Robe local Vic Dawson recently celebrated reaching his 95th birthday, which he humbly describes as a “milestone”.
He credits his age to a reasonably good diet of dairy foods, some meat including the “humble rabbit”, plenty of fish and lobster.
“It is quite an achievement of course, I’ve had a fairly good life, I put it down to being out in the healthy air in the country,” Vic said.
“I never smoked and I drank in moderation. I like to get out into the sunshine and have always been a bit keen on gardening, I think having contact with the soil is very good for one’s health.”
Vic played a little bit of football, cricket and golf, but the love of his life as far as sport is concerned is lawn bowls.
“I took up lawn bowls very early in life at the age of 26, which was an unusual age then, I’m reasonably recognised as a fairly good bowler around the South East,” he said.
He volunteered for World War II, but they didn’t allow him to go. “It might have been very fortunate of course that I didn't go,” he observed.
Vic has a wide group of family and friends, with 32 people celebrating his birthday at the Lake Butler Marina.
Vic said: “Some people think I’m going to make 100, well that’s still quite distant yet, another five years but a lot of people are quite amazed at how well I look. That’s my good fortune I suppose. Many people when they first see me don’t believe I am in my nineties.”
Vic’s father lived to 99, and his older sister went to 102, so longevity runs in the family.
“My dad never married until 29 which was thought quite advanced in years, my eldest brother didn’t marry until he was in his fifties. I didn’t marry until I was 40, my family are late starters. I married a lady with four children so I had four stepsons and had a married life of 43 years.”
Vic grew up at in his family home at Bellview and attended Robe Primary School until grade seven where he received his qualifying certificate and a 91 per cent mark.
After he left school the division of the animal nutrition in CSIRO became interested in investigating “coast disease”.
Stock grazing on coastal pastures would become unhealthy, “after a while the animals just sort of became unthrifty,” Vic said.
“The animals had to be moved further inland to graze on healthier country.
“CSIRO officers became interested in talking to my father and he was prepared to help them with offering part of his property and cooperating with any trials that they might like to do.
“I was doing the bookwork when I left school, I started off recording the weekly report. We tried different mineral elements and we found out that the missing elements, trace elements of cobalt and copper, were the primary cause of why the sheep didn't survive along the coast.
“We learnt that copper was responsible for correcting the deficiency and also played a very significant part in improving the quality of the wool. The old ‘coasty’ sheep produced more or less straight and stringy wool which lacked crimp and character.
“We were successfully able to establish that when the animals became healthy and survived, they increased in size, they increased the wool production to about double and the value likewise was double, which meant a great financial benefit to anybody able to run the stock.
“The early settlers had found very great difficulty in surviving and earning a living because they didn't understand why their stock became unthrifty after around three to five months, that is all they could exist without a change to country inland.”