Jour­neys bring Ge­orge to Monto

Res­i­dent likes the friendly as­pect of coun­try town

Central and North Burnett Times - - HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE... 50+ - ❏ Ge­orge Smith

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.

Photo: Ge­orge Smith

NEW TRAVEL: Ge­orge Wan­ders is happy to call Monto home.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.