Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Daphne's as fresh as a daisy

Seymour resident turns 100 in style.

CHALPAT SONTI May 8, 2014 3:42am

Daphne Burge turns 100.

A quite common feature of people turning 100 is that they look and act much younger, and that is certainly the case with Daphne Burge.

The Seymour resident brought up the milestone on Friday, and even if she wouldn’t say so herself, she has led an eventful life. And she’s still full of life and spirit.

‘‘I’m not the sort of person that wants a fuss but this has come and I’ve had to put up with it,’’ she said.

The ‘‘fuss’’ included cards from the Queen, Prime Minister and local members of parliament, a celebration at Seymour District Memorial Hospital’s planned activities group and an afternoon tea party at the senior citizens hall on Sunday.

‘‘If I had known this was all happening I wouldn’t have had it. Why make a fuss over a person this age?’’

Mrs Burge’s most remarkable achievement is possibly that she still lives at home and is fiercely independent. A pet bird ‘‘Burgey’’ keeps her company.

‘‘I still like to do things for myself,’’ she said.

‘‘I won’t give up living at home. They’ll have to drag me out. Why not stay at home as long as you can, I feel all right.’’

The day before she turned 100 there was the celebration at the planned activities group, something that meant much to Mrs Burge.

She and late husband Terry started going to the Day Centre, as it was known, in 1983 as volunteers. Mrs Burge took some time off after her husband died in 1999 and then returned to the group as a client — she still goes three times a week.

‘‘That’s part of my life and they are like family,’’ she said.

‘‘Going down there means more to me than anything. I started off working among the oldies and then became one myself.’’

Mr and Mrs Burge moved to Seymour in 1981. She was born a premature twin (just 1.36kg, or 3lb) in Henty, NSW, in 1914. One of a family of 10, she and twin sister Evelyn were partly cared for after birth by two older sisters who were married and had families of their own.

They were kept in boxes near a wood-fired stove to keep warm. When she was 11, her mother died, followed by her father seven years later. But not before an eventful trip to Queensland.

Mrs Burge helped her dad drive north in a Model T Ford to see an older sister who lived in the outback. It was rare for a woman, and especially one so young, to be driving, and there were no made roads and clumps of prickly pear everywhere.

The trip passed almost without incident, except for when her father tried to crank up the engine one day.

‘‘It backfired and sent him flying backwards into a prickly pear,’’ Mrs Burge said.

She got all the way home again without anything going wrong, until she got to her front gate, when she crashed into the strainer post.

‘‘Dad wasn’t very happy about that,’’ she said.

Mr and Mrs Burge had three children, two sons and a daughter and Mrs Burge now has eight grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren and is well and truly settled in Seymour.

‘‘I’m very happy in Seymour, I suppose that’s why I’ve lived a long while,’’ she said.

‘‘There are no other secrets (to longevity), I’ve got a good family, that’s what I can say, and I work on that too ...’’

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