Journeys bring George to Monto
Resident likes the friendly aspect of country town
GEORGE Wanders was born in the Netherlands in 1947 and moved with his family to Australia in 1955.
The family arrived in Melbourne before settling in the small town of Koo Wee Rup to the south-east of the city.
In the Netherlands people of the Wanders family name are either farmers or work in shipping. Mr Wanders’ family was the latter.
In his early years, Mr Wanders – like most boys in Victoria – played Australian Rules Football. He was also a good swimmer and tried cricket but was not a fan.
In the classroom, he enjoyed science and geography.
Mr Wanders finished school in 1963 and applied to join the navy and, when accepted, he proudly followed the family tradition of working on boats.
There were some hurdles to clear before entering the navy.
“I was accepted but had to be naturalised, so I produced my birth certificate, which was in Dutch, and was told well we can see a date,” Mr Wanders said.
With the paper work cleared, Mr Wanders’ navy career began in June 1964. In this time he served in the Borneo confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia before doing 12 tours to Vietnam.
He never went ashore during these conflicts.
“I saw bombs being dropped in Vietnam, but I particularly remember the heat of the ship’s boiler rooms,” he said.
In 1973, just 12 months short of a decade of naval service, Mr Wanders decided the political situation of the day did not encourage military personnel so reluctantly he entered civilian life.
A family connection opened the door for him to gainwork at a panel beating shop in Sydney.
Mr Wanders had done some panel beating work in the navy and quickly moved up the chain of command.
“The navy prepared me for panel beating in terms of skills and dealing with pressure.”
After nearly a decade of panel beating, Mr Wanders took up a mechanic’s job with transport company Simon National Carriers.
He wanted to leave Sydney and took up a truck driving job with the same company but working out of Toowoomba.
Mr Wanders arrived in Monto on Melbourne Cup Day 2010 and has never looked back.
“I was blown away by the friendliness of the locals. The town has everything I need,” he said.
Mr Wanders drives the Monto Taxi just as a hobby to keep active and thinks giving up smoking and curtailing alcohol have helped give him a healthy life.
NEW TRAVEL: George Wanders is happy to call Monto home.