WWII veteran and Ormiston stalwart Nick Poluyanovsky celebrates 104th birthday

MILESTONE: Nick Poluyanovsky marked his 104th birthday in December.
MILESTONE: Nick Poluyanovsky marked his 104th birthday in December.

FROM working in a medical unit in Papua New Guinea during World War II to laying the foundations for the modern Redlands, Nick Poluyanovsky has reminisced on an impressive life after celebrating his 104th birthday this month.

Mr Poluyanovsky, who has spent 100 years of his life living at Ormiston, still resides in the home built for his family in the 1940s.

His mother, father and four older sisters left Russia during World War I, in a time of civil unrest among the Russian population.

Father Metrofan worked on the Trans-Siberian railway, where he met his future wife, Olga, whose father was a fur trader.

One of Mr Poluyanovsky's four sisters was born along the railway.

Mr Poluyanovsky's parents left Russia for Australia in 1914, where they settled down in Morningside.

In 1916, Mr Poluyanovsky was born, and soon afterwards, his father bought five acres of land in the small farming community of Ormiston.

Mr Poluyanovsky looked back fondly on his time at Ormiston School.

"The school was one room and a porch, and one teacher, with about 30 students," he said.

He later earned a scholarship and travelled to Gatton to attend the Queensland Agricultural High School and College, where he earned a diploma in horticulture.

Upon returning to Ormiston, he started working to become a tradesman, which would require five years of training.

But in December 1942, just one month before he would earn his qualification, he was drafted into the army.

For part of his four years in the armed forces, Mr Poluyanovsky worked in a casualty clearing station, which operated behind the front lines to treat wounded soldiers.

He did general duties in the medical unit at Jacquinot Bay on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea, an important base for Allied forces near the Japanese garrison at Rabaul.

After the end of the war, Mr Poluyanovsky was sent to Rabaul, before returning to Australia.

He spent some time working at the Greenslopes hospital while waiting to be discharged.

"They put us to some use but most of the time we had nothing to do there," he said.

"It was a case of filling in there before we were discharged. You had to wait your turn."

REDLANDER: Mr Poluyanovsky has lived in Ormiston for about a century.

REDLANDER: Mr Poluyanovsky has lived in Ormiston for about a century.

After he was discharged in 1946, now approaching his 30th birthday, Mr Poluyanovsky again returned to the family farm.

"Pre-war, we had one or two hands on the farm," he said.

"But when I got out of the army, there was only the three of us - my father, mother and I.

"My father worked at an abattoir during the week, right up til he was 80.

"My mother had arthritis and later on, dementia. She couldn't get about much.

"I used to do the packing of the strawberries. We had cucumbers, cabbage sometimes."

Mr Poluyanovsky's father died in 1964, aged 80, and his mother passed away four years later.

"Once my mother died, I was left here on the farm. I just didn't know what to do," he said.

"I decided I would try to get another job. By then I was in my 50s.

"I had to get among people, instead of being on my own. It transformed my life."

Mr Poluyanovksy got a job with the council as a labourer, working with a surveyor on sewerage and road networks around the Redlands, including the islands.

"I've got my mark in quite a lot of places," he said.

After his retirement at 65, Mr Poluyanovksy did not slow down, helping to pick and pack vegetables at his nephew's farm at Ormiston until he was 96.

He also enjoyed fishing, and loved to listen to music on vinyl, including classical and country and western.

At 96, when returning home from an X-ray during a bout of pneumonia, Mr Poluyanovksy got into a car crash, after which he spent three months in hospital.

While he is not able to work on the farm or go fishing anymore, he is still a well-loved figure in the community, known for his generosity, kindness and wealth of good stories.

An avid sport fan, he spends his time watching cricket and football.

He also enjoys a good detective story.

He marked his 104th birthday on December 3, receiving letters from dignitaries including the Queen, Governor-General, Premier and Prime Minister.

His family said his independence at 104 years old was an impressive feat, but Mr Poluyanovksy said he was "nothing out of the box".

"Birthdays to me are just another number," he said.