Ken’s 99 reasons to smile

Ken Walker turned 99 two days before Australia Day. Picture: Jon Bassett
Ken Walker turned 99 two days before Australia Day. Picture: Jon Bassett

“It wasn’t as it is today, as mainly the schools used to celebrate it and not the adults,” Mr Walker said.

He celebrated his 99th birthday on January 24, two days before the annual holiday remembering the 1788 arrival of First Fleet into Sydney Harbour, and said he had noticed how the importance of Australia Day had risen “like Anzac Day”.

Mr Walker, who was born in Subiaco 22 months before the 1918 end of World War I, suffered diseases that stopped his schooling, worked on WA railways and served in the RAAF as a sergeant mechanic in Australia and PNG during World War II.

Afterwards, he was a bus driver and inspector before a decade of farming and was a mechanic before retiring in 1977 to care for his first wife.

In 1980, he moved to Mosman Park with his second wife Dorothy.

“Lots has changed, because when I was young, if you wanted to even phone someone, you had to find a phone, which could have been four miles way, and your entertainment was restricted by transport and to walking there,” Mr Walker said.

But he is tackling the computer technology of the second century in which he has lived.

As a founding member of the Mosman Park Men’s Shed, he thas taken his mobility scooter to get to several tutorials at the shed about using a laptop computer given to him by his son-in-law recently.

“But I would say that doing without mobile phones would be better because those phones are a bit of disease, and with some people walking along with them stuck in their ears, I’ve waited on this scooter until they’ve walked into me,” Mr Walker said.

He celebrated his birthday with family, including five great grandchildren, before a Mosman Park RSL-organised celebration the following day and then Australia Day.