73rd wedding anniversary for Dudley and Marjorie Roberts of Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island couple Marjorie and Dudley Roberts are no strangers to bushfire, having lived through many tribulations in their 73-year marriage.
Kangaroo Island couple Marjorie and Dudley Roberts are no strangers to bushfire, having lived through many tribulations in their 73-year marriage.

Dudley and Marjorie Roberts celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary during the height of the recent Kangaroo Island bushfire crises.

The Soldier Settler couple are no strangers to trials and tribulations of living on the land, including bushfires, but somehow they have been able to stay together all these years.

"You have to have a lot of patience with one another," 94-year-old Marjorie said. "You have yours ups and downs but you just have to get through them."

Dudley, aged 96, meanwhile said they had a very good life together. "She was a very good mother and looked after the children really well," he said.

Dudley Roberts served during World War II heading overseas to Guinea.

Dudley Roberts served during World War II heading overseas to Guinea.

Originally from the Roberts farming family at Port Pirie, Dudley joined up during World War II, serving overseas in New Guinea and Celebes Island.

Marjorie, nee Thompson, meanwhile was born in Stawell, Victoria and was living in Melbourne when they met.

While Dudley was on leave in Melbourne after the war, a friend of Marjorie's set them up on a blind date to go to a concert.

Dudley and Marjorie's wedding photograph.

Dudley and Marjorie's wedding photograph.

They started writing to each other and then were married at St John's Church of England at Footscray on January 11, 1947.

Dudley own father Lou Roberts was also a Soldier Settler, settling on his Louella property at Port Pirie after the First World War.

Dudley and Marjorie moved to Port Pirie to work on the family farm where they had their first daughter Sandra.

They then moved to Mount Gambier for several years where Dudley worked on a potato farm while Marjorie had their second daughter Suzanne.

It was then back to the Port Pirie farm where they had the remainder of their children - Janice, Ian and Gregory.

Not long after the war, Dudley had applied for his own land under the Soldier Settler Scheme and then finally in 1957 they got word they had been allocated a block on Kangaroo Island.

Dudley recalls seeing the world's first satellite, Sputnik fly overhead as he left Port Adelaide on the ship bound for KI.

They were allocated a block out in the Gosse area on western KI that they named Binnowie, where they lived for 50 years.

But at the beginning, they lived at American River where Dudley bought a house and 9-acre block with the 7000 pounds he received from selling out of his portion of the family farm at Pirie.

For the first few years, he worked for the Department of Lands clearing the new Soldier Settler farms and commuting out west from American River.

The Roberts have lived through fire before and one of the first job's Dudley had was helping to fight a fire in Flinders Chase National Park.

"He was gone for a week and I didn't even know where he was," Marjorie said.

They both also recall the "terrible" fire of 1975, which started from an unknown cause at Stokes Bay and worked its way all the way across the Island to the south coast.

Their son Ian received burns to upper body after becoming caught out in the fire near Parndana, only escaping by driving the school tractor he was on through a fence and into a dam.

When this latest fire hit in December 2019, the Roberts who now live in Kingscote watched with interest.

They had planned a party for their wedding anniversary on January 11 but that was one of the days the fire was actively moving toward Kingscote, so the party was cancelled.

One friend did however show up and they celebrated with a few wines.

Sadly the house and sheds they built out at their old Binnowie property were destroyed in this latest fire, and they are both very sad to have lost that history.

Dudley drove out not long after the fire to see for himself that his old property had been lost.

Dudley's brother Ross is still farming the family property in Port Pirie despite being in his 90s and is now planning to visit Kangaroo Island after the fire is out.

This story 73rd wedding anniversary for KI's Dudley and Marjorie Roberts first appeared on The Islander.

Comments