Let’s dance! Square dance that is!

With my parents now heading to their late eighties, I have been looking back at some of the influences of their lives together. This photo represents one of those – square dancing.

Mum and dad met while square dancing.

Before they were married, mum represented Tasmania in 1951 at the Australian championships. She was one of the couples from Swan St Club.


The average age of the winners was 16 – mum was actually 17 at this time. Mum’s father, Henry Lewis England, nearly fell over the balcony at City Hall when mum and her team won the Women’s Weekly competition in Tasmania.

This image is of them being congratulated on their win. Click on the image to find out more about the second and third prize winners in Tasmania – A National Fitness Council team and the Elizabeth Street School teachers team.


The Tasmanian team enjoyed time out at the Sydney Botanic Gardens while at the championships. Joe Lewis, a caller from America, was the judge and he gave points for showmanship, spirit of happiness, timing, precision, gracefulness and impromptu calls. Click on the image to read about the Square Dance contest in Sydney. The Tasmanian team came second.


Now back to mum and dad. They met at St Peters Hall in Harrington Street Hobart on 12 September 1952 when dad was 20 and mum 18. A group of dancers had gone to Collinsvale to do an exhibition square dance on that date but mum and dad were at the hall.  Dad was part of the Bar 8 square dance group hence the number eight with the line through it on his shirt above.

According to mum, when I was about 6 months old, they took me to a square dance at Claremont Hall and the other dancers were amazed that I slept through the music and other noises. I can remember as a small child being taken to square dancing evenings at a hall in Lindisfarne and enjoying the music. This also influenced my life as I too joined a square dancing club in Hobart but also learnt how to teach Round Dancing – a variation of ballroom dancing done in between square dance brackets.


Image 1 – personal collection

Image 2 – Mercury Hobart 18 Jul 1951

Readers: Did you or your parents ever take part in square dancing? Where and when? Or maybe ballroom dancing was more their style. Where and when?


Mum reminiscing

Boxing Day here so mum, dad and I went out for lunch at Live Eat Moonah. This is a franchise owned by my cousin Kelli who turned 46 today. We had a great healthy meal, but had to be home by 1pm ready for the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race which mum likes to watch every year.

On the way home, mum told us that her father took her to watch the very first race 74 years ago when she was a child about 11 years old. Nearly every morning once the race began, they would walk from Grosvenor Street in Sandy Bay to Princes Park in Battery Point to watch the boats come in. They would only go down when he knew some boats would be arriving.

Her father Henry Lewis England loved boating and would often take mum and her sister fishing off Sandy Bay beach.

Mum couldn’t remember much more about the yacht race other than they didn’t take any food with them and they were there when the last boat came in.  Dad piped in from behind me in the car with his memories of that race. He knew it was the ship Wayfarer that came in last nine days after the race started. He thought the ship was from Launceston and only did a leisurely cruise rather than racing hard.

Looking at reports in newspapers on Trove, the first official race in 1945 had lots of problems. Some of these still happen now 75 years on.

  • Two ships went ‘missing’
  • Gales across Bass Strait
  • Becalmed near Hobart

Comparison of Sydney Hobart with Fasnet race held off Isle of Wight in England

In August 1945, there was discussion on having a race in 1945.


The race has begun with 9 yachts taking part.

First casualty of the race was Archina.

Bad weather slowed the race but a Tasmanian yacht is in the lead

Two yachts are missing

One yacht reappears near entrance to Storm Bay

Rani crosses the line at 1.45am on 2 January 1946 to win the race and handicap honours.

Discussion about race becoming an annual event.

Should it also become a Hobart to Sydney race sometimes?

The placings – only Wayfarer to arrive

The last yacht has finally arrived after sheltering in Port Arthur11 days after start of the race.

Mum and dad’s memories were fairly accurate considering it happened 75 years ago when they were both children.

Readers: Have you or one of your family members taken part in a big yachting race? Have you been at the start or finish of a yachting race?

No genetic relationship but ….

Mum and Sibyle have been friends for ages through the Girl Guide movement where they were both commissioners at some stage and members of Trefoil.  A few years ago they were travelling back from a meeting in Launceston via Evandale where many of my COLGRAVE and DAVEY relatives were born. Mum pointed out a house where her great aunt Ethel lived and mentioned she had brought me up there one time when I was a baby.  To mum’s surprise, Sibyle said Ethel was her cousin – in fact they were first cousins once removed.

So how are mum and Sibyle related?

They both share Francis COLGRAVE and Isabella WATKINS(ON) – Sibyle through her grandfather Samuel Colgrave and mum through her great grandfather Francis John Colgrave, sibling to Samuel.

Sibyle turned 100 last year and as she is one generation older than my mum, I thought I would ask if I could get her DNA tested. She said yes, so I spent a fantastic afternoon in the nursing home, chatting to Sibyle while she worked up enough spit to put in the tube to send back to Ancestry.

Wait …wait … wait …

Two nights ago, the results came in. Now as 2C1R I was expecting to see mum and Sibyle sharing at least some DNA but when I went to shared matches for mum, Sibyle was not there. Why not?  I asked on a Facebook DNA group was it unusual for 2C1R not to share DNA and had many replies but one was from Blaine Bettinger who had written a great post about just this problem.

Yesterday I uploaded Sibyle’s DNA to Genesis. This is the next version from Gedmatch. It allows people to compare others who have tested with other DNA companies not just Ancestry.  Because of the algorithm used by Ancestry some smaller segments might not be included in their results, so I was hoping those smaller segments would be there in Genesis.

More waiting … but using the one to one comparison, I found mum and Sibyle did share DNA but only 18cM over two segments which should mean they relate about 5 generations back.

Results comparing mum and Sibyle using Genesis.

I then decided to compare the amount of DNA from matches shared by both mum and Sibyle. The results in the table are from Ancestry other than the one where I have Genesis.

Readers: Has anyone else had a surprise when there was no DNA when you thought there should be especially with closer relatives?