Australia’s oldest man shares his secret to living 111 years – chicken brains

·4 min read
Dexter Kruger celebrating his 111th birthday
Dexter Kruger celebrating his 111th birthday

Dexter Kruger, who was two years old when the Titanic sank, attributes his long, long life to a simple lifestyle and a balanced diet with one unusual indulgence – chicken brains.

Mr Kruger, who reached the milestone of 111 years and 124 days old on Monday, is not only Australia’s oldest man but the oldest Australian man on record.

He may even be the oldest living man in the world.

The Guinness World Records website says there is currently no record holder and they are investigating existing claims after Bob Weighton, from Alton, Hants, died last March just a day after his 112th birthday. He put his longevity down to white meat and German wine.

Mr Kruger, who hails from the outback Queensland town of Roma, is a former veterinary surgeon, poet and author who spent his life living a bush lifestyle on his land.

He refused to retire from his 5,300-hectare cattle property in the Maranoa region until his mid-90s.

He told the ABC that this had helped him keep healthy.

“It's because I do things differently… I lived very close to nature and I ate mostly what I grew in the garden or the orchard or the farm,” he said.

Dexter Kruger likes to live simply and keep himself busy
Dexter Kruger likes to live simply and keep himself busy

While never a big smoker or drinker, Mr Kruger did have one indulgence.

“Chicken brains… You know, chickens have a head and in that is some brains, and they are delicious little things. There's only one bite,” he said.

Born just nine years after the Federation of Australia, and when the population of the country was less than 4.5 million, Mr Kruger has lived through world wars, the Great Depression and other recessions, droughts, bushfires, and pandemics.

Now residing in an aged care facility, Mr Kruger maintains a strict daily morning exercise regime, gets sunshine and fresh air, and works on his latest book – his autobiography.

He told the ABC he followed global and local affairs, and commented on the pace of Australia’s vaccine rollout and the growing problem of domestic violence.

“I don't think [today's world] is a nicer place, I do not … People are not happy. They have too much debt,” he said.

Mr Kruger has witnessed 111 years of astonishing change - including the invention of zippers, electric toasters, modern band-aids, teabags, instant coffee and television - but he also sees downsides.

“Until we got all this computerised technology, life was much more relaxed. There are marvellous things you can do with a little chip, but we were once very much more relaxed,” he told the ABC.

Dexter Kruger says life was simpler before the invention of computer technology
Dexter Kruger says life was simpler before the invention of computer technology

A party will be thrown to mark Mr Kruger’s milestone, with the Australian Book of Records and various politicians and community leaders expected to attend the celebration.

Mr Kruger's 74-year-old son Greg told the ABC that his father's simple lifestyle and balanced diet, complete with “plenty of salt, sugar and fat”, had a lot to do with his age.

“He lived through a period that was a lot less stressful than what society is faced with today. He didn't go around chasing the bright lights, he was happy being around horses and cattle… His system wasn't worn out trying to process the junk food – he's never been overweight, always active,” he said.

Melanie Calvert, manager at Pinaroo Roma aged care facility, said Mr Kruger was in better health than many residents aged in their 80s and 90s.

“He's probably one of the sharpest residents here … His memory is amazing and his cognitive functioning is unbelievable,” she said.

“He sets goals to write books, to achieve milestones, and I think that keeps him going … To be able to have that personality — that doesn't get down on things, that picks themselves up and gets on with it — I think that's a big part of living longer.”

Kane Tanaka, born in 1903, celebrating her 117th birthday in 2020. She is the oldest living person - KYODO/REUTERS
Kane Tanaka, born in 1903, celebrating her 117th birthday in 2020. She is the oldest living person - KYODO/REUTERS

Japanese woman Kane Tanaka, born in January, 1903, is 117, making her the oldest person currently alive, according to Guinness World Records.

Ms Tanaka has said that she likes to keep her mind active by waking at 6am and studying maths.

The oldest person to ever live was also a woman. Jeanne Louise Calment was born in February, 1875 in France and managed to meet Vincent Van Gogh over her 122 years of life. She said the secret to a long life was olive oil, port and chocolate. She passed away in August, 1997.