Arthur Milne, 97, answers our questions | Q & A

The Border Chronicle has a chat with 97-year-old Bordertown resident Arthur Milne and his wife Helen to find out what motivates him to stay so active.

His reflections on the development he has seen in Bordertown over the years are fascinating.

What does an average day look like for you?

I get up between 6.30 and 8.30 normally, eat breakfast with Helen and does daily Bible reading and devotions.

Then it’s often out to the shed to make or fix some item needed like a wooden handle for a new dishmop. Sometimes I use the circular saw to cut up wood for the fireplace.

Maybe the lawn needs mowing so I do it on my ride-on mower, or perhaps in winter a garden bed needs weeding and hoeing up ready for spring sowing of vegetables. A feeder needs to be made for the chickens, or a fence built for Helen’s gardening developments. Or we go to Helen’s home where heaps of waste need to be chopped up for the green bin, and weeds poisoned in preparation for summer. Sometimes a migrant wants to learn how we chop wood, plant trees or drive a lawnmower, so there’s a bit of teaching going on.

What motivates you to be so active?

Activity was built in by my farming father whose day began at 4am with feeding working horses. There never was a time when I was not active short of having had some accident with the forced passivity that follows. The pace is slower these days, and sometimes interspersed with a rest, but work goes on as ever - there is always something to do.

Dad always said “When you have a problem, think on it, pray about it and sleep on it. The answer will come in the morning.”

What can’t you do any more that you would like to?

Can’t drive on the roads, take the caravan all over Australia (though we do shorter trips with Helen driving.) Don’t really preach and teach study groups – that was a favourite thing to prepare for and do. Still have things I can do in church such as keeping a focus on Israel.

What are your interests?

Current interests are my study of Biblical prophecy and current events which are concurring stunningly with the introduction to the last days before Jesus returns to the earth in majesty.

How important is it to continue to live independently?

I can’t imagine anything else. Life is for living and helping others.

What is the secret of keeping fit and healthy?

Hard work, no alcohol, smokes or drugs (jam and cream are alright though) and trust in my Almighty and totally wise Creator.

When do you think you will slow down?

Well, recently my knee was healed by the Lord in a healing service at Horsham, so it’s less a question of slowing down but more of increased mobility. If I lived in an old person’s home I would be so bored I’d probably get sick and die. No plans on that yet.

What is your proudest moment in life?

It was probably the humblest actually. The greatest moment in my life was when I was on a mission, but alone in my room in Tahiti wondering where my next move was, since the people I was supposed to be involved with seemed to have disappeared leaving me in great distress. I took up my trusty Bible to read, and heard the voice of Jesus saying to me “You are to be My messenger.” That experience changed my thinking forever and I can never forget it even for a day.

I still have to pinch myself every day and remember the year of my birth to make sure I’m in my 98th year. It seems to be a miracle which I enjoy all the time - Arthur Milne

What advice would you give to people getting older on how to remain fit and healthy?

Keep active and read the Bible and the papers together, otherwise you will not have peace.

How important is your religion?

Religion means nothing at all. Only the truth has power to set people free. How can people be free if they believe myths, religious superstition and lies? Jesus is Truth.

Jesus means everything. I supernaturally survived four major accidents and it’s God’s miracle that I’m still here. During one of those accidents I fell between the moving carriages of a train and said “Oh, God, here I come.” Next thing I found myself seated back on the platform and in a delirium of thanks for the next 24 hours.

Another time I fell on my face on the hard pavement by the post office and felt the hand of an angel prevent me from hitting my face on the ground. People who saw it couldn’t understand why my face was not injured. There were two car accidents I should never have walked away from. All these were supernatural events.

How has Bordertown changed over the years?

From draught horses to my first amazing Massey Ferguson, to the modern ones which pull 60 metre tows which cultivate, sow in grades and cover the seed in one operation. We helped build the High School (with bus access away from the main road at the front!), and the hospital. The original nursing home, Charla, has become a home for the elderly.

The Primary School has now been added. I sold land for the airport, and saw the oat mill and JBS built on land from which I had harvested wheat. With the Progress Association we built on the Institute hall at the rear. We built the Church of Christ and later Highway Christian Centre was converted from a sporting facility to a church building. We’ve seen the lean years and the good years both blessed by the underground water.

Where we tied the horse up to go to the grocery shop (where Tunza now is) there are now the ANZ and Bank SA and many other buildings. Tunza is the only one that hasn’t changed much as it was originally the only shop, with only a lovely row of trees and a horse rail between it and the creek.

The creek is now lined with cement which made a lot of difference. Foodland was once where the current pet shop stands but moved to new premises on North Terrace. The saddlery has gone from where the shoe shop now trades.

You served in the army – where and for how long?

I served nine months with the Light Horse, not leaving Australia. When the Light Horse were disbanded I joined a motor regiment and then the AIF First Brigade in WA with tanks and bren carriers. After three years my feet disqualified me from further service in New Guinea so I came home to work the farm, but I missed the army and serving the Queen.

How do you continue to fill your days?

Our home takes plenty of maintenance in the garden area with its orchard from which we trade fruit at the local shop. Sometimes we sell fruit at the gate and people come by for it. We are active in church at HCC and sometimes at Mundulla where I grew up in the Church of Christ. We love the contact with JBS workers who have the most incredible stories behind them and we try to encourage them as they plan their new lives. We don’t mind the odd garage sale.

What is your favourite saying?

My favourite saying has got me through a lot of situations which might otherwise have paralysed me in grief. It is: “Jesus knows best.” I never ask Him “Why, why, why” because It’s probably too complicated. That got me through the loss of two wives and other dramatic situations with indescribable peace in my heart. He always has a plan for my future – and I am always asking Him “What am I doing still here?” He obviously hasn’t finished with me yet.

What is your favourite thing to do around the house?

Help my wife with her projects, watch major teaching ministries on television, prepare fruit for the trading centre, gardening and having visitors.

When is your birthday?

June 8, 1920. It’s surreal. I just give God the glory for each new day.

How special would it be to make it to 100?

I still have to pinch myself every day and remember the year of my birth to make sure I’m in my 98th year. It seems to be a miracle which I enjoy all the time.

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