The Seasons Bribie Island residents met at a dance at Bankstown Capital Theatre in Sydney 68 years ago and quickly realised they were meant to spend the rest of their life together.
“We used to go dancing twice a week there. We’d go dancing and go to the pictures. We went out in groups – we didn’t just go out as just couples. There was a group of us who would all go out together,” says Margaret.
“When I met Wally I was 18 – that was in October and by Christmas we were engaged. But my dad wouldn’t allow us to marry until I was 21. It turns out I was 10 days off turning 21 – we got married on a long weekend.”
When Wally was asked what was it that first attracted him to Margaret, he was a little lost for words.
“I couldn’t quite say. She was female which was a good start,” Wally says with a laugh.
“There was something attractive about her. I don’t know how these things happen, who knows! We just started talking and the next thing we started going out regularly.”
“You just click!” says Margaret.
Margaret recalls that Wally was a bit of a looker when they met.
“He was great – absolutely great! He’s still not too bad! He was a looker – very nice.”
In their younger days, the Westwoods would spend their weekends exploring the great outdoors with friends.
“Wally used to have a big truck. We’d pile all our friends in and go away for the weekend. We’d all sleep in the back of this truck together,” says Margaret.
“We’d go to a lot of places you wouldn’t go in a car because you couldn’t. We’d drive through the bush and go to the beach. We’d back the truck up into the scrub at the back of the beach and have a weekend there. Places where nobody used to go. It was great,” says Wally.
“We used to do a lot of that. My job used to take me away for most of the week, so our weekends were always special.”
The couples’ love of adventure continued throughout their married life and into their retirement years when they moved to Brisbane and lived the life of grey nomads.
“Even when the kids were growing up we always had a caravan by the water somewhere and we’d go there every weekend and the school holidays. That was living! The house wasn’t part of living – the house was somewhere to sleep in and get away from. So we didn’t have one for very long,” says Wally.
“We moved to Brisbane in 1988 and lived with our daughter and used to go travelling in our F100 with a camper in it towing a caravan. We’d go travelling around and we’d be away for months at a time. We’d come home and see the family again and we’d go off again,” says Margaret.
It was after one of these long travelling jaunts that Wally and Margaret’s life took a different turn.
“We spent 11 months travelling from Brisbane to Cooktown. We saw everything and once we got to Cooktown we came home for Christmas with the family,” says Wally.
“Three days before Christmas I was sitting down watching TV and didn’t feel good and I got taken to the hospital in the ambulance. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me when they got me in there. Sent me home on Christmas morning and then I still didn’t feel good – had the same ambulance people come and take me back to hospital and ended up having a stroke in there in front of the doctors.
“That was that. No more driving, no more caravanning.”
While this change hit the couple hard, they have embraced the change by making the decision to move to Seasons Bribie Island three years ago.
“That was hard to give up. It’s a different life when you’re caravanning. You see so many different things,” says Margaret.
“It took me a while to settle in but you couldn’t get any better. The staff here are marvellous. They all know us and all talk. We are living independently now but the age we are, there will be a time when we need more attention so it’s good to know we have that here.
“I still do our own cooking and we look after ourselves. I am quite happy to stay at home and read a book and crochet – do my own thing. We’ve always been that way inclined. We don’t always mix with everybody. We’ve always done that throughout our lives.
When asked what their secret to a long marriage is, both Margaret and Wally mention the importance of talking things through.
“Talk things out,” says Wally.
“Forgive and forget. Don’t let everything get on top of you … you’ve got to sort it out. It’s not easy being married but you work things out. If it’s love, you forgive easy. That’s what I think,” says Margaret.