Local Fishermen meet to discuss problems - Goolwa in October 1940

Goolwa goes to war again 1939-1945 - OCTOBER 1940

The greatest worry for Goolwa’s professional fishermen at the opening of October 1940, apart from the war, was over-abundant fish catches causing an oversupply and a glut on the metropolitan market. They reflected on the extraordinary large catches of mulloway during the past season which although welcome, meant the constant large fish consignments to the city market resulted in a fall in the wholesale fish price and lower return to Goolwa fleet members. Last February the oversupply from local catches caused a glut on the metro market and a subsequent refusal of city agents to receive further consignments from Goolwa until the market stabilised.

To the fishermen of Goolwa, the closing off of the metro market to them at the peak of the season and loss of a fair wholesale price return of the fish catch at its highest harvest period, means a lean time later in which they must struggle economically to meet their commitments through winter, made even tighter by the advent of fuel rationing. These questions weighed heavily on the minds of the local fishers as now they were in mid-spring and facing the opening of the new mulloway season in the next few weeks.

A call went out throughout the southern district to all fishermen who operated in local and Coorong waters to attend a 1meeting on Friday 18, to be held in Goolwa to try and find some answers to these concerns. The situation was made more urgent as even in the past week, locally caught Mulloway with no city merchant demand were being sold street to street in Goolwa and Victor Harbor at 2tuppence a pound.

Dick Lundstrom of Goolwa, who represents the second generation of his family of fishermen, owner-operator of Sunbeam, was elected to chair the meeting of southern district operators at the gathering. Harry Sweetman, patron of the Goolwa Regatta Committee, former town clerk, Councillor and presently the local agent for Edwin Dawe, a city fish merchant, was elected president with Arnold Minns as secretary. A committee was then formed of district fisherman including John Treleaven, Jack Stewart, Darcy Honeyman (Victor Harbor) and Jack Godfrey. The most pressing item on the agenda would be the consideration of ways of preserving fish caught during glut periods and to find ways of keeping fishermen continuing the catch in those periods when fish were most plentiful. To this end there was the need to develop an effective association to carry forward the decisions arising from this meeting.

The effects of continuing enlistment by local young men into the armed services over the past few months had just began to be felt. Just like WW1, the older generation needed to take on greater burdens on the farms, fishing boats, businesses and trades to fill some of the gaps that has begun to appear.

Concern was rising among Goolwa RSL Club members who felt that the effect of lessening active member participation in caring for the Soldiers Memorial Gardens whilst they are fully involved in the oversight and management responsibilities of VDC Home Guard, needed some review. The gardens were created shortly after the old railway station and platform in Cadell Street was removed to its present site in the wharf precinct during 1915. The redundant site was placed in the care and control of Council. In turn, Council sub-leased it to the Goolwa RSL on a yearly basis in 3April 1937, under RSL member Bert Orr as caretaker, with the club developing and maintaining the gardens with community volunteer help. At the start of this month of October 1940, it has become obvious that with the advent of the RSL Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) commitments, the task of maintaining the gardens was now beyond the Club’s capability without Council support. This situation prodded the consciousness of Councillors that Council belonged to the community and therefore they must be responsible to the people to transfer the gardens back into the Council’s works program.

On the morning of Tuesday 22nd, Corporal Alf Sedunary of Victor Harbor, accompanying officers of the Defence Department under Captain R.B. Reid, attended the Goolwa militia headquarters in the old Australasian Hotel to enrol trainees for compulsory training for part-time military service. Goolwa lay in militia Area 27E, taking in the districts of Macclesfield, Strathalbyn, Goolwa, Victor Harbor and Yankalilla. Although the conscription registration covers all medically fit men of military age, this morning’s call was for all young men born between 1st July 1915 and 30th June 1920. Any male eligible, who were unable to respond from Goolwa this morning was ordered to communicate with the area office at Victor Harbor immediately. The area medical officer, Dr Broadbent carried out the examination of the young men reporting. The Defence Department team moved back to Victor Harbor in the afternoon.

More men from Goolwa have enlisted into the armed services this October, all had chosen to enter the army in various ways. George (G.W.T.) King joined the AIF, Gordon (G.R.) Fergusson, Wilf Langham, Ray (R.A.) Newell and Peter Yerve entered either the Militia or VDC. All five joined up on the 22nd October.

Work has been completed on the electricity power transmission line from Victor Harbor to Goolwa and has been connected into the Goolwa grid as from October 1. The town’s existing 12 or so streetlights have increased in power from a dull glow to a bright circle of light illuminating most intersections of Cadell Street and in certain places elsewhere. Full power is now available for household appliances at any hour of the day or night as well as to public buildings and businesses. Power was previously available only to a few consumers from the old Goolwa power station, due to the limited output capacity of its generating plant. Now this life-changing experience can be made available to the wider Goolwa community.

Overseas, the deadly dictator’s chess game is continuing with Hitler meeting with Mussolini of Italy in the Brenner Pass. Following this meeting, Mussolini ramps up the Italian action in North Africa and southern Europe leading to a Royal Italian Army invasion of Greece and the Italian air corps participating in the Battle of Britain and the bombing of Gibraltar. Later this month, a confident Hitler met with the Spanish dictator General Franco on the Spanish French border to draw him into the Axis alliance, but Adolf left the meeting without success and later commented he’d rather have three teeth extracted than go through another session with Franco again.

The London blitz continues throughout October. Liverpool is hammered constantly by the Luftwaffe and has suffered its 200th bombing raid this month.

The RAF’s answer is to step up the blitz of heavy bombing of the German cities of Berlin and Hamburg. Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of England has been called off by Hitler, as the Battle of Britain in the air was lost by the Luftwaffe having failed to destroy the RAF.

The menace of Nazi warships is now facing us close to home and are currently operating in Australian waters. The German raider Pinguin has made its presence felt when it captured the Norwegian tanker Storstad on October 7, while steaming on its passage from British Borneo with a cargo of oil bound for Melbourne. A prize crew was put aboard the tanker and a load of mines were taken aboard from the Pinguin. Both vessels then set off to lay mines in strategic places in the shipping lanes of the eastern Australian coastline. During the night of October 28, Pinguin laid mines between Sydney and Newcastle, then steamed to Hobart and laid mines off the coast. Meanwhile Storstad was laying mines along shipping lines through Bass Strait. Indications are that both ships are now on a course for South Australia to lay mines in local SA waters.



1. The southern fishermen’s association formally came into being early in 1941.

2. Tuppence is a common term for two pence (2c).

3. During 1937, Goolwa RSL members built the portico at the east entrance to the Memorial Garden facing the Cenotaph

Acknowledgement for photograph of Goolwa Memorial Gardens: State Library of South Australia B-63644