A FINE CENTURY
Homegrown vegies ‘the secret’ as more reach 100
THE number of Tasmanians reaching a century is soaring — with the state likely to host more than a hundred 100-yearolds in the year ahead.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows there were 95 Tasmanians aged 100 and over this year, and current trends show that will rise to more than 100 in 2019.
Going back 20 years, there were only 37 people reaching 100 or more in the state.
Most of the centenarians are women, with 71 female Tasmanians now aged 100 or more, compared with 24 men.
ABS demography director Anthony Grubb said Tasmania was home to the country’s oldest population, with a median age of 42.
“There are several drivers for Australia’s ageing population — more of the large Baby Boomer cohort is reaching 65 and there has been an increase in life expectancy,” Mr Grubb said.
“This has occurred alongside low fertility rates which have resulted in fewer children.”
For 102-year-old Eva Roland, the secret to longevity remains in the healthy produce grown in her garden.
“I still do the garden by getting down on my knees with a kneeler,” said Mrs Roland, who turned 102 earlier this month.
Her Margate home is also brimming with petunias she planted, although Mrs Roland admits she now has someone around once a week to do the lawns.
Mrs Roland’s energetic life started as a milkmaid on the family farm in Flowerpot.
As the eldest of 13 children, she helped look after the brood, milk the cows and pick the produce. She also had to walk 3km to and from school every day.
These days her failing eyesight means some tasks are getting tricky, but it also means she has little interest in sitting in front of television.
“I can’t see very well so I don’t watch a lot of TV. I potter around and go out in the garden when the weather is good.”
Among the state’s growing tribe of 100-year-olds, the oldest is believed to be 107-year-old Chloe Duncan, from Launceston.
Although Mrs Duncan still lives in her own home, the homegrown vegies fuelling her good health are being grown in the gardens of her family members.
Her daughter Joy Fitch said her mum “still eats well”.
“She used to grow her own vegies, but now we grow her vegies for her so all of them come straight from the garden,” Mrs Fitch said.
“They reckon that’s what’s keeping her going.”
Mrs Duncan has rarely touched alcohol, apart from a tipple mixed with lemonade “once in a blue moon”.
Mrs Duncan, who raised 11 children and has lost count of how many grandchildren she has, was an avid ballet dancer in her youth and sang in a choir.
Mrs Fitch said she hoped her mum reached 108, due on May 27 next year. She said the family matriarch was mostly in bed these days, but still liked to “dress nicely and have a chat”.
South Hobart’s spritely Joan Sangwell turned 103 yesterday.
When asked what it felt like to hit 103 she replied: “It feels like being 73.”
Mrs Sangwell has a daughter, two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.