbor's community radio station 5ESM.   The wheel turns, and once more Ken now finds himself roped in to a small group, keen to learn about square dancing.  Some of the Paddle Steamers have danced before, some were a bit rusty as up till this time nothing has been available except in Adelaide  some 70 Kilometres away. The club members were extremely pleased to have visitors and Trevor gave some excellent instructional calls to help them along.  Trevor went through the basics of Eight Chain, All Eight Circulate and the Australian speciality: Grand Slide.

We already knew Zaree the club secretary because she pops down to Adelaide about every three weeks to dance at Adelaide Outlaws.  She seems to be the driving force behind the group.  They dance at 7:30 PM on Thursdays in Goolwa.  When we visited they were dancing at the Christian Fellowship rooms, 23 Loveday Street, Goolwa, but they do switch premises depending on their availability.



In the photo above (click image to enlarge) the visitors are: the 1st lady on the left Jill with the yellow badge and her partner Malcolm behind her, the bloke in front Trevor (also wearing a yellow badge) is the Shooting Stars Caller with his wife Loraine behind him. My wife Helen with the red jumper is holding one of our dogs.  The Paddle Steamer's club secretary Zaree is the lady holding our second dog and the caller Ken, is lurking at the back on the far right.

It's wonderful that a new group is trying to establish a new Square Dance club; we should all give them as much support and encouragement as possible. On the night we were there, they numbered 14 dancers plus their caller (plus 6 unannounced visitors).  As a member of the Wild Frontier Square Dance Club learners committee, I personally get a big kick out of helping others to learn how to square dance, I had a great time at the Goolwa Paddle Steamers and hope others will pop along from time to time to give them the support they richly deserve.  They do need some equipment, especially a variable speed record player, some of those records skip along at a fast rate creating problems for dancers unfamiliar with the movements, so if you have such a turntable gathering dust, you can be assured it will get a good workout down in Goolwa.

If you are interested in helping out or attending the club please contact Zaree Sullivan phone 8555 0585 or contact me through this web page with your contact details and I will pass your information along to her.


At that moment having completed this article I stood up and nearly bumped my head on the lowered annex ceiling.  It contained a very large quantity of pooled water.  I thought I would just push the canvas up to release the pool. Wrong!  There must have been 200 kg or more, eventually the side roof connection gave way and we had an indoor waterfall (luckily I had removed all electrical stuff prior to the water fall).  A few bent connections remain; I can fix these.  When looking into the design I think there is a flaw which can be resolved using bowed roof struts to stop the water pooling.  Mind you I have no claim on the manufacturer because I found the warning label in one corner of the awning.  Us green horns seem to learn by our mistakes.


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