Cecilia Hynes of Maryborough, 102 years of age, holding a photograph of herself when she was aged 18 years.
Cecilia Hynes of Maryborough, 102 years of age, holding a photograph of herself when she was aged 18 years.

VIRUS CRISIS: ‘We’re tough enough to survive this’

IN 1918, Cecilia Hynes was just a year old, but she was about to live through one of the worst pandemics the world had ever seen.

The Spanish flu came to Australia's shores in the aftermath of World War I.

After losing 62,000 Australians during the war, another 13,000 would die of the flu in about a year.

There was no hand sanitiser then - no big rush on toilet paper either.

But schools were closed, sporting events - if they proceeded - were unattended, and worshippers stayed away from church.

Now, at the age of 102, she is again experiencing the onset of a global pandemic as the coronavirus continues to spread, but her advice is simple - stay calm and stop the panic buying.

The Tinana woman has lived through some of the most difficult times in modern history.

As a teenager in the 1930s, Cecilia and her family battled through the Great Depression.

They didn't own a car until she was 17 years old.

When she was nine or 10, her family moved to Babinda in North Queensland.

"We spent the Great Depression there," Cecilia said.

"We lived on bread and dripping, we had nothing much."

Now, seeing people race to the shops to buy up food, toilet paper and hand sanitiser, Cecilia admits she is baffled by people's behaviour.

"I don't know, I just can't understand why people are doing this," she said.

"They must have something in their mind."

Cecilia said people tried to live normal lives during the Depression.

With no money, there was no opportunity to panic buy and people just concentrated on keeping their families fed and sheltered.

With 14 children in her family, Cecilia said that was quite a challenge at times.

Cecilia hasn't been keeping up with all the news - "because it's too depressing," she said.

But she says she strongly believes people do not realise how lucky they are these days.

"They are very, very lucky, during the Depression it was really bad," she said.

The tough times didn't finish with the Depression.

Cecilia almost died during World War II.

She and husband Tom had eight children, but Cecilia's life was almost cut short after the birth of her second child when she had an ectopic pregnancy.

The World War II was underway and times were tough.

Nurses were few and far between, but Tom sat with her every day as she clung to life.

"I almost died, I spent a fortnight unconscious," she said.

Then, at the age of 94, Cecilia battled bowel cancer and won.

She's survived more than 100 years of tough times and Cecilia still says, "I'm really, really blessed".



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