Journey from Holland to Corowa
The Free Press caught up with the local couple ahead of their 65th wedding anniversary in the build up to Christmas.
Adrian and Nelly, both 88, were neighbours in Holland, their country of birth, before venturing to Australia to escape land that they say had “no promise”.
Adrian migrated to Australia as a 22-yearold in 1952, while Nelly arrived 18 months later.
“We had just come out of war from 1940 to 1945 and in that time nothing was done anywhere, council had no money and anything good was taken away,” Adrian said.
“Even in 1952, it was a little bit better, there was still no money available to do a lot of things, the outlook for young people was terrible.”
Prior to starting a new life in Corowa, Adrian admitted that the furthest he had ever travelled was just 50km form where he was living because “the opportunities just weren’t there after the war”.
Upon migrating, Adrian recalled the regulations back then where he was allowed just 10 pounds before heading off to the country.
“In six weeks I had spent two pounds. All I had in possessions was clean shirts in a bag, eight pounds in my pocket and a few sandwiches, and I didn’t have a worry in the world,” he said.
Adrian quickly settled in as a builder around town and has lent a hand in many of Corowa’s finest structures, including the Golf Club, RSL Club, several churches and “80 per cent of the shops in the main street”.
To this day he is still working in his home shed filled with tools and ladders as if it were a hardware store, and when asked whether he would officially retire, Adrian portrayed his self-will.
“If I’m forced to, then maybe yes,” he said. “If I’m still capable of doing something then I don’t want to retire, I’m happy to be involved and keep doing things.”
Adrian has been a member of the Lions Club for 53 years, joined the rescue squad, where he is a life member, and also won a Corowa Citizen of the Year award for his outstanding contributions.
After leaving the rescue squad he then became a member of the Probus Club.
Both Nelly and Adrian, despite speaking little to no English on arriving to Corowa, have “loved every minute of it”.
“(Corowa is) like a big family, especially when you’re involved in organisations that form part of the community,” they said.
Corowa is filled with intriguing stories, perhaps none more so than that of the well-known Verbunt couple, who migrated to the town in the 1950s.
Adrian and Nelly Verbunt, of Corowa, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on December 23 after moving from Holland in the 1950s.