His hair combed back and his outfit sharp, Rick Pisaturo leapt out of his office to greet our camera crew.
The veteran cattle breeder works full time from his property in Orchard Hills in western Sydney – and making the arrangement to meet him there had been easy.
He texts as quickly as a millennial and replied to all my emails within minutes.
“On my phone I do everything,” he said.
“I send emails, everything, all on my phone.”
It’s genuinely hard to believe he’s almost 96.
Freshly returned from a 10-day trip to Shanghai, there were no signs of jetlag as he showed us around the business, striding ahead with no need for a walking stick.
Italian-born, he was brought here as a prisoner of war, and built his cattle breeding company Mandalong Stud from scratch in 1958.
By 1968 his shorthorns had broken every record nationwide.
His contribution to the industry even earned him an Order of Australia.
These days he’s concentrating on thorough-bred racehorses.
Rick is part of a growing group of Australians choosing to shun retirement.
The number of people working past the age of 85 has increased by 15 percent in the last 10 years.
With life expectancy up three months every year, the number of healthy Australians living for decades past the pension age is only set to rise.
Rafal Chomik, from the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research, has found many people are underestimating how just long they have left.
“Sixty-five-year-olds are expected to live until about 95,” he said.
Most over-85s are in farming (19 percent), followed by business and marketing (5 percent), management (4 percent) and hospitality and retail (4 percent).
Clinical neuropsychologist Jo Robertson says if you still have the capacity to work, it can only be good for you.
“Absolutely, not retiring is a good thing for your health,” she said, adding that “continuing to do new, challenging and complex activities” helps reduce the risk of dementia.
Rick would agree – he believes his job is keeping him alive.
“You can’t lay down all day long otherwise the heart will collapse, simple,” he said.
His own father worked selling wine and oil, until he was 101.
Alison Harcourt also prescribes to the “use it or lose it” mentality.
The 88-year-old is a professor of probability and statistics at the University of Melbourne – and she’s been teaching for a staggering 55 years.
Walking through the campus teeming with students in their teens and twenties, Alison certainly stands out, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s just the pleasure of seeing these young people learning… extending their knowledge of mathematics,” she said.
Passionate about numbers since she was three years old, she remembers what it was like to use handheld calculators.
“(It) meant turning handles so that the wheels went round and the numbers appeared,” she said.
Tony Battaglia also knows how different the world used to be, back when he was a budding business owner.
He’s been hairdressing since he was 15 but when he first opened his salon in Griffith in regional NSW in 1957, a haircut only cost 10 shillings.
He’s now 92, but has no plans to put down the clippers.
He runs the business with his son Frank, and they have a legion of loyal customers – some coming back for more than six decades.
And that’s why Tony does it – for the companionship.
Customer Ross Corcoran says he drives the four-hour trip from Canberra to get his hair cut by the master.
“To see someone of Tony’s age with the determination to put a shirt and tie on every morning… It’s pretty inspiring,” he said.
They say “if you do what you love you won’t work a day in your life”, and these older Australians are living proof.