By Michael Doran

Most over-50s will remember the Beatles song, Magical Mystery Tour, so it’s a fitting theme for the launch of this year’s Yarra Ranges Over Fifties Festival.

“This year marks the 36th year we celebrate the contribution of our senior residents as the wise elders, active volunteers, carers, mentors, experienced employees and civic citizens” Yarra Ranges Mayor Len Cox said.

“This month-long program offers a variety of community experiences offering wellbeing, cultural, creative, sporting, social and educational events.”

The starting event is the Magical Mystery Afternoon Tea on Thursday 4 October, from 2pm to 4pm at Yering Meadows Golf Club.

The $10 tickets can be bought at www.yarraranges/seniorsevent.

Everyone is encouraged to wear something red – whatever item it may be – with red being a symbol of the energy, celebration and enthusiasm the festival is promoting.

“We appreciate and acknowledge the immeasurable benefit that the over-fifties contribute to our community,” Cr Cox said.

There are many energetic seniors in the Yarra Valley and one such couple is Bryce and Anne Francis.

These two are life-long friends who got together later in life, 32 years ago.

“We still pinch ourselves about how lucky we are to have found each other and how good it has been to be together,” Ms Francis said.

“It was destiny that we got to meet.”

Despite a partial leg amputation four years ago, 91-year-old Mr Francis hits the gym three times a week, plays the organ, has written a book and a website on card game 500, and gets around on his motor scooter.

Two other Yarra Ranges seniors still learning are Sue Clisby and Janet Turpie-Johnstone.

Ms Clisby returned to study at age 50 to earn a diploma in arts management.

She has now developed a program called Through My Eyes, which helps children, particularly those affected by trauma, to tell their story as part of a healing process.

Ms Turpie-Johnstone, an indigenous elder, is helping to heal family violence and promote strong and resilient families.

She is completing her PhD, comparing the indigenous knowing of the land and the colonial attitude of taming the land.

Yarra Ranges Council produced a festival booklet with all the month’s activities and events laid out, which is available from the website.

It also includes discount vouchers from 39 local businesses.

“There are more businesses than ever before offering great discounts to our senior residents as an acknowledgement of the economic contribution you make,” Cr Cox said.

In October there are more than 2000 activities across Victoria as part of the Victorian Seniors Festival and with free public transport available from 7 to 14 October, getting around is easy.

Celebration Day, a day of live music, dancing, choirs, active living demonstrations and U3A activities, is at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Sunday 7 October.

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