When Irene and Tony Ellis exchanged vows on March 1, 1958, they knew they were forging a bond for life.
Almost 60 years on, they still hold to that.
“I signed a contract in 1958 and when you sign a contract, you stick to it,” Tony said.
Irene echoed her husband’s strong sentiments.
“You work things out,” she said.
“We’re still together.”
The Gunnedah couple will celebrate their anniversary milestone with family on Friday at the Gunnedah and Services and Bowling Club.
Irene was the last of four girls to get married in the Robinson family. She arrived at the Catholic church in Deniliquin in a Ford Model T, with her parents and nine siblings packed like sardines.
“We drove from Moulamein to Deniliquin the day we got married, on a dirt road,” Irene said.
“The whole family were in this vehicle but the dust was unreal.”
Money was tight, so after the “small, private wedding”, the guests sat by the lagoon and had sandwiches made by Irene’s mother.
Irene and Tony met in Moulamein in 1956 when Tony was working for the Postmaster General’s Department. Irene was working at the Royal Hotel as a waitress.
“We were camped in a camp between Deniliquin and Moulamein and of a weekend, we’d go to the nearest town and that was Moulamein and the best drinking hole there was the Royal Hotel, and the waitress in the dining room was the most attractive one in town,” Tony said.
One night, Tony approached Irene who thought he was “very nice and handsome”.
“[I] lived out of town so he just walked me home one night,” Irene said.
“I’ll never forget – he walked on one side of the road and I walked the other.”
That night marked a turn of events.Irene was 17 and Tony was 23.
“She wasn’t a homebody by any means,” Tony said.
“I found out that she liked fishing, I liked fishing. I found out she liked country music and rock and roll music.
“I found out she she could row a boat better than most women and as good as any man, so I had a fishing mate straight-away.”
The couple enjoyed many activities such as going to the cinema, dances, and swimming in the Edwards River, which ran through the property.
“After going together for about six months, I decided things were getting serious and I decided I’d better take her home and show her off,” Tony said.
It took two days for the pair to get to his hometown of Torrington in 1957, riding in mail cars and on the train. When the couple returned to Moulamein, they became engaged. After their marriage in 1958, the newlyweds lived in Deniliquin for more than two years and welcomed two boys, John and Greg (now deceased), into their family.
Tony said work with the Postmaster General’s Department started to finish up around the area, so he was transferred “back up north” near Torrington. Irene lived with Tony’s family for six months at Tent Hill in 1961 while he worked in the area, then he moved on to Gunnedah to work on the main telephone route from Rocky Glen to Gunnedah. He camped at Mullaley and Irene and the boys travelled to Gunnedah and looked for accommodation.
“The first night we stayed at the Parkview Hotel,” Irene said.
A lack of available accommodation saw the family end up in a garage before they acquired a flat in Henry Street. Three more boys joined the family, Paul, Timmy and David.
In 1984, they bought their first home in King’s Street where they lived for 18 years. They moved one last time to a home on 27 acres on Bushs Lane, which is their home to this day.
“We’ve had a good life,” Irene said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.