My Dad, David Schlunke, was already an established artist in Sydney when he met my Mum, Lyn, who was a student at The Bakery Art School, Paddington. Soon after meeting and getting together, they bought a Landrover and moved to North Queensland to film wildlife at Shipton's Flat, near Cooktown.

In the mid 70's they moved again to Dad's home town, Temora, where his father, E O Schlunke, based and set many of his short stories, including Stories of the Riverina. There they bought a 633 hectare bushland property which they named Big Bush. Mum and Dad began work on a mud brick house and a few years later my older sister Anna was born.

I was born in the early 1980's, as Mum and Dad were expanding their plans for self-sufficiency. The Big Dam had already been built, and a windmill, storage tanks and irrigation system for an orchard and organic gardens were added. Dad continued to exhibit in Sydney and the house grew around us as we did.

I started school just weeks before James was born. I loved having a little brother but hated school. In our school holidays we worked with Dad, making mud bricks, mixing cement, raking the fire breaks around the house. We often visited friends at Kalang, near Bellingen and accompanied Dad on photographic trips around northern NSW, Kosciusko National Park, and to the Daintree River area and Shiptons Flat near Cooktown, in Far North Queensland .

I left school when I was 15, and left home when I was 16. I spent a year at Kalang near Bellingen, on the midnorth coast of NSW, before leaving Australia completely when I was 17.