Anna Durbridge may be in her mid-60s, but age hasn’t prevented her from learning how to drive a tractor, operate a bobcat and get down and dirty in the gardens with her fellow horticulture students.
Anna is one of horticultural studies most enthusiastic and talented students, her qualities endorsed with a sense of admiration by course coordinator Scott McDonald.
‘She’s brought a level of enthusiasm and commitment to her studies that has become an inspiration for other students,’ he says. ‘It’s wonderful to have someone like Anna in the course.’
Anna initially decided to enrol in a few VET units because she and her husband had retired to an eight-hectare block at Lambell’s Lagoon, 60 km south of Darwin.
‘I wanted to know about the best types of plants to put on the block, and how to look after the land,’ she says.
What started as a few hobby classes has blossomed into full-blown enthusiasm for horticulture, with Anna this year studying both certificate II and III.
‘The knowledge I have gained has been fantastic,’ she says. ‘The course points you in the right direction and makes you think carefully about what you are doing in the garden or on the land.
‘Whenever I’ve wanted to learn more I’ve borrowed tapes and videos and got on the Internet – there’s so much to learn if you really want to.’
Anna plans to continue her studies next year and complete more advanced courses in land care and management.
She says working with younger students has also given her a sense of their own commitment to hard work and study.
‘I don’t think we would have a lot to worry about with young people if they all worked as hard and got along as well as the kids in horticulture,’ she says. ‘It’s been fun working with them and a pleasure to come to classes.’
Anna says she has long been interested in land care and was planting trees on her property in Alice Springs four decades ago – ‘before it became fashionable’.
She also worked as an administrative assistant in Nhulunbuy for many years, and retired to her Lambell’s Lagoon property a couple of years ago.