Country girl for 100 years

MAVIS Hall sits on the veranda with the company of dogs, chooks, geese and a solemn grey horse just beyond the steps.

She lives with her son Ted Hall now, but animals and the country backdrop have been a familiar setting for nearly all of her 100 years.

Mavis reached her century on April 21. 

She was the centre of attention for three days, with an evening barbecue on Friday, April 18, a lunch the next day at the Riverside Restaurant in Inverell – with 80 guests attending – and a dinner afterwards. 

Well-wishers travelled from around Australia to share her special day, including a granddaughter who lives on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

Born Mavis Baker, she was the second youngest of six children, and spent her early years in the Hunter Valley.

“I grew up on Beckham, that’s a property on the other side of Murrurundi. My father was head stockman on Beckham until I was 13, and he bought a property at Ardglen, a little place this side of the range,” Mavis said.

Mavis recalled a very different life for children in the early 1920s from those today. 

“From the station we had to walk four miles through the paddocks, through the bush,” she said.

“They had to cross the Pages River and take their boots off, get to the other side and put their boots back on,” her son Ted added.

She relished a life full of animals and riding horses. She learned to sew while in school.

The skill proved valuable as she made clothes for the children through the years and still attends to Ted’s shirts when they need a mend. 

Percy Hall, an accomplished horse and stockman met Mavis and married her in 1934. They would have crossed paths at the country dances Mavis enjoyed.

“Oh yeah, I loved dancing. I really did love it,” she recalled.

The young couple began their married life managing a property near Willow Tree.

“After a time, Percy took a job out west and we left the country of rolling hills, mountains and bush to a very different landscape in Moree. It was quite a change,” Mavis said.

From there, the Halls relocated to the historic Gunyerwarildi Station north of Warialda where Percy worked for 28 years.

They raised their three boys, Gregory, Ted and Bob in the same country life Mavis embraced. 

Once the boys were grown and gone, she and Percy went north, moving to Surat in Queensland.

After about nine years, Percy took ill with a heart condition and Mavis lost him in 1987. 

Her brother in Muswellbrook suggested she make a return to the Hunter Valley. 

Time and circumstance saw Mavis move in with her son Ted 20 years ago, back to the country setting she loved and enjoyed.

Besides some trouble with bending or understandable pains in her joints, she seems much younger than her 100 years.

“I don’t mind being on my own,” she reflected.

“I just want to live quietly.”

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