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    Janet and Ian McRae, Dimboola, celebrate Ian's 100th birthday.
  • Hero image
    Ian McRae, Dimboola, has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Luck and whiskey keeps Ian McRae going strong at 100 years

By Abby Walter

Dimboola resident Ian McRae says the secret to reaching 100 years is a lot of luck plus a little whiskey each night. 

“I’ve had a very good life,” he said. 

Ian and his family celebrated his 100th birthday and many life achievements on July 19.

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He was born at his home, Leura Park at Wallup, to Alexander and Ethyl McRae and grew up with four younger siblings, Greg, Anne, Ron and Beth.

Ian attended Wallup State School until he was 14, before working on the farm. 

“It was the middle of the Depression and there was no way of getting to the high school and because there were no buses in those days, it was either board in town or leave school, so I left.

“I worked on the farm and drove a horse team in those years; it’s a bit different now because you press a button and the machines pretty much drive themselves.”

At 19, Ian joined the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War.

“I was a pilot in the air force for four years – I never went out of Australia, I trained as a bomber pilot and then I got dobbed in for instructing,” he said. 

“I trained at Noradjuha at first, on Tiger moths, and then at Point Cook and the rest of my training and teaching was at Mount Gambier.

“Now I’m involved with the Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre, and I flew one of the Avro Ansons. I’m the only one around that did, I think.”

When the war ended, Ian returned home to continue working on the farm and married Janet Thomson. 

“The best thing I ever did was marry Janet 74 years ago,” he said. 

“I think the first time I recognised her was when she did her debutante ball at the Dimboola High School, and then we kept communicating during the war. We got married in 1948 and have three children, Robert, Alison and Pam.”

Ian and Janet have seven grandchildren, Cara, Alexander, James, Monica, Julia, Eva and Hannah, and eight great-grandchildren.

“He is the most wonderful husband, now I’ve realised, although I’m not sure I knew the whole time,” Janet said. 

“I would have been in care by now if it hadn’t been for him.” 

Janet said Ian was never one to be idle and was always busy, which is evident in his many years of community service. 

“I spent 21 years as a councillor on the Wimmera Shire and we didn’t get paid in those days, it was just community service,” Ian said.

“I was a member of the Dimboola Rotary Club for 36 years, spent about 24 years on the Dimboola Memorial Secondary College Council and have been a member of the Dimboola Masonic Lodge for 60 years. I’ve always been quite happy to do that sort of thing.”

Ian was a founding member of Wallup Pipe Band and piped for 70 years, until he was 87. 

To round out his years of community service, as a farmer he was a long-time member of the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association and later the Victorian Farmers Federation.

Sport is another love of Ian’s as he played football, tennis and golf, and he still gets out on the bowling green now.  

“I worked the farm and then Robert, my son, took over. I handed it over when I was about 80. I still go out there and do a bit of poking around,” he said. 

“I never miss sport on Saturday. I played football for Warracknabeal and then Wail started a team and I spent one year there and then two years at Kalkee before the rest of my time at Dimboola. I still follow Dimboola and my grandson Alexander plays for Horsham Saints, so I barrack for him when he has the ball and for Dimboola when they have the ball.”

The entire July 27, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire July 27, 2022 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!