A FINE CEN­TURY

Home­grown ve­g­ies ‘the se­cret’ as more reach 100

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - ANNE MATHER

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.

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