Lillie Hyde – Lil – has just celebrated her 100th birthday and she says the key to living to the milestone age is eating good plain food.
For someone that has just turned 100 – Lil is in very good health and shape. Less than a year ago she was still mowing her own lawns at her home in Waitara.
"The time just went by and I never really thought about turning 100 until it happened," says Lil.
"But I am healthy enough I suppose, and I've never really been sick in my life, I put that down to eating good plain food."
Lil turned 100 on Monday, September 21 and celebrated with a party at Windy Ridge Tapas Bar and Eatery on the following Saturday surrounded by nearly 40 of her family members.
She had one condition in place though that everyone had to strictly abide by.
"There were to be no presents, what would I do with a big heap of presents? I really couldn't think of anything worse," says Lil.
Lil was born in Herberton, Queensland, Australia in 1920 and grew up on her parents',
William James Carrick and Mary Sanders Rankine, farm in Ravenshoe.
She left school when she was 14 and worked on the family farm. When she was 18, she worked as a waitress at a hotel in Ravenshoe for a couple of years and then at another hotel in Innisfail.
It was in Innisfail that she made a really good friend, Dot, who talked her into moving to the mining town of Mt Isa.
"I met a girl from Mt Isa and we become really good friends. When she was due to go back home she asked me to go with her and that's how I came to live in Mt Isa," says Lil.
"She said to me; you'll find Mt Isa very interesting. I think she said there were 500 men to every woman."
Finding love in Mt Isa wasn't hard for Lil.
She started working at King Hyde's Boarding House and in no time at all she found herself in love with her boss's son – a miner and a Kiwi.
Douglas (Doug) Vickery Hyde courted Lil by taking her riding on his motorbike up to a dam; they married in 1942 and had their two eldest children while still living in Mt Isa and
before accidentally emigrating to New Zealand in 1946.
The story goes – Doug wanted to show Lil New Zealand and have her meet his family. They never intended to stay.
However, in those days – the days where there was no air travel, you paid for you fare at the wharf and so Doug had a lump sum of money to do just that.
That is until he lost all the money – the day before their planned departure.
"He thought that he'd just go to the races the day before and try and triple it, but he lost it the lot. By the time they had enough money to go back they had decided they liked it here and wanted to stay," says Lil and Doug's youngest child Ngaire Neill.
They spent their entire working life in New Zealand farming and sharemilking across Taranaki and moved back to Mt Isa briefly in 1975 after they had retired.
They moved back to New Zealand in 1977 and bought a house in Waitara and she lived here up until last December. She then moved to Ōhaupō to live with Ngaire.
She was widowed in 1995 after Doug suffered a heart attack.
They had five children, who age now from 70 to 79 years old and are all alive and well, and all up they have 11 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.