Elyn Young

Elyn Young, Bargain Centre
Elyn Young, Bargain Centre

“Why do you want to interview me?” questions Elyn Young modestly.

The pragmatic 93-year-old may not be quite the oldest resident on the mountain, but she’s got to be one of the most active – zooming along on her red scooter.

Elyn has been living on the mountain for 64 years, since leaving the family farm in Millmerran in 1960 at the age of 30 to work at St Bernards Hotel.

“There were only 1500 people on the mountain. St Bernards was the hub of the place and buses came every Wednesday from Brisbane for lunches,” she says.

St Bernards was also where she met her husband, Dick Young. Despite Dick being 23 years older they fell in love and they married in 1962. 

“He was greenkeeper at the bowling club. He used to come to the hotel, and we’d date,” Elyn recalls.

Dick was a prisoner of war in Changi and on the Burma railway. Doctors told him he’d never have children when he came back from the war but, 12 months after tying the knot Elyn was thrilled to discover she was pregnant, giving birth to their only child, Lois Rose.

She and Dick grew flowers and sent them to florists. Initially she picked other people’s flowers and then they bought some land at the creek on Curtis Road and grew dahlias, bedding carnations and bulbs.

“It was hard work,” Elyn recalls. 

Their weekends were spent playing bowls and going to church.

She belonged to the local choir, eventually becoming the choir mistress as well as organist at the Presbyterian Church for 25 years.

Her love of singing, inherited from her parents, has remained. Every Monday night she joins the Gospel Choir and loves performing with them for Tamborine Mountain State School’s Big Night Out as well as travelling around for other performances. 

Forty-two years ago, Elyn was one of the original women to start the Bargain Centre on Main Street.

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday she hops on her scooter, which she got two years ago after her neck became too stiff to drive and travels the 20 minutes there to continue her work.

“A lot of the men said, ‘you won’t do any good’, but now we have too much,” she said of the success of the centre.

“It’s good companionship and I get to see everybody. People call me by name, and I haven’t a clue of theirs half the time.”

Sadly, Dick caught a bad winter virus in 1982 which left him an invalid, on oxygen 16 hours a day and in 1985 he died in the ambulance on his way to hospital.

“It wasn’t very good, but I got up and kept going. I had things to do, I was in the bowling club, and I had church,” Elyn said phlegmatically. 

Living on the mountain has been good to Elyn, who particularly loves the climate.

However, she notes it’s those coming from the city that have no idea what rural life is like and then want to change it, that upsets her.

And her secret to living into her 90s – “not sitting down and doing nothing,” she states.

She likes a lot of sugar in her tea and when people remark she brushes them off: “It hasn’t done me any harm so far”.

“I like meat and vegetables and eat a lot of fruit, nuts and ice-cream.”

“Getting older doesn’t bother me. I never think about it. I carry on regardless.”