A Themed History of the Rotary Club of McLaren Vale 1978-2020

Authored by PP Steve Head PHF


The inaugural meeting held at McLaren Vale was on 11 September 1978 and the Charter was issued on 29 October 1978 signed by Sir Clem Renouf.  DG Chris Maywald presented the Charter to Club President Alec Baxendale on 13 November 1978 at Marion Hotel before 264 people (representing 19 clubs across Adelaide).  The club had 23 charter members and membership peaked at 35 in 1990-1991.


During its history the Club has carried out many outstanding projects, some of which are set out below by theme.

Club Service

We are a volunteer organization which requires everyone's help to make the club operate. Everyone gets a chance to pitch in at various times throughout the year.

From dinners and lunches to stalls at Fairs, from raffles to collecting at the gates, holding BBQs and music Fests you will find our members in action:  greeting people, leading in song and cheer, promoting acquaintances, fundraising and following up on administration tasks.

Vocational Services

As business leaders, Rotarians share their skills and expertise through Vocational Service. Your Vocational Service efforts can play a vital role in improving the quality of life for those hardworking members of the community who need direction and expertise. By participating in any of a number of Vocational Service activities - mentoring, career days, vocational awards, business assistance, or even talking about your job at a club meeting - you can turn your experience into an invaluable resource for others.

1982 -1991 Bookmarks featuring 4 Way Test was printed
1984 - 1990 Printed a register of Justices of the Peace
1981 -2020 Regular vocational visits organised to learn about various workplaces and vocations in the community.
1981 -2010 Annual Business Persons Dinner held each October ( Vocational Services Month) attracted speakers such as Premier John Bannon, Premier John Olsen, Kym Bonython, Greg Cooper, Judge Michael Bowering, Premier Dean Brown, Rick Allert, Rob Gerard and Sir Eric Neal.
1983 - 1991 Music Fest – In partnership with the Australian National Band filled the Willunga Community Hall year after year.

Community Service

Community Service can be likened to "rolling up our sleeves" to serve our community.

1978-1979 The Club partnered with the Almond Blossom Festival sponsoring the Almond Blossom Queen contestant. Other areas included running the bar, collecting at the gates and in later years running our own food stall.
1978-1979 It was out first involvement with the Bushing Festival with a Rotary Float.  Since then we have participated on numerous occasions with floats and our food stalls.
1978-1979 This was also the year that our members built the upgraded playground at the entrance to McLaren Vale.
1980-1981 Club Logo was introduced.
1982–1990 The Club supported Diabetes Awareness and participated in Diabetes Testing for the next 8 years.
1988-2020 Australia Day Breakfast held at the Old Courthouse Willunga is the longest community event in Club’s history
1987/1988 to 1997/1998

(Total 23 events)

The longest running funding activity was the Film and Supper nights held at Glenelg over a ten year period and raised in excess of $50,000.  Community groups that participated in this evening received the proceeds from ticket sales.

Youth Service

Youth Service, recognizes the positive change implemented by youth and young adults involved in leadership development activities, community and international service projects, and exchange programs that enrich and foster world peace and cultural understanding.

The club has a long record towards Youth Service.  These activities included numerous young people attending RYLA (18-25 years) and RYPEN (15-17years) camps as well as sponsorship for RYWELL.  These camps offer leadership and networking opportunities for young people.

1978 Sponsored first young person for Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA).
1982 Sponsored young person for Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA).
1984 Sponsored 9 students to National Youth Science Forums in Canberra.
1990 Sponsored young person for Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA).
1992 Sponsored 23 students to Siemens Science School
1993-2003 Sponsored numerous young people  (15-25 years) to attend Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA), Rotary Youth Program for Enrichment and Rotary Youth Well Being (RYWELL) camps
1997 Sponsored 6 students to EDS Information & Technology Forums


The Club involved in the Road Watch Programme by taking care of the stretch of road between McLaren Vale and Willunga.  The Mock Accident is designed to raise road safety awareness for young people aged 15-17.  Over several hundred students have attended over the past 19 years.  The students witness a staged shocking scene and the rescue operations of the emergency workers.  Then it is moved to the courtroom where a driver faces serious driving charges.
2018 Books for Kids Fundraiser

International Service

International Service is for the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service, to expand Rotary’s humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.

1982-2003 Group Student Exchange (GSE).  The first GSE team arrived from New York State in 1982, British Columbia & Washington State in 1990, Manchester in 1996, Denmark in 1999 and France in 2003.
1982-2003 Student Exchange Hosting.  As a small club we enjoyed in our limited capacity to host students from the following countries: (in order of arrival) -  Japan, Sweden, Norway, Mexico, USA, Japan, Denmark, South Africa and Brazil.  Of course we have sponsored an equal number to other countries as follows: ( in order of departure) – India, Texas, Netherlands, Denmark, USA, Finland, Alaska, Canada and Finland. The Club also received 6 students from New Zealand on Short term exchanges.
The club has donated $16,000 to the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund (ARHRF) and received awards for high level of contribution, and to The Rotary Foundation of RI we donated US$15,000 (=$AUS22,000).

Since 2003 the Club donated on average $500 per year to ARHRF and $1000 per year to Rotary Foundation.

Donated to Polio Program