VAL AND DOUG ANQUETIL
Doug and I were married on the 10th. May 1949 in Melbourne at the Church of Christ in the heart of Melbourne. We spent our Wedding Night at the Windsor Hotel the most impressive hotel at the time ..it still is I believe.....we had our breakfast in its beautifully furnished dining room with lovely china a glissening silver coffee pot a silver milk jug and silver sugar basin. This cost us forty five shilings for the night plus of course breakfast. We felt very important even though we thought everybody knew we were just married. We then left on our two weeks honeymoon at Mt. Buffallo travelling by steam train and then bus to the chalet. It was a wonderful time .
So we thought that we would celebrate our 60th. Wedding Anniversary by taking a nostalgic “honeymoon” to Longreach....we had never been there before.
We put our car on the train at 1.15pm the day before our anniversary hoping to arrive in Longreach 1.15pm on our Anniversary day. We had booked our accommodation and our celebratary dinner on a sunset river cruise, before we left home. Saturday was spent on the train without any regrets at all. About 9.30am the train stopped suddenly and remained stationery for 6 hours while we waited for a new engine to arrive........arriving in Longreach at 7.20pm. the dinner cruise didn't happen that night and in fact was cancelled the whole time we were there due to heavy cloud cover.
Our accommodation was just fair having decided to try staying in a cabin in a caravan park costing only $95 per night which was recommended by the tourist bureau. Because of the lateness of the hour we were recommended to try the restaurant at the Caravan Park which only had fish and chips left....Doug hates fish. On returning to our Cabin we found a lovely bottle of wine in the frig and an anniverary card wishing us a happy 10th.Anniversary.
The Stockman's Hall of Fame and the Quantas Museum were fantastic. And after spending a couple of days looking at the Outback we left for a leisurely trip home. Doug had a migraine and asked me to drive for a while.
About 50 k's out of Longreach we hit a Kangaroo. Got out of the car and found no real damage to the front of car so continued on our way. About 300k's further on I checked the petrol gauge and thought I'd better get some petrol at the next town.....Doug was still suffering. The next town arrived and after finding only 3 hotels and no petrol station I gingerly drove on. Obviously you have to get your priorities right in the Outback.
Twenty k's out of Emerald the car stopped......Doug had awoke by now and we agreed that we had run out of petrol. Rang the RACQ but the mobiles would not work.......Doug tried to get help from passing motorists but we obviously looked unsavoury customers and no -one stopped for about 10 minutes. Eventually a couple in a ute stopped and Doug persuaded them to take me into Emerald to get help from the RACQ. They were very helpful and said help would be available within half and hour. Two hours later the RACQ man arrived and we started on our return trip to Doug. Having stopped for petrol at a service station but finding that they were obliged to pay for the petrol we travelled another 5k's until we found their own petrol supplier.
At last we were on our way back to Doug who I hoped had not suffered any injuries as he waited on the side of the Leichhardt highway. The petrol was put in the car but the car would not start. The diagnosis was now that the battery was flat ….so the RACQ man tried to put his leads under the bonnet but the bonnet would not open......could this be the fault of the Kangaroo. Eventually the bonnet was raised and what a surprise awaited us. The damage under the bonnet was substantial and we were directed to follow him into Emerald where he would try to fix the radiator so that we could go on our way.
We had decided that night to stay at Carnarvon Gorge for a special night to end our celebrations but after managing to get the mobile to work we were told that ...Yes we have a vacancy …..$220 the night no food.
Moving on we headed for Moura 180K and we arrived there 6.30pm staying at a Motel which was a palace compered to the Cabin in Longreach. The only problem with Moura was the fear of running into our ex-son-law who lived there . We quickly had a meal and stealthily returned to our Motel hoping not to meet him on the way back.
The next day we headed for home and probably the entire adventure was summed up when we honked the horn at a group of blackbirds eating a Kangaroo in the middle of the road......the horn sounded like a sick cow and you could see the disbelief in their eyes.......get lost........the horn was useless thanks to the Kangaroo accident.
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