Love starts with watch, shines bright on diamond anniversary
HOME is where the heart is and, for Col and Eva Linderberg, theirs beat as one.
The Bundaberg couple celebrated 60 years of marriage yesterday, surrounded by close friends and immediate family.
Eva immigrated to Australia with her family from the Netherlands in 1950 and at the time, they couldn't speak much English and arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Born and raised in Bundaberg, Col and his family have always been well-known in the local community, with his parents running small grocery store Linderberg's, which was on Princess St in East Bundaberg.
And while the special bond they share is evident by spending just a small amount of time with them, the attraction wasn't exactly instant.
After first meeting at their church youth group, a smitten Col plucked up the courage and gave Eva a gift for her 17th birthday.
"My father's store was a grocery store, but it sold just about anything back in those days … ornaments, jewellery, you name it," Col said.
"So I found this stunning pearl-faced watch and Dad said I could buy it - mind you I still to this day don't know if he gave me a discount or not."
But Eva wasn't convinced … she had never received a gift from a man before and she wasn't sure what it meant or how to react to the new-found attention.
Some time passed and Col had spent the afternoon with his dad at a speedboat race, when he saw Eva riding her pushbike.
He invited his now wife for a drive to Hervey Bay with his family and much to his satisfaction, she accepted.
They spent the day swimming at Hervey Bay and after a day of getting to know each other, Col's charm won Eva over, despite Col suggesting Eva fell more in love with his father's black Pontiac and red leather seats.
The pair later married in 1960 at the Church of Christ on Barolin St, which later became the Church Pharmacy and burnt down in 2016.
Now they share one great-grandchild, 10 grandchildren and four children, each of whom used that same Pontiac with the red leather seats, at their own weddings.
Together, the pair has taken out first place eight times at the Bundaberg Garden Competition, are active members of the Bundaberg Orchid Society and Sims Rd Church of Christ, have grown and sold tomatoes and travelled extensively around Australia in a caravan, as well as around the globe.
They have lived in many houses in and out of town and worked a number of professions with Eva finding her feet as a childcare worker at North Bundaberg Primary School and Col at Bundaberg Sugar and the Bundaberg Co-op Produce Agency.
Col has also acted as treasurer for a number of local charities and organisations.
The pair also purchased a dairy farm in 1962, milking mostly Frisian cattle and supplying milk to the Port Curtis Dairy Factory in Quay St.
Sitting at the end of Kepnock Rd, the farm ran all the way through to Ashfield Rd and is now the home to the Belle Eden estate.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the couple, with Col working 16 hours a day, he would often arrive home to find his family asleep, missing vital moments of his children's development.
Long and intense work hours left all the responsibilities of the home to Eva, who needed to take care of the farm, cattle and kids, something most 18-year-olds don't anticipate.
Adversity is not foreign to the couple, who have together faced and overcome challenges of all kinds, including the drought, but the most tragic obstacle was losing their 17-year-old grandchild Matthew, to an illness in 2015.
Courage, strength and a united front has only seen the pair triumph further as a couple.
Cards from friends fill their lounge room sending well wishes over the 60-year milestone, with all the messages containing one common sentiment - anyone and everyone is welcome in the house that the couple have built together.
Col gifted his wife a beautiful, new white gold watch with diamonds - and a pearl face - to celebrate their diamond anniversary, an upgrade to the initial watch from his dad's grocery store all those years ago.
When asked for the keys to a successful marriage, the couple agree compromise is essential, as is not going to bed angry.
"He can be a cranky old bugger, but he is the most generous person I have ever met in my life," Eva said.
"Generous with his time, generous with his money, generous with the grandchildren … he is just wonderful."
And while Col initially tried to explain the love for his wife like the love for his boat, caravan and fishing, he wisely decided to try again, after a slight prompt from Eva.
With a twinkle in his eye, Col said his wife has helped and taught him in so many different ways.
"I was really sick and she sat by my bedside for two weeks straight," he said.
"Or with the garden … I do it because she knows what she's doing, but I don't and she can remember what the orchard is called, but I can't.
"I had to learn to talk to people because of my dad's shop, but I had never been anywhere, I had never stayed in a hotel, never went to dances and when I met my wife she showed me the world and opened it up for me."
Eva admits it took a lot to push her husband out of his comfort zone and unmask his adventurous side that could keep up with her wandering spirit, but she wouldn't change a thing.
The couple enjoyed a bowl of homemade pumpkin soup for their anniversary tea.