From the Newsroom

Grafton resident George Smith will celebrate his 101st birthday on March 1. Image: Emma Pritchard

101 reasons to celebrate

Emma Pritchard


Holding an assortment of birthday cards from friends, loved ones, local dignitaries, and politicians, including one from the Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese, Grafton resident George Smith is wondering if he will receive one from His Majesty, King Charles III, to commemorate his 101st birthday on March 1.

After receiving a birthday card along with a special message from Her Majesty, the late Queen Elizabeth II for his 100th birthday last year, Mr Smith agreed there are no excuses for the Royal Family not to send him another birthday card this year. 

“I hope they remember me,” he said with a smile.

Born in Strathblane, Tasmania, Mr Smith grew up on his family’s dairy farm, and later worked in the local sawmill, cutting timber boxes which were used to transport the island states finest apples overseas.

Following the outbreak of WWII, Mr Smith, then aged 18, joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), his preference over the army, and served as a Fitter 2E working on Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawks.

He spent two years in the tropics including Morotai Island and Labuan after being posted to North Borneo and recalls the war as being an extremely hard time for many people.

His work with the RAAF saw him posted to different training bases and stations across Australia, including Mildura, where he met his future wife, Joan Epps.

They married in Swan Hill, Victoria, and returned to Tasmania where they raised four children together.

The family later relocated to Lightning Ridge in the NSW outback where Mr Smith dabbled in opal mining, before settling into life in the Clarence Valley 20 years ago.

After Joan passed away five years ago, Mr Smith continued living in his Junction Hill home. Recently, he moved into Dougherty Villa, and enjoys regular visits from his eldest daughter Dianne Dawson, who also lives in Grafton.

In July 2022, he was presented with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) commemorative memento to honour him as an RAAF centenarian, an occasion he described as very special and humbling.

Mr Smith will celebrate his 101st birthday this week with his family and friends at the Grafton District Services Club (GDSC).

He said he is looking forward to catching up with the Clarence Valley Independent again in 2024 for his 102nd birthday.