I was born in Goomalling and grew up in Three Springs, Western Australia. We lived on a 15000 acre farm, 45 kms from the nearest town. I rode dirt bikes and helped my dad who managed the farm. To get to school on time, we had to catch the school bus at 6.45 am. I could drive before I was eight and by nine I was driving to and from the bus stop.
We moved to Toodyay when I was eleven. This was considered inner city, as we were only an hour from Perth. I went to the local high school and left in year 10 to do a boilermaker's apprenticeship in nearby Northem. I spent a lot of time with my uncle, who developed race car engines and this is where my obsession with cars began.
My first car was an HR Holden. It was pretty rough but I tidied it up and sold it. Since then I've had a two GTR Toranas, a Pontiac Parisian, a HJ wagon, a HQ wagon, a 62 Vauxhall (the Vox Hell) and numerous other HRs. Living in WA, I've also had four monster truck Patrols.
After a messy breakup in my early twenties, I hopped in my HJ wagon and drove to Sydney. It blew up just after I got there but I stayed two years and met my future wife when she made a music video for some mates. I lived in a dilapidated terrace in Redfern with a 'former' junkie and saw a lot of bands. It was a good time to live in Sydney; there were a lot of great live music venues within walking distance of my house. But I usually drove to them in an LC Torana I bought from a guy I worked with. I saw SixFTHick for the first time at Club 77, a tiny basement in Kings Cross and discovered Steve Earle because Tim Rogers supported him at the Metro.
I moved back to WA and, desperate to see some live music, I chose a band based on their name; The Kuillotines. They were playing the Hydie, a legendary Perth music venue which was eventually sold and turned into a shit bar. Through my cousins who were The Novocaines, I met other musos and somehow became part of the Perth music scene, despite not being able to play an instrument.
As a boilermaker, the best paying jobs were in the mines, and I ended up working FIFO for ten years. I've worked in Port Hedland, Halls Creek, The Tanami Desert, and all over the Pilbara. FIFO is not for everyone; you work twelve hour shifts in 47 degree heat for weeks at a time. I've seen a lot of relationships fall apart because of the job, and your workmates become your family. The money's good though, and because of that, when I reconnected with my future wife on Facebook and she was on the other side of the country, I could afford to fly over on a whim.
I moved to Melbourne six weeks later.
My wife still laughs that I was blown away when she took me to Brunetti's to buy 'the good bread' late at night. In Perth, if you want bread after 7pm, you can only get Wonderwhite from the servo. I immediately felt right at home in East Brunswick; I bought a VC Valiant called Valerie from a guy down the road. I'm the third owner and I suspect the first person to drive her past Bell Street. When Yasmine was at RMIT I'd eat breakfast at Ginger Lee, where I met Campbell Griffiths. Through him, I joined The Scoundrels car club and made some great mates. Which is how I ended up at Chopped in 2012. Which is how we ended up moving to Newstead. We found a 60s weatherboard house in desperate need of renovation and decided that would be the perfect joint hobby. It isn't. It's slowly improving, despite being sidetracked by numerous project cars.
We got married at Newstead Racecourse, in front of family, the Perth music scene, FIFO workers and some rowdy Scoundrels. The barista from Ginger Lee was a groomsmen. which makes me a terrible hipster, apparently. One of my best friends from the mines drove Yasmine to the racecourse in Valerie.
I continued to work FIFO on and off until our daughter was six months old. Boiler making is a dying trade as the majority of manufacturing and fabrication is done off shore now. I've had quite a few local jobs but they never last very long; either the work runs out or I get frustrated with the difference in pay, make a phone call to WA and get on the next planes to the middle of nowhere. For my last FIFO job, it took three flights to get there and back every two weeks.
The community is the best thing about being here. Castlemaine and the surrounding areas are the complete opposite of the country towns I grew up in; here, people are moving from the city rather than leaving for the city.
Favourite places and things to do in the area: Saturday morning coffee at Saffs with my daughter Rocket, Ice Cream Social, Naam Pla, Newstead sheds, Sunday dinners over the fence, Chopped and The Boogaloo.
Tips for people thinking of moving out here: Buy a house that doesn't need renovating. Learn to cook, there is no UberEats. Buy a chainsaw. Make friends with people who have adventures.