Plenty of kick left in Pony at 100 years old
TURNING 100 years old was never going to be an excuse to sit back and relax for Emu Park's Ethel Brady (affectionately nicknamed Pony) who has led a colourful life of adventure and has always had other people's interests at heart.
Ethels latest venture was to rally for a bench seat across the road from her home in Granville Street, Emu Park for weary walkers to rest.
At her 100th birthday, rather than buy presents, Ethel asked her family and friends to donate money to be used towards the cost of the bench seat she has wanted to see installed for years.
Last week Livingstone Council confirmed the new bench seat had been installed and as an added surprise, a plaque will be erected to honour Ethel, the lady who rallied for the installation for people to use when they need to take a break from walking up the hill.
Born on October 26, 1919 in Rockhampton, Ethel first caught sight of her future husband who was a dance instructor, at a dance while she was looking over her dance partners shoulder and was smitten.
"There was a song I fell in love with you while looking over someone else's shoulder and for us, it told our story," Ethel said.
Ethel married her sweetheart Edward Brady in 1936 and the couple lived happily together for 64 years before Edward died in December 1999 after a long fight with cancer.
They had three children and now have five generations of descendants living and passing on their legacy.
In the early 1960s the family moved to Emu Park to a set of units before settling in to Ethel's current home which was the old Emu Park Railway Station moved to its current site.
The feisty 100 year old had a colourful life before marriage, taking three-month long holidays on North West Island, a coral cay in the southern Great Barrier Reef, located 75 kilometres northeast of Gladstone, living off seafood and dried bread.
"My sister and I used to holiday over there in a shack near the old lighthouse," she said.
"No one actually lived on the island, so it was quite primitive. There was an old turtle station there, we once tried tin turtle soup, but it was green and didn't smell very good.
"I was a good swimmer back in those days and sometimes acted as hostess on the boats. I would look after the guests then when I was finished, I would dive off the side of the boat and swim back to the island.
"The skipper pointed out one day there was a huge hammerhead shark alongside the boat, and I think he was there waiting for me, so I didn't do that again."
While Ethel chose to be a stay at home mother for her children, she worked whenever the family needed extra money and held numerous positions including children's nurse, typewriter mechanic, fruit picker, travelling salesperson for a dress material company and was a forewoman at the Rockhampton Golden Circle Cannery as well as being a Patron of CWA in Rockhampton.
She was also an experienced seamstress which came in very handy in later years when she discovered a love of travelling.
"I love travelling especially on cruise ships, when the children were old enough, I began taking cruises with anyone who would join me. My husband had no interest in travel, so he stayed home and ate cheese," Ethel said.
"I've been to Bali, Suva, Thailand, New Zealand, the States, Bora Bora and have taken cruises around Australia.
"I've seen an avalanche in Bora Bora and I've seen the aurora borealis (The Northern Lights) which was beautiful.
"I would still love to do a cruise in Europe around Italy and Greece, but the insurance gets a bit expensive when you get older."
Ethel collected sarongs during her travels and made them into adorable dresses when she came home which she still wears to this day.
During the war and for some time afterwards, Ethel said Emu Park had three hotels and two dance halls.
She loved to dance and often went out with her sisters. After a full evening of dancing they would slip down to Emu Park Main beach and strip off for a swim when no one was around.
It was just one of the fond memories she shared of a lifetime of experience.
While Ethel is very happy to have the new bench, seat installed for weary walkers, she is not done yet.
"I would love to see council open up the walkway across the road that is now overgrown and unused," she said.
"It is a gazetted walkway that would save people living in neighbouring streets a shortcut to the beach.
"My children and grandchildren used it for years.
"Over the years it has fallen into disrepair so before I die, I would love to see our Council cut the foliage back and reinstate the walkway."
Livingstone Cr Glenda Mather said Ethel is a wonderful example of what you can achieve in life when you look after yourself and others and that is what she has been doing her whole life.
"Ethel Brady is very astute lady with a heart of gold and a good sense of humour," Cr Mather said.
"This lady asks for nothing and has given her all, caring about others.
"Living across the road from where the bench seat was installed, Ethel has observed how difficult it is for people to take a break from the long haul up the hill.
"She told me she has watched for years as people struggle to make the walk, get halfway up and need to take a break but there was nowhere for them to stop and sit to get their breath back.
"In past years when she noticed people stopping for long periods of time, she would offer to drive them home.
"This is a lady who is a fine example of being a community champion."
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said she was very pleased to be able to help facilitate the installation of the bench seat together with her very generous friends and family and Councillor Glenda Mather.
"Mrs Brady has reached an incredible milestone in her life and what better way to celebrate her achievements over her life than a bench in a lovely spot for locals and tourists alike to sit and enjoy the view," she said.
A plaque will be installed at the seat to commemorate Ethel (Pony) Brady.