Hugh Milne was born in 1859 inGreenock, and in 1881 by the age of 21 he was a clerk in a shipping merchants. With the rest of his family in 1884 he was living in Sooke, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and during the next few years to 1891, his sisters and brother had married and his father had died. Hugh was living alone with his 72 year old mother but, only a year later, he married Alice Cutler on 30th December 1892. Alice had emigrated to Canada with her family from the Isle of Wight, England.
Together with their growing family of five children, they moved to Proserpine, Queensland around 1905-6.
Proserpine, a rural town of about 3300 people, is 100 km north of Mackay, a short way inland from Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands.
It is generally thought that the name originated from the explorer, George Dalrymple, naming Proserpine River, a short stream which empties into a wide mouth on Repulse Bay. It is supposed that Dalrymple reported on verdant and fertile land in the district, and 'Proserpine' is the Anglicised version of the Roman Prosperpina, a goddess of fertility. Later research suggests that Dalrymple did not traverse the Proserpine area in any of his explorations, and the name may have originated with the Proserpine Creek pastoral run (1861).
Several cattle runs were established in the Proserpine district and one, the Glen Isla, was set aside for a 3000 acre sugar plantation in 1882. Established at considerable cost, the Crystalbrook Sugar Company lasted only a few seasons. The land was subdivided in the 1890s, part of it being later included in the Proserpine township. A second sugar mill was opened in 1897, supplied with cane grown by independent farmers and served by a tramway to a wharf on the Proserpine River. By 1900 there were 200 settlers and 70 suppliers to the mill. A school, a Presbyterian church and a community hall were opened. By 1907 there were three hotels and several stores.
In 1910 a tramway from Proserpine to Bowen harbour was opened, and Proserpine Shire was created by severance from Wangaratta Shire, which was headquartered in Bowen. The town's population was about 1000 people and the shire's about 1800.