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BIOGRAPHY

Ruljančić was born on the island of Vis, Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia (then Austria-Hungary), on 14 June 1913 (claims 13 June). She had two brothers. During her early childhood, her family’s vineyard fell victim to a disease called phylloxera, which wiped out the grapevines that had been the source of their fine livelihood. With their income gone, her family relocated from their vineyard residence to a secluded hamlet known among its residents at the time as Lorca. She began attending school at the age of 7, walking eight kilometers in both directions every day. During the island’s occupation by Italy after World War I, the schoolchildren were compelled to learn Italian. In protest, she refused to eat pasta.

At the age of 19, she married Ivan Ruljančić, who had returned to his native Vis after six years away in Western Australia working in the forests as a tree feller. In 1944, during World War II, the British forces decided to evacuate thousands of residents of the Croatian islands to a refugee camp in Egypt, via Italy. The couple and their two young children, Dinka (Dinah) and Ivo (John), found themselves at the El Shatt refugee camp. Following the war’s conclusion, the family made the choice to immigrate to Australia, arriving on 8 February 1946. Their intention was to travel to Fremantle, but the ship changed its course, ultimately leading them to arrive in Melbourne. Their third child, a son named Kevin, was born in 1949.

Her son Kevin was the founder of Melbourne Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. At the age of 110, she had eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren. She passed away on 18 May 2024, aged 110 years, 339 days.

RECOGNITION

On 16 April 2021, following the death of 107-year-old Marija Bibulić (born 5 June 1913), she became the oldest (known) living Croatian-born person in the world.

On 26 January 2024, following the passing of 111-year-old Catherina van der Linden, she became the oldest living person in Australia.

ATTRIBUTION

GALLERY

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