John and Wilma Werts share a tale of 60 years married

They may not have known it, but John and Wilma Werts have been close their entire lives. 

Although they first met in Australia later in life, the couple who are now celebrating 60 years of marriage, grew up within 20km of each other in the Netherlands. 

FOND MEMORIES: John and Wilma Werts at their home in Sebastopol. The couple who both migrated from the Netherlands celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Saturday. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

FOND MEMORIES: John and Wilma Werts at their home in Sebastopol. The couple who both migrated from the Netherlands celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Saturday. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Mr Werts migrated with his family to Australia in 1952 as the second eldest of nine children.

Less than two years later he welcomed a young Mrs Wilma to the country with her family as a favour to a friend. 

“In 1954 I met a new fellow here in Ballarat. He asked me if I could come visit him on a certain date in Melbourne at Station Pier, to help pick up his sister, her husband and their eight children who were migrating to Australia,” Mr Werts said. 

“It is beautiful to see a migrant boat come in. They go sideways to the wharf. There were hundreds of people on the boat with all sorts of signs and different coloured scarfs and the same on the pier.

“When the people start recognising their friends or their family, they start screaming or waving to each other. I thought, I don’t know anybody in that boat, so I started waiving and screaming to everybody.”

Mr Werts brought his friends’ family back to his home in Ballarat to visit.

He laughed laughed while commenting that he must have impressed one of the daughters.

“The girl was about 17 when she arrived here. About six months later I started dating her. Three years later I married her,” he said. 

Mr Werts, now 84, was 24-years-old when they married. Mrs Werts was 21. 

Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

The couple, who made the milestone of 60 years of marriage on Thursday, have lived in Ballarat their entire lives. 

They celebrated with their family on Saturday. The pair have four boys, eight grandchildren and one great grandaughter. 

“We even got a letter this week from the governor general, the premier of Victoria and even one from the queen,” Mr Werts said and proudly chuckled. 

He looks back on their 60 years together with fondness, but admits their strong relationship wasn’t without its challenges. 

“I won’t say we never had a fight. We did. But my dear wife is such a lovely person, she is so forgiving,” Mr Werts said.