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Capacity to connect with people from all walks of life

Obituary: Alannah McDonald - Mother, daughter, counsellor, procurer, vet, chief organiser, accountant, gardener, to name just a few. She was the rock of the family.

LIBBY PRICE July 24, 2014 4:00pm

Alannah McDonald with husband Ian and sons Willima (left) and Hamish.


Even from birth, Alanna McDonald was full of surprises.

In 1956 her pregnant mother Lois was told by the local doctor she was ‘too fat and eating too much’.

The next day her expected third child, Jo, was born.

Twenty minutes later, along came Alanna.

What a beautiful surprise.

When enrolling the twins at Mortlake State School in 1961 it was suggested the girls jump a grade, to which the headmaster stated, ‘‘twins are generally not as bright’’.

The next year both ended up jumping second grade.

Alanna won two Mortlake and district sports trophies before moving to attend Clyde Girls Grammar School in 1969.

She matriculated in 1973 with second and third class honours.

She was also sports captain and received school ‘colours’ in tennis, netball and athletics.

Alanna was accepted into Lincoln Institute to study physiotherapy in 1974 and began her professional career with St Vincent’s Hospital in 1977.

She left with the reference that she was ‘‘intelligent with an attractive personality and an excellent rapport with patient and staff alike’’ — characteristics that personified her approach for the decades that followed.

Her son, Will, said she was everything her three children could have asked for in a mother: ‘‘... a trusted confidante, an astute advisor and the best person to share a story and a laugh with.’’

‘‘Her capacity to connect with people from all walks of life was truly remarkable.’’

A trip to the physio to see Alanna was also an appointment to receive life counselling and have a friendly ear to talk to.

Alanna’s great passion was always music and in particular singing.

She was very talented and whenever a guitar appeared, there was Alanna.

More recently she and daughter Katrina sang at the wedding of son Will to Anna last September.

Alanna met her future husband and life partner, Ian, when they were both at university.

After graduating they married in 1981 and lived in Melbourne before leading a ‘nomadic’ life at 10 different addresses in 15 years including north Queensland and Papua New Guinea before finally settling at Bungeet in 1992.

Another love of Alanna’s was the olive grove she started planting in 2000 which was to become Boosey Creek Olive Oil.

It won ‘Best Oil in Show’ at the Australian Golden Olive Awards in 2011 and has since won numerous awards.

Alanna worked as a physiotherapist in Benalla for 21 years until she was diagnosed with terminal bile duct cancer last year. She passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on July 3, 2014.

Son Hamish remembers she never had a bad word to say about anyone.

‘‘She was a people person and she only saw the good in people. That was just her, she was so positive.

‘‘How lucky we were that (grandson) Jack was born three weeks early ... he was such a lift to her and a welcome distraction.’’

Husband Ian described her as ‘‘the fabric that held everything together. Mother, daughter, counsellor, procurer, vet, chief organiser, accountant, gardener, to name just a few.

‘‘She was the rock.’’

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