AT 105, Warrnambool’s Margaret Cameron jokes she still has “her marbles” and her teeth.
It’s a long way from her early life aboard a ship sailing rough seas at the hands of a drunken crew.
Mrs Cameron emigrated with her family from England at two.
She survived huge storms when the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope on the way to Australia.
The massive swells damaged the ship and her parents had to strap her into her bunk for two weeks in order to survive the rough seas.
The ship’s drunken crew ran their charge aground on Kangaroo Island.
More than a century later, she says the secret to living a long life is: “I have just stayed.”
Mrs Cameron celebrated her 105th birthday on Saturday with three generations of her family at Warrnambool’s Mercy Place.
She said her health was good, otherwise “I would not have got this far”.
Mrs Cameron moved to Warrnambool from Melbourne two years ago to be closer to her son, John.
While he died more than 12 months ago, Mrs Cameron still has other members of her extended family in Warrnambool.
Mrs Cameron’s late husband, Bill, was born and educated in Warrnambool.
Mr Cameron joined the air force in Melbourne and retired a wing commander.
He died in 1960.
Mrs Cameron’s Irish stonemason builder father-in-law, Sam Cameron, built south-west landmarks including Warrnambool’s T&G building and the Mortlake hospital.
Mrs Cameron’s other son, Donald, who lives in Melbourne, said his mother had a “fabulous” birthday party with about 15 relatives and a seafood lunch yesterday.
Donald Cameron said many of his older family members lived beyond 70 and 80, so longevity was in the genes.