In a little bit of light amongst all the suffering that Summer Bay has gone through over the past few weeks, Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher) and his former wife Martha (Belinda Giblin) marry in a beautiful ceremony outside their original marital home tonight.
Remarkably the event marks the first time viewers have seen Alf marry in over three decades on the show, with his wedding to second wife Ailsa occuring off-screen back in 1988.
It’s been nearly two years since Martha re-entered Alf and Roo’s lives, 33 years after faking her death in 1985 whilst suffering with borderline personality disorder.
Although emotions were tense between the couple during her first visits back to the bay, Alf’s frostiness eventually started to thaw as he warmed to the idea of having Martha back in his life.
Progress was slow with Martha having only been use to her own company for the past three decades, but the couple sneaked away on a road trip together, and by the time Alf returned he and Martha had quietly become an item once again.
Martha eventually moved back into Summer Bay House in October 2019, though it took some time for the couple to adapt to living with each other once again.
It was during a candlelight vigil on Flat Beach for the losses of Mason and Robbo that Alf asked Martha to marry him again. Put out by the question being stated so matter-of-factly and without any warning, Martha refused to answer. They finally sorted out their differences and Alf popped the question in a far more romantic fashion, whilst down on one knee in Summer Bay House.
“The recent terrible tragedies in the town have jolted Alf into thinking ‘Life is too short for all this. Let’s go on with it and get married’” Ray told New Idea.
Belinda added “This wedding has been such a long time coming, and the second proposal is ever so romantic. They have both been through such a journey, and they’re both more than ready for it.”
It’s been all hands on deck as the Stewart House prepared for the wedding. Roo was down as wedding planner, Ryder offered his services in creating a new cocktail to mark the event—just before Alf asked for his assistance as best man—and Alf employed Ben on a secret project for the wedding.
“Ryder’s chuffed to be Alf’s best man,” said Ray. “Ryder’s had his problems – he’s had an up-and-down sort of life, and a rough trot recently, so this does give him a bit of a lift.”
Last night saw the family put on a brave face as they tried Ryder’s cocktail attempts, and Alf and Martha said their goodbyes as she went to stay at the Palmer House for the night.
As the morning of the wedding arrived, Alf and Roo had a touching father/daugher moment.
Finally the nuptials begin, and Martha and Roo are chauffered to the ceremony in a vintage Holden where Alf’s surprise is revealed—a recreation of the archway that Alf had built Martha for their first wedding.
Ryder tells Alf that he is really happy to be standing with him right now, and an emotional Alf watches as Martha walks down the aisle towards him.
As they exchange vows, there’s no question of Martha fitting right back into the family—who, when asked by the celebrant whether she takes Alf to be her husband, responds with “Too flamin’ right I do!“
There’s not many weddings on Home and Away that can go without a drama though. The nuptials have been a welcome distraction for Ryder as he battles Jade’s (Mia Morrissey) false allegations that he uploaded a sex tape to the internet.
Although initially taken in by Jade’s story, newcomer Nikau Parata (Kawakawa Fox-Reo) cottoned on to Jade’s scheming pretty quickly, and last night took her phone from her when she attempted to lure him into the same trap.
Realising that Nikau would have given the phone to Ryder, she enters the Stewart House to look for it, only to be caught out by Ryder and Nikau. It doesn’t take long before Alf is giving her a piece of his mind and telling her to pack her things and get out of the caravan.
Later on that evening as the celebrations come to a close, the newlyweds are alone on the verandah of Summer Bay House when Martha reveals her own surprise for Alf—they’re going to dance to the song they originally danced to at their first wedding.
Ray and Belinda dropped into the Sunrise studio yesterday to talk about the episode and their characters history.
The wedding airs tonight at 7pm on Seven.
Alf has had a fair few partners in his 70+ years, though the majority of them are ones that we’ve heard about years down the line—with no less than two illegitimate children he never knew of. We take a look back at Alf’s previous dalliances…
Despite Alf’s proclamation that Martha was his first love (oops), Alf’s first love was actually Vivian Standish, a girl who used to come to Summer Bay with her family during the summer holidays. The couple were engaged when Alf was 18, but with Alf’s family being protestant and Viv’s catholic, both sets of parents disapproved of the relationship. Soon afterwards, Viv’s parents took her away from Summer Bay and never returned.
When Dani Sutherland was briefly imprisoned in 2003, she met an intimidating woman known as “The Guv”, who had been jailed for embezzlement 15 years previously and seemed to take Dani under her wing.
The following year, Dani returned to visit The Guv, who had learnt she was dying from a heart condition and requested Dani’s help in writing a book about her time in prison. When Dani approached Morag to see if she would be able to help The Guv get early compassionate release, Morag was shocked to learn that her name was Viv Standish. The news soon got to Alf and it was eventually arranged for Viv to be transferred to Northern Districts Hospital.
There she had an emotional reunion with Alf, and when she was granted day release, he treated her to a trip on the Blaxland and a return to the pool where he had first proposed to her.
Here she admitted to Alf that she had been pregnant with his child when she left the bay all those years ago, and the baby had been adopted locally. Her only keepsake was a lock of the baby’s hair which she kept in her locket necklace.
Viv died moments afterwards, and Alf managed to track down the whereabouts of their son, Owen Dalby. Sadly for Alf, Owen was a violent, abusive man who had also just died—having collapsed during an argument with his own son. Eventually Alf connected with his grandson, Ric Dalby, and the rest is history.
At some point in the immediate years after Viv left, Alf had a romance with local girl Julia Bowman. Though a few years older than her, he accompanied Julia to the school graduation ball where they were crowned King & Queen.
Julia and Alf caught up with each other in 1992 when she returned to the bay briefly with terminally ill daughter Meg (thankfully on this rare occasion, she didn’t turn out to be Alf’s offspring).
It was stated that Alf and Julia were together in 1970, but we will have to put that down as a continuity blip due to his marriage to Martha…
Martha Baldivis/Stewart (Round 1)
Alf married local girl Martha Jane Baldivis in April 1969, and she moved into Summer Bay House (previously owned by Alf’s parents) which became their marital home. Martha gave birth to their daughter Ruth in February 1971 and they continued to have sixteen years of happy marriage.
Alf and Roo were devastated when Martha apparently drowned in 1985, and Alf sold the house to the Fletcher family in early 1988 as he couldn’t stand to live there anymore without Martha.
This one is a bit of a continuity nightmare. The story goes that Alf met American girl Mary Jackson during the Vietnam war. Mary was working on an airbase further up the coast, and had come to Summer Bay on an R&R break, meeting Alf at a dance at the local pub.
They began a serious relationship, but it was cut short when Mary’s commanding officer caught wind of it and she was sent back to America. Alf wrote to her every week for two months, but didn’t hear back until he one day received a letter to say Mary had met someone else and they were getting married.
In any case, in 1995, Quinn Jackson turned up in the bay and was revealed to be Alf and Mary’s daughter. Things didn’t go down too well and it would be another 22 years before Alf would see Quinn again, following the shock arrival of his grandson Ryder.
The fact that Alf and Mary were hoping to start a life together indicates that this was pre-Martha, but it had already been established that Alf and Martha should have been married by this point.
Okay, so we might be stretching it a bit to say that Tulip O’Hare was one of Alf’s “loves”… Tulip was a lady who Alf met in a bar and embarked on a short fling with in mid-1987.
With Tulip grieving for the loss of her daughter from cot death—which in turn had distanced her from her husband—and Alf still grieving following Martha’s death, the two turned to each other for comfort, which turned into a passionate affair.
One day Tulip’s son Penn was home from school ill, and walked in on his mother and Alf smooching in the living room. The incident was a wake-up call for Alf who put an end to things. However, Tulip continued on a downward spiral of grief and eventually took an overdose of diazepam, with Penn finding her body.
In 2010, a grown-up Penn came back to Summer Bay and took pleasure in tormenting Alf, who he held a deep resentment for, believing he was responsible for Tulip’s death.
By the time the show started, Alf had been dating local store owner Ailsa Hogan for a few months, her having moved to the bay around a year previously. Roo was vehemently against the relationship, feeling that Ailsa was trying to replace Martha.
When Alf & Ailsa announced their engagement, Roo spoiled the engagement party by revealing something that her Aunt Morag had discovered—Ailsa had spent seven years in jail after killing her father. She changed her name to Ailsa Hogan from O’Rourke after her release, but had found herself moving from town to town when the truth inevitably came out.
Alf stood by Ailsa, and they one day returned home to announce they they had spontaneously got married (off-screen) at the registry office.
After a turbulent few months, which saw them briefly separate after an argument—where Alf asked if he was going to one day end up with a knife between the shoulder blades—the couple settled down and Ailsa gave birth to their son Duncan in 1989.
Alf and Ailsa had twelve years of marriage on the show, before she dropped dead from a heart attack in the 2000 finale.
Ailsa make a shock return in the 2002 finale, only for it to be revealed that she was a hallucination of Alf’s brought on by a brain tumour. He initially refused surgery, but as Ailsa’s behaviour became more cruel and manipulative he realised that she wasn’t real and he went under the knife.
In an AWGIE winning episode in February 2003, Alf saw the “real” Ailsa one last time when he flatlined on the operating table and had a near-death experience, where she showed him what life would be like in Summer Bay without him.
Ailsa would go on to be described as Alf’s true love for many years to come, with the show mostly disregarding his first wife Martha. The opposite is now true however, with many fans commenting on the fact Ailsa hasn’t been mentioned since Martha’s return.
Oh dear. This one turned out to be rather awkward.
Maureen Evans came to town in 2003 having tracked down her long-lost mother Colleen Smart. It transpired that Colleen had given birth to Maureen (who she’d named Rosemary) in March 1955, and was forced to give her up for adoption. She got on well with Alf and they went on a date before she began taking fishing trips with him.
Maureen later moved into the diner flat, much to Colleen’s horror. Colleen tried to convince herself and everyone else that Maureen was sleeping in Alf’s spare room, but Maureen felt no shame in admitting she and Alf were sharing a bed. Maureen was shocked to learn that Alf was planning to propose, not realising how serious Alf was taking the relationship.
Maureen was eventually forced to tell Alf that whilst she cared for him, she didn’t imagine their relationship being anything long-term, and she left town soon afterwards.
In 2008 it was discovered that Colleen was Alf’s half-sister, and therefore Maureen had been his half-niece.
Script Producer Bevan Lee told BTTB at the time that this was originally going to be mentioned in the episode—a tipsy Colleen suddenly screeching “Oh good lord, my Maureen! Tell me you didn’t… you know… Alf Stewart!“. Morag would have grimaced with distaste before a flustered Alf told Colleen to put a sock in it.
Sadly this amusing exchange had to be cut for timing reasons and it was never spoken of again.
Alf thought he finally had another crack at love in late 2008, when he began dating Bridget Simmons, who had come to town hoping to pick up things with Tony Holden after he’d slept with her whilst in Broken Hill.
Sadly, it soon emerged that Bridget was a conwoman when her partner-in-crime Brian arrived in town. He blackmailed Bridget into obtaining money from Alf, and when Alf realised that the money he had given her for business purposes was not reaching their suppliers, she claimed that she’d had to use for money for cancer treatment.
As Bridget continued her scams, attempting to steal Leah’s identity to nab insurance money, and digging a deeper and deeper hole with her supposed cancer battle, she was found out by Dr Rachel Armstrong. Not wanting to hurt Alf, she told Bridget to leave the bay and go to American under the guise of going for further treatment.
Before she could leave however, Alf professed his love to her and presented her with an expensive necklace, which proved too much for Rachel and she exposed Bridget there and then. Bridget was arrested and Alf visited her at the police station where she claimed her love for him had been real, but he couldn’t forgive her and left.
Martha Baldivis/Stewart (Round 2)
Another decade would pass before Alf became romantically involved with anyone again, and who would have thought it would be Martha! In early 2018, trapped down a sinkhole with Roo following a gas explosion at the school, Alf believed he was dying and had a confession to make to Roo—her mother was still alive.
Although the finer details on the timeline have been left sketchy (likely deliberately), it transpired that in late 1988, shortly after marrying Ailsa, Alf had received a letter from Martha explaining that she had faked her death.
Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, Martha had been struggling with borderline personality disorder, and had felt she was living a lie with her feeling of being disconnected from her family.
A few weeks later, after learning that Roo had come looking for her in southern NSW, Martha came back to Summer Bay House where she was reunited with Alf and Roo.
If you’re heading to Sydney anytime soon, why not take the time to visit the beautiful Palm Beach (Summer Bay) yourself on the Official Home and Away Tour – along the way you’ll get to see such filming locations as the Morgan House, the Pier Diner and the famous Surf Club, and you may even be lucky enough to spot some filming and take some snaps with cast members!
There’s now various options for those wishing to take the tour, including the opportunity to have a guaranteed Meet and Greet with a Home and Away fan favourite, alongside exclusive access to the Morgan House garden on Wednesdays, or lunch with the actor on Saturdays (lunch not included in tour price).
The tour departs from central Sydney five days a week (Mon-Wed, Fri-Sat), and costs $135 per person. Please note that during the month of Feburary, there is both a morning and afternoon tour option on Mondays and Tuesdays, the days where you’re most likely to see filming.
For more information on the tour options, and to book tickets directly through the official tour provider, click here or on the button below.