Today’s tale relates to lost and found, and what it means to treasure something and never give up.
Yes, I’m talking marriages, and that great symbol of togetherness, the diamond engagement ring.
But let not this parable be limited by conventional wisdom when it comes to relationships.
For as the battle wages down in Canberra about same sex matrimony and what constitutes the basis of a loving union, let us acknowledge that all who embark on such course soon realise that wisdom is rarely to the fore.
And nothing confirms this profound truth so much as the fuss made about the rock.
And, in particular, what happens when you lose it. Often down the drain, like the relationship at that stage, but anywhere really.
Directly speaking, this tale involves the remarkable two-year, lost-and-found wedding ring saga of one Guy Oliver, marine electrician, of Sydney, who was, and remains, married to Suzy.
Guy has a strong Newcastle connection, having worked his marine lecko magic on the latest Newcastle Harbour pilot boat, not to mention the PB Towage commercial tugs that work the port.
Guy, being the great guy he is, wasn’t satisfied with the rat race back in 2010.
So he convinced Suzy and his two kids to pull stumps, get a caravan and do a loop of Australia for a year.
(Tune into Weekender next week, and read about one of the most epic Ozzie family safaris imaginable.)
The plan had been to travel down to the Great Ocean Road before heading over the Nullabor to WA.
About a month into the trip they pulled into Cape Otway for lunch.
There, it was later deducted, Suzy took off her wedding rings to apply hand cream, putting them on her lap in the car. Then she jumped out of the car for lunch.
The wedding band was found a short time later, after they drove off, on the running board of the four-wheel-drive.
The diamond engagement rock was who knew where back down the sandy track.
They say it’s a big country and four hours of frantic searching confirmed that. No ring.
Cue much crankiness and unhappy time.
“I had always felt guilty that I didn’t look harder,” Guy recalled. “And how special these rings are to your wife.
“I’d said ‘it’s only a ring’, ‘we could get another’, ‘we still had our health’.”
(Without spoiling next week’s epic story in Weekender, let’s just say you should never take your health for granted.)
With all the joy you can imagine under such circumstances, the Olivers sucked it up and continued on the trip.
About a month later, after surviving a horrendous crash on the Nullarbor, Guy came in contact with a guy called Wayne, and his family.
“We were rebuilding the Cruiser in Kalgoorlie and Wayne turned up with a vehicle almost identical to mine so I traded parts with him off my wreck,” Guy said.
“We then travelled with him and his family off and on for the next three months in WA and have stayed in touch ever since. You couldn’t have a better fella as a friend.”
Fast forward two years later, Guy was in Melbourne on work. So he rang Wayne, who lives in Dandenong, to catch up.
When Guy got there, Wayne said he had a metal detector, and asked if Guy wanted to trek over to Cape Otway from Dandenong and look for the ring. Quite an effort in itself. The fact that he even suggested it may indicate how much losing that ring had dominated campsite conversations in WA.
So Guy rang the missus, said he would be home a day later, and set off the next morning.
Wayne is a surveyor, and when they got to Cape Otway they systematically scoured the area for four hours but came up short again.
Then Wayne, in a moment of inspiration, hypothesised that if the rings had been sitting on the Cruiser they could have fallen off further up the track.
So they moved their focus of investigation five metres and shortly thereafter, the ring was discovered one inch under the sand under the car track.
“It’s the only time I’ve ever hugged a bloke, I can tell you,” Guy said, oblivious to the machinations in Canberra.
“We’d had a photo of where we’d stopped. Wayne was a surveyor and had pegged out where the van was sitting.
“We’d spent four hours and found bullets, ring pulls, nails and screws.
“We were sitting there thinking ‘oh well done our best’ and he said ‘let’s just walk up the track’ and five metres up I found it.”
Guy took a photo of the ring with all the other crap he’d found and texted it back to Suzy with the question: “Which item do you want me to bring home.”
“She was in tears,” Guy said. “She couldn’t believe it. It was just an amazing outcome after two years.”
In a telling postscript, when Suzy was presented with the retrieved ring all freshly cleaned up by her remarkably determined husband, she muttered: ‘‘Meh, not as big as my new one.’’
Guy dutifully ignored that remark because his relationship has stood sterner tests. Read about those in next week’s epic Weekender yarn.