Donald George Wedel was born in Innisfail on September 30th, 1940. He was the middle child in a family of four, with his brothers Ken & Rob, and sister Josephine. Don was still a baby when his family moved to Melbourne at the start of the War. His father got a job in the munition’s factory in the furnace, making moulds for ammunition. They stayed in Melbourne during the War while his father had work, and in 1945 they made the move back to Innisfail.
Don then spent the next 15 years in far north Queensland. He went to school in Innisfail until he was 13 where he left to work on the cane farm his father had purchased. Don had always loved working on the land, and much preferred to be outside working with his hands growing and building things. His father eventually bought his partners out and the three boys bought into the family business.
The family wanted to expand their portfolio and Don was sent to Rockhampton to purchase a parcel of land and develop it for crops. He moved down when he was just 19 and lived on the property in Alton Down on his own with the brown snakes for 9 months until his parents and youngest brother joined him.
“In the beginning we started with crops like grain, which is what my father wanted me to do, then I expanded into cattle and an intensive piggery. I build all the sheds for the pigs and tended to them every day.”
When Don was about 20, he had a bad accident on the farm and suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to most of his left leg. He didn’t know it at the time but his nurse at the Mater Hospital would eventually become his wife.
“I ended up at the Mater Hospital, and here I was with no pants on and here was Judy putting baby powder on my burns.”
It took Don nearly a full month in hospital to recover, but it wasn’t enough time for him to win over Judy.
A few months later they ran into each other at a dance. Don asked Judy to dance and she said, “I know who you are, you’re Don Wedel.”
Don thought it would be funny to pretend he was his brother Ken, but Judy was too quick for that, replying.
“Pull down your pants, I’ll show you which leg your scar is on.”
They dated for three years, and it took Don proposing three times to finally get Judy to agree to marry him.
When he asked, she would always say, “I’ve got places to be and things to do.”
And that she did, Judy completed her nursing and moved to Sydney. Her mother became ill though and it brought her back to Rockhampton, where her and Don reconnected. It was the fourth time that turned out to be the charm and Judy accepted Don’s proposal.
He took her out to the Mt Morgan dam at night and got down on one knee. He still insists it was the moon that got in his eye and he was moonstruck that’s why he proposed. But after 57 years married its safe to say it’s worked out for the both of them.
Don and Judy went on to live on three more property’s before settling on their own farm Laurel Bank. Don bought himself out of the partnership with his family and went into business on his own. Don and Judy enjoyed a few years on their own before they begun their family. They have three children, Steven, Julianne, and Donna.
They family stayed in Laurel Bank for about 30 years, before Don and Judy retired to town. They settled in a nice house in Rundle St, where Judy still lives. Don turned his attention to his garden, growing the most amazing rose garden, which Judy still tends to today.
Throughout their retired years Don and Judy travelled the world together going to New Zealand, Canada, Spain, France, Lebanon, England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Dubai just to name a few. They also travelled around Australia twice in their caravan.
While they weren’t travelling Don also worked as a Disability Support Worker helping young adults with disabilities to enter the work force and to support them as they came of age. He also volunteered on numerous societies and committees.
Don was an active member of the Alton Downs Rural Fire Brigade, The Rockhampton Show Committee, Harbour Board, Alton Downs Hall Committee, and was even a Councillor for the Alton Downs and Gracemere Region. But his longest position was President of the Alton Downs Bus Committee where he was a member for 22 years.
Judy said it these positions kept him very busy, but she was even busier, “I had to take all his calls from every committee he was on!”
Don moved into Benevolent in 2018. His family are still the light of his life and his wife visits nearly everyday and brings him roses from his garden. Don celebrated his 80th birthday on the 30th of September.
Happy Birthday Don!