10 decades young

Written by Kerrie Alexander

Maud Hatchett has seen some unbelievable events in her 100 years on earth.

Born in Dalby on December 28, 1921, the Centenarian has endured two pandemics, a Great Depression and a Great Recession.

Her generation has witnessed some unfathomable technological advances with the invention of the telephone and aeroplanes ranking high on Maud’s list.

She was 40 when Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon.

It’s incredible to think that this spritely and youthful looking Hervey Bay resident has witnessed all this and so much more.

Maud is simply amazing! She still lives in her own home and has only recently just started getting aged care services to lend a hand.

“I don’t drive but I still poke around the place and do a bit here and there,” Maud said.

“My neighbours tell me they shake their head when they see me doing things outside … I just potter around.

“If I want to do something, I like to do it! I did all my own work up until about 12 months ago.”

Maud grew up on a sheep station in Bilbowa, a country district on the Downs, and later became a dairy farmer.

It was a three-day trip in a horse and cart for her father to do the shopping in Bell and travel back home.

She said life in the country was hard work, but living was simple. Her three brothers and five sisters all had their part to play.

Their hands were the machinery, milking the cows and working from daylight to dark to keep the family farm running.

“We didn’t have milking machines in those days. You had 60-70 cows to be milked and 4-5 people, so all the family had to get in a do their little bit too.”

A vast comparison to today’s generation, Maud said.

“Kids have got no idea these days … when you’re on the dairy farm you work from daylight to dark, and you come in at night and we used to have to find the lamp for light and have wood for the stove.

“Now they just walk in and press a button and they’ve got everything.

“In those days it was hard work. But it was a good life.

“They have everything they want today at their fingertips, but I don’t think they’re as happy.

“We used to go out in the bush, cut down some trees and make some cubbies and make your own fun … kids don’t understand how to do that today.”

Maud was five when she first started school and travelled about six miles in a horse and spring cart, with her nine-year-old brother at the helm.

“How he ever managed that I’ll never know,” she said with a laugh.

“When we left the sheep station and went to the dairy farm (in South Burnett) we used to go in the horse and sulky, walk or ride ponies. That’s the way life was.”

Entertainment for a teenage Maud was going to the dance with her friends which is where she met the love of her life, Stan.

“Those were the good old days when you would go to the dance and have a good old time and socialise.

“All the young ones would meet. They don’t have that now. They have to go to a pub to meet.”

Maud was 19 when the two married and were together for 56 years before Stan’s passing.

“We were only married a few months and my husband was called up to the Army for a bit over two years. When he came out of that we did go back out on the land.”

Having a big family was important to the couple. They had seven boys but tragically lost one son at the age of four.

The boys grew up on several of the family’s farms around the South Burnett including Murgon, where Maud first became a member of the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) in 1964.

Stan also bought a milk run in Murgon, and later in life was the janitor at the town’s high school for 18 years. It was his last job before retirement.

After all the boys grew up and moved out, the couple sold up and moved to Hervey Bay in 1981 and by 1982 Maud was a foundation member of the Urangan CWA.

Her award-winning knitted bed socks will always be a claim to fame, after winning the over 70 section at the Urangan QCWA Knitting, Crocheting, Cookery, Floral Art International Competition in 2007.

Maud is also a treasured long-time member of the Hervey Bay Senior Citizens Club where she has always enjoyed playing cards and table tennis.

“I love the companionship and the pleasure you out of being a member and the handcraft part of it; that was my main interest. You could go away to the other branches and learn different things, it was good fun.”

Maud said she has loved her life as a mother and wife and while she would have loved to follow her dream of becoming a teacher or dress maker, she certainly has no regrets.

“I have had lots of happy times and good times.

“I always hoped and prayed that I would see my family grow up, get married and have a family of their own, and they’ve all done that.

“Reaching 100 is exciting really,” she laughed.

Maud is the matriarch of a huge family with 23 grandchildren, 46 great grandchildren and six great great grandchildren.

“We often laugh about it because they (sons) say look at the mess you made, and I say it’s my family that made the mess.

“I only had the few and they multiplied and multiplied since then.

“I love my family and they’re so good to me! I’m well set up and I don’t worry about anything, I’m happy.”

Despite being 100, Maud also has two older sisters! Ethel is 105 and Edna is 101.

Maud credits hard work on the farm, a healthy lifestyle, and a little bit of luck, for the family’s longevity.

“We never abused our bodies; we always lived a respectable life.

“We’ve never been big drinkers or overindulged in it, or never smoked.

“We’ve just lived a clean life, had good food and exercised outside working on the farm in the fresh air.

“Everything was fresh … today it’s all been stored and its weeks or months old. We used to have all fresh food off the farm and eat it straight away.”

Maud’s milestone birthday was celebrated with a party at the Hervey Bay RSL with over 140 guests, including her much-loved sister Edna.

Mayor George Seymour also celebrated the special occasion with a tree planting in the Botanic Gardens, Urangan, in Maud’s honour.

Congratulations Maud! You are one special lady.