Nicholas Andrew’s neighbours reckon if he planted a tree in his concrete driveway it would flourish. That is how much of a green thumb he is.
Nicholas, who is 100 years old, has transformed just about every inch of soil on his town block in Beaudesert country suburbia into a thriving fertile garden.
Inspired by the life he led in Greece, his home country, he grows grapes and olives, mangoes and pecans, peaches, grapefruit, mandarins, lemons, limes, custard apples, tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, capsicums, watermelon, figs and more.
Vitality courses through Nicholas Andrew’s 100-year-old veins like the pot of freshly brewed coffee his wife, Elissavet, sets down at the dining room table of their Beaudesert home.
There are biscuits, too, and spanakopita filled with fresh greens and feta, all baked with love by Elissavet.
It is no secret in the Andrew household that Nicholas loves to eat, grow and share good food.
This might be a key ingredient to the centenarian’s longevity, as well as the fact that he doesn’t smoke or drink and he goes to bed and wakes up early.
He loves to read, and Elissavet has at least one recent video of him dancing with gusto.
Nicholas’s wholesome way of living stems back to his youth in Cyprus, where he was born on 22 August 1921 and grew up as one of 10 children in a farming family.
His mother spun clothing out of silk for her children, they made their own olive oil and he worked with his father as a blacksmith servicing local farmers.
In 1948, Nicholas flew solo to Australia, travelling by plane from Cyprus for six days and leaving the political unrest of his home country behind.
His paperwork was lost along the way and the Australian Government gave him a new birthday of 9 December 1921, which is still on his Australian passport.
“When I came to Australia I brought with me silk shirts, not this blooming nylon,” he said.
“I couldn’t speak one word of English, but I went to sleep dreaming in English.”
He worked at a coffee shop in Newcastle then moved to Sydney and opened a convenience shop in 1955 and a coffee shop, which he called The Coffee Club, in 1959. Through his hard work, he earned good enough money to drive a Chevrolet Bel Air.
Eventually, Nicholas bought a property with beautiful views at Worongary, east of Canungra, filling his eight acres with 22 fruit tree varieties and tending to it for 30 years.
When the time came to shift to a smaller property five years ago, Nicholas and Elissavet chose Beaudesert.
“It’s nice and quiet here and we have good neighbours, especially Glen and Valmai (Mackney),” he said.
Nicholas, who has two children and four grandchildren, said he was making the most of turning 100 by celebrating his two birthdays – his real one, and the one given to him by the Australian Government.
“Nothing wrong with that,” he chuckled.