There is a smile in Catherine Drynan’s voice when she talks about Fairy, the rogue little pony she rode to school back in the day.
Catherine and her big brothers, the late Drew Junior and Brian, all rode their ponies to old Innisplain State School a few miles from the family home.
She still lives in that rambling old Queenslander full of memories, where her parents Drew and Marie came to work on the family farm after they were married in 1929.
Down the road her great grandfather Andrew, who came from Scotland around 1860, is buried at the old Drynan homestead, Telemon Crossing.
Don’t ask Catherine how old she is because she won’t tell you.
What’s unmistakeable is the life she’s lived in her years.
She has endured countless droughts and flooding rains (like Dorothea Mackellar’s iconic My Country poem brought to life) and still loves the land.
As secretary of Rathdowney Area Development & Historical Association, she helps run the visitor information centre and the museum and she earned her Graduate Diploma of Small Community Museum Management at James Cook University in 1993.
Catherine started riding at three, still rides at whatever age she is today and was involved with the pony club for years.
She played interschool tennis locally and at All Hallows boarding school, then in the local ladies’ comp, was a Beaudesert Show flower steward and is in The Perennial Poppies Group for gardening.
Catherine joined the Young Country Party before she was old enough to vote and still has a strong interest in politics, underpinned by family history, growing up with her dad listening to question time on the radio and a sense of responsibility to be involved.
“You’ve got to keep active and interested if you can, physically and mentally,” she said.
“I like needlework, too, but I don’t get time to do it.”
In the late 1960s, Catherine did a two-year working holiday in London.
It was the days of the 10-pound pom, and she did secretarial work in the migration department at Australia House.
She counts her travelling years among the most defining times in her life, but what matters most to her is family, friends and health.
She is proud of her nieces and great nephews and niece – the sixth generation helping on the family property – and she has been shaped by family members no longer around.
“My mother and I nursed my father here, he died in that room, I nursed my mother, who lived to be 100 and died in the next room, and we nursed my brother Brian, who died of cancer. Three of them have been carried out in a coffin from here,” she said.
“You never forget them, do you? But life goes on, you’ve just got to battle on and survive – make the most of what you’ve got. It’d be nice to live to 100. Life is sweet.”