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Love begins on a migrant ship for Noosa couple

MEANT TO BE: Helmuth Maciejczyk and Gertrud Neumahr, now Mr and Mrs Macey, celebrate 50 years together since arriving in Australia as German immigrants.
MEANT TO BE: Helmuth Maciejczyk and Gertrud Neumahr, now Mr and Mrs Macey, celebrate 50 years together since arriving in Australia as German immigrants.

GERTRUD Neumahr and Helmuth Maciejczyk set sail for Australia in 1967 on board the immigration ship Flavia, preparing for a new life abroad and all the adventures that would go with it.

The young Germans didn't expect, however, to fall in love on the boat that was carrying them and hundreds of other Europeans across the oceans, and 50 years later to be celebrating their arrival together.

Now known as Mr and Mrs Macey and living in Sunrise Beach, Mrs Macey recalled how their life together began.

"We met whilst dancing on the boat,” she said.

"I arrived in Sydney, on the 17th of August, 50 years ago. My husband, he had to leave to Melbourne.

"We stayed in contact by letters for three months. At the time, (there was) no emails, and the phones were very expensive.

"After about three months I moved to Melbourne. About six months later after we met, we got married.”

Mr and Mrs Macey were from different parts of Germany and had never met, but said she and her husband were not the only ones to find partners en route to Australia.

"Two girls from my cabin met their husbands on the boat,” Mrs Macey said.

"One of the couples is divorced now, but the other couple moved back to Germany and we've kept in touch; we've visited them.

"There must have been something in the water.

"At first (my parents) were quite shocked, because I was so young. When we got married, I had to get a signature from my parents because I was so young.

"My parents came half a year after me to visit, so they met my husband, and that's why we got married so quickly, so we would have at least one lot of parents here when we got married.

"(We're) still happily married, and we will have our 50th wedding anniversary on the 17th of February, exactly six months after arriving in Australia.”

After buying a small business in Noosa in June 1981, Mr and Mrs Macey moved up from Melbourne with their daughters Jennifer and Kirsten and became active members of the community.

Both parents were involved in school organisations, including the Sunshine Beach State School P&C while their daughters attended, and were part of the founding committee of Good Shepherd Lutheran College in Noosaville.

Mrs Macey was also the treasurer of the RSPCA for several years, and the couple performed at and supported the Noosa Arts Theatre.

Today, Mrs Macey is part of a knitting group in Peregian that knits for charity.

Mr and Mrs Macey have enjoyed retirement since 2005 and have travelled across Australia and the world, making the trip back to Germany several times.

They have four grandchildren.

"We had a carpet and floor coverings business until 2005, and then we have been retired ever since,” Mrs Macey said.

"We've also travelled a lot overseas and Australia. We go over a lot to Germany, we try and go every second year, we still have family over there.”

Mrs Macey said she initially kept those first letters between her and Helmuth.

"I kept some of them, and then one day, unfortunately, I had a clean-out and I threw everything out,” she said.

"But every year we reminisce, from July onwards.”

Topics:  australia flavia germany history immigrants noosa sunrise beach


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