Home' The Mt Barker Courier : The Courier - 2016-05-04 Contents PAGE 14 – The Courier Wednesday, May 4, 2016
By Elisa Rose
Nestled among native trees,
away from the chaos of traffic
or bustling towns, a little stone
church stands beside a hostel
enveloped only by the sounds of
local birds and gentle breezes.
But while the buildings seem lost
in woodlands, they periodically come
to life with the sounds of chattering
and laughing youth, a tradition
started in the 1950s when the hostel
was built for the Unitarian Young
Peoples’ League to use for camps.
This month the Shady Grove
Unitarian Church will bring the
’50s back with memorabilia and
photographs of some of the earliest
campers displayed in the hostel on
May 15 as part of History Month.
Strathalbyn and Bette Taylor of
Nairne have fond memories of
making the trip from Adelaide to
Shady Grove near Littlehampton as
teenagers and will attend the open
day to share their memories.
Ms Woolford said the youth used
to make their own fun and she
particularly remembered “walking
through the cemetery at night in
“We used to entertain ourselves
mostly,” she said. “We played table
tennis, we used to just go out walking
in the bush and at some stage –
sometimes it was in the morning,
sometimes it was in the evening –
we’d walk over to the farm to get the
milk which came in a billy.”
Ms Taylor also fondly remembers
“just going there and being part
of the crowd but also being in the
peace and quiet”.
But while most of the cousins’
memories are happy, Ms Woolford
said disaster struck during one camp
when a truck transporting kids to
the camp stalled at the Balhannah
crossing and was struck by a train,
resulting in several injuries.
However, the camps continued as a
regular part of the Unitarian Young
Peoples’ League calendar and Ms
Woolford and Ms Taylor said it was
a tradition which still continued
today, almost 160 years after the
Shady Grove Unitarian Church was
The church was built in 1858 by
John Monks as a schoolhouse which
was also to be used for Sunday
However, it wasn’t officially
opened as a church until 1965
after the opening of a public school
nearby made the need for the small
Almost a century later the adjacent
hostel was built by the Unitarian
Church and the first youth camp
was held in 1957.
Ms Woolford and Ms Taylor will
be available to share more of their
memories of the camps at the
upcoming Shady Grove open day, an
event that Ms Woolford said was an
“absolutely fantastic” opportunity to
create awareness about the history
of the church.
“I was up there on a Sunday and
I found I was the only one there
who knew about the history on that
particular day,” she said.
“It was a bit confronting to be
perfectly honest, to think that Bette
and I for instance are probably the
keepers of the history.”
The Shady Grove Unitarian
church, cemetery and hostel will be
open on Sunday, May 15, and a ’50s
style morning and afternoon tea
will be provided, with photos and
memorabilia on display.
History Month will feature tours,
open days and exhibitions from
across the Hills and the rest of SA.
More information about the Shady
Grove open day and other History
Month events can be found at www.
Bette Taylor (nee Hardy), far left, and Anne Woolford (nee Buring), centre, holding a dog, joined
other members of the Unitarian Young Peoples’ League at Shady Grove in 1961.
History of Shady Grove given life by memories of youth
Anne Woolford, left, and Bette Taylor have fond memories of amusing themselves at Unitarian
Young Peoples’ League camps held at the Shady Grove Unitarian Church.
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