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Virgine Elise Rochat (?–1958)

A woman who started to learn French shorthand at 70 years of age, and has been teaching French for 30 years in Brisbane, has now retired.

She is Mme V. E. [Virgine Elise] Rochat, a woman of keen mental alertness and varied activities, who is now in her late seventies.

She will continue to live at Ascog Terrace, Toowong, and will continue with her many club activities.

"I always wanted to learn and only had the opportunity at the age of 70," she said.

Mme. Rochat is one of the oldest members of the Alliance Francaise in Brisbane. She took an active part in the Free French League of Help during the war.

Now a great-grandmother, Mme. Rochat came to Australia in 1887 as a little girl with her parents, M. and Mme. Henri A. Tardent, who came originally from Switzerland.

When M. Tardent decided to seek perpetual sunshine and bring his wife and family of four to Brisbane, they sailed from Port Said in the largest Orient Line ship of that time, the Orient, of 6000 tons.

After 12 months in Brisbane the family moved to Roma, where M. Tardent had a vineyard for some time.

In 1899 Miss Tardent was married to M. Philippe Rochat, of Geneva, in Roma.

M. Rochat was one of the first Gatton College students to take a special course in dairying, in 1899, and he settled at Wallumbilla on a model dairy farm, which was considered at that time to be the most up-to-date west of Toowoomba.

When Mme. Rochat was married, her sewing knowledge was such that she could make only aprons— her mother had done all the sewing for the family while Mme. Rochat looked after the younger children. But in 12 months she was making all her own clothes, and her husband's clothes, excluding heavy suits but including summer suits of tussore.

Knitting, weaving, lace making, tatting, and crochet are some of her accomplishments now, and she has two gold medals from the Royal National Association for her French handmade flowers.

Mme. Rochat also takes a great interest in Braille, which she learnt from her sightless pupils.

After the death of her husband in 1921, as a result of the war, Mme. Rochat took up teaching as a profession in Brisbane.

Original Publication

Citation details

'Rochat, Virgine Elise (?–1958)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Tardent, Virgine Elise

Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.