‘Get out and en­joy life’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

Mar­garet Quigley is a very fa­mil­iar face in Moss­man, Wonga and Port Dou­glas and is very happy she has made her home here, as she tells

Born in coun­try Vic­to­ria in 1934, Mar­garet spent her early years on her fam­ily’s wheat farm just out of Horsham in the Wim­mera. She at­tended a 14-stu­dent school at Green­land Dam.

‘It was a lovely life be­ing brought up on farm,” Mar­garet said, “and the best fun was when vis­i­tors came out from Horsham and we would play in the swamp, get­ting my best dress all muddy.”

“My fa­ther’s health was poor so we moved into town where I fin­ished my school­ing and my first job was with the of­fice of the lo­cal news­pa­per.”

Whilst liv­ing in Horsham, Mar­garet was to meet her first love, Bob, a lo­cal welder and they were mar­ried in 1953.

“Why he re­ally took my fancy was be­cause he loved to dance and he danced re­ally well,” Mar­garet said.

They would go to the weekly lo­cal dance held in the Scout Hall and then their daugh­ter Dianne came along.

“We moved out to the fam­ily farm and after my hav­ing to milk our small dairy herd twice a day, it be­came ap­par­ent that Bob was no farmer,” she said, “so back to town we went.”

Although it was not a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence for mar­ried women to work in those days, Mar­garet yearned some in­de­pen­dence so she suc­cess­fully ap­plied for an of­fice job for the For­est Com­mis­sion.

“They weren’t re­ally sup­posed to em­ploy mar­ried women, so they put me on as a ca­sual and I was still a ca­sual 20 years later when I left.”

Mar­garet be­came in­ter­ested in the per­form­ing arts scene in Horsham, was ap­pointed to the in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee for the Horsham Eisteddfods and was soon in­volved in the lo­cal the­atri­cal group, mak­ing cos­tumes and help­ing out back­stage.

“I didn’t per­form on stage much how­ever I was needed in the play Aun­tie Mame where I had to ma­noeu­vre Aun­tie Mame’s wheel­chair.

“Lit­tle did I know how slop­ing the stage was and the wheel­chair started to roll down to­wards the edge and I al­most lost the lead­ing lady,” she laughed.

Un­for­tu­nately the mar­riage to Bob ended and, as their daugh­ter Dianne wanted to pur­sue a hair­dress­ing ap­pren­tice­ship, Mar­garet and Dianne moved to St Kilda in Mel­bourne.

“St Kilda was a bit racy but we didn’t live in a ‘red light’ street,” Mar­garet said.

Mar­garet had got a trans­fer to the Mel­bourne of­fice of the newly named Con­ser­va­tion, For­est and Lands Depart­ment where she looked after the ad­min­is­tra­tive side of the fleet ve­hi­cles.

“We would send old 4WDs from the bush to the Com­mon­wealth Auc­tions in Tot­ten­ham, 9km from the city,” she said, “and we used to make sure they trav­elled in con­voy in case one of them broke down.”

Mar­garet next went to work for the Valuer Gen­eral’s of­fice and she met her next hus­band, Bobby. “We were to­gether for over a year be­fore we got mar­ried in 1983, and on our wed­ding day he men­tioned his throat was burn­ing. It wasn’t long after that they di­ag­nosed can­cer and we only had four years to­gether and he was such a lovely man – a real softy.”

They had moved to Oak­leigh where Mar­garet con­tin­ued to live there and work for the Valuer Gen­eral.

In those days women could re­tire at 55 so Mar­garet de­cided that, as she had lots of things on her bucket list, she would re­sign.

“I started to buy a few prop­er­ties to rent out which gave me a nice in­come.”

“I have most of them still,” she said, “and one ten­ant has been with me for 25 years.”

By now Mar­garet had three grand­sons and she was a reg­u­lar at the Mel­bourne the­atres, en­joy­ing any­thing from opera to mu­si­cals, from dra­mas to bal­let.

Even­tu­ally Mar­garet met Joe and whilst hol­i­day­ing in Port Dou­glas, es­cap­ing the bit­ter Mel­bourne win­ter, he an­nounced “I could live up here” to which Mar­garet replied, “So could I”. They had a look around for a suit­able house and found the ideal home in Wonga.

They moved in 1996 and within 12 months of mov­ing here, Mar­garet was a mem­ber of the Moss­man branches of Red Cross and Meals on Wheels.

“It was a great way to meet peo­ple – that and go­ing to the Red­backs Ho­tel at Wonga Beach which is sadly no longer here.”

Mar­garet has be­come one of the trea­sures of the Shire and at 82 years of age, she has enor­mous energy which she de­votes to Red Cross, the Can­cer Coun­cil and the Moss­man Com­mu­nity Centre.

She re­mains a keen the­atre­goer and fre­quents The Clink and the­atres in Cairns.

She loves her three dogs, lun­cheons, clothes, shoes, and jew­ellery. Mel­bourne Cup Day Lun­cheons of­ten fea­ture Mar­garet re­ceiv­ing ‘The Best Dressed’ prize or, this year, ‘The Most El­e­gant Woman’.

As an oc­to­ge­nar­ian, Mar­garet has had a full and var­ied life and can speak with some ex­pe­ri­ence about the se­cret of a long and happy ex­is­tence.

“I en­joy a very busy so­cial life,” she said, “and it’s up to you to get out and en­joy life and seek com­pan­ion­ship.

Mar­garet Quigley, and (in­set) at her wed­ding in 1953

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