By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Ann and Brian Tarrant are among the last of the early settlers in Kleine Street Noble Park.
Sixty years ago, they moved in as newly-weds into the street’s first house. Hard to believe now, but around them was a vista of cows, poultry and market gardens.
Where now there is now Sky Rail, there wasn’t even a bridge crossing Mile Creek on Corrigan Road.
Noble Park was dubbed ‘Struggle Town’. Without a car at that stage, the couple ensured they were within walking distance of the railway station.
Their home remains Brian’s second house that he’s ever lived in.
“The house wouldn’t recognise itself. We’ve changed it, extended it, modified it so why move out?” he says.
“Two houses, two jobs,” Ann quips of her husband’s settled life.
On 23 August, the couple mark their 60th wedding anniversary. It will be followed by a weekend holiday with their three sons, their wives and four grandchildren.
Their sons, all products of Noble Park Primary, diverged into a range of professions.
Wayne is winding up from 40-plus years of service with the Australian Army, Glen is a well-known gynaecologist and obstetrician, and Mark has been involved in catering, local government and emergency management.
It has been a great base to raise a family, the Tarrants say. As neighbours moved in, so formed a close-knit community in which “everyone knew everyone”.
Most of those old friends have however moved on. Neighbours come and go regularly due to the high number of rentals.
Another factor is affluence, Brian says.
“You can do what you want to do, you can be self-sufficient now.
“Years ago, you’d go next door for a cup of sugar, an extra egg or two or lemons.
“People don’t socialise anywhere near like what they used to because they’ve got so many things they can do themselves.”
Mr and Mrs Tarrant met at Wycliffe Congregational Church in Surrey Hills.
Brian, who grew up in Surrey Hills, was a youth group leader and Sunday School secretary at the church; Ann was a Sunday School teacher.
She had grown up in London during World War II and the nightly air bombings of the Blitz, moving to Melbourne in 1954.
Both immersed themselves in family and their community.
Ann led Scouts groups, toiled in school canteens and the Mother’s Club before becoming one of the first mature-age students to matriculate in the local HSC course.
She then served as a teacher’s aide at Noble Park Primary for 17 years.
“She put up a target for our children to strive to achieve,” Brian says.
“The young ones couldn’t believe I could be bothered to go back to study,” Ann adds.
Brian’s first job was as an apprentice fitter and turner. He trained as a mechanical engineer and worked 33 years with Kent Instruments, rising to state manager.
He has been a prominent long-serving Freemason, appointed as a director of ceremonial traditions across Victoria.
The couple, who have travelled across the world, still walk regularly to Parkmore shopping centre.
They remain active in Probus service club. Ann tends a large garden including a vgie patch and spectacular proteas and Brian woodturns sets of pens and display bowls.
They have always supported each other to pursue their various interests, Brian says. They rarely had a disagreement, and always found a way to talk their way through things.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do as much as I did without her support.”