After nearly 39 years in business, Bribie Island icon, Dianne (Di) Wells is starting the next chapter in her life. She plans to rest for a while, then travel around Australia in her 6 metre Golden Eagle Tourer. Di took this luxury van on an 800-kilometre trip last Christmas. She said she was pleased with her achievement only scaring herself on one occasion when a large truck sped past her and sucked the van to the point of swaggering.
Once her grey nomad adventure is over, Di plans to settle down to enjoy her golden years on our beautiful Island. She said ‘with its Aussie wildlife diversity and beautiful sandy beaches there is no other place on earth I’d rather be than right here on Bribie. It’s in my heart and in my soul as are the friends I have made here.’
Di has been living on Bribie Island since May 1980 when she and her husband John moved here as newlyweds. Their first home was in Banya Street. John worked for Queensland Rail and Di was nursing at Prince Charles Hospital. They drove to and from Brisbane each day maintaining 100 kilometres speed most of the way and rarely saw another car on the Bribie Island Road.
In 1980, Bribie’s population was around 7,000 and Di said it was like living in a small fishing village. Their neighbours used to stretch fishing nets across the road so they could mend any holes. All the other neighbours would drive around the nets and toot and wave. It was a friendly, relaxed and happy neighbourhood.
Di opened her first business in Bongaree on 14 August 1982. ‘Allure Boutique’ was in the shop front now occupied by the Post Office. The business was very successful and within 18 months Di had moved to larger premises in Kangaroo Avenue where she opened ‘Deckout’. When the Shoe shop next door became available, Di took over that premises, took down a wall and operated the ladies fashion and shoe shop together.
By 1989, ‘Deckout’ was a thriving business that supplied a variety of ladies fashion brands, as well as shoes for men, women and children; however, Di had a vision of opening something big. In August 1994, ‘Wells Cargo Barn’ (WCB) opened on First Avenue. The new venture was a cooperative trading area for women. The Bribie Island Orchestra played at the official opening of WCB, which was attended by Mayor John White and 100 guests. The ‘Barn’ was home to seven businesses – Di’s ‘WCB’; Linda Walcott’s ‘Barn Hair Studio’; Sharon Hawkins‘ ‘Island Accessories’; Sue Cunningham’s ’Clover Magic’; Jackie Russell’s ’Gifts go Troppo’; Donna Overton’s ‘Donna’s Discounts’; and Carol Dobson’s ‘Island Collectibles’. The Kangaroo Avenue ‘Deckout’ was moved to the new First Avenue premises. The name change to ‘Wells Cargo Barn’ solved one delivery name problem that came up from time to time when parcels would arrive addressed to ‘Dickout’. This caused much laughter among staff members and couriers; however, some companies even managed to refer to the new name as Wells Fargo.
In 2003, when the Bribie Island Shopping Centre opened on Goodwin Drive, WCB’s 356 square metres of family shoes and ladies clothing and accessories, ceased trading. The arrival of major shoe and clothing stores in the new centre necessitated a reinvention for Di’s business. So she returned to the Kangaroo Avenue premises and opened ‘Grosso Modo’ which provided fashion for the mature woman. The business had a name change to ‘Anna’s in 2014 and remained in Kangaroo Avenue until 2020. Due to COVID-19, Di traded from her home for a few months. She then opened in the Bribie Island Shopping Centre and finished her retail career in March 2021.
As well as running these successful businesses, Di and her husband John were raising four children and were both very active in the community. Since 1991, Di has been a member of the Bribie Island Surf Life Saving Club. She is a highly qualified volunteer surf lifesaver who has coached all lifesaving disciplines. She also managed the training of our local nippers making sure they understood surf awareness and safety.
John died in 2005 and Di said she, David, Peter, Raylene and Anna all think about him and talk about him often. I asked Di if she had any advice about this next chapter in her life and she said “Stay safe in the retirement, value good health and good relationships. Be generous, optimistic, adaptable and keep on learning. In the words of Clint Eastwood ‘get up every morning, go out, don’t let the old person in’.”
Di was so welcoming to me when I was new to the community and knew no one. She invited Michael and I to join her group of friends at various events and always went out of her way to help me organise Rotary functions. On behalf of our community, I wish Di safe travels and a long, happy retirement.