Noel and Thelma Barnes have been married for 70 years, Thursday, March 21, 2019.
Noel and Thelma Barnes have been married for 70 years, Thursday, March 21, 2019. Kevin Farmer

Toowoomba couple has simple philosophy for lasting marriage

FOR Toowoomba couple Noel and Thelma Barnes who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this week, there is no great secret to a long and loving marriage.

"I suppose we're just happy together," was how Mr Barnes simply put it as he sat holding his wife's hand.

It's a simple philosophy that has served the couple well over the past 70 years while bringing up eight children who were each born as Mr and Mrs Barnes lived in different locations across southern Queensland and New South Wales.

Thelma Fleming and Noel Barnes met through a mutual friend in Toowoomba in 1948.

Their first date was a night at the cinema.

"I can't remember where the theatre was, let alone the movie," Mr Barnes smiled.

Oakey born, the young Noel Barnes had worked as an apprentice butcher and apprentice baker in the town where he worked for Rens Bakery and the butter factory.

He enlisted in the army at the end of the Second World War in 1945 and served in Madong, New Guinea and Rabaul before his discharge in December 1946.

Thelma Fleming grew up in Macksville, Taylors Arm, in New South Wales and not long after the couple married on March 19, 1949, in the Baptist Church in Toowoomba they moved to Taylors Arm for a while.

"We went there on holiday and ended up staying for five years," Mr Barnes explained.

"I worked on a banana plantation and ended up buying it.

"I had the plantation until it was wiped out by a cyclone."

The couple returned to Oakey and Mr Barnes worked for the Wheatboard before eventually becoming a fettler with Queensland Rail.

The railway was to take the growing family across the Darling Downs and further children came along while the couple was stationed at Mitchell, Cecil Plains and eventually Toowoomba.

Mr and Mrs Barnes bought a house in Harlaxton where 50 years later they still reside.

Both were known as hard working, Mr Barnes in his employment and Mrs Barnes bringing up their eight children then helping bring up her grandchildren.

Their eight children, four boys and four girls, have gone on to provide Mr and Mrs Barnes with 20 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren - that's a total of 49 descendants, so far.