Twenty years ago in June 1995 one of the most defining moments of my life started when I went on a seven months, 58,000 km solo journey through Australia. I had sold my lovely home in Fremantle’s Bolton Place and most of my belongings as I did not know if I would return to Freo, but of course I did because I always felt a special connection with this place.
A huge life-threatening depression forced me to make the drastic decision to try to stay alive by changing my life. If all I had did not make me happy I might as well let go off it all and travel and find out who I am and what I want from life.
After seven months of rollercoaster emotions from deep satisfaction to deep despair and seeing some of the most stunning and remote parts of Australia I returned to Fremantle, and what a good decision it has turned out to be.
On return I had my very first article published in the Fremantle Herald in mid 1996 about the discrimination against Aboriginal people I had witnessed during my trip, and I became an avid writer of letters to editors of newspapers on all kinds of issues. I had found my voice and the desire to engage deeper and more publicly with the community I lived in. I engaged with the Walyalup Reconciliation Group, the Fremantle Society, Roundhouse tour guides, the arts industry, local government, events and markets, and many more things, to try to be a positive influence for Freo’s future.
Over the last twenty years Fremantle has grown on me and we are now like an old couple living very comfortably together but not without having the odd quarrel. Freo sees all my shortcomings and good bits and I see hers. That is not a bad thing because it is based on mutual respect and the desire to make our world a better place.
My trip had taught me that I should not just be an observer but a participant and that if I could find the courage to speak out I could make a difference.
I am now in the last quarter of my life and I have no intention to leave Fremantle as I really love this city. My intense and passionate engagement will continue because I believe I can help make Freo an even better place. Not everyone appreciates what I write on Freo’s View, but that is good because it has inspired many people to take part in the community debate and speak their mind, and that is great for Fremantle.
I am so glad and grateful I returned to Freo after my trip because there is no other place I feel more comfortable in.