Locals Frank and Dora Di Filippo, who recently celebrated 60 years of marriage, were thrilled to receive numerous letters of congratulations on their Diamond Wedding anniversary, including one from the Queen!
Along with the card from Queen Elizabeth II, which has been personally approved by Her Majesty, Frank and Dora received congratulatory letters from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW State Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton.
The couple have lived in Cobar most of their married life having immigrated to Australia 55 years ago.
Both originate from Tunisia in North Africa where they were part of a large Italian community. Frank lived in the capital of Tunis while Dora’s family home was in the nearby town of Manouba.
They met through friends in Tunis and Frank began courting the then 17½ year old Dora. On all of their dates, where they would go dancing or to “the pictures”, they always had a chaperone at Dora’s father’s insistence.
After a two year engagement, they got married, twice!
The first ceremony was held on May 9, 1959 at a Registry Office, as was the law in Tunisia.
After their registry ceremony, Frank went back to his house while Dora went home to live with her family.
Their second marriage was two days later at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, mainly to please Dora’s father who did not recognise the registry marriage.
It was then they began married life.
Dora said work-wise there was not much of a future for them in Tunisia and they applied to immigrate to Chile.
However after a devastating earthquake in 1962 killed 200,000 people in Chile, they quickly withdrew their application and spent the next year in Italy before setting their sights on Australia in 1964, where they were crying out for tradesmen, including boilermakers like Frank.
Dora said they’d had English lessons for a year in Tunisia which they felt would help them “get by” when they arrived in Australia, however they weren’t prepared for Australian slang, and the ‘Ocker’ sense of humour.
After a month long ocean voyage Frank, Dora (who was pregnant with their second child Danny) and their 2½ year old son John arrived in Melbourne where they were met by Dora’s brother.
At the advice of Dora’s sister, who said it would be easier to learn English if they lived in a hostel with lots of other people around, they took up residence at the Dundas Hostel in Parramatta, Sydney and made many friends.
Frank went out to work but said he wasn’t happy with his first job which was with an Italian firm.
“I was cranky. I wanted to learn English and I couldn’t do that working for Italians,” Frank said.
He later found work on the Wyangala Dam project from 1964 to 1968 before taking up a position at the Copeton Dam, Inverell which was where their daughter Cecilia was born.
The couple moved to Cobar in 1970 when Frank heard they needed tradesmen at the CSA Mine and they took up residence in Bathurst Street, where they have lived for almost 49 years.
Their house has many Italian influences (including delicious Italian coffee for their guests) as a nod to their parentage and lots of photos of their three children (who have all left town), along with their nine grandchildren and one great grandchild.
The couple didn’t have a big celebration for their 60th wedding anniversary as they’d already had a big family party to mark their 50th and they have another large family gathering planned for later this month to celebrate their daughter Cecilia’s 50th birthday.
Frank and Dora said their secret to 60 years of marriage is that they believe the true meaning of love is caring.
“You need to work together and understand each other,” Frank said.
“It’s only right that in a marriage you will disagree, but you need to forgive each other,” Dora said.
“Never go to bed cranky, it’s best to forgive.
“Even if you feel like killing them, you can do it the next day,” she joked.
Dora also said a sense of humour was important in marriage.