After a happy and carefree childhood on a five-acre farm on the outskirts of Sydney I attended Hurlstone Agricultural High School. Like most graduates of the Class of 1980 I still think about the pig we had to slaughter in Year Nine. Daily.
I then studied Medieval History at the University of Sydney as part of an Arts/Law degree I never finished. (I finished the BA. Couldn’t face another two years of law to get a LLB)
After graduation my career-oriented degree took me to Tokyo for a year where I taught English and ate a lot of crepes. (One of my students was the boss of a crepe house chain and paid me in vouchers.)
Cashed up with Yen I wandered around Europe for a while before returning to Australia and a job as an advertising copywriter. They thought my ‘experience’ in Japan would open new global markets for them. It didn’t.
Decided to combine my two loves – travel and writing – to become a travel writer. Tossed in job, travelled around the Equator and wrote a book about it. The book was rejected by every publisher on the planet.
Spent two years trying to find the flag that Australian Geographic gave me to take around the Equator. (Previously it had been to both poles and the summit of the tallest mountain on each continent, including Everest.) Eventually found it in a suit pocket after telling Australian Geographic that I had returned it to them and they must have been the ones that lost it.
Returned to copywriting and wrote ads enticing young graduates to move to Mount Newman in the middle of Western Australia’s barren Pilbarra region. Continued to travel, had the odd travel article published and won a travel competition sponsored by the South Korean Tourist Board.
Used the 1mb of web space that came with my dial-up account to create No Shitting in the Toilet, a light-hearted, perverse look at travel.
Decided it would make a good book, presented the idea to publishers and was roundly rejected all over again. Eventually Shona Martyn at Transworld took pity on me and my first book was published.