THIS MULTI-TALENTED ROBINA WATERS GRANDMOTHER HAS LED A HIGHACTIVITY LIFE, ON AND OFF STAGE
Igrew up in Melbourne with an older sister and a wonderful mum and dad. We had a great childhood. There was singing in the house and although my parents didn’t have a lot, they worked hard to send us to a good school.
I met my husband Frank when I was 15. I got a job in the bank and we both worked there together. Frank was six years older than me — I wasn’t interested in a callow youth my own age. We got married when I was 20 in October, 1960.
I’d had my first child and was pregnant with the next one when Frank decided he was sick of being an accountant at Georges department store in Melbourne. He announced we were going to open a restaurant. He didn’t really find what he was after so he was looking further afield. I said if we were going to move, I’d love to go to the Gold Coast where my parents had a little place on the beach, so that’s what we did.
I didn’t know how hard it would be having a young child with no friends or family around. I was very lonely and even though I loved the Gold Coast, it was hard.
Frank ended up buying a mixed business at Tugun and we lived in the flat upstairs. It was open six and a half days a week and I served in the shop, trying to entertain a four-yearold and breastfeed the new baby.
My oldest son eventually went to Twin Towns kindy and there was a lady there who’d put the other mothers through a list of 12 exercises she could remember from school. I’d always liked exercising so I started going. I was so grateful to find something like that.
She eventually asked me to take over the classes. I didn’t know too much then but I thought the exercises would be much more interesting with music so I put something together. It was 1966, a long time before aerobics or gyms. The classes got so big, we had to hire a bigger hall to fit everyone. As it got more popular, I was approached by National Fitness, who were launching the Life Be In It program, to run more classes and pretty soon I was teaching every morning from Southport to Murwillumbah.
I started training other instructors and we added babysitters so mothers could exercise and their children would be looked after. It was always very social, a great support for mothers. I made a lot of wonderful friends.
By this time, we’d sold the shop and bought the Rainbow Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service. I’d had quite a few miscarriages so baby number three was a surprise packet.
When things were a bit more under control with my three boys, I worked up the courage to audition for the musical Oklahoma the Spotlight Theatre was putting on. I’d always loved music and thought I’d try out for the chorus.
I ended up getting the part of Ado Annie and I just loved it. I’ve been involved with the Spotlight Theatre and Gold Coast Little Theatre ever since and these days, at 77, I’m with STARS, the Spotlight Theatre Artistic Revue Seniors, with some other mature ladies. We travel to nursing homes and retirement villages with music, dancing, all the costumes and make-up to put on an hour-
“FRANK WAS SIX YEARS OLDER THAN ME — I WASN’T INTERESTED IN A CALLOW YOUTH MY OWN AGE.”
long variety show for people who might not be able to get out to see live shows any more.
We lost our oldest boy in 1994 at the age of 32 and still feel the pain of that every day.
For 20 years I was a Lifeline telephone counsellor. I worked my way up to helping with the training of new counsellors, but I got burnout. I remember picking up the phone one day and it was another mental health caller. I just knew it was time I left.
I had to wait until I was 63 until I got a grandchild. We have four now and they’re the light of my life. I’m a very hands-on grandmother. I just love it.
I still go to keep fit classes, as a participant these days though.
Frank and I have been members of the Gold Coast Suns since the first year and I keep busy with my Golden Girls.
I still love the Gold Coast. It is the most fabulous place. I think of how boring my life would have been if we didn’t live here. We’ve had a little cottage at Springbrook for 35 years and we’ve got these beautiful beaches.
I often just stop and think to myself: how lucky are we to live in this beautiful place?