Tragic end to love story after bulldozer accident
IT was love at first sight for Heather and Neil Carey, the sweethearts from Emu Vale who first met on a blind date in 1973.
45 years of marriage, one child, two grandchildren and a cattle farm later, Neil turned to his wife and told her, "Heath', I've got everything I ever wanted."
Heather thought it was a silly thing to say - Despite Neil's health problems she was sure they both had at least another decade to enjoy their idyllic mountain life.
But it wasn't to be.
That same morning Neil drove his dozer to his neighbour's property, hoping to help them prepare for the nightmare season ahead.
It was the type of kind-hearted, generous gesture the 70 year old family man had become known for.
"He was always helping someone," Heather said.
"He would do anything for anyone."
But it wasn't like him not to return home.
At around 4pm Heather became worried and went looking for her husband.
"I went up there and I saw the police," Heather said.
"They wouldn't let me go any further."
The bulldozer fell down a steep drop, crashing into a tree and throwing Neil out and onto the ground.
"Neil put his grabs down to stop it but that didn't help," he said.
"He had a tragic accident and had massive injuries.
"He was killed straight away."
It was ten years, to the day, the couple had moved to the farm of their dreams.
Heather said she "just went to pieces" mourning the man who would buy her flowers every anniversary, who taught her how to work the land, and who made her excited to come home every night.
"I loved him so much," she said through tears.
"We were always together."
Eight weeks have passed since the accident, but the dog, Katie, still wanders the home in search of its best friend and the grandchildren, Ruby and Joel, keep calling wanting to talk to their Pa.
Neil's best mate and only son Timmy, along with his wife Becky ("The daughter we always wished we had,) have also "been taking it very hard."
But in the space left behind by Neil's absence, the community of Emu Vale has stepped in.
Heather said she has been shocked by the kindness, warmth and caring shown by her community, who have helped her with everything from food, to landscaping, to helping her pump the bore.
"It's floored me how supportive everyone has been," Heather said.
"I've just been sitting there blubbering and carrying on while they've been helping out."
And though the road ahead is tough, Heather knows Neil will be there with her in spirit.
"I have to tell the grandchildren he's not here anymore, he's in heaven," she said.
"And the time he had with them just filled his heart."