Chance meeting sparked 50-year union

BOB and Annette Murray celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday.

The Gangat couple enjoyed a quiet celebration with family and friends to commemorate the special day.

Married in the Scots Church in Melbourne in 1964, the couple had dated for seven years before they wed.

“The minister who married us got married on the Monday after our wedding,” Annette said.

“It was quite funny. In a newspaper article he did with The Age before the weddings he seemed to be more worried about our wedding than his own.”

The couple met at an ice skating rink.

Bob had grown up in Gloucester but left at 15 to take up an apprenticeship with the army while Annette was a Gippsland girl.

“I wasn’t even 16 when we met,” Bob said.

“We were at an ice skating rink in St Kilda and one of my army mates knocked over a friend of Annette’s.”

Bob completed his mechanics apprenticeship with the army and soon after the pair married they moved from Melbourne to Sydney.

In 1966, two years after their wedding, Bob was sent to Vietnam with the first Australian Task Force (1ATF).

1ATF was stationed in a rubber plantation at Nui Dat and its role was to establish military headquarters for Australian and New Zealand army units deployed to Vietnam.

On August 18, 1966, units from 1ATF defeated a Viet Cong force of more than 1500 in the Battle of Long Tan.

“I was in Vietnam for seven months and by then my nine years with the army was up,” Bob said.

“We did a lot of civil aid work. Every morning the chopper would pick me up and take me to a nearby village where we fix generators, motors and other mechanical things.”

While Bob was stationed in Vietnam, Annette returned to live with her mum in Melbourne.

“I wrote a letter every day he was away and he wrote every second day,” Annette said.

“It cost one cent to send a letter.”

On Bob’s return, the couple moved back to Gloucester and lived for a short time with Bob’s brother Bruce at the family property at Gangat.

Bob started working for his cousin Stan Moore and the family relocated to a lease property at Bunyah.

Two years later the couple were forced to move again when a bush fire ripped through the region and destroyed the home. Bob brought a property on the Avon floodplain and went to work at Carson’s sawmill.

He spent nearly 40 years with the business.

“I was the first person to take a sawmill past 250,000 man hours without a time loss injury,” Bob said.

The couple also welcomed three children - Raymond, Steven and Lyndell.

In later years Annette became involved with the Gloucester CWA branch while Bob has been prominent in the local RSL sub-branch and is also involved with Legacy.

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