LOVE stories that last a lifetime are hard to beat, and these days, can be hard to find.
But that's not the case for Goff and Joyce Letts who celebrated an anniversary in November. While it's one year off a milestone, that shouldn't be a reason to celebrate a couple who after 71 years of being together and still totally devoted to one another.
Mrs Letts is Mr Letts' eyes since his eyesight has grown poor as he has grown older. Mr Letts is the memory and can recall names and places they've been and people they've met across their adventurous time together.
An afternoon with the Letts can make anyone appreciate to take every opportunity "by the horns" and live life to the fullest.
Mr and Mrs Letts met 71 years ago and have been married for 69 years - their anniversary falling on November 29.
The couple met at Leongatha, in South Gippsland where as the saying goes, it was love at first sight.
Mrs Letts, was an office secretary and had just turned 18. Mr Letts, a Donald boy, aged 22, was a newly graduated veterinary surgeon.
Mrs Letts played tennis, danced high-kick in the chorus line at concerts and was dedicated to raising money for the Woorayl District Hospital.
Mr Letts was into sport - cricket, rifle shooting, football and athletics.
Mr Letts was invited to a house party, a fundraiser for the hospital, where the couple were paired as Adam and Eve, and true to the legend, they fell in love immediately.
The couple married in 1952 and honeymooned in the Grampians - a region loved by Mr Letts after his father would take him there while growing up.
With two babies, they moved to Melbourne in 1955.
In 1957, baby Marion was on the way. Mrs Letts was in hospital when Mr Letts received a government request to work on a serious cattle disease eradication project in the Northern Territory.
From her maternity bed, Mrs Letts remembered that Darwin had been bombed in WWII but added that she would go with him.
They went, lived and worked in the Northern Territory for just on 30 years.
"Then, Darwin was about the size that Stawell is now, but life was very different," Mr Letts said.
"Green tree-frogs appeared in the toilet bowl in our new house.
"Joyce looked after little crocodiles in the bathtub after I acquired them for the Melbourne Zoo for a few days.
"The children helped her to nurse an orphan buffalo calf back to health."
There were happy camping trips in the bush.
"One night, sitting in the moonlight on a grassy patch, in shorts, Joyce spied a large centipede crawling over her thigh," Mr Letts said.
"I advised her to remain frozen still and it crawled away."
There were overseas working trips, often together. They included a week in Singapore, and an IUCN meeting in New Zealand, where they walked the Milford Track for five days and indulged in a snowball fight on top of the Remarkables near Queenstown.
Other working visits together included Switzerland, Spain, France, Britain, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Back in the Territory, while Mr Letts was doing veterinary work and surveying areas for National Parks and sanctuaries, Mrs Letts worked as a school secretary, served as Girl Guides Commissioner and won a tennis championship.
In the 1970s Mr Letts entered politics to become "the father of N.T. self-government".
In 1976, the couple met the Queen. They played hosts to the Governor General Sir Zelman Cowen, to Prince Charles and Princess Dianna on visits to Cobourg Peninsula and Ayers Rock (Uluru).
By 1985. Mr Letts had done work on behalf of the Northern Territory in every Australian state.
The couple's road trips on biennial leave from the Northern Territory back to Donald were always full of adventures, including floods and derailments.
In 1986, they moved back south and Mrs Letts opened a coffee shop in Donald and they bought farm blocks near Marnoo and Stawell.
Goff chaired Wimmera Mallee Water for nine years and was chief commissioner at the new Loddon Shire in the 90s.
We fell head over the heels in love right at the beginning.Goff and Joyce Letts
They retired to Stawell in 2004. There the couple joined the U3A art class and enjoyed visits with daughter Marion in the USA and Europe.
The family connection to this area goes back a long way. As a journalist, Mr Lett's great-grandfather wrote articles for Stawell and Ararat papers in 1858. He started news sheets in Moonambel and Landsborough, where he was married, in the 1860s, before moving to Donald to start the "Buloke (Donald) Times".
Mr and Mrs Letts now look on the Wimmera as their home country.
On reflecting on their life, and what's the secret to a long marriage, there was one thing they both agreed upon.
"We fell head over the heels in love right at the beginning," they both said.
"I found that this lady (Mrs Letts) had so many lovely characteristics that I didn't find in anyone else," Mr Letts said.
"She hasn't got a nasty bone in her body. All hell could be breaking loose around her and she's still quiet and in charge of herself in the first place. She's got a lovely nature and even when I'm a bit of a grump sometimes - she forgives me for that.
"I love her very deeply."