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Good wife, long life says centenarian Charles, 102


At 102, Bolton Clarke Baycrest, Hervey Bay resident Charles Roberts credits his long life to “a good woman”.

For Charles, born in the Atherton Tablelands on 26 May, 1917, that woman was wife Isabelle, who he met at a dance in Mareeba and married at 20.

Raised on a farm, he recalls the early days of the tablelands.

“As a child I can remember riding my horse to school every day. We only had dirt roads in Atherton at the time, but there was one mile of bitumen between Atherton and Mareeba,” he says.

“It was a dairy farm, but we also grew tobacco. I left school at the age of 16 to help my parents on the farm – it was very hard work but it was what you made of it. The hardest parts were droving cattle and clearing land.”

In his downtime, Charles enjoyed getting dressed up and rising his horse into town to go to the pictures or a dance.

“Back then we used to get all dressed up to go to the pictures. There was no sound, but someone sat in the corner playing the piano.

“I also loved the local dances – it was two bob to get in and I can remember tying my horse outside the hall for the night and riding home in the early hours of the morning.”

Charles and Isabelle had two sons, and the family eventually moved to Darwin where Charles took up work as a butcher at Woolworths.

He was holiday back in Cairns when Cyclone Tracy hit.

“I was one of the first people allowed back into Darwin after the cyclone – it was such a bloody mess. There was nothing left, you had to see it to believe it,” he remembers.

Charles took a new job as a Housing Inspector, assisting people who had lost their homes and helping them move back in once repairs had been undertaken.

In retirement, he returned to Cairns where he enjoyed a leisurely lifestyle fishing and travelling. He enjoys dancing, fishing and walking and is a talented musician who can play a range of brass instruments.

Charles says living an active lifestyle, eating healthy food and drinking in moderation have helped him stay well.

“I used to enjoy a beer when they were sixpence a pot, but I gave up when the price turned to a shilling. Nowadays I do enjoy a good coffee and they make a good cup of coffee here!”

Charles has lived in Hervey Bay for the past 12 years and enjoyed birthday wishes from his growing family including two children, seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Bolton Clarke’s Centenarian Club aims to honour and record the lives our clients and residents have lived, build their relationships with their communities and each other and reinforce their sense of identity and continuation of their story.