Ernie Walker, 105, celebrates "life itself" everyday. The Penrose centenarian will mark his 105th birthday on April 22 alongside his wife and best friend of 45 years, Bev.
The couple, still living independently on their 27 acre property consider their life together as their greatest achievement. Ernie adds that "everyday is a bonus".
"We hobble around, we are a fair old crop but we've had a life, and that's not a bad achievement," he said.
When asked what he loved most about his life, he pondered and admitted that it was hard to pick one thing. Bev is quick to provide him with an answer. "Me," she said.
In a good save Ernie admits that his much-loved wife is "very high ranking", and adds that he is thankful for his family, and the community who support him and Bev.
While Ernie was sharing his life story, friends Ulli Fisher and Jim Luck dropped by to check in with the couple.
Ernie was chuffed to catch up with his visitors and pointed out that he had learned over the course of his life that the simple things matter.
"If you can help anybody out, do it," he said.
"Don't abuse someone and expect them to come and pat you on the back."
Ernie is one of the few surviving Rats of Tobruk, who has also fought in New Guinea.
"I was very much involved in Tobruk," he said.
"The government got all the survivors together in Australia in 2016, that was really the last hurrah."
After the Rats of Tobruk persisted for 241 days despite German war efforts, Ernie returned to Australia for three days before being sent to Kokoda.
Ernie admitted when he reflected on his time fighting overseas, "some days are harder than others," but said that he "came through it."
A highlight and early birthday present for Ernie came a couple of weeks ago when he was appointed the Patron of Moss Vale RSL sub-branch in recognition of his service, and his involvement after fighting in World War II.
This article first appeared on https://www.southernhighlandnews.com.au