From Poland to Ipswich: Franciszka turns 100
Sto lat! A woman who survived the horrors of war in Europe, then migrated to Australia, is Ipswich’s newest centenarian.
Carinity Colthup Manor aged care resident Franciszka Wajrauch, affectionately known to her family and friends as ‘Frances’, was born in Dąbrowa, Poland on 1 November 1922.
She was born one day after Benito Mussolini took office as the Italian Prime Minister and one day before Australian airline QANTAS carried its first passenger.
Franciszka’s childhood and adolescent years were spent working on her family farm, tending to their crops and animals. Her favourite activity in her youth was singing in her church choir.
All Polish families were hugely impacted when Germany invaded Poland, triggering World War II. At the age of 18, Franciszka was removed from her family and for many years used as forced labour on a German farm, where she worked from dawn to dusk.
At the end of World War II, Franciszka married Wladyslaw Wajrauch. Franciszka, her husband and their two daughters, Teresa and Irena, migrated to Australia in 1950. They departed Naples, Italy and for one month travelled by sea, finally landing in Newcastle, New South Wales.
The family later made their way to Brisbane and finally settled in Ipswich, living in Riverview then nearby Dinmore.
Franciszka and Wladyslaw had two more daughters, Lila and Krystyna. Ten years after their arrival in Australia, the Wladyslaw family became naturalised in 1960.
While raising four girls, Franciszka also worked fulltime as a nursing assistant. For many years she worked at a hospital in Chermside in Brisbane then at the Wolston Park psychiatric hospital.
With little time to spare Franciszka still managed to enjoy her passion – gardening – keeping a large vegetable and flower garden at her home. After retiring, her passion for gardening continued with the many hours spent outdoors in her garden helping to keep her active and healthy.
Franciszka lived at Dinmore before moving into the Carinity Colthup Manor aged care community in Ipswich last year.
The much-loved mother of four also has seven grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren – with one more on the way.