Bride has been to 90 countries, but fell in love with Bay
BARBARA Hunter had crossed 90 countries and every continent before she discovered "the best spot in the world to live”.
Hers is a tale of two loves.
Of how a cowboy named Ray and a seaside Australian town called Hervey Bay captured the heart of a wanderer widow and ended in a truly unique wedding which celebrated both journeys.
Barbara and her now husband Ray Sadowski were married at Hervey Bay's Grange Resort at the weekend before 72 guests - 70 of whom had travelled from other parts of Australia and around the globe.
They will stay and spend for at least a week - a wedding gift to the Fraser Coast from the bride and possibly the region's proudest new resident.
"I've been almost everywhere and this is the best spot in the world to live,” Barbara said.
"When you find somewhere as special as this, I think it is really important to be an ambassador for the area and give back to it.
"A lot of our guests are coming from London, New Zealand and other colder climates and can't wait to be here... And many aren't just coming for a week.
"We are encouraging trips to Fraser Island, Lady Elliot Island, drives to Maryborough, Childers Bundaberg... using the local restaurants etc”
Hervey Bay first wooed Barbara when she visited a cousin here two years ago.
The retired teacher, who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea when her children were young, knew she wanted to live further north than where much of her family had settled on the NSW Central Coast but she was keen to avoid stifling heat and humidity.
Here, she found "paradise... a perfect climate, away from the congestion of the city with an excellent lifestyle and infrastructure”.
Before long she had bought a unit at the Grange and was planning her move. But Barbara's joy at a new start in her 60s didn't end there.
On a tour around Scotland she met Ray and discovered it was also never too late for romance.
While visiting Ray's property in the US state of Arizona, Barbara told him "I've got this perfect bolthole on the other side of the world” and after seeing it, he agreed.
On the anniversary of their meeting, the loved-up travellers were standing next to a monument which held sentimental value for Barbara in the Old Town at Warsaw, Poland, when Ray got down on one knee and proposed.
When it came time to choose a wedding location, they wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else but Hervey Bay where they now plan to live for six months of the year.
They will spend the second half in the US.
Barbara can't wait for the next chapter in Hervey Bay, just a short drive to Brisbane where there are grandchildren to spoil and an international airport for when Barbara finally gets to visit two of the few places she's not yet made it to despite their proximity to her US home - Canada and Alaska.
"We have this beautiful future together... you just never know,” Barbara said
"You can be so alone... there are some very lonely people but it doesn't have to stay that way.
"It's just lovely... really joyful.”
And her tips for anyone who might have been not so lucky in love?
"Go on a tour... I have three girlfriends who have found love the same way. But do come back, you won't find anywhere as wonderful as this”.