For the past 14 years Rex and Annette from Taperoo have set their alarm for 3.30am on the first and third Saturdays of every month, packed their van with old books and wares, and headed to the Port Elliot market.
They get there at 6.30, wait for the gates to open, and set up for another day’s trade. They then go to the Goolwa market the following day.
They must sell a lot, we suggest, but there are only so many who buy Wilbur Smith novels with dog-ear pages and cheap China jugs.
“Is it worthwhile?” Annette responds. “We’re still coming aren’t we? It is more about getting out and meeting people.
“There are closer markets than here, but we come to Port Elliot because we like the park, we like the people that live here, and we always go home with a dollar in our pocket.”
Welcome to the Port Elliot market, and if you think Rex and Annette are in a class of their own – “no photographs” they insist – think again. There’s Mark Myranthopoulos, who brings his pistachio nuts and seemingly every other type of variety from Balaklava, the orchard lady from Ashborne and the man from Murray Bridge with his veggies are just as keen. The list, mostly locals, goes on.
Incredibly, since the Encounter Bay Rotary Club took over the management of the Port Elliot and Goolwa markets 18 months ago the popularity has soared. Stallholders have increased from 15 to 35 at Port Elliot – and climbing – and the trend at both markets has been a huge bonus to the towns with profits going back into the local community.
The Port Elliot stallholders at Lakala Reserve off Rosetta Street say there is no secret to the success – it’s about the people and good management. Sandy Pine, of Hindmarsh Island, says her cottage industry business of making dolls and other items with amazing intricacy started out slow, but the people gave her a chance and now she can hardly keep up with the demand.
Raechel Lewis, and her partner, Ben, run Wild Swarm Native Bush Honey at Currency Creek, also talked about the people here. “It’s a great vibe,” she said. Amanda Tuck, of Mount Compass, has My Country Kitchen with tasty things like jams and chutneys, and has been selling at the markets for two years. “It’s an opportunity to take your products to the people,” she said.
The amazingly dedicated team of Encounter Bay Rotarians is led by market director Deidre Hughes, who among many things organises the other 18 market volunteers on a roster system at both Port Elliot and Goolwa. Initially, there was dissent among some locals who saw this as a group from Victor Harbor encroaching on their territory, but it only evolved after consultation with the Goolwa Rotary Club which said it did not have the numbers or capacity to run with the markets.
The 35 stallholders at Port Elliot pay $20 per market, and the 83 at Goolwa $25. Between them, $73,000 was raised last year, minus expenses of more than $10,000.
Before the Encounter Bay club took over the Goolwa market from South Coast Dune Care the money raised went to assist children in Africa.
Last year, overall the club put $21,000-back into the community with $1000 grants going to a host of Goolwa and Port Elliot sporting and community groups… the local surf lifesaving clubs, Hindmarsh Island Land Care, tops for the local soccer juniors, a tank for the dog park, and so on… groups you may hear little about. Bigger local projects using market monies are on the horizon.
It takes the team more than 60 hours a fortnight to present a weekend of markets, including those driving around erecting and taking down signs. Deidre gives at least 22 hours of her time, and says she does it because it helps the wonderful causes of Rotary, something which she belongs to with enormous passion.
“Before we took on the markets the most our club ever made in a year was $18,000,” Deidre said. “The markets have given us a huge boost.
“We are very careful when we distribute funds from the markets that they go to local causes – none have come to Victor end apart from Riding For Disabled which goes right along the coast,” Deidre said.
“I just love the involvement. Port Elliot is a nice little village green type market, and for most of the stallholders it is a hobby so there is a completely different atmosphere.”
And because of the support of the community, local groups are receiving much-needed funds and bigger projects are becoming a reality, while people like Rex and Annette, and Mark the nut man, hopefully drive all the way home with a dollar in their pocket.
See you at the Port Elliot market on the first and third Saturday of every month, and Goolwa on the Sunday.