Melody Teh


Thu, 12 Feb, 2015

Australia’s oldest man knits mini-sweaters for injured penguins

Australia’s oldest man knits mini-sweaters for injured penguins

One-hundred-and-nine-year-old Alfred “Alfie” Date is Australia’s oldest man but don’t expect that to slow him down. He is a man on a mission and what an admirable mission it is. He is knitting tiny sweaters for little Phillip Island penguins injured by an oil spill.

Alfie, who lives in a retirement home on the New South Wales Central Coast, was asked to help because of his 80 years of knitting experience. It was a favour he could not refused. A self-taught knitter, Alfie was inspired to learn the craft in 1932 when he wanted to make a jumper for his newborn nephew. Now decades later, Alfie’s nimble fingers are once again at work. He, along with hundreds of others, were responding to a plea for donated jumpers by the Phillip Island Penguin Foundation.


Although the jumpers are adorable, they aren’t a fashion statement but necessary to prevent penguins from licking and swallowing the oil. The sweaters would also keep them warm as the oiled feathers would stick together, allowing cold water to get to the penguins inner layers.

Despite holding the title of Australia’s oldest man, Alfie made sure his jumpers were up to scratch.

“I like to make it without mistakes and I don't excuse myself for doing it. But I think there is an excuse for a person who's gone beyond the normal span of life,” he said.

The Phillip Island Penguin Foundation officially labelled Alfie their “most senior little penguin jumper knitter” and want to thank everyone for their efforts. The centre currently has plenty of penguin jumpers and needs no more donations. 

Image credit: Penguin Foundation Facebook and Nine News screengrab 

Related links:

Phillip Island’s 21-year-old penguin recovering well from life-saving surgery

Mittens accomplished: Koalas’ cry for help worked

The cutest baby animals that will put a smile on your face