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Ray & Cathy are Heading to Queensland for a ‘Sea Change’

After 46 years in Manilla, Cathy and Ray Farmilo are preparing to embark on the second stage of their lives in Queensland from next month.

When Ray and Cathy Farmilo finally pull out of Manilla for Hervey Bay next month, they’ll be closing the pages of a 46-year-old book of beautiful memories they’ve gathered in their little bush town.

One of Ray’s fondest memories in his introduction to country life was landing in Manilla, from Cronulla, at 9pm with two of his four children in the family’s packed Morris Minor.

“Cathy and the other two stayed over in Muswellbrook before continuing on the next day.

“I stopped at Mark Leyden’s home to pick up the keys to the farm we’d purchased, but the car wouldn’t re-start. It was out of fuel. Mark said ‘here take my car’ and threw me his keys. You wouldn’t get anyone to do that these days,” Ray said.

One of Cathy’s favourite memories of Manilla will be the monthly outings with the 14-member PUBD (Passed Use ByDate) Group.

“We’re all ex-Manilla teachers who gather monthly. I’ll really miss that,” she said.

The couple, soon to rack up 56 years of marriage, travelled extensively in the early years looking for the suitable farm as it was Ray’s wish to “go bush” with Cathy and the kids.

“I always loved the bush, so we travelled the state looking for a suitable farm. Someone in Tamworth said there was a place called Manilla not far away. We took a look, and loved it,” said the former silk screen printing business owner.

Once purchased, Ray and Cathy didn’t take long to settle on the Namoi River Road property – that settlement made easier by the “fantastic neighbours on either side”.

“We had the Spicers and Smiths on each side, and probably the best farmer in Manilla, Bill Bryan teaching us the ropes. We knew nothing, but it was made a lot easier with their help.And the community really made us welcome too.”

While Ray was tending to production on the farm, Cathy can boast a 20-year contribution to casual teaching at St Michael’s and Manilla Central.

Rolled into that was rearing the four children – Toni (a nurse in Hervey Bay), Jo-Anne (a paramedic in Rockhampton), Andrew (a qualified electrician who now services fire alarms in Darwin) and Paul, a pre-school teacher at Moruya on the South Coast.

Between them, the Farmilo children have delivered 11 grandchildren to Ray and Cathy – the majority of whom live in Queensland, hence the couple’s decision to settle in Hervey Bay.

Though while Manilla community has been good to the Farmilos, Ray and Cathy have also contributed to the small town in their own way, their first input after settling was teaching Sunday School for the Anglican Parish.

Cathy was the first president of the local Netball Association. She’s been secretary and awarded Life Membership of the local swimming club, is a member of the local garden club, and has been a member of the Manilla Evening CWA Branch now for nearly 10 years.

Cathy and Ray’s love of gardening caught the judges’ eyes when taking out the champion garden title both on the farm and at their recently sold Strafford Street home.

Another mark left by the Farmilo family will be their contribution to sport in the town.

Ray played a lot of hockey, including being a member of the state Over 50 winning side at the Australian Championships in the 1980s, he’s a cricketing die-hard, and he’s contributed a lot to local soccer over the years, including helping the community get the local soccer oval up and running.

Son Andrew was also a keen hockey player while grandson Isaac was an Australian Under 21 hockey representative. 

Daughter Toni learned to swim with Manilla club, but it wasn’t long before she was breaking junior records in the pool, one of note being a bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke at the Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide as a 12 year old.

“Being involved in sport has kept us both fit. We weren’t the parents who’d drop our kids off to sport, then go our own way. We became involved in every one of their individual sports,” Ray said.
And Ray, who took out the Service to Sport Award back in 1983, is also a keen pastel/water colour artist who recently had his works on display at the Manilla Folder.

“Sold plenty too” he joked.

Photo: After 46 years in Manilla, Cathy and Ray Farmilo are preparing to embark on the second stage of their lives in Queensland from next month