I was the first in my family to be able to go to university, and like so many other students, I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to be. However, the offer of a teacher’s college scholarship meant that this cane farmer’s son could afford to go to the University of New England (UNE), with its great system of residential colleges. Raised on a farm on Warregah (Box 1), an alluvial island in the Clarence River in northern New South Wales, I had attended Chatsworth Island Primary School, which boasted two or three teachers, depending on student numbers. The headmaster, Mr Woolley, was a fan of English grammar and, as a result, many of my postdoctoral students (and my daughters) have had to endure grammar lectures.
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