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One Gympie family proves – good things come in fives

Beryl Hoolihan and Karyn de Vere (at rear) with Iris Atkinson and Emma Novak holding baby Amelia Novak.
Beryl Hoolihan and Karyn de Vere (at rear) with Iris Atkinson and Emma Novak holding baby Amelia Novak. Renee Pilcher

"I'LL need more than that - I'm celebrating!" Iris Atkinson laughed as she was offered her regular two tablets of medication at St Patrick's Villa this week.

The celebration was all about a very important person in her family, six-week-old great great granddaughter, Amelia Sofia Novak.

The occasion brought together five generations in a female line that includes some of Gympie's best known surnames and which stretches back to the early years of the Twentieth Century.

Guest of honour was little Amelia, probably the only one in the room who did not get the joke.

She was also the only female at the gathering with dark hair.

"That's her daddy's hair," her mum, Emma Novak said.

"She's got his family's blue eyes too," she said.

Iris, whose family pioneered the Gunalda and Glenwood areas, was born in 1919, the year Gympie welcomed the boys' home from the First World War, when Bert Hinkler paid a visit and the year electric street lighting replaced gas in Gympie.

"We had kero lamps at home then," she said.

She witnessed the Great Depression, the Second World War, many droughts and floods, the advent of television, the visit of pioneer aviator Bert Hinkler, the invention of mobile phones, computers, the jet engine and just about everything else we take for granted now.

It was an era of horses and carriages, very few automobiles, no home refrigerators and very few telephones, even of the landline variety.

But on Tuesday she had a much more significant event in which to participate.

She held Amelia, barely six weeks old, for the first time.

Sharing the moment were her daughter, Beryl Hoolihan, granddaughter Karyn de Vere, and great granddaughter Emma Novak, along with husband Paul.

All the women were born in Gympie, except Emma and Amelia, both of whom were born in Brisbane.

"I moved to Brisbane two years ago, met Paul, married and had a baby," Emma said, summarising her life quite briefly.

"She's a really good baby too."

Iris was one of 10 children, but the only one to survive, due to the tragedy of the then-unknown Rh factor, a blood condition which can make a mother's immune system attack her child.

"We didn't know much about blood conditions then," she said.

Amelia was born in the Mater Mothers, Brisbane.

Topics:  family generations gympie

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