Mrs Miriam Schmierer is celebrating her 111th birthday in Hervey Bay today.
Mrs Miriam Schmierer is celebrating her 111th birthday in Hervey Bay today. Alistair Brightman

Miriam celebrates 111 years

AUSTRALIA’S first prime minister was still 500 days away when Miriam Schmierer was born on August 20, 1899.

If Tony Abbott can oust Julia Gillard after tomorrow’s federal election, he will become the 28th prime minister to take office during her lifetime which has spanned three centuries.

Now believed to be Australia’s oldest living citizen Mrs Schmierer celebrates her 111th birthday today at Masters Lodge in Hervey Bay, where she has lived since 1991.

During the past 12 months she has slipped inside the top 50 oldest living people in the world, rising from 58 to 49 on the list of verified living supercentenarians – people aged 110 and over.

“But I’m not striving to get there,” she said with a smile.

“I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. I’m nothing special.

“I’ve just tried to live a peaceful life.”

Miriam and Grenville Schmierer moved to Honiton Street, Hervey Bay in 1961 to retire and be closer to their two boys, Austin and Mervyn.

She has outlived all of them as well as the five sisters and three brothers she grew up with at Mount Whitestone, near Gatton.

Her eldest sister Mary put down a marker, living to be 103.

Mrs Schmierer will be joined today by many of her nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

“I don’t know how many there will be.

“I wrote and told them don’t all come at once. Go down to the beach and come up in ones and twos.

“It’s a very big day. I’m just thankful if I’m well enough to get through it.”

She will begin the day, as she begins every day, with “an upward look to our creator”. She believes it is God’s will, rather than any predilection of hers for parsley tea, that has her in such rude health at this stage of an extraordinary life.

She will also have a look through the Fraser Coast Chronicle this morning, another daily ritual.

“I look for the sad stories that have depth of meaning that I can understand at my age,” she said.

“If they are all happy and joyful, I’m out of it. But if there’s trouble, I’m in amongst it.”

She may pause to consider any stories on tomorrow’s election, but if she does so it will not be with any great hope of things to come.

“I used to respect them, and someone has to run the country,” she says of the politicians putting their heads on the chopping block.

Preparing to vote this week, she considered – as she has done all her life – which party was best equipped for the job.

“I think they’ve all run off the track a bit and now it’s out of bounds. It’s too big, they can’t handle it.”

Another landmark birthday for Mrs Schmierer’s will be capped off today when the Salvation Army band arrives at the Blue Care aged care home in Pialba.

The sound of hymns like I’m not ashamed to own my Lord will reinforce the inner peace she exudes, and take her back - across three centuries - to her early years growing up in rural Mount Whitestone.

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