Michele Shepherd with Jean Dray at the Golden Years birthday celebration.
Michele Shepherd with Jean Dray at the Golden Years birthday celebration.

Pure determination and no men: The secrets to a long life

ONE day Jean Dray woke up and decided she would make it to her 100th birthday and get a letter from the Queen.

Today it is exactly 100 years and one day since she came into the world in Bowen with the name Gertrude Jane Dray.

Her goal has been achieved and she confides she made it to the big day through pure determination - and by avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and men.

"No stress!" Miss Dray said.

"If you put it in your mind, you can do it."

Miss Dray is affectionately known as Jean to her friends and family.

The other secret to a long life, she believes, is goat's milk. Growing up in rural Bowen without cows, Miss Dray and her siblings were raised on the stuff.

Margaret Dray helps her sister-in-law Jean Dray get ready to cut her 100th birthday cake at a celebration on Wednesday.
Margaret Dray helps her sister-in-law Jean Dray get ready to cut her 100th birthday cake at a celebration on Wednesday.

She spent the majority of her life in the Bowen and Proserpine areas.

The eldest of three children, she worked with her parents on their small crop farm. A road in the area was renamed Dray Road because of the family's farming legacy.

Miss Dray retired from farming at the age of 70.

With the belief, hard work never hurt anyone, she would start her working day at 4am, picking produce until the light started to go in the late afternoon about 4pm.

She would then head to the shed and start packing the variety of fruit and vegetables picked.

 

Margaret Dray and Jean Dray celebrate on Miss Dray’s birthday on Friday.
Margaret Dray and Jean Dray celebrate on Miss Dray’s birthday on Friday.

Miss Dray spent her birthday in high spirits even though she was at Mackay Base Hospital, receiving treatment following an earlier fall.

Earlier this week she was wished a happy birthday by friends from the Golden Years group, who organised a party.

Group member Michele Shepherd said guests travelled from near and far to congratulate Miss Dray.

"Mayor Greg Williamson also attended and presented Jean with certificates from Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Governor-General of Australia, David Hurley, the Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey, the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Member for Dawson George Christensen," Mrs Shepherd said.

Jean Dray tastes her birthday cake as she celebrates her 100th birthday
Jean Dray tastes her birthday cake as she celebrates her 100th birthday

The party was held in the QCWA hall on Gordon St on Wednesday, October 30, a few days ahead of Miss Dray's official milestone.

Mrs Shepherd said Miss Dray's family provided information about her life and it was presented to the group.

Shortly after she was born the family moved to Kelsey Creek in Proserpine and purchased a cane farm.

The family later moved back to Bowen to a small crop farm on Bootooloo Road.

Miss Dray became a full-time farm hand working hard with the horse and plough.

She later moved and lived next door to her younger brother, David and his wife Margaret, after the death of her parents.

In 2002 the trio relocated to Mackay.

Since then she has been an active member in Golden Years and still enjoys seeing plants grow and produce - she has a passion for gardening.