It was 1977 Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister, the Queen visited Australia and Stuart Charlton from Lithgow was fresh out of the navy and looking for his next challenge.
Stuart loved being in the navy, describing his two years in the service as some of the best of his life. But health issues forced him out and he was discharged. Unsure what to do next, he decided to do his Higher School Certificate (HSC). previously considered giving it a go via correspondence when in the navy.
Little did Stuart know that this choice would be the one that would lead him to meet his future wife.
Stuart knew Heather from when he was in school before joining the navy, but neither was on each others' radar. It was geography class where the then 21-year-old Stuart and the 18-year-old Heather really hit it off in 1978, and before long they were 'going out'.
"Somebody told me she said she was keen on me so that broke the ice," Stuart said. "I started going out with her in those Christmas holidays and it went from there."
"I thought he seemed interesting because he was so different from the other boys my own age," Heather said.
"He listened to folk music, which I enjoyed, and we both had a love for dogs."
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The first date is often a relationship's first big test. Stuart remembers their first date well.
"We went to the swimming pool and then she invited me around to her mum and dad's place who were away at the time and she cooked me - I think it was sausages and chops or something," Stuart laughed.
Stuart and Heather dated for five years before getting married in 1983 at the church in Lithgow that is now Zambrero.
"One thing that struck me was that when we went on a holiday with my parents he came back with an oar for me, but the next time he went away he brought back a puppy which we named Kempsie because that's where we got her from. She was our first baby," Heather said.
"I knew fairly early on that we got on really well and she was a pretty good catch," Stuart said. "I think I told her at school that I'd like to marry her actually. But it was half serious. We both knew we were going to get married."
Their wedding was on a sunny day in Lithgow, attended by roughly 100 friends and family with the reception held at the Workmens Club. They hired a Jaguar as their wedding vehicle and a bush band played at their reception. The band is still together today.
"We went to Bundaberg for our honeymoon and stayed at Makara Beach, right on the water, which was very nice," Stuart recalled.
Life ever since for Stuart and Heather has been quaint. They had three children together - Sally, Dane and Lindsay, all grown up now. They live in a modest weatherboard home in Lithgow with plans to one day build on a piece of land they own.
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