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Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson: Mooroopna couple celebrates 60 years of marriage

By Ed McLeish

Joan Mathers said meeting Samuel Victor `Vic’ Robinson at a dance in Northern Ireland in 1958 was "love at first sight", and Vic asked her to dance on numerous occasions that night.

But Joan also needed a lift home, and Vic had a car.

“It was quite funny really, I just wanted a ride home, there was about five of us in the car,” Joan said.

Vic said he made sure Joan was his last drop-off, before walking her to her front door and giving her a goodnight kiss.

“That was it, we haven’t parted since,” he said.

Vic recognised Joan as the organ player at Mahon Church in their town in Tandragee, which is where they were married on February 6, 1960.

The couple became parents with the birth of daughter Ann, and, with a taste for adventure, the young family joined the ‘Ten Pound Pom’ scheme and migrated to Australia.

The scheme, more correctly called the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme, was intended to substantially increase Australia’s population and to supply workers for the country’s booming industries.

Travelling to Australia by boat for £10 each in 1961 and docking at Fremantle in Western Australia, the Robinsons received a letter from the Bring Out a Briton campaign committee telling them to go to the Wesleyan Church of Australia, in Shepparton.

The young family eventually made its way to the Goulburn Valley, where Vic got work as a dairy farmer in Grahamvale, and Joan was employed as a telephonist with the Postmaster General's Department (PMG, which much later became Telstra).

Vic said leaving their families behind was difficult for him and Joan, but they were “full of adventure”.

“We didn’t know anybody in Australia, but we were looking forward to it,” he said.

Vic and Joan had two more children after arriving in Australia: Debbie and Richard.

The Robinson children saw their father as a dairy farmer, and then from 1985 as a by-laws officer for Shire of Rodney (before the City of Greater Shepparton existed).

“It really meant that I was looking after cattle on the road and stray dogs,” Vic said.

Since moving to Grahamvale, the Robinsons have lived in Goulburn Valley locations including Ardmona, Murchison, and Coomboona.

When Vic retired in 1999 they moved to Mooroopna, and Vic and Joan now have seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, Millie, of whom they are “very proud”.

Now, 60 years after their marriage, Vic (now 85) and Joan (83) love each other more than ever, according to Joan.

“It gets better all the time,” Vic said.

“A big part of our marriage success is we’ve always agreed that any money that we earned belonged to both of us; it was our money, not hers or mine,” Vic said.

Vic said taking a risk and moving to the Goulburn Valley had paid off.

“It’s been a good place to live and weather is mostly reasonable, there’s usually work here for anybody that wants to work and there’s plenty of activities,” he said.

To this day, Vic and Joan play croquet in Shepparton.

More feature articles by Ed McLeish:

An untold love story: 61 years for Shepparton couple

Young Cobram winner wants to go the distance

Stan still coming to Shepparton's rescue after 46 years