I’ve always been a drifter – I wanted to get out and see the world, and didn’t mind being on my own. Growing up in Queensland, I left school at 13 and went to work at a blacksmiths, and that led to drinking early too – I started at 15 and pretty soon I was an alcoholic.
I kept working, cutting cane then on prawn and scallop trawlers up and down the coast. Then I moved into earthmoving – after a few years my boss told me I had to wake up to myself, about the drinking. I checked into Yaamba Corporation rehab in Bundaberg for three months, and it must have worked – at the end of it, they offered me a job as caretaker!
My five years there were beaut, I loved having a yarn with the other blokes as they came and went over the years, being a friend and helping them through their experience. But I needed a change, so I went back to travelling and doing odd jobs – but when I found out I had throat cancer when I was 60, that was the end of that.
I moved to Melbourne to be treated at Peter Mac, then moved to Corpus Christi, and I’ve been here ever since. All that moving around, and with the drinking, I’d lost touch with all my family over the years. So even once I knew the cancer was gone, I knew CCC was the best place for me. Now I have friends here, I can just stay in one place and be happy. I don’t need to wander any more, and I count myself as lucky. I can still think, still talk and get around OK. And I can still crack a pretty good joke!