Gladstone senior Dell Darrach with  Abiksha Murali.
Gladstone senior Dell Darrach with Abiksha Murali. Matt Taylor GLA270619PAST

Our Priceless Past: Story of Mrs Dell Darrach

"GLADSTONE is a very friendly place and I love it,” said Mrs Dell Darrach, when asked how she has so many friends in the community.

Born 10 February 1936 in Kent Street, Rockhampton, Dell brought joy to John Oliver Gordon Crane and Isabella McLean Crane.

When she was four years old Dell's family, with her brothers Gordon, Ollie Junior and Glen, moved to Gladstone.

Their youngest sibling, Joan, was the only child born in Gladstone, at Bayview Hospital.

In the 1940s, Gladstone was a "sleepy little fishing village and meatworks town, with only seasonal work”. The population was around 5000 people.

During her childhood, Dell and her friends would play basketball, hopscotch and ride pushbikes.

For entertainment, they would watch movies every Saturday, at the Regent Theatre on Tank Street, now the Club Hotel carpark.

Dell's father, Ollie, was a car salesman for Lawrence Motors, Rockhampton. After moving to Gladstone, Ollie bought the Gladstone Valley Fish Shop and a furniture shop, Crane and Company.

A talented musician, he established a Banjo Mandolin Club where he taught many Gladstone musicians to play.

Dell Darrach (nee Crane), taken at the Gladstone Show, 1952. The photo was a gift to their Granny, from Dell (then, 16 years old) and Joan (then,12 years old).
Dell Darrach (nee Crane), taken at the Gladstone Show, 1952. The photo was a gift to their Granny, from Dell (then, 16 years old) and Joan (then 12 years old). Contributed

Attending Gladstone South State School, Dell finished aged 13, as her father needed her to work at the fish and furniture shops. After Ollie sold both shops, Dell was offered a job at the Welcome Café, where she met her husband, Duncan Allen Darrach.

Dell was then offered a job at the Niagara Café. Later, she worked almost 19 years with TAB Gladstone as an administrator, then the Coles' Cash Office Brisbane, then transferred back to Gladstone to work at the KMart Hypermarket Layby Office, in 1987.

During their marriage, Duncan and Dell had five children: Cheryl, Wendy, Billie, Debbie and the youngest John.

Life was always busy for Dell, but she still made time for her interests and hobbies - tennis, lawn bowls, baking and her most favourite, genealogy. On Saturdays, Dell played tennis as part of church and for socialising.

However, after an accident she took up lawn bowls for 20 years. An amazing baker, Dell has entered her masterpieces at the Gladstone Show for 20 years, winning many first-place awards. In 1977, she decided to do her family tree.

Dell is of Scottish and English origin, she travelled to Scotland to meet her relatives of the Montgomery and McLean clans. Dell has completed her family tree up to the 1600's.

Dell has been happily retired since 1989, under the care of her wonderful daughters Cheryl, Wendy and Debbie. She has done lots of community service for Gladstone.

She, and two others, successfully campaigned to discontinue adding fluoride to our local water supply.

Dell has 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Her three Indonesian grandchildren translate everything in English, to speak with her. According to Dell, "I loved having my children and it was the best part of my life”.

Overall, Dell Darrach is a friendly, bubbly community member who can light up a room with a conversation.