Meet the granny with 98 kids
HAVING nine children, Elizabeth Williams always knew she would have a big extended family - but 98 grandchildren?
Yes, you read right. This long-time Coffs Harbour resident has almost 100 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren and it doesn't look like slowing down any time soon.
The newest edition to the family is just two weeks old.
“I have 30 grandchildren, 56 great grandchildren and 12 great great grandchildren,” Elizabeth said.
“Sometimes I have to try and remember their names, sometimes I get them mixed up.”
That's not the only thing that is exceptional about this proud Coffs Harbour woman. Elizabeth has lived in the area her whole life and even though she is almost 100 years old, she still prides herself on being independent.
Born in Bellingen on her family's farm, Elizabeth attended boarding school in the area until she was 16. She then moved to her home in Coffs Harbour and has been there for 80 years.
When she moved to Coffs Harbour there was no Jetty Strip, no cafes, and no take-away shops.
“When I first came from boarding school I was learning to play the piano, I used to catch a taxi down the road (Harbour Drive) and there were no houses or anything - it was just bushland,” Elizabeth said.
“There were a couple of shops and a bank, it was beautiful in those days, you could just go down the street and leave all your doors open.”
It was during these days Elizabeth met her late husband, Bob. The pair settled and it was in the very house she still lives that Elizabeth gave birth to four of her nine children.
“There was no maternity ward at the hospital back in those days,” she said. “I was lucky I didn't die, they found out later I had septicaemia but I got through it.”
The young family lived through World War II and the Depression, making do with what little they had.
Bob worked for the Government while Elizabeth was busy rearing their children and working in the domestics department of the old Coffs Harbour Base Hospital.
When the children grew up and left home, Elizabeth did her best to help them out. After 24 years at the hospital she left her job to help her daughter in a corner store.
She walked to work every day.
“I counted it; I actually walked up and down that hill (Victoria Street) for 70 years!” she said.
Perhaps that's contributed to why she is so fit and spritely now. Elizabeth says nothing more than hard work has kept her so lively.
“We always worked hard, that's what we knew. Rearing nine children you had no conveniences. We used to carry water from a well down the road to do the washing,” she said.
Now, Elizabeth spends her days with her huge family, even though not all of them live in the area.
“I still have up to 14 kids around every Sunday for morning tea, we sit around and talk and the little ones play outside, it's lovely,” she said.
“I love Coffs Harbour; it's a beautiful place to live.”