Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sharing Memories - Aunty Tilly Holman Part 2

Matilda (Tilly) Taylor

In my last Sharing Memories post I wrote about one of my fondest memories of my husband’s Aunty Tilly( Holman nee Taylor)  and promised to share a few more of her stories.  Don't you just love this picture of her as a young girl!
In 1988 our family moved from Queanbeyan, to Port Macquarie, on the North Coast of New South Wales so we were not able to visit Aunty Tilly as often.  However, whenever we drove down to Queanbeyan to visit relatives, we always tried to drop in to visit Aunty Tilly overnight. She always welcomed us with open arms, making up beds and providing us with dinner.  One of my favourite times was when we all sat in her cosy little lounge room, which displayed an extensive collection of royal memorabilia including mugs and plates which featured events such as the royal wedding, coronation and  royal visits to Australia.
Aunty Tilly would settle into her chair with her knitting and with a little encouragement relate a multitude of stories about the times she spend in the bush as a young trainee teacher, or when she went to the opening of the parliament house in Canberra in 1927. She could remember clearly the famous Cowra Outbreak in 1944 when at least 545 Japanese prisoners of war escaped from the prison camp which was not all that far from her home, on the outskirts of the town.
As Aunty Tilly grew older, she would drop off for little micro naps.  My children would giggle in delight as
Family Picnic with Aunty Tilly
they watched her knitting in front of the TV, nod off and snore softly for about 10 minutes (knitting in hand), then wake up and keep on knitting without missing a stitch.
The prospect of travelling large distances was never daunting for Aunty Tilly.  Every year, until she was into her mid 90’s she always joined the annual bus trip down to the Melbourne Cup.  If there was an upcoming family christening, wedding or party she was the first to organise her travel arrangements.  These travel arrangements were not straight forward and usually, included a bus trip, and a couple of train trips. 
In 1996, at the age of 96 the Country Women’s Association (CWA) was holding their annual conference in Port Macquarie.  What a great opportunity! Aunty Tilly called to tell us she was coming up for the conference and could she stay with us for a few days.  Her trip entailed, a taxi ride from her house to catch a 5.30am bus from Cowra to Bathurst (100 kms), where she caught the train to Sydney (200kms), then changing trains in Sydney to travel Port Macquarie (about another 400 kms).
I would pick her up from the train station amazed at how sprightly she still was.  The Conference was over three days, and on the first day, quite a fuss was made as she was by far, the oldest member of the CWA attending.  On the second day I dropped her off in the morning and promised to pick her up around 4.00pm.   At about 3.30 that afternoon, I received a call, it was Aunty Tilly asking if I could pick her up from the Marina instead of where the CWA meeting was being held.  Why I wondered?
To cut a long story short, she had found the second day of the meeting a little boring, so she had walked into town (over a kilometre) to the Marina, and booked herself onto a lunch time cruise of the Hastings River.  “It was such a nice day”, she said, “why should I waste it sitting around in a boring old meeting”.  She had paid her money, hopped on board and enjoyed the hour trip upstream, then when the other passengers got off for a stroll around while the crew prepared the lunch, she had a little nap on one of the seats, arranging for the “Captain” to wake her when lunch was ready.  Yes that was our Aunty Tilly.  Then she was ready for the singing and frivolity on the way back. 

Life was never dull when she was around.


  1. Thankyou for sharing this delightful story of Aunt Tilly. What a wonderful woman and what an inspiration... Catherine.

  2. I am so glad you are enjoying Aunty Tilly's stories. My husband has been sharing them with other family members and they have asked me to tell a few more. so stay tuned.