From working with the famous Enigma machine, to celebrating the end of World War II in Times Square and travelling the world at the dawn of the jet age - Mona Swinton has seen a lot in her 100 years.
But it is the time she spent living in Warrnambool that she says has probably been the most enjoyable.
Mrs Swinton will celebrate her 100th birthday on Monday at Lyndoch where she lives in the wing named after her brother-in-law, Keith, who was one of the visionaries behind the aged-care facility.
Born at Waterford, in Ontario, Canada, she moved to New York in 1941 as a 20-year-old to take up employment in a job that required she be sworn to secrecy with.
"In the early parts of the war, there was an ad in the paper for a typist from a government source for a typist to go to New York," Mrs Swinton said.
The ad didn't give any details but as a trained typist, she applied anyway.
"I got the job of course but I didn't tell my mother I was going for the job," Mrs Swinton said.
"She didn't know anything about it until they delivered the passport and all the details with rail tickets and all that on a Sunday morning by express post. Poor mum nearly fainted.
"She accepted it in the end. It was a major change in my life."
The job with the British Securities Office was based in New York's Rockefeller Centre, and it was a role that required employing people from the Commonwealth. So they offered jobs to six Canadians, Mrs Swinton said. "It was a great job working on the Enigma code machine," she said. "It looked like a typewriter, but operated in a different way. The system was made up of five narrow wheels with the alphabet scattered through them. You pressed a key firmly, but another letter appeared in print. It was not speed typing.
"Nobody knew what we were doing. We didn't know what we were doing anyway, just typing. It was like that all during the war."
Life in the centre of New York, she said, was "a wonderful place to be for young people".
"We were well looked after when we got to New York. They put us up in a girls' boarding house which was in the middle of town," she said.
"When I did get a place of my own it was burgled overnight. Somebody broke in and turned everything upside down. So then everybody had to get insurance. That was our welcome to New York."
It was not unusual to see VIPs and actors and Mrs Swinton can list some of the biggest stars of the time - including Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby - among those she would see.
Prince Edward, who had stepped down as king of England to be with American divorcee Wallis Simpson, was also another famous face she would come across. At the time he lived just around the corner at the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel. "There was lots to do in New York," Mrs Swinton said.
Radio City Music Hall was nearby and she spent a lot of time at the Museum of Modern Art which was right around the corner. "We worked and we enjoyed ourselves," she said. But when the war finished, so did her job.
Mrs Swinton managed to stay in New York for another two years after the end of the war.
In those days, unless you got a job with another Commonwealth country you had to go back to Canada, she said. So she took a job with the Australian Mission to the United Nations and then later with the Australian News and Information Centre.
"We used to get news from Australia via the underwater cable and I had to interpret it. It was really difficult," she said. It was while she was working in the Australian office that she met a businessman from Warrnambool - Alec Swinton - who would come to collect his mail.
"He came and got his mail, and then he rang me up to see if I'd like to go out for dinner. So we did that," Mrs Swinton said. "When the war completely finished there was a big celebration in Times Square, so we went to that."
Mr Swinton was only in New York for a few weeks on business, and it would be years before they would meet up again.
In 1947, Mrs Swinton moved to San Francisco to take up a job with a travel agency at the time when air travel was just taking off post-World War II. "I was able to travel quite a bit with that job," she said.
She took "educational" trips to Mexico, Guatemala and Cuba for work as well as several trips to Europe.
"It was still recovering from the war, and there was a lot of damage around, and food was a bit short, especially in England," Mrs Swinton said.
"They used powdered eggs to make scrambled eggs, that sort of thing. But in France, the food was quite OK, there were no problems there."
In 1950, a round-the-world work trip included a stop in Sydney and while there she met up with Mr Swinton again. "That was the beginning of it," Mrs Swinton said.
"I only came to Australia because the Korean War was on. I had planned to go north to Japan, and so on, but because of the war I came to Sydney."
She only spent a few days in Sydney, but a romance was blooming. Mr Swinton visited her a number of times in San Francisco and eventually the couple decided they would "have a life together".
In 1953, they tied the knot in Sydney but moving across the globe away from her family took a bit of getting used to, even for the well-travelled Mrs Swinton.
"That was a shock. The culture was different. I couldn't understand what people said and the money was different," she said. "All things considered, it took a bit of getting used to."
The following year their son Mark was born and they spent years running an orchard near Gosford.
In the 1960s, Mrs Swinton also got her certificate to operate a Ham Radio and even got a licence to fly a plane before her husband did.
The couple retired to Warrnambool in the late 1970s where she devoted hours to volunteering. After only completing fourth year at high school as a teenager, she returned to school in 1980 to get her higher school certificate before graduating from Deakin University in 1986 with a bachelor of Arts and Social Science.
Mrs Swinton helped establish 3 Way FM, only retiring from the airwaves in 2020 at age 98. But she still tunes in to listen. "It was very important in my life and still is actually," she said.
"I was a pioneer for CREW FM in 1984. Our office was in my spare room until we were able to get the use of the dungeon located under the McCulloch and Peters offices, next to the Criterion Hotel."
She also spent a lot of time volunteering at the hospital's diabetes department, was involved in the Warrnambool Field Naturalists and Probus, and did a lot of painting with well-known Warrnambool painter, the late Robert Ulmann. Just last year she gave up driving her car.
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