CLOSE BOND: Shirley Wrobluskie (back left) has been neighbours with Brain and Dell Norris for 60 years. They've both lived at their Barney St homes since 1957.
CLOSE BOND: Shirley Wrobluskie (back left) has been neighbours with Brain and Dell Norris for 60 years. They've both lived at their Barney St homes since 1957. Mike Richards GLA290917NEIG

Good neighbours: Side by side for sixty years

GOOD neighbours are hard to come by these days as so many people live in a revolving world of high rise apartments, rentals and investment properties.

'Location, Location' is a term often spruiked by real estate agents, but even the best locations can be ruined by bad neighbours.

That's not the case for arguably Gladstone's oldest neighbours, who have lived side by side at their Barney St homes for 60 years.

Shirley Wrobluskie has been neighbours with Brian and Dell Norris since she moved in to her Barney Point home with first husband Warren Olsen on November 25, 1957.

Mr and Mrs Norris had moved in next door during the first week of October the same year. However, the friendship between Shirley, now 81 and Dell, 83 stretches back prior to 1957.

In 1949 a deadly cyclone ripped through three towns, including Gladstone, killing four people and also destroying many homes, including Shirley's childhood home on Ann St, keeping her and Dell, who also lived on Ann St, apart for the next eight years.

 

St. Saviours Church of England in Gladstone after a cyclone in 1949
St. Saviours Church of England in Gladstone after a cyclone in 1949

Spending 60 years at the same address may seem like an eternity, but its provided a lifetime of memories for Shirley and Dell.

They loved their quiet little street close to the beach and knew everybody who lived in it - they were the 'good old days'.

"Our children all played together and both of us loved to bake," Shirley said.

"If one was in need of an ingredient all we needed to do was jump the fence and the other would have it."

The fence was a popular meeting place for the neighbours.

"Shirley and I met every morning at the wood heap when getting the wood to start the fires," Mr Norris said.

They've always been there for each other, especially in emergencies, with Mr Norris recalling one particular occasion that required Warren to drive Dell to hospital.

"For our third child, Dell went into labour when I was sailing for the Queensland Titles and when I got over the finish line they told me I was wanted up at the hospital," he said.

"So I had to take off, but it was broadcast over 4RO because that night was the presentation of trophies.

"The skipper said 'I've sailed for life but this is the first time I've sailed with an expectant father'."

Help was always available between the Norris and Olsen households, both in birth and death, especially when Warren died suddenly at home in 1966, aged 30.

"My husband had some difficulties and Brian was always there," Shirley said.

"When he died at home Brian was in the house in the early hours of the morning and was in the car with him when I drove to the hospital.

"That was a big thing for Brian and me and he's never forgotten that to this day. He was there for me - it was a big thing for both of us."

 

Shirley Wrobluskie after a hard days work on the house prior to moving in in 1957.
Shirley Wrobluskie after a hard days work on the house prior to moving in in 1957. Mike Richards GLA290917NEIG

A widow at only 29, Shirley could always count on her lovely neighbours to help out.

"After Shirley's husband passed away she'd be at work and I'd look after her children and if I wasn't home she'd look after mine," Dell said.

Shirley remarried in 1976 and was with second husband Kevin Wrobluskie until his death in 2007.

Brian, 85, and Dell have been married for 62 years and although they aren't as active now, they still appreciate glancing over the fence and appreciating Shirley's meticulously kept garden.

And for those wondering what makes good neighbours, the answer is simple.

"As long as you contact people, keep an eye out, but don't go living in their pockets," Mr Norris said.

"Look out for each other, help out where you can and do the right thing by each other," Shirley added.

"Good neighbours are hard to come by... We are like family and a life time is a long time."



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