The Brain's retire in Hervey Bay

FORTY years in the airline business worldwide should have propelled Ray and Gillian Brain to retiring on the French Riviera, or Costa del Sol, perhaps to the exclusive island of Mustique.

Instead they chose Hervey Bay.

“I retired from my job as crew scheduling manager for Emirates in Dubai,” Ray said. “Gillian retired as PA to the director of BP.

“We knew we wanted to retire to a place where we could wear T-shirts and shorts so we looked at Cyprus, Spain, Thailand, even the Old Country again, where we'd spent 20 years in Devon. But Australia won and we flew into Brisbane in 2006 and started driving.”

The Brains saw the Gold and Sunshine coasts, Airlie Beach and then turned into Hervey Bay.

“From the moment we drove in we knew this was it,” Gillian said. “There were no traffic jams, no high-rise to speak of; the air was crystal clear and fresh, the beaches beautiful and safe.”

“And it even had an airport,” Ray added.

The couple bought a block in Wondunna, returned to Dubai and built their home by email, phone calls and faxes.

“We contacted three builders and two didn't even reply. The third builder, Paul Burke, was fantastic.”

They came into Australia on the last batch of retirement visas, entirely self-funded immigration that will be reviewed in 10 years.

“Our son David also settled here with his wife Rachael and our first grandchild and many of our friends are coming to visit, saying they've never heard of Hervey Bay or the whales and once here they say they don't want to leave.”

But the Brains want to do more to promote this place that comes very near to paradise – except for the shopping, Gillian confides.

“Trouble is, we tried but failed,” Ray said. “I have a long-time colleague, Tom Allett, who is the editor of the English magazine Airports International and its sister publication, Air International. Both magazines go around the world.

“Tom asked me to write a couple of pages on Hervey Bay Airport so I straight away contacted the council and after two months we managed to get an appointment with one of the relevant senior staff. We left the magazines with her plus some questions about the airport and that was the last we heard. That was around April 2009.

“I then contacted Councillor Anne Nioa, who came back quite promptly and recommended we talk with another senior council officer.

“Nothing happened again and by then the magazine deadline had passed and frankly, we gave up.

“It's such a pity because this airport is unusual in that it nurtures so many out-of-the-ordinary services like Flying Doctor and AGL Rescue Helicopter.”

The Brains have no intention of leaving Hervey Bay but they do ask why more is not done to promote the city and its environs – and why the council missed out on such an important promotional opportunity.

Meanwhile the two enjoy sailing in their boat and listening to the planes coming and going at the nearby airport while they privately promote the Bay to their friends around the world.

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