Not the Norm

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Marion and Ron Burchell Blind Date Marion and Ron Burchell

Marion Burchell (nee Dinning) and Ron Burchell


In 1964 Marion and Ron were introduced on a 'Blind Date' by Marion's neighbour Graham Ball. The arrangement was far from organised as Graham advised Ron a few days before the proposed 'Blind Date' that Marion was 'good to go', however in fact Graham had not arranged the date with Marion at all, then around a hour before Ron was due to arrive. As fate would have it, Marion had skipped her evening typing course and was at home when Graham came over to setup the date, which was to start in around 1 hour. Luckly Marion agreed, Ron arrived, met Marion and off we all went to the Charles Hotel in Chatswood, Sydney. NSW

1965 - 1966

During 1965 Marion and Ron started building their Home with help from Ron's Dad who was a retired builder.
12th of March saw Marion and Ron married at St James Church Turramurra. NSW. Australia. Ron and Marion Burchell 12/03/1966
On their return from their Honeymoon on the Cenral Coast of NSW at the end of March 1966, Ron and Marion moved into their new home in Meridith Ave Hornsby Heights. Sydney. Australia. They had very little furniture, no money, they had good jobs and enough income to live on, but that was about it. To be honest, neither of them were happy living here, they were always chasing their tails money wise, the location was some what isolated, Marion was happy working as a Dental Nurse / Receptionist for Bob Carter in Pymble and Ron continued working as a Plumber / Drainer. Ron struggled with his career prospects continually. After Marion had their children Marion was isolated at home and Ron was working three jobs, plumber by day, aged care nursing home maintainance man by afternoon and a Tow Truck Driver by night. None of this was good, in fact it was terrible for all of their family. Ron and Marion decided that this was not the circumstances in which they wished to live and raise thier children, Sonya and Chrisopher. Ron was now working with the Australian Gaslight Company and had broken away from hands on tradesman roles things still needed to change as he was now working 24 hour rotating shift work.
Remembering that both Ron and Marion were still very young they turned to their respective Parents for some ideas and advice, the parental advice was always the same, this is your life now. So Marion and Ron came to the realisation that if they did not 'Make Things Happen' no one else was going to do it for them. Although their home was livable, over the next few years Ron and Marion worked on completing their home along with the fencing and landscaping which was very extensive due the steepness of the land.


So, for at least 24 months Ron and Marion discussed options and scoured the classified ads in Saturdays Sydney Morning Herald newspaper for ideas, remembering there was no internet or facebook back then. One Saturday there was an advertisment for a Non-Official Post Office at Dalton. NSW. Ron contacted the Agent Harold Ashcroft setup a meeting in his office at Ashfield (a suburb of Sydney ) Harold explained to Ron and Marion how Non Official Post offices are the focal point in small country towns, the post office at Dalton required two people, a Post Mistress and a Mail Contractor. The post office has a three bedroom dwelling attached. This sounded like a perfect solution where Marion and Ron could live and work together in a small country town.
Dalton Post Office today


After a little more discussion Marion and Ron decided to make the life changing decision to Sell their home in Meridith Ave Hornsby heights and purchase the Post Office in Dalton.
Life for Marion, Ron and their children was much better in Dalton, Ron and Marion discovered they worked well together and their children grew up in a happy, friendly little town where everyone knew everyone. Dalton Today


This was a messy year, however it turned out to be another pivital life changing year. Harold Ashcroft rang Marion and asked if she and Ron wished to sell the Post Office as he had a buyer. The buyers were keen and the Post Office would sell quickly, what to do now!
Ron and Marion decided to sell the post office and once again try living in Sydney, they purchased a home in the same suburb they left in 1972 (mistake). Ron returned to his old job at the AGL and Marion worked at a local post office, this lasted all of 8 weeks, they both decided this was not for them.
Their recently purchased house went onto the market, and was sold.
Back in 1975 Marion and Ron purchased 2 acres of vacant land on the outskirts of Dalton, not really sure why but they did. Given they owned land in Dalton and life had been fine for the family the decision was made to return to Dalton. So, Ron and Marion purchased a 4 tonne Bedford truck plus a 8 berth Mobile Home, a prefab double garage and they setup the mobile home on the vacant land and set about buiding their home. It took them 9 months to build thier home, most of which they did themselves. Galway Hill Today


When their home was almost complete, along came one of the most significant live changing events, if not the most significant.
Ron noticed an advertisement in the Canberra Times, Canberra was a one hour drive from Dalton. The Shell Company of Australia were looking for an Area Manager for the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Dalton was right bang in the middle of the territory. Given Ron's Plumbing and Gasfitting background along with his experience gained at the AGL he secured the job. Once again life was good for all of their family.


During Ron's time with Shell he had introduced a new product idea of running all of the Taxi fleets in his area on LPG which is a very long story in itself and probably will never be told.
Marion and Ron purchased their first boat Spree II and would frequently, travel to Bunninjuck Dam, Batemans Bay, NSW Central Coast for the weekend. Spree-II
Their daughter Sonya was going to need to change to a high school at the end of the year, there were a few options that Marion and Ron considered, non of which were ideal, then one evening in the 4th quarter of 1979 Ron came home and said to Marion that Shell have asked him to move to Sydney and take up the position of New South Wales Development Manager. This solved the issue of their daughter Sonya's high school. However it was a move back to the City which they left without regret 8 years earlier.


This time Marion and Ron decided not to sell their property in Dalton, instead they decided to rent it to a retired Pastor and is wife, little did we know they would be the best tennants we would ever have in any of our rental properties that are yet to come. During 1979 Ron, Marion and their children would travel from Dalton to Bowral helping Ron's Dad renovate and setup a cottage that he and his wife Anne were going to move to. Anne was a double amputee therefore she had special access needs which were not available in their Lane Cove home. When it came time for Ron and Marion to move from Dalton to Sydney the property that Rons parents lived in at Lane Cove was vacant, Ron and Marion made an offer which was excepted so they moved back to Sydney, to a suburb that they knew, close to the city center with good schools close by for their children. Marion now had time on her hands an enrolled herself into a Real Estate Agents course.
A local real estate business owner soon recognised Marion's potential and she was off on her Career in Real Estate. Marion was very successful in her rolls as, receptionist, property manager and sales. She worked in the very exclusive area of Sydney called Longueville on Northern shores of Sydney Harour. Both Ron and Marion worked hard in respective careers for the next 4 years.


In November of 1983 Ron was asked to move to Wellington New Zealand for twelve months to escallate the rollout of Automotive LPG and CNG filling stations across both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Ron and Marion agreed to the move, rented out their home and left for New Zealand after Christmas 1984. It was an experience for all of us as we did not realise the size of the chip that many New Zealanders had on their shoulders towards Australians. We can not say it was a remarkable time, however Ron completed his tasks and we returned to Australia in early 1985.


We returned our home in Lane Cove, the children returned to their schools, Marion returned to Real Estate sales in Longueville. Ron returned to his office with Shell, however to a different job. He was asked to take a look at a very large sea board fully computerised LPG storage/loading facility that refused to work correctly. Over the next few years he moved from job to job within Shell, which suited him down to the ground. Marion continued with her very successful real estate career.


Another year of change was heading our way

During the late 1970's, Marion and Ron along with their two children often travelled from their home at Dalton on the Southern Tables of New South Wales to visit Marion's Mother and Father (Margaret Hinchliffe & Fredrick Gould Dinning) who lived at Charmhaven on the Central Coast of New South Wales, this was when Ron and Marion discovered the village of Mannering Park which is located on the South / Eastern shore of Lake Macquarie N.S.W. as it was only 10 kilometres from Charmhaven. Mannering Park Visit in the late 1970's

In 1986 after returning from New Zealand, Ron an Marion sold their property in Dalton and purchased this little house at 1 Greenway Avenue Mannering Park New South Wales. The house was right across from the lake and there was a well worn track made to and from by us all. Alan and Cath Roy lived by the lake, we instantly all hit it off, we were able to share many good times with Alan, Cath and their family over the years. 1 Greenway Avenue Mannering Park NSW

It soon became the norm for Ron and Marion's children to bring along their mates for weekends and holidays, Sonya's regulars being Justine, Linda, Anthea, and Chris with Malcolm, Gavin, Nathan, there were plenty of local kids about as well. The house was pretty well bursting at the seams most weekends and holidays, and we just had to grimace when we got to the checkouts to pay for all the food, but no one can ever say they did not have a great time which was our reward, and importantly for us we always knew where our kids were and that they were safe.

Peggy and Her Family
Also Ron and Marion were able to offer Family and Friends from oversea's accommodation, in the previous photo we have Jill and John Gaywood staying awhile from England.

Mannering Park Launching Ramp

Fun, Relaxation and play were the order of the day

Sonya Burchell

There was always plenty of laughter at RKB's expense when he 'Fell Off' the water ski's. RKB Off Again

All good things must come to an end, as the children grew into their teenage years the weekends away from the city grew less appealing. Initially Spree II was sold and replaced with a Farr 6000, a 20 foot Trailer Sailer, as neither Ron nor Marion had any experience with sailing boats, Marion thought it would be a good idea to purchase a book called How to Sail - 3 weeks later we joined the Mannering Park Sailing Club, racing every Saturday - we were hooked. My Lady astern John Booty Whitsundays 1988


This was a busy year

Ron and Marion took the family to the Whitsunday Islands where they chartered a yacht - it was a 33 footer.

Marion and Ron headed off to England to attend the wedding of Sarah Gaywood and Billy, they decided to have a good look around the UK, hiring a car for their stay and travelled, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Time for change was upon Ron and Marion again, the holiday house and the little yellow Farr were SOLD. Enter 'Starlight Express', a sleek, fast Sparkman and Stevens 36 footer. Marion and her Son Chris poured a bottle of Champagne of her bow, Marion said the magic words to keep everyone safe on board. Marion aboard Starlight Express When they purchased Starlight Express she was lying in Pittwater, a location she would return to many times.Marion aboard Starlight Express Marion and Ron were members of the Greenwich Flying Squadron sailing club which was located quite close to their home in Lane Cove, they raced Starlight Express every Wednesday afternoon and Saturdays with the GFS. The Saturday races were confined to Sydney harbour and became somewhat constrained for Ron and Marion. After visiting a number of Yacht clubs around Sydney Harbour and Pittwater (Broken Bay) it was decided to approach the prestegious Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Rushcutter Bay. The C.Y.C.A. had a short haul division that offered offshore races most weekends. Ron and Marion were still very 'Green' saliors and the short haul races helped them hone their skills. Starlight Express was moured near Longueville jetty which was some distance up river from the C.Y.C.A.Marion aboard Starlight Express As Ron and Marion and Starlight Express were deeply embeeded in the C.Y.C.A. they were offered a Marina Berth at C.Y.C.A. in Rushcutters Bay.Marion aboard Starlight Express Over the next few years both Marion and Ron both worked hard in their respective careers during the week and enjoyed sailing Starlight Express with the C.Y.C.A. on the weekends.

Mid 1993

We purchased Sea-D from Charles and Beryl Dorman, we moved her down to the C.Y.C.A. Marina in Rushcutter Bay Sydney. Sea-D was re rigged, new sails, new communications systems, instruments, radar and auto pilot installed. As our shakedown cruise to test all out we entered the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Annual Yacht Race. On Boxing Day we crossed the start line at 13:00, we had on board with us as racing crew, Warren Cottis, Chris Burchell, Sonya Burchell. . Sea-D crossed the finish line at Coffs Harbour at 12.32 on 29th December, taking 1st place in our Division. Sea-D was ready, were we?


RKB, Dick Gold Stiver and Pat Goldstiver going down the East Coast of New Zealand

In March we departed Sydney for Auckland, New Zealand, we had on board making the passage to New Zealand our sailing friends and often competitors Kiwis Dick and Pat Goldstiver, who had sailed their Yacht 'Suspence' from New Zealand to Sydney and later campained the Racing Yacht 'Ice Fire'. In April Marion and Ron put themselves to the test, departing Auckland N.Z. heading for the A'tata Island in the Kingdom of Tonga. We were taking part in the New Zealand Island Cruising Regatta to Tonga.

The months May to October saw us cruising Tonga including the islands of the Ha'apai's and Vavua, then onto Fiji where Sonya Burchell joined us for a week, during which time she was offered a husband by Thomas the local Chief of Beqa Island.

Sonya Burchell in Fiji

On to Vanuatu where we met up with Peggy and Fred for a while. We cruised to New Caledonia and finally returning to Australia to sit out the Cyclone season.

December 26th saw as entrants in the 50th Sydney to Hobart Yacht race, as luck would have it, in Bass Strait our wind instrument indicated that we were encountering 87 knots, although we had prepared Sea-D for the blow our 'triple reefed' main sail was torn forcing us to retire from the race and return to Eden. .

Had 'New Year's Eve' at the Eden Fishermans Club, then headed North making our way to our Marina Berth at the Mooloolaba Yacht Club.


On the recommendation of David and Valerie Wraight of the English Yacht 'Dutch Maid', we installed an 'Australian' designed reverse osmosis water maker, just in case we could not obtain 'Fresh' Drinking water enroute. It turned out that we did not take shore based water on-board again until 1999.

Cruised the East Coast of Australia and over the Top from Gove to Darwin as a participant in the "Over the Top Regatta"

Darwin to Bali Yacht Race which was the Australian feeder to the "Arung Sumudra" in Indonesia.

Arung Sumudra Celebrations

"Arung Sumadra" (Bali to Jakarta Yacht Race) along with 141 International based Yachts, 23 Tall Ships & 43 War Ships. Some of these craft travelled from the other side of Earth to join Indonesia in the celebration of their 50th year of Independence.

Thousand Islands Regatta Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, then Thailand for Xmas where we hoped the kids would join us but they had other arrangements.. great pity as The little French Restaurant at Phi Phi Don with a group of friends takes a lot of beating.


Crossed the Indian Ocean from Thailand to the Maldive Islands, then onto the Red Sea, Yemen, Sudan, Egypt, Suez Canal, and into the Mediterranean Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Sicily, Malta where we hauled the boat out for the winter while we flew to Sydney in October.


Maltise Boat Yard

We returned to Malta in February, shortly after our return we recieved a fax from Richard Weekes saying ' Last night I asked Sonya to marry me and she said Yes'. Marion and Ron were then under severe time pressure to complete a comprehensive overhaul Sea-D they departed Malta in May to return to Sicily then onto Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, Balearic Islands, Spain, Gibraltar and the Canary Islands arriving at Porto Morgan, Gran Canaria. From there we returned by a grueling 3 day's of Flights, Airport waiting lounges for Sonya and Richard's wedding in Sydney in September 1997.

After returning to Gran Canaria from Sonya and Richards wedding, on passage to Lanzarote we heard the shocking news of the death of the Princess of Wales, Princess Diana. We flew our flag at half mast.

On 23/11/1997 at 13:00 we departed Las Palmas for the Carribean in the Atlanic Rally Crossing, one of 154 Yachts ( 3 Australian entries) making landfall at St Lucia. Sea-D had one one of the best communaction systems and our radio's boomed out over the waves. Sea-D was asked to untake the daily postion skeds for the 154 yachts and relay the results to the race head quarters of the ARC.

Sea-D crossed the finish line at St Lucia on 14/12/1997 having completed the 2837 Nautical Mile Race, Sea-D finished 7th in our division out of 18 racing yachts. We were happy with the result, happy to make landfall and happy to 'down' a few Rum Punches.


We could see the Southern Cross in the night sky again- Sea- D was heading home.

Cruised down to St Vincent and the Grenadines, here in Cumberland Bay we encountered the 'Real' Pirates of the Carribean. On to Bequia,Tobago, Union Island, Grenada, Trinidad, Curacoa of the ABC Islands, where we 'ditched' our 'failing' Aquapro RIB, and purchased a 'Caribe' Dinghy which has the reputation of being the 'Best Available', this new dinghy changed everything, suddenly we were able to travel long distances in double quick time in comfort. It removed the need to relocate Sea-D to Towns and Villages when supplies were needed, particularly Tropical Islands as we frequently needed to anchor well out behind reefs.

From the ABC's we sailed to the remote and reclusive San Blas Islands meeting the South American Kuna Indians, at the time of our visit the San Blas Islands were in drought and we were able to supply them with Drinking water, made 'Fresh' that morning from our water maker.

We then carried on to Panama, Galapagos Islands, Marquesa Islands, Tuamotus where we met a Tahitian family Max and his 3 children. They came by to give MB shell necklaces on Mother's Day.

Max and Kids giving marion Mothers Day gifts  of Coconuts and Shell Necklaces

A couple of days later we received word that Rons father William George Burchell had died, Sea-D was in a very remote part of the world, so Ron and Marion asked Max if he could keep an eye on Sea-D while Marion and Ron returned to Australia to finalise the funeral. This was not easy as it envolved Island hopping by plane to the Cook Islands, then a flight to New Zealand and another flight to Australia. After returning to the Tuamotus Sea-D continued on to the Society Islands, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Lake Macquarie, Sydney.

Total distance traveled 34,000.90 nautical miles, which equates to 62969.67 kilometers, in 4 years, 6 months, 12 days 6 minutes.

We have literally hundred of stories to tell, this is a quote from our last news letter:

"As we reflected, we realised this experience will never be forgotten. We have learned many things. We have met many interesting people from different cultures and societies along the thorny path. It has been a wonderful Geography lesson.

We will miss the solitude of the oceans, the joys of landfall and exploration in a new Country. The camaraderie, the firm bonds of friendship, the 'open house hospitality', the wide circle of care afforded by the cruising community.

We can't wait to be with our family and friends in OUR OWN country again. We are ready for new challenges and horizons yet unknown, a permanent home and a cat!!"

We ( Ron and Marion Burchell ) were honoured to be awarded a Plaque and Perpetual Trophy for 'Best Cruise Overseas' twice by The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, once in 1995 for our New Zealand and Pacific Cruise aboard Sea-D and again in 1999 for our World Cruise aboard Sea-D.

CYCA Cruising Trophy 1999


Returned to Australia


Moved to Blackwattle Farm Beerwah. Queensland Australia


Retired to Maleny Queensland Australia


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