Former Bermagui lass celebrates 100th with family

ON SUNDAY, Isabel Ida Parkins (nee McIntosh) of Maranatha Lodge, Batehaven, will celebrate her 100th birthday surrounded by five generations of her family at a function to be held at Catalina Country Club.

Isabel was born in the family home in George St, Bermagui, on March 2, 1914.  

She was the only surviving child of James Alexander and Mildred Mary McIntosh. 

Her parents had a general store in Lamont St, Bermagui.  

The first shop was on the western side of the street and after this store was destroyed by fire (around 1935), another store was built opposite.  

Today that building and the home in George St are still standing.

When Isabel was seven years old, she had a mastoid ear problem and her father had to “rush” her to Sydney, which meant a hire car from Bermagui to Moruya, connecting with a bus approximately 4am to Nowra, then a train to Sydney arriving in the evening.  

It was not until the next day that a specialist was able to be consulted and then an emergency operation performed that afternoon.

Isabel attended primary school at Bermagui and secondary school at Homebush High School in Sydney.  

She was boarded with an aunt and became very close to two of her cousins, Mildred and Gwen Lake.

During school holidays she returned to Bermagui, usually by train and bus.  

The return journey to Sydney was mostly by steamer and as she suffered with sea sickness her father would put her to bed before the ship left the Bermagui wharf and there she’d stay until the ship entered Sydney Harbour.

Isabel married Arthur Parkins (from Tilba Tilba) in 1936.  

They had three daughters – Rosemary (Smith), Diana (Hill, deceased) and Gay (Lane).  

Early in their married life they lived in Dandenong, Milton, Leongatha and Dandenong where Arthur was a cheesemaker.  

Isabel often tells of the difficulty she endured to return to Bermagui from their second stint in Victoria to visit her sick parents. 

As it was during the war years, Isabel and Arthur couldn’t use their private car due to the rationing of petrol, unfit tyres and very bad roads. 

So, it was a four day trip. 

Day one was a train to Bairnsdale; day two a bus to Cann River; day three a bus to Eden; and day four eventually to Bermagui.  

Not an easy trip alone with two young children in tow!  

Eventually, Isabel and Arthur returned to Bermagui to care for her mother, after her father and an aunt had predeceased the mother. 

Arthur took up a position at the local boat building yards, before they took over Isabel’s father’s general store.

In 1965, Arthur and Isabel decided to leave Bermagui to travel and work around Australia, but they only got to Cooma, Moruya and Batemans Bay, where they settled and purchased a home.

Their daughter Diana passed away on February 14, 1971, and Arthur passed away on January 20, 1974. 

Isabel remained in Batemans Bay and has been a resident of Maranatha Lodge for the past six years.

Isabel has witnessed massive change in Australia during her 100 years, in particular witnessing the growth of the South Cost of NSW, and still takes pleasure in catching up on the news in the local papers.  

All in her family are grateful for her very long memory of the goings on in the district from times past and regularly pass on questions from others in the area to settle queries.

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