Retired farmer Eddelbert ‘Bert’ Heidrich was the star attraction at a party 100 years in the making today.
Born on December 21, 1920, Bert celebrated his 100th birthday with more than 40 family and friends, including his wife Alice, 90, and their four daughters at Bundaberg Services Club.
The event held a certain element of surprise for Bundaberg resident Bert who, although expecting his family to gather for the occasion, did not know he would be greeted by such a large group of friends.
Among them were a group of tennis friends as Bert, incredibly, remained a regular on the court until leg pain forced him to give up the sport at the age of 99!
Bert’s daughter Linda Quinnell said, aside from the leg ailment and being a little hard of hearing, her father was healthy and remained active, still living at the Bundaberg home he and Alice retired to in 1988 and indulging his love of gardening.
“He always loved tennis and gardening and he still does the gardening, growing his beans and lettuce,” Linda said.
“He uses a walking stick now that his leg’s gone a bit and he’s going deaf, but he doesn’t take any pills or have any prescriptions and he still doesn’t need his glasses to read the newspaper if he’s in good light.”
Bert was born on the Gurgeena Plateau, located between Mundubbera and Gayndah, to parents Johannas and Sophie (nee Kasberger) who married in 1919.
Johannas arrived in Australia with his parents, sponsored immigrants from Germany, at the age of 12 in 1909 and Sophie, born in Austria, arrived in the same year.
Bert went to school in Gurgeena, either walking or riding his horse for the 1.5-mile (2.4km) journey each way, leaving at the age of 14 to work on the family farm, milking cows, clearing scrub and completing other general farm work – all unpaid work until he 21 years of age.
Bert and his brother Erich took over the running of the farm when their parents moved to Bundaberg in 1949, replacing dairy operations with agriculture, growing mostly peanuts, corn and milo.
Bert and Alice, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2018, moved to the rum city from the Binjour Plateau, between Mundubbera and Gayndah, where they had owned a cattle farm since 1974.
Tennis has played an important role in Bert’s life, having played since courts were built at the Gurgeena school when he was 21, joining the Mundubbera club in 1954 and then linking up with the Bundaberg Tennis Club upon his move to the city.
He and Alice have five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Linda said Bert, a keen fisherman and traveller, who was also adept at making and fixing all manner of things, attributed his longevity to a nip of Bundaberg Rum daily and enjoyed Cadbury’s chocolate and sweet desserts.