Quick trip, now it’s home

By Abbey Flanagan

Martin Wilmshurst never thought he would spend 45 years in Australia when he arrived in September 1973.

His plan was to spend three months visiting his sister Gill who had arrived a few months earlier, and their uncle Bob Bark who managed Calimo East Station just outside Deniliquin.

Much to his surprise, Mr Wilmshurst found himself in love with the landscape and decided to extend his holiday to 12 months.

‘‘My family and I had always moved around because my father was in the British Colonial Police. We moved to Singapore in 1946 and then my parents were transferred to Nigeria in Africa 10 years later,’’ Mr Wilmshurst said.

He stayed at boarding school in England, then spent 10 years as a purser in the Navy, travelling around the Mediterranean.

‘‘I left because merchant shipping was changing. It went from smaller ships carrying a lot of cargo, to large ships with big containers and less staff needed.’’

While in Deniliquin he started work at Mac’s Motors in End St, then after stints with other businesses was appointed secretary of the Pastures Protection Board which looked after stock routes.

Mr Wilmshurst said he enjoyed it but after a number of years ‘‘you tend to wonder what’s next?’’

His focus shifted to the industrial catering industry at fly-in and fly-out locations before moving back overseas in 1981.

‘‘I worked as a catering and accommodation manager in Saudi Arabia and Colombia in South America where I met my wife Rita.

‘‘We returned to Deniliquin in 1987, where we got married and bought the old Incredible Edibles Restaurant, which we ran until we sold the business after having our three children (Ricardo, Nevil and Isabel).’’

They moved to East Gippsland for three years, had stints in Queensland and Western Australia, then returned to Queensland in the catering industry.

In 2011 the opportunity arose for further overseas travel.

‘‘I worked in Siberia, Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Africa, South East Asia and Taiwan before retiring back to Deniliquin,’’ Mr Wilmshurst said.

‘‘When you get there and settle into places you see so many different things, and I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to be all around the world; but the only place that stuck was Deniliquin.

‘‘My mother Peggy came here in 1977 and stayed until she passed away in 2007, so it really became our home and we felt a part of the town.

‘‘Of all the places I’ve been to, I’m not saying Deniliquin is the crowning jewel, but it’s a very vibrant town. And wherever you go, everyone seems to know about Deni; you just think how lucky you are.’’

Since being back Mr Wilmshurst again took a keen interest in the community, joining Rotary of which he was president for two years.

‘‘I also established the Deniliquin Multicultural Group with three successful food festivals.

‘‘I’ve also been group Scout master, swim instructor, president of the Lions Club, president of the Dramatic Society, secretary and treasurer of Chamber of Commerce, and Youth Club assistant,’’ he said.

To mark his journey and time spent in Australia, Mr Wilmshurst has written an anecdotal book about his life since he left England.

It is titled ‘Incredible Edibles’ and contains stories based on his travels throughout the world, coupled with recipes he has sourced during his time in the catering industry.