When did you arrive in Australia and why did you settle in Geelong?
I arrived in Australia from Bremenhaven in Germany on Italian ship "Flavia" on the 19th of March 1964. After 40 days at sea, the ship docked in Sydney on 19th of March 1964, where we went through immigration formalities. Two days later, the ship docked at Port Melbourne and I arrived in Geelong on the same day. It was Saturday and I started to work at the Ford Motor Company on the following Tuesday.
When I worked in Germany for eight months as a fitter and turner, my workmate told me that he had a relative in Australia and it happened to be in Geelong. He wrote him a letter and asked him if he had a room for me to stay in. His replay was affirmative and that was the reason for coming to Geelong. I've been here ever since.
What did you do for living before retirement?
Since arrival I mostly worked as a fitter on various jobs, mainly in oil refineries. I retired in 2008 after 44 years of continuous employment.
You recently wrote a book about your decision to leave Slovenia at the age of twenty and your long journey to Australia. Why did you feel you wanted to write a book about this?
After establishing a family here, I thought it would be a good idea to write it for my children so that they could understand our beginning in Australia. I was writing this story over many years and almost abandoned it, until my present partner encouraged me to continue. After I finished the Slovenian version, I realized that the people who matter most - my grandchildren, won't understand it. So I decided to translate it in the English language. Beside my family, I wanted to share this story with others who left their homes in Slovenia under similar circumstances and also with the Australian born generations so that they can understand the hardships of starting a new life in a foreign country with a foreign language and culture.
The Slovenian version has 260 pages and I have launched it at the Slovenian club "Ivan Cankar" Inc. Geelong. It was well received by everyone present. I will have another presentation at the "Jadran Club" on the March the 23rd and at the Slovenian Festival on the April 5th at the Slovenian Association Melbourne. The English language version still needs to be proofread and edited and will go into print hopefully in the second half of this year. It will be about 300 pages long.
My partner Shirley has been an enormous help and encouragement in making this project a success.
Looking back at your life, would you say that you made the right decision to move to Australia? In what ways would your life be different if you stayed in Slovenia?
Looking back now, I am convinced that I made the right decision by coming to Australia; however, I had my doubts in '70s and '80s. and at the beginning of Slovenian independence. Now, however, I am deeply disappointed with the path on which the Slovenian leaders are taking our beautiful country. But I am not losing hope for a better future in Slovenia, even though I know it won't happen overnight.
Overall, I have no regrets about anything I did and I still have dreams.