Hard work pays off
Tuesday, 14th April, 2015
By Emily Roberts
Singing in a choir as children in Yugoslavia, eventually led to a marriage of 60 years for Tony and Maria Gavranich.
Their relationship had humble beginnings and continued halfway across the world.
“We came from the same town in Blato, Yugoslavia and we used to sing in a choir together,” Maria said.
She said that during and after the Second World War, young men had trouble getting out of Yugoslavia.
“Tony and his friends left the country on a row boat and rowed to Italy,” she said.
“They were put in a camp when they got there, in case they needed men for the war.”
Maria and her mother also travelled from Italy to get to Australia.
“My father was already in Australia and he was here for 12 years before my mother and I came over,” she said.
“We left on March 15, 1950. It took us over 30 days to get to Australia on a big ship.”
Tony was working in Adelaide when he first came to Australia and upon hearing that she was in Broken Hill he decided to move to the city in 1954.
“I remember he asked around to see if I had a boyfriend. I was a popular girl in 1950,” Maria said.
“He started working for my father.”
Maria remembered her father giving her advice about Tony.
“He said: ‘I don’t know what’s going on with you two, but he is a good worker and together you will achieve everything you want’.
“We were engaged six months after my 21st birthday. Tony sold his car to buy a ring and furniture.”
The couple lived in Maria’s father’s house, which he had built. They were married on April 16, 1955 at the Cathedral in Lane Street.
“It was the biggest wedding in Broken Hill at the time - we had 450 guests,” Maria said. “It was a beautiful day, not too hot - it was lovely.”
The couple went on to have two sons and a daughter.
“We had three beautiful children. My sons own businesses in town and my daughter lives in Sydney,” Maria said. “We have four grand children.”
She said they hadn’t planned anything for their anniversary but she was hoping they could spend it together.
“It’s been a happy marriage. I always said what I didn’t have I would give to my children, and we did,” Maria said.
“We’ve worked and travelled together. I’ve done so many kilometres with him.
“I think singing in the choir helped; I wouldn’t have married him if he couldn’t sing.”