I met with Dennis and Marion at their home Wybalena Village in Murchison. They had set up their tent which had an awning from the car, as a practice for a trip to Wye River for a short stay with their friends.
“We’ve been here at Murchison Retirement Village also known as Wybalena for 5 years now but in reality we have only lived here 3 and a half years. We go to the UK for long periods and stay with our daughter, so we have a very inexpensive holiday catching up with our children and grandchildren. If we had a house, we could not go away for the length of time we do. There is too much maintenance here that work is all included in our maintenance fee which is very reasonable.”
Why would anyone want to live anywhere else, we have amazing doctors 2 doors down, and the Committee and the community here is amazing, Community Caravan Park, Community Post Office and Community swimming pool.
We wouldn’t be able to do what we do here without the Murchison Retirement Village Community’s support.
What else do you do with your spare time, Marion?
“I like to stay at home, I used to keep the vegie garden here, but arthritis and the last flight has taken a bit to get over.” Dennis played sports, basketball, volleyball at quite a high level and likes making things and tinkering with bits and pieces in his shed.
Where did you meet?
Marion explained that as a child they moved around a lot and at 17 years of age she joined the NZ Air Force and worked as a Data processor operator. Dennis also joined in the Air Force the same year and they met shortly after and have been together since. They both still have a love for aircraft. We married in 1966 and Dennis stayed with the Air Force until 1974 learning many trades and in those days, you did not need a piece of paper to work in a trade. Marion had her hands full with their 3 children, Melanie, Stace and Jamie.
Marion also worked in sales for a while, then as a courier, delivering parts for Holden Motors in the Traralgon region. Dennis wonders how she lifted all those heavy parts like car bonnets!
Dennis, you changed jobs a bit which of your jobs were the most memorable?
In 1981 we came to Melbourne and I worked as Maintenance Engineer, then moved up to be Quality Control and Productivity Manager making switch gear for white goods. We then purchased the franchise of a Brumby’s Bakery where Marion’s accounting and organisational skills were fully utilised with the sales, books and 26 employees. I loved making the bread, I inherited my Mum’s cooking abilities and used my sense of taste and smell to produce what Marion thinks was the best bread and the most beautiful Hot Cross Buns in the area at the time.
They explained that they went to Faith Bible College for a year in NZ, stayed for another 4 years then came back. Their older 2 children stayed in Melbourne and the youngest went with them. They have been Christians since 1970’s and at the time they felt it was right to go to Bible College. They learnt as much about themselves as anything else whilst there. Their decision to come to Murchison and go to Bible College was made in faith and it was right. They continue their faith with the Generations Church in Tatura.
Denis continued, “I then got my dream job. I had always been interested in air planes for a hobby. I ended up being able to use my hobby to fly unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). I had purchased my first computer in 1981 so was playing around with PC’s and with my military experience and security clearances, at 55 I broke my way into a specialised job, flying drones all over the world. Marion and I travelled overseas with this job to Alaska, Weipa, Woomera, I also went to Japan and Galapagos Islands. Our company was the first to fly completely across the Atlantic back in 1998 using radio communications. It was exciting times working with weather bureaus and NASA. We were also experimenting with VoIP so I could talk to Marion quite often while I was away.
I retired as soon as I was 65. We decided to look for a home in country towns we had visited on our camping travels but there was nothing in our price range that took our fancy. Then, because Marion had lived in Murchison NZ we decided to look here. Marion always loved coming to Murchison Victoria, driving into town over the river and bridge. We came to look at houses and we got talking to the Rotary people who were having a street raffle, and we said we were looking to buy a home here, John Dunlop introduced himself and we had a few questions and he explained that that there was an Aged Care Centre, Doctors, Ambulance and Retirement Village close by, so there and then he took us around to look at the Wybalena units. We were smitten, where else in all of Australia could we have got something like this.”
Marion was not sure they were doing the right thing, but one day driving back through Murchison she said she felt “the peace of God completely overwhelm me and I knew it was right”