SOME people have never heard of Cobar, in the state’s far west.
Neither had Lilliane Brady before she moved there in the late 1960s.
Now, some 50 or so years later, the 87-year-old is celebrating more than 17 years as the local mayor – making her the longest serving female mayor in the state’s history.
“When I first came to Cobar, I didn’t want to get out of the car,” Lilliane said.
She moved here with a young family after her late husband Alan secured a job as the local GP. Lilliane only expected to stay 12 months, but instead stayed for more than 50 years.
“It’s a long time to stay in a town you only planned on staying in for 12 months.”
“I told him to stick it, I’ll build a facility.”Lilliane Brady.
Nevertheless, in 1974 she ran for council election after a man in his 80s was transferred from the local hospital to an aged care facility in Orange, five hours away. He died alone.
“I went to see the hospital CEO, who told me it was policy,” she said.
“I told him to stick it, I’ll build a facility.”
Lilliane began lobbying the federal government for grants and spearheaded extensive fundraising efforts in the community with the Cobar Geriatric Committee and Cobar Geriatric Care Committee.
The hard work paid off. In 1982, Lilliane Brady Village opened as a 14-bed nursing home with nine self-care units.
Since then it has grown into a 34-bed not-for-profit facility comprising a hostel and a nursing home, plus there’s a multipurpose health centre connecting the village and the hospital.
Lilliane said it’s the community that has made it such a successful and high-class facility by reaching into their pockets and donating hundreds of thousands to the cause.
“In the same year, the community raised $104,000 for the hospital, $66,000 for the village and $70,000 for Relay For Life,” she said.
“The community give their hearts to anything you put on. That’s what I love about it.”
In recognition of her work, Lillian was presented with a Local Government NSW Lifetime Achievement Award – the first of its kind ever presented.
“It was the biggest surprise,” she said. “When they were presenting it, I thought they were presenting it to the mayor of Walgett.”
Lilliane will stand for mayor again in this month’s mayoral election, but plans to retire before the next local government poll in 2020.
“I want to relax, lay in bed a little longer, do my gardening, join a few clubs. I have two racehorses down in Victoria that I haven’t even seen.”
“The community give their hearts to anything you put on. That’s what I love about it.”Lilliane Brady
She also plans to spend some more time with her three children and four adult grandchildren.
“Whenever I’m in Sydney, I go out with my granddaughters. Nan goes out for a drink and has a night out with them.”
When she does finally hang up her mayoral chains, Lilliane plans to stay in the town she loves so dearly.
“Where would I go? Cobar is my home.”
But before she retires, Lilliane has a list of things she’d like to achieve for Cobar, including new water pipes for the town, sealing the road between Cobar and the village of Louth, and extending the water pipeline from Nyngan.
“Our drinking water is brown. It’s disgusting,” she said.
She’s also helping to run a ball that will raise much-needed money for drought-affected farmers and is organising the Grey Mardi Gras festival, a dedicated event for baby boomers planned for next April.