HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Crowley aged-care faciilty resident in Ballina, Muriel McGilvary, turned 104 on Monday, September 9.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Crowley aged-care faciilty resident in Ballina, Muriel McGilvary, turned 104 on Monday, September 9. Graham Broadhead

Muriel can lay claim to being one of oldest in region

BALLINA can lay claim to being home to one of the oldest people on the North Coast, with Crowley aged-care facility resident, Muriel McGilvray turning 104 on Monday, September 9.

She has lived in Ballina for about 20 years, to be closer to family, and moved into Crowley residential care from her independent living unit in April this year.

The world has changed significantly since Muriel was born in Goulburn in 1915 as the eldest of eight children -- she has one surviving sister, Judith, who attended her birthday party.

When she was born, Australian soldiers were in battle at a far-flung place called Gallipoli and a young country boy called Don Bradman had not long celebrated his seventh birthday.

And there have been great social changes, too -- something which hasn't been lost on Muriel.

When asked to reflect on days gone past, she was quick with an answer.

"It would have been wonderful to have the opportunities young people have today," she said.

She particularly noted the opportunities that young women have, compared to that of her own generation.

"Few ladies that I knew went to work," she said.

Muriel was of the era when women generally married, then stayed at home to look after children.

But she said "family is everything" and she was pleased to have "four wonderful children."

Muriel worked for a time in the family agricultural produce business in Goulburn before marrying Mick, who passed away in 1986. The couple had been married for 50 years.

On Mick's retirement from his job as a motor mechanic -- most of his working life was spent with the Post Master General (PMG) -- the couple moved to Durras on the south coast of NSW to retire.

Muriel cleaned and cooked the fish, lobsters and prawns Mick caught, while also enjoying pressing flowers and making cards.

She said she doesn't have any secrets to her longevity, but a healthy lifestyle, and being grateful for her health and happiness have been a priority.

She likes to say "my name hasn't been called up yet."

Muriel celebrated her birthday with family last Sunday, while a party also was held at Crowley on September 9.

She has 10 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.