I WAS BORN IN BRISBANE in 1953, at the Women's Hospital. Don't worry - I was a boy.
The next year, after a brief time at Strathfield, my Dad was asked to work in England, and off we went (I was too young to remember).
So I grew up in Blighty, settling first in Greenford, then Finchley.
My first memories are of watching the milkman arrive with his horse-drawn cart and Dad rushing outside with a shovel to collect the dung for the garden.
I always remember the garden, smelling of roses and germaniums and hearing the blackbirds singing. Dad paid me one penny for each snail I could collect (we waged wars against snails).
My uncle bought me ice-creams each Sunday from the van and Grandma came to live with us. She was from Scotland via Western Australia and MV Rangitoto.
I remember seeing bomb craters, watching Tony Hancock and exploring the old theatre where Dad worked in Regent Street.
I got a Triang train set for Christmas one year and looked out of my bedroom window as the snow fell. There was also much fog, and we crawled home all the way to Finchley from Central London one night with my uncle walking in front of the car waving a lamp; you couldn't see 10 yards in front of you.
At age five I was sent to the local primary school and on the first day ran all the way home five minutes after Mum left me as I was scared out of my wits. But I got used to it.
Then it was back to Australia in 1961. This was exciting as we were on a great ship leaving Tilbury on the grand eastern journey via Gibraltar, the Suez, India, Singapore, Perth, then Sydney.
Probably one of the last of the old Empire Orient voyages. As we crossed the line, there was a ceremony with King Neptune ducking us. I was dressed as an Arab Sheik with a huge cardboard bottle of milk around my neck. The caption was Drinka a Pinta Milk a Day. I was the Milk Sheik and won second prize.
Then it was off to Brisbane. Dad bought a Falcon from a dealer on Parramatta road and, as it was summer, we sweated like pigs in a sauna driving up the Pacific Highway, the journey broken by several ferry crossings across the northern rivers.
After two years in Brissie (where my main memories were of Milton State School, a girlfriend who let me see her naked and the weekly dunny man, as we had an outside dry toilet), it was off to Perth.
Dad decided to save money by driving us. In January. Across the Nullarbor with 300 miles of unsealed road and no aircon. I survived, just, but suffered heat exhaustion as we pulled into the John Eyre Motel.
They gave me a can of chilled pineapple juice to help me recover, which is the best drink I have ever had - bugger your chardonnays!
Two years in Perth (beautiful place). We lived near the airport and I remember watching the first 727 jets practising take-offs and landings over our heads. Then back to NSW (another trip across the Nullarbor) where we settled into the Central Coast for four years and where I started high school, explored the bush, swam in the creek and discovered girls. What amazing creatures!
One winter it snowed in the Watagans (1966 I think) and we drove up there to play and throw snowballs, which reminded me of England. I built a small sailing boat with the help of the best teacher I ever had (woodwork class), sailed and fished on Lake Macquarie, and was as happy as Larry.
I was friends with the boy next door who had been given a PNG bow and arrow as a present from a missionary. We explored the local bush pretending to be Robin Hood and once managed to shoot a 12-foot black snake, but ran away as we were too scared to finish it off.
Then Dad got moved back to England, so off we went again, leaving my first loves and dear memories behind. I had two girlfriends - one from Tonga, the other from Australia - and was heartbroken to leave them.
I was in Year 10 and we had a first taste of the South Pacific as we sailed westwards via Rarotonga, Tahiti, Acapulco, Panama and the Azores. I had the run of the ship and had a great time; but we arrived in England in January - miserable, cold, wet and lonely.
I was sent to a boys’ grammar school where a master with a 52-inch waist used to enjoy teasing me because of my accent: "Maybe our Antipodean friend can tell us what this hill is at Sydney cricket ground!"
I quickly lost my accent and lost myself in building another sailing boat - I had brought the plans from Australia. But launching it in the depths of winter in a Devon estuary was not quite the same as summer at Lake Macquarie.
Then it was university, a first marriage, saying goodbye to Mum and Dad who returned to Australia and having three boys. I got a job teaching for four years, but got fed up with the cold winters and decided to return to Oz with my fledging family.
We moved to Albury, probably the most beautiful place I have ever lived, and spent four years exploring the Snowies in our spare time, camping on the banks of the Mitta Mitta, trout fishing, trying skiing with the kids and sailing on the Hume. But then dad-in-law got sick so we reluctantly returned to England.
I worked in west London, Surrey and Kingston, got involved in IT, but mum got cancer so I came back to Australia. My first wife decided this was the right time to divorce me. I got the letter two weeks before Mum died. There's got to be something better than this I thought, so I decided to stay in Oz.
I worked in Sydney, then the Central Coast and applied for a job at the University of PNG. To my surprise, after a telephone interview they offered it to me.
That was where I met Rose. We were married in Simbu bilas in the botanical gardens and I learned to love PNG despite all its problems.
I was privileged to be able to travel around the country, and this became something of an inspiration for what feeble efforts I have managed to write since them.
We spent a great time with the relos in Kundiawa - as I said to Rose, this is Switzerland in the tropics! But I think my favourite place was Madang. Utterly gorgeous. Tropical paradise, a languorous lagoon, distant volcanoes, coral reefs and beautiful people.
Then after the end of my contract, it was off to Darwin for two years (crocodiles, steamy heat and cyclones), then I decided to take early retirement and moved back to NSW to be with as Dad, as he has not got long to go.
There's a lot more of course, there always is.
Other stories in this series:
1 - Phil Fitzpatrick - Arresting cannibals sure beat banking
2 – Leonard Fong Roka - Out of war, the passion and the power of writing
3 – Paul Oates - The making of a young patrol officer
4 - Martyn Awayang Namorong – From Baimuru via bullying to blogging
5 - Keith Jackson – Sketches from the empty and hopeful years
6 - Michael Dom – I am Simbu, I am Mosbi mero. Read son, read