Born in Wellington, New Zealand, I was the second-youngest of five boys. With both parents working and my older brothers absorbed in doing their own thing, I was left pretty much to my own devices, which meant hanging out with other local kids in what might loosely be called a neighborhood gang. The city’s gasworks was our home turf, and we defended it vigorously against intruders.
When the new airport was built a block (quite literally) from our house, it gave my parents another reason (they already had a few others!) for relocating. The move changed my life dramatically and irrevocably: it uprooted me from my previous network of friends, and I spent the next few years in a kind of social limbo while I finished school and went through Uni, where I majored ( much to my parent’s consternation) in Sociology and Psychology.
Loose ends and boredom brought me to Sydney in the summer of 1971, where the women and the weather soon convinced me that this was where I wanted to be. Despite some initial hard times (there was a recession going on at the time) I was determined to stick it out, so I travelled where I had to and took whatever jobs I could get: process work, labouring, bus conducting, retailing. Eventually I put down roots, raised a family, and pursued various careers as a teacher, a theatre director, a community arts officer, a social planner, an overseas aid worker, a corporate promotions manager and a few others besides. More recently, disillusioned with such so-called ‘professional’ jobs, I’ve turned my hand to gardening (on an island resort on the Barrier Reef) and managing a caravan park on the north coast of NSW.
Along the way, I’ve written – sometimes short ‘social commentary’ pieces about the places I’ve been to in my travels, sometimes a poem, play or short story based on characters or situations I’ve come across. Quite a bit of this work has been published, performed or otherwise credited in one form or another. Commentaries on my experience of rural Australia and overseas have appeared in Nation Review and more recently in New Matilda, and a number of my short stories, feature articles and poems have appeared in regional newspapers, magazines and periodicals. The short story Kennedy’s Bull won first prize in the new writers’ section of the Henry Lawson Literary Awards, the poem Chrysalis was runner-up in the national Banjo Paterson poetry competition, and the satirical Why Ronald McDonald Must Die featured as a finalist in the Sydney “Short and Sweet” play season.
I’ve had a soft spot for the ‘Mid-north Coast’ since I first visited there in the early 1980’s, and have made this a base from which I periodically embark on further ventures but to which I invariably return. I continue to write.
Great articles Rob. Read Kennedy’s Bull and Bello Barnacles and will read more tonight. Thanks for putting pen to computer and look forward to seeing you again next year maybe?
I don’t know if you remember me but I was in your play Zivard Gardovich at Shopfront a theatre in Carlton maybe in 78.
I’ve forgotten my characters name – I was the female lead and wore a donated white dress which was way too big for me.
It was quite a turbulent time in my young life and I remember your kindness.
I’d love to hear from you.