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Eleanor (Lin) McSwan of Mareeba Aged Care, Maclean, celebrated her 100th birthday on Thursday September 13, surrounded by her family and friends. Image: Lynne Mowbray.

Another one joins the club

Lynne Mowbray |

Mareeba Aged Care resident Eleanor (Lin) McSwan celebrated her 100th birthday on Thursday September 13, surrounded by her family and friends.

Eleanor said that she was born in Walcha, near Armidale on the tablelands.

“I came to Maclean when I was first appointed as a teacher at Maclean District Rural School in 1940,” Eleanor said.
“I was married in 1945 to Colin McSwan and had three children (one boy and two girls).
“I taught for a few years before having my children and then went back to teach history at Maclean High School from 1954 to 1972, when I retired,” she said.

One of Eleanor’s young students was Ken Done, who went on to become an internationally renowned Australian artist and designer.

Eleanor proudly produced an autographed book of Ken’s and painting of a beautiful flower arrangement, created especially for her by Ken for her 100th birthday.

One of Ken’s artworks also features on the dustcover of one of Eleanor’s books which was published in 1992 for the Maclean District Historical Society; ‘Maclean – the first fifty years 1862-1912’.

Because of the connection with Ken and Maclean, the historical society contacted him to do the illustration for the cover.

“He did that for free and didn’t charge us anything,” said Eleanor.

Over the years Eleanor’s passion for local history saw her become a foundation member of the Maclean District Historical Society, where she helped to establish the Maclean District Museum.

In 1986, Eleanor was awarded Maclean Shire’s ‘Citizen of the Year’ for her work in undertaking research for the Maclean District Historical Society and an OAM in 1995, for her ‘Services to Local History’.

Her dedication and passion to local history has seen Eleanor write many books over the years, pertaining to the different aspects of our local history.

Eleanor said that she did it for the love of it.

“It’s a thing I liked doing and enjoyed doing,” Eleanor said.“It was no burden doing it and I wasn’t doing it to make money; it was more for the benefit of local history.
“I’d done history as a major at university and it came in handy and I enjoyed doing it,” she said.

As she celebrated her 100th birthday Eleanor said that she was quite surprised that she didn’t really feel any different.

Eleanor said that she attributes her longevity to just a couple of things.

“I think it’s the result of a better diet and good medical treatment,” she said.

Famous Australian artist and designer Ken Done send his former teacher Eleanor McSwan these special gifts for her 100th birthday. Image: Lynne Mowbray.