A Woolgoolga wish comes true as Elma Miller, 106, enjoys ‘bucket list’ meeting with alpacas

Born in 1916, Elma Miller has experienced a lot, from the Spanish flu to COVID-19, numerous wars, four kings and a queen, and the advent of modern computers and mobile phones.

But despite being an avid knitter throughout her life, the 106-year-old has never met an alpaca — until recently.

“She has always been fascinated with aspects of wool and just decided she has never seen one and wanted to know all about them,” said granddaughter Kerry Miller.

Always keen to make wishes come true, Kerry traveled from Victoria to band together with family and Elma’s local community at Woolgoolga, New South Wales, to tick the item off her bucket list.

Elma Miller smiles face-to-face with an alpaca holding a bucket of food
Elma Miller was overjoyed to meet two locally based alpacas.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

‘Kissed by an alpaca’

Elma’s reaction included both shock and joy.

“I love them. I’d like to take one home, but we’re not allowed animals [in the nursing home]” she said.

“They are such gentle creatures.”

She said at “106 and three quarters”, being kissed by an alpaca was “something strange”.

“I’ve never been kissed by an alpaca before,” Elma said.

Kerry said her grandmother’s reaction made the operation to find an alpaca all the more rewarding.

“At 106 who can deny a wish? I just tried to make it happen.”

Lady holds two alpacas on a lead.
Alpacas Millie and Joc were gentle as they met Elma Miller.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

Kerry said she had no idea where to find an alpaca and put a call out on social media.

“[These] wonderful ladies answered the [post]” she said.

“They’ve got a two-month-old and nine-month-old.”

‘Pure happiness’

Family gathered from near and far to grant Elma’s latest wish, including her great granddaughter Darcy Heffernan, who described it as “pure happiness” to see the special request come true.

“I haven’t seen her in three years because of COVID and I’ve moved up north [to Queensland] for university,” she said.

“This is something she has wanted to do for a long time.”

Elma Miller's family smiles at the camera, while she is busy feeding two alpacas from her wheelchair.
Elma Miller’s family visit from across Australia to surprise her with two alpacas.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

‘I wanted to cry’

Kerry said she wanted to cry in response to Elma’s excitement at getting to pat an alpaca for the first time.

“It’s great … and the community here is beautiful for supporting it,” she said.

“Everything has come together really well.

“She is not overwhelmed at all, as you can see, and it keeps her mind active.

“It’ll give her something to talk about for months now.”

Elma will turn 107 next March, and Kerry says her plan is to reach 110.

“We haven’t seen the wish list for that one yet,” she said.

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