A 66-year love affair with Canberra


After arriving in Canberra in 1949 with the Navy, 87-year-old Frederick Rumble says he knew he was going to like life in Canberra, even more so after attending a dance at the Albert Hall where he spotted his future wife Joan.

“There was only one place to go for entertainment in Canberra at that time and that was The Albert Hall,” Fred says. “So one evening I went along and saw a young lady dancing, each time I went up to get a dance she was booked.

“So I persisted, went up again and finally got a dance and I asked her if I could have the rest of the dances for the evening and she didn’t say no,” he says.

That very weekend Joan spent the day showing Fred around Canberra and the couple hit it off.  By July 1949 they were engaged and after Joan told Fred she didn’t believe in long engagements, they were married on 27 December 1949 at St Christopher’s Church in Manuka.

Not long after they were married Fred was posted overseas for 13 months, followed by another two years on a minesweeper out of Sydney, during this time Fred would make the journey home to Canberra every weekend to see Joan and his young son Tony.

“I’d catch the train from Sydney each Friday afternoon and arrive in Canberra the next morning at 6am. Then I’d have to head back to Sydney on the train the next afternoon,” Fred says. 

After leaving the navy in 1955 Fred requested to be posted back to Canberra and went to night school to do his external intermediate. By day he worked at the Commonwealth Stores in Kingston where he was responsible for managing inventories of hostels that were occupied by local builders.

Not long after he completed night school Fred secured a position with the Department of Defence where he worked across a number of divisions in defence planning. After a successful 23-year career in the public service, Fred swore he’d never work in a desk job again so he started as a cleaner and building custodian for ACTEW. Fred was 72 when he retired in 1983.

With so many fond memories of Canberra, Fred says he’s enjoyed seeing the city change over the years, particularly the landscape and architecture.

“The growth of the city has been amazing to watch,” he says. “I’ve loved Canberra from the day I came and I still think it’s great.”

Fred has been nominated for a Canberra Gold Award which recognises and celebrates the unique contribution made by individuals and groups who have chosen to make a long-term commitment to the ACT (50 years or more).

Do you know of a club, business or individual that has lived or been established in Canberra for 50 years or more? Click here to nominate them for a Canberra Gold Award. Nominations close 31 January.