Helena Michalik immigrated from West Germany to Coonalpyn – now she's 100

A Resthaven Murray Bridge resident has celebrated a milestone birthday.

This post was contributed by Resthaven Murray Bridge.

Resthaven Murray Bridge resident Helena Michalik has celebrated her 100th birthday on May 12.

Mrs Michalik was born in Siensko, Poland, the eldest of six children.

The family lived on a small farm.

As the eldest child, she would help her mother look after the younger children while she worked in the fields.

She fondly remembers the scenic walks she would take to school and church, and especially remembers walking in the deep snow every Christmas Eve to celebrate mass with her family and friends in town.

At a very early age, Mrs Michalik worked for a lovely family on their farm.

She did everything from milking the cows to sewing, cleaning and cooking, which she particularly enjoyed.

It was on this farm where she met her future husband, Stanislaw, in 1940.

They eventually moved to West Germany and married on June 25, 1945.

A year later, they welcomed the first son, Zbignev, or “Ziggy”, closely followed by their second son, Josef.

In 1951, the family moved to Australia for Mr Michalik’s work, where they were based at the Woodside Army Camp.

Mr Michalik worked in fruit picking in the Riverland before securing a position in the railways.

All the women lived at the camp while their husbands went off to work, and this is where Mrs Michalik welcomed her first and only daughter, Helena, named after herself.

Mr Michalik’s employment with the railways led the family to the South East, where they lived at Coonalpyn for many years.

Mrs Michalik found work in the Coonalpyn Community Hotel as a housemaid.

However, when the cook left “on the spot”, she took over the role and ended up staying in her position for 25 years.

Mrs Michalik’s cooking was admired and appreciated by many during this time.

Mrs Michalik remembers riding her bike to work after the children went off to school, as both she and her husband could not drive.

Many years later, after their children had moved on from the family home, Mr and Mrs Michalik decided to move from Coonalpyn to Murray Bridge, where they could be closer to their children.

She lived an enjoyable life with her husband at Murray Bridge for many years until he passed away.

She remembers loving their garden there and seeing all their grandchildren grow up and play – memories that she will always cherish.

At 87 years of age, Mrs Michalik flew overseas to visit her family in Poland for the first time in 67 years, and also visited six other countries at the time – a proud moment and a highlight of her life.

Mrs Michalik celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by her children and grandchildren at Mannum.

She was thrilled to receive her letter from the Queen, and looked forward enjoying another year at Resthaven Murray Bridge.

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