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Centenarian celebrates 100 years with a long view of declining dairy, drought, and strong Biggenden community

Nicole Hegarty, Sunday October 20, 2019 - 15:21 EDT
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Four generations of the Seymour family gather in Biggenden to celebrate Ivy's 100th birthday. - ABC

With a strong dairy industry, no mobile phones, and more horses than cars, life was a lot simpler in 1919 when Ivy Seymore was born in Biggenden.



A lot has changed since then — including 24 prime ministers — but Mrs Seymore has been a constant in the North Burnett town.

One of 15 children, she is today celebrating becoming a centenarian.

Surrounded by hundreds of loved ones in a function room at the local pub adorned with flowers, balloons, and photos, she recalled the challenges of drought for her family of diary farmers — a familiar struggle for many today.

Biggenden, three-and-a-half hours drive north of Brisbane with a population of 845 people, is experiencing yet another drought declaration .

For Ivy it is a familiar story, having grown up milking 100 cows before school on her family's Mount Steadman property.

"You get a lot of droughts and it knocks you back and you've got to get back up again," she said.

"It was hard. We'd just pick up after one drought and we'd get another one. It'd knock you, and you had to build up your stock again."



Mrs Seymour said she's worked hard during her life on the land but the dry weather of today is not too different to that in past years.

"We still have the droughts, we still have the floods," she said.

"You can't drop your bundle. You've just got to keep plodding along."

Challenge of survival 'part of joy on the land'

Third generation Biggenden grazier Malcolm Beresford, married to Ivy's granddaughter Sharon, said Mrs Seymour has lived through some of the biggest changes to the region.

"The family is four or five generations in the area so a lot of people have neighbourly connections — sport and dancing," he said.

"There was our local butter factory here. Everyone lived on a dairy farm of 160 acres, 200 acre blocks. They all milked cows and separated cream, then it went to milk supply.

"Now there's only one dairy farmer left in the wider region.

"It's the hardship of life. The family farms are becoming a thing of the past. But part of the joy of being on the land is the challenge of surviving."



Next generations continuing proud legacy

Malcolm's son and Ivy's great grandson Hayden Beresford inherited Mrs Seymour's love of the land and animals, winning more than 80 ribbons for showing cattle.

As Ivy celebrated 100 years, he recalled her dedication and interest in cheering him on from the sidelines at show events.

"She's been there every time for me. She watches me show cattle and parade them around," he said.

"Gran's given me pointers of what to do and basically I learnt from her what she's done with the cattle. It's helping me out a lot."

She was equally proud of all two children, eight grand children, and 11 great grandchildren.



Great grandson Brody Lawrence said Ivy had a huge influence in shaping the person he had become.

"It's very special to have her around and having been such a big part of my life at sport events, music events, and graduation," he said.

"It's always great to have family around, and as a great grandmother that's been something very special that not everyone has.


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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