Flat tyre led to 35 happy years in Ubobo
ON September 1, 1980 mechanic Wayne Lester found himself stuck outside a closed garage in the small rural township of Ubobo with a flat tyre.
The workshop was being used as a hay shed and Mr Lester still had to get back home to Gladstone along the rough gravel road, after making the drive to pick up an old car he intended to one day restore.
Although he does not describe it as being a lightbulb moment, Mr Lester instantly decided to take on the mechanic business and move to Ubobo because he liked what he saw in the beauty of the area.
Fast forward 35 years and he and wife Kim celebrate this milestone tomorrow as owners of a bright blue house and the garage where he is, if needed, the local mechanic in the Boyne Valley town that is home to just over 20 residents.
The couple doesn't regret the move and have successfully raised their two daughters, Brianne and Michelle, in Ubobo.
The garage is now a weekend hobby for the Gladstone Regional Council employee who simply says, "I work in pictures" about the chore of working outdoors among its scenic landscapes.
Calling himself a weekend mechanic, Mr Lester has a couple of restoration works in progress, including that of a 1953 Wolseley Six Eighty.
The one-owner British beauty with an ageing metal patina was owned by Les Madsen, a Warwick farmer and Mrs Lester's late grandfather.
"It's been a work in progress since 1990," Mr Lester said with a laugh.
"I have optimism. One day it will go again. I'm also doing up a 1946 model Dodge Fargo truck. Yes, I will restore it."
Mr Lester was behind the wheel of an old Valiant ute back in 1980 when it got a flat tyre and he ended up at the no-longer-working garage.
"He just thought what a great place to live and have a business," Mrs Lester recalls.
"He didn't get it fixed but he did have his own spare.
"We tracked down who owned it and rented it for six months then bought it.
"Our first customer came in a horse and sulky (two-wheeled cart).
"We bought our house for $3000. It had no walls and ceilings, just half a floor."
Although she was not with him on that life-changing date with destiny, Mrs Lester quickly embraced the locality and the people.
She works at the Ubobo State School and is a marriage celebrant.
"We have travelled but it's beautiful country here," she said. "We've just come back from Meteora in Greece.
"I've had a calendar photo of the (Varlaam) monastery up on the sandstone peaks and Wayne always said, 'One day I will take you there' and we did go two months ago.
"It was surreal," Mrs Lester said.