Fast forward to the 21st century and we find another handsome young chap, Edward, enjoying a summer holiday in the seaside town of Lorne, where Betty and Edgar had met all those years before.
Perhaps Lorne is the Lourdes of love matches because there Edward met a gorgeous girl called Johanna who was also on holidays and they too, shortly after meeting, began their very own love affair.
After knowing each other for a little bit, Edward took Jo out for dinner and they began, as you do, to ask about each other’s backgrounds.
“Where are your family from” Edward asked Jo. “Oh, you wouldn’t know it” Jo replied. “A tiny little town in the country called Minyip”.
*a moment of stunned silence*
“I do know it actually”, Ed replied. “That’s where my family is from.”
*more moments of stunned silence*.
They were both more than a little shocked by the coincidence.’
And what a coincidence. Next day Jo was straight on the phone to her mum asking whether she knew of the Waller family from Minyip. Of course she did. Everyone knew everyone.
Jo’s mum recounted how they were great old family friends, how Ed’s father had even briefly gone out with one of Jo’s aunties and how later on Jo’s uncle had held Ed’s dad’s buck’s party (he didn’t end up with Jo’s aunt – which is somewhat of a relief for the purposes of this story!) in his shearing shed. Later on Jo and Ed also heard the now famous family story of their respective grandfathers; those two great mates and their eponymous sheepdogs: Edgar and Dave.
It was a little later again that they discovered, in yet another beautiful coincidence, that Ed’s grandparents Betty and Edgar had also met in the seaside town of Lorne.
And so they lived awhile and loved a lot and then they decided to be married.
So where would be the perfect spot to hold a wedding forged between two families with such a long and rich story of friendship and love? A wedding between two people whose bond is so steeped in history that it seems somehow destined and yet, on the odds of probability, is so unlikely. I mean, what are the odds of these two people a) meeting b) meeting in Lorne and c) falling in love and marrying?
If I had to guess, I’d say roughly about the same odds as a Hollywood silent movie star moving to a tiny town in rural Australia with a gentleman farmer and living happily ever after.
In a perfect world, they would get married at Mooramong, Scobie and Claire Mackinnon (the aforementioned silent movie star’s ) beautiful property and the setting in which they played out their great love; a place that is not only stunningly beautiful but somewhere that echoes in every corner with the spirit of a great love.
A place where a moving ceremony,
included an unexpected guest who was quite possibly egged on by the spirit of that life-long adorer of animals, Claire Mackinnon.
A place where after the ceremony, their guests sipped sangria around a stunning pool and garden
then ducked through a little arched wooden doorway
to another exquisite garden
until, enticed by this promise,
Well, sometimes it is a perfect world.
Ed’s parents have lived on and managed Mooramong for over a decade. It’s only a few kilometers from the farm where Edward grew up. This whole area is the place Edward feels most connected to of anywhere on earth.
As I stood , some 70 years after Claire and Scobie’s story began and some 60 after Betty and Edgar’s to witness Ed and Jo declare their love and eternal committment, it felt inordinately and quintessentially right. Their love was always destined to be great and enduring, but with the loving threads of Betty and Edgar, Betty and Dave and Scobie and Claire already woven so closely and intricately through and around Ed and Jo’s own story well that, I think, can’t help but make for something quite extraordinary.
So how did I come to be at this wonderful wedding? Well in case it isn’t clear, Betty (Edgar’s wife) was my (and Edward’s) beloved grandmother and is the Betty whom Edgar twirled around the dance floor in St Kilda and for whom this blog and indeed my whole business is named. The other Betty (there were a lot back then) and Dave are Jo’s grandparents.
So Edward is my cousin. But he is much more than that to me. I think of him as a brother and of the gorgeous Jo as a sister.
My aunt and uncle, Ed’s parents, manage Mooramong. That includes a large working farm (over 10,000 hectares) and all outbuildings and residences including of course, Claire and Scobie’s homestead the interior of which really does have to be seen to be believed. It is simply amazing. And because it was bequeathed “as is” to the National Trust of Australia on Claire’s death, it is literally as though Claire and Scobie have both just popped out for a walk and will be back at any moment.
Their boots stand ready for riding and half-empty bottles of expensive cosmetics and perfumes (shipped in from New York) stand on Claire’s dressing room table. Beside them are the headbands and other floral adornments Claire loved to sport in her hair. There are grand rooms, spectacular rooms and simple but fascinating rooms like the kitchen with its enormous Aga stove. But most moving of all for me was Claire’s shower cap, still hanging on a hook beside her shower. Such a humble, somehow human thing.
I’m so privileged to have been able to witness Ed and Jo’s marriage this weekend just gone. I think the thought of these three wonderful interwoven love stories will comfort and inspire me my entire life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing them.