STORY OF: Ivan McLucas has farming in his blood

IT HAS been almost 91 years since Ivan McLucas was brought home as a baby to his parents' farm in Wondai.

He was one of four siblings and farming was in his blood.

His dad, William Andrew, known affectionately as Andy, grew corn on the farm and had dairy cows.

His mum, Alma, stood at five foot and half an inch - never forget the half inch, she always used to say.

Her husband, at six foot and four inches, towered over her and she fit under his arm.

They welcomed Ivan on July 14, 1927 - Bastille Day.

His mum was a determined feminist and would put Germaine Greer to shame, Ivan said.

She was a big believer in education and wanted to see young women get the same education as males.

When he was growing up Ivan went to a small one teacher school in Wondai.

But tired of the dry conditions on the farm, the family made the decision to move to Tweed Heads.

It was a decision that would lead Ivan to the love of his life.

Beryl was one of several sisters living on a neighbouring farm and it wasn't long before they were courting.

In the meantime, Ivan had taken a job at the university in Brisbane as a cadet attendant.

Part of the role meant he got his education for free, but university life wasn't for him.

"I let Mum down," he said.

After that Ivan got a job with the American army.

He was 18 by the time World War II finished, too young to fight, but he learnt many things during his time with the American forces.

He became heavily involved in seismology and measuring volcanic eruptions in Japan, which was of particular interest to the Americans because of the impact earthquakes and volcanic activity might have had on Japan's factories during the war.

He learnt how to process the information and was tasked with delivering it to the American embassy if it was especially interesting.

At the same time, Ivan did his training with the air training corps.

He remembers getting the opportunity to ride in an aeroplane - but unfortunately the brakes failed.

Somehow the pilot managed to turn it around before it went into some trees.

When Ivan returned home he and his father decided to go into partnership on a farm and he and Beryl were married.

They tied the knot on April 5, 1947 - his mother's birthday and Easter Saturday.

Ivan has tried his hand at plenty of different farming endeavours over the years, from banana plantations to growing pineapples and along the way he and Beryl had four children, three boys and a girl.

Growing pineapples was a bit more of a challenge than Ivan bargained for.

Homes near his Nambour property had septic tanks and after his first crop started dying, Ivan found that bacteria from the tanks was infecting his dam.

He soon fixed the problem, but said his family only remained there for three years because of what had happened that first growing season.

He and Beryl then bought a banana plantation and semi-retired.

When Beryl's health started deteriorating, they bought a caravan and a four-wheel drive and hit the road, travelling around Australia twice while they could still enjoy it.

Ivan has climbed to the top of Ayers Rock three times, but Beryl only did it once - that was enough, she reckoned.

The couple moved to Tinana where sadly Beryl died five years ago.

But Ivan loves living in his comfortable home and has his beloved rescue dog Missy, a maltese cross, to keep him company.

"It's an ideal place for retirees," he said of Maryborough.

"I couldn't wish for anything more."