Former Lithgow resident Bernard 'Barney' Williamson celebrates a century of life

JUST LIKE YESTERDAY: Bernard 'Barney' Williamson said he doesn't feel any different turning the big 100. Photos: SUPPLIED
JUST LIKE YESTERDAY: Bernard 'Barney' Williamson said he doesn't feel any different turning the big 100. Photos: SUPPLIED

CELEBRATING a century of life.

Former Lithgow resident Bernard 'Barney' Williamson, who now lives in Muswellbrook, turned the big 100 on Tuesday, October 12.

As part of his milestone the Lithgow Mercury reached out to Barney for an insight on how one makes it to the triple digits.

"I'm a very relaxed and laid back person, I don't get uptight about things," he said. Perhaps that's the secret to a long, fulfilled life. Although age might just be a number because Barney said he doesn't feel any different.

"I didn't think I'd make it to 100 but then again I don't feel any different actually, the years went pretty quick," he said.

His life advice is to "not get upset about things," which for most is easier said than done. "Try not to get uptight, take each day as it comes and try not to worry. Just face each day and don't go on about things," he said.

While Barney may seem like he's lived a stress free life, there's no doubt that he worked hard over the years to make a living.

He was born in Wellington in 1921 and lived in Orange where he grew up. At 26 he was forced to travel around for work which led him to Lithgow where he worked at the State Mine, planting coal roads for 10 months.

Little did he know that coming to Lithgow would be the start of his life when he met his wife Olive in 1947.

"She was working in the dining room at the hostel on Musket Parade where the workers lived. I met her there and we got married in 1949," Barney said.

"My mate John married her sister too and we became brother-in-laws," he said.

Barney said he has fond memories of the people he worked with in different jobs around the area.

"I helped build the Wang powerhouse and then that finished and I got a job at the gas works for six months," he said.

"Then that was finishing up so I went all over Lithgow looking for a job and about 4pm one day I thought I'd give the Council a go. When I went to the Council the overseer was there. He said 'Where have you been? You were supposed to start here this morning'."

For 23 years Barney worked on Lithgow Council where he started as a labourer and later a backhoe driver before retiring at 65.

"I moved out of Lithgow when I retired and went down to Bargo for three years and moved back and forwards between there and Lithgow doing some backhoe driving for another guy," he said.

Barney has since been living in Muswellbrook with his brother-in-law and daughter Laurel for the last three years. His other daughter Penny remains living in Lithgow while his son Bernard resides up the coast.

Who had it tougher?

Barney entered the world following the Spanish Flu and while he's too young to remember what happened, he said he'd never seen anything like the current COVID pandemic. "It's hard to say because I've never seen anything like it but I still believe people in my day had it more tough. People today don't realise how hard it was. I remember when I was growing up and how people lived in tents along the railway track," he said.

Despite hardships Barney said he has enjoyed good things and good times in his life.

"A lot has changed over the years, I grew up with a horse and cart and eventually cars. My first car was a 1929 Essex. The biggest highlight for me was getting married and having three kids and being able to see great grandkids," he said.

He hopes to reunite with his family and have a big 100th birthday celebration now that lockdown has lifted.

Barney said he likes to spend his days watching old programs on the TV. "I'm not into technology very much, the only thing I use is a remote," he laughed. "I'm still in good health, just my mobility isn't the greatest but my mind is still good and it's nice to have memories."