Vale Olive Riley, the world oldest blogger

The SMH farewells Olive Riley of Woy Woy, who at 108 was the world’s oldest blogger. Riley was born in Broken Hill before Federation, saw the entire twentieth century, and has lasted a good few years into the twenty-first.

She blogged at Life of Riley, then at World’s Oldest Blogger.

Here is one of Olive’s vlogs, where she tells the story of getting home from work only to find her mother studiously ignoring her child who was crying from earache. She took her son to Norwood on a bike to see a doctor. She was particularly worried because her sister Emma died from an earache. Working mothers, sick children, childcare issues: some of women’s problems are eternal, though the details have changed.

Snippets of recent written posts:

On The Road

I tried me very best at school to be a good girl, but I used to play up sometimes. We had a big maypole, and we used to dance around it, and had a jolly good time.

Then we’d march inside and have lessons. Us girls were taught home science, sewing and cooking, writing and sums, and the boys learnt woodworking, metal work and useful things like that.


My mother said to me “Why don’t you do something sensible?” I didn’t even know what “sensible” was. She said “You’re too stupid.” She took me out of school when I was 12, and I had to go and earn a living.

The cooking lessons helped me find work as a station cook in western Queensland, and the sewing lessons came in handy when I had to mend my own kids’ clothes in later years.

A Wagga Blanket, from her Depression posts, found at

To make a Wagga blanket, this what I imagine you’d do from what the book says. First, collect the following; flour sacks, newspapers and sewing gear.

Cut the sacks and lay them out flat the size of a double bed. Sew the sacks together to make one piece of rouch cloth. Make a similar piece for the top. Now, lay newspapers on the sewn sacks.

Next, make balls of newspaper and spread thickly on the flat papers. These balls should be close spaced. Add another layer of newpapers and then the other sack quilt for the top

Sew the whole sandwich together, being careful that the paper balls do not all bunch up in the same place and that’s a Wagga blanket.

And an extract from the film “All About Olive” by Mike Rubbo.

More of Olive’s vlogging can be found here.

Categories: gender & feminism, history

Tags: , ,

3 replies

  1. She’s a very good example of how keeping mentally active in learning something new keeps the mind sharp as it senesces. [link]

  2. Her story encourages me to continue blogging. I hve started a blog to really highlight the accomplishments of african americans in Missouri, but I really feel that my voice needs to be heard more. She has inspired me. Sadly, I am not able to get to her blog today because they either took it down or the bandwidth has overwhelmed their servers.
    But thanks for telling her story here.
    My blog is Black Missouri

  3. Thanks, Hoyden for a very full report on the amazing Olive who’s left us so sad with her recent passing.
    i thought she’d make 110. Indeed, when we were in Broken Hill, NSW, making her movie, All about Olive, I saw some olive trees juts newly planted. I asked th guy watering them when they’d bear fruit.
    In 2010 he said. Hey, Ollie I challenged her. You’ve got to come back these Olive. She laughed and said. “Not likely, mate.”
    But I always beliedved she’d taste them at least.
    If I hadn’t gone off to Europe and left her blog-less, for 2 months (I, being the one who typed, photographed,and movied for her) she might have carried on, or so I like to think.
    Well keep th blog going for a while, hoping that people will send in stories of their own Oldies. Mike, her helper

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