Giralang resident marks 100th birthday

Triple figures: Sheilah Barrie with a photo of herself when she was 21. She will mark her 100th birthday on July 22. The Giralang resident has lived in Canberra since 1925. Photo: Andrew Brown

Triple figures: Sheilah Barrie with a photo of herself when she was 21. She will mark her 100th birthday on July 22. The Giralang resident has lived in Canberra since 1925. Photo: Andrew Brown

Sheilah Barrie can remember back to a time when Canberra was just a “little, friendly, country town”, and when you had to use dirt roads to get around.

The Giralang resident has been a part of Canberra life since she first arrived in the nation’s capital in 1925.

While Mrs Barrie has seen many milestones play out in Canberra during her more than nine decades in the ACT, this week she will a mark a milestone of her own, celebrating her 100th birthday.

She will mark the occasion on July 22, although she said she doesn’t feel any older.

“I feel just as old as I did when I turned 90,” she said.

“It’s just another birthday.”

The celebrations will among family and friends at an event at Old Parliament House, including her two children, five grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Her 100th birthday won’t be the only significant event Mrs Barrie will see at Old Parliament House, she was there for its opening in 1927.

“The whole school went to the opening, it was a very big occasion,” she said.

“The Duke and Duchess of York came and drove around Canberra in their carriage.”

Mrs Barrie was also among the first intake of student at Ainslie Public School, where she was classmates alongside a future Prime Minister.

“I was in the same class as Gough Whitlam. He was a very tall, sort of clumsy looking boy,” she said.

It wasn’t the only encounter with a Prime Minister the Canberra resident would have, sharing a car ride to Sydney with John Curtin.

“My husband was a ministerial car driver, and I accompanied him on a trip to Sydney, and John Curtin was in the car,” she said.

“He was a very nice man. He asked would I like to stop to get coffee, so we stopped in Yass and I had a coffee with the Prime Minister.”

During her time in Canberra, Mrs Barrie worked as a waitress at the Hotel Kurrajong, as well as a dressmaker alongside renowned designer Effie Makin.

The biggest change to Canberra over the years, she said, has been the number of new houses and suburbs that have sprung up in recent years.

“When my husband built our home in Reid, it was a beautiful big block. Now there’s all these houses jammed in together,” she said.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop