Shirley Tweedie has long been told you’re not a local in Batemans Bay until you’ve lived here for 50 years. If that’s the official metric, Mrs Tweedie can now officially call herself a local.
Shirley, who turns 90 this year, celebrated her half-century in Batemans Bay with an afternoon tea at the Olive Tree organised by her daughter Jane.
Mrs Tweedie and her late husband George arrived in Batemans Bay on January 12, 1969 with “an old beat-up caravan, a second-hand car, and $100 in the bank”.
“My husband was in a building business that fell apart in Sydney in 1968, so we were bust at the time,” Mrs Tweedie said.
“We pulled up into main street across from the real-estate agent, and a builder there by the name of McKenzie gave my husband a job straight away.
“Another chap there owned a caravan park, so we got a job and a place to stay almost straight away.”
She said the town had changed a lot in her 50 years here.
“There was only one doctor in town back then, and we didn’t have the pictures,” she said. “If we wanted to do a proper grocery shop, we’d have to drive to Nowra.”
Mrs Tweedie is one of the founding members of the Batemans Bay Quota Club in 1974, a club designed to help the local community in any way they can.
“Robin Innes started the Quota Club, and four of us here are foundation members,” she said. “I still catch up with them every month or so to play some cards.”
Mrs Tweedie said it took her a couple of years to like the area, but a serious illness made her realise the benefits of living in a small town.
“Two-and-a-half years after we moved, I got very ill, and I was taken to a hospital up in Bulli,” she said. “I got so many get-well cards, there must have been more than 20. That kind of thing would never happen in Sydney.
“The Bay has been very good to me. We started from nothing, and now I’ve been here for 50 years.”