91-year-old macadamia farmer opens up about changing careers at 70

A 91-year-old macadamia farmer who went back to TAFE in the early 2000s after being made redundant from his sales job says he is not retiring anytime soon.

Henri Bader wakes up at 6am every day to tend to his Northern New South Wales crop of 25,000 macadamia trees.

Moving to Australia from South Africa when he was 50 years old, he worked in sales for an animal stock feed business until he lost his job at 70.

A 91-year-old macadamia farmer who went back to TAFE in the early 2000s after being made redundant from his sales job says he is not retiring anytime soon. (NBN)

"They were taken over by a major company, and then my services were no longer required," Bader said.

So, at the age most people are retiring, Henri went back to his farming roots.

"The message that I have is that it's never too late to do anything," he said.

Purchasing a farm at Knockrow in the Northern Rivers, he decided to grow macadamias.

"People thought I was completely haywire," Bader told 9News.

That's when he decided to embark on a new path, attending TAFE by night, while working at the farm which he'd bought by day.

Being the oldest student in the classroom didn't deter him.

"For two years, I went to night school in order to find out what I was meant to be doing," he said

The parcel of land was completely bare when he first arrived more than two decades ago.

Bader now manages 25,000 macadamia trees, producing 250-300 tonnes of nuts each year.

He even took up pilates, which he attends religiously twice a week, to keep himself fit for farm duties.

Henri Bader wakes up at 6am every day to tend to his Northern New South Wales crop of 25,000 macadamia trees.
Henri Bader wakes up at 6am every day to tend to his Northern New South Wales crop of 25,000 macadamia trees. (NBN)

"You must not allow your body to tell you what to do, you must tell your body what to do because your body doesn't want to do anything," he said.

Bader says it's never too late to start something news, and believes following your passion is key.

"Make a small step, get up on the first step, and then you're already halfway there…because you will find all the little steps along the way," he said.

"And eventually if you have a plan, a destination and a passion, you will follow your passion, and everybody can succeed… even an old farmer at the age of 92 can succeed, because that's what I did.

"People ask me, they say to me, 'well, Henri at the age of 92, don't you think you should be taking it easier?'.

"And then my answer is 'why, why should I take it easier?'.

"I take it in my stride, rather than easier, take it in my stride… and I do the things I enjoy doing and those things don't tire you."

Henri's story shared in short film

To mark International Day of the Older Person on October 1, Henri was approached by Feros Care to be featured as part of their Fearless Film series.

"It was something out of the dark" he said.

His driver was helping elderly people realise their full potential.

To mark International Day of the Older Person on October 1, Henri was approached by Feros Care to be featured as part of their Fearless Film series.
To mark International Day of the Older Person on October 1, Henri was approached by Feros Care to be featured as part of their Fearless Film series. (NBN)

"If it's going to help old people, motivate old people, for whatever reason, yes I'll be very happy to do that."

With the theme of "anything but retired", filmmaker Sara Glaoua says she too has learnt a thing or two from Bader.

"I got to meet Henri and share his amazing story, and take with me lots of beautiful life lessons as well," she said.

"I realised that the film was not just about seniors, his message is very universal. It can talk to many generations, particularly the younger generation like mine…(we) can do with a bit more positivity and positive thinking."

The importance of family

Bader's wife, Lorraine, has also been there for him every step of the way.

"Lorraine has been the wind under my wings, she has been very stalwart, and never scared," he said.

"And I do very strange things from time to time as you can see, and she was always prepared to back me up and go with me and for that, I am grateful for."

Bader's wife, Lorraine, has also been there for him every step of the way.
Bader's wife, Lorraine, has also been there for him every step of the way. (NBN)

Lorraine puts their success down to their close bond.

"I think the best thing about our relationship is that we are best friends," she said.

"That's very important."

Henri turns 92 next week and is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, he already has a 10-year plan in place.

"As long as you know where you're going, once you've arrived at the destination, you've got to have another destination, or otherwise it's boring so what are you going to do?"

By Josephine Shannon

SOURCE https://www.9news.com.au/national/91-year-old-macadamia-farmer-opens-up-about-changing-careers-at-70/3b00f284-d7c2-438c-a58b-55e2b2f7205c
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