Bolton Clarke Fairways aged care resident Brae Honor first danced with his future wife Beryl on 15 December, 1943, but unbeknown to him their romance had been years in the making.
Brae and his brother would ride the three miles double on horseback from their property at McIlwraith, near Bundaberg, Queensland to Gin Gin, passing Beryl’s house on the way.
“We used to canter past where Beryl lived and she never forgot me,” Brae, 92, recalls.
When he was 14, his father bought him a grey suit and he wore it to the pictures with two local boys.
Sitting in the theatre was Beryl, who noticed him and pointed him out to her friend.
“Later, Beryl said that’s where she fell in love with me.”
It wasn’t until he was 16 that Brae travelled in to Gin Gin one Saturday to buy cigarettes and heard music coming from the hall down the street.
“I put my cigarette out because I spotted a beautiful girl in a white dress sitting down inside, so I danced with her and walked her down to the café and we had a frozen orange each.
“I walked her back to the dance and to her friend’s home, and I kissed her goodnight. She told me after she never washed her face for three days for fear she’d wash the kiss off.”
The pair kept company for four years, during which Brae rode 10 miles across country every weekend to see Beryl.
“I was horse breaking at the time, so often I was on a young horse,” he says.
Hazards along the way included miles of scrub to be navigated in the dark, and the odd wild horse.
After their marriage, Brae and Beryl lived on the property Brae’s father had pioneered in 1909 growing cane and small crops and raising cattle. With 320 acres assigned for cane, they were one of the larger growers.
They raised four sons and stayed on the farm for 90 years before moving first to Gin Gin and then to Fairways residential community.
“My wife was a seamstress all her life and made the dresses for every big wedding in the Gin Gin area – at times I can recall 24 cars at our place on fitting days. She would sit up until 2.30am sewing, and besides that she dropped every stick of cane through the cane planter for a lifetime – what a woman!”
After 90 years on the family property, Brae moved with Beryl to Gin Gin, where they spent 12 months before moving to Bolton Clarke’s Fairways residential aged care community at Bundaberg.