A HEALTHY diet of fresh fruit and laughter are what keeps Argyle Gardens' newest centenarian going.
Thelma Davies celebrated her 100th birthday with more than 100 guests and fellow residents at the village on November 29 and she's rarely seen without a smile on her face.
Before moving to Bundaberg 18 years ago - where her son Brett and his wife Ally live - Thelma and her late husband Lloyd were mayoress and mayor of Kadina, South Australia. They were highly regarded in the community and mixed with the likes of former premier Don Dunstan, Brett said. Lloyd died in 1979 but Thelma remains upbeat and lively, despite being a little hard of hearing.
She grew up on a farm in Kadina as one of seven girls, and still has many memories of the small town. As a youngster Thelma would walk to school on a dirt path between towering wheat crops.
"We walked across paddocks to a little country school. We had to start early because they'd have to have so many students or they'd close the school down - so I started before I was five."
"One day a snake somehow got into the school room and ooh, all the kids jumped up on the desks. We used slates to write on, and one boy brought it down on the snake's head and killed it."
Some of her fondest memories are from her teenage years.
"The days when I played tennis, golf and vigoro. I played a lot of sport."
These days she enjoys scooter rides near her home, relaxing on her balcony and reading, and maintains a healthy diet. She has never smoked and rarely drinks alcohol.
"I love fruit - real fruit, not stewed. I have fresh fruit every morning for breakfast.
"Stay away from any strong drinks, smokes, and anything that's going to bring your reputation down," was her word of advice for a long and dignified life.
And how did she feel about hitting a century?
"Wonderful. I'm not ready to kick off from this world yet."