Born at the Tatura Internment Camp, Victoria, in 1944, Bundanoon author Roland Breckwoldt grew up wanting to be a "cowboy".
His book, The New Ringer, is a memoir and coming-of-age story of his time in Outback Queensland as a ringer (stockman) on Augustus Downs in the Gulf of Carpenteria at the age of 16.
Roland's first memories, however, are not of the internment camp but a small cottage on a piggery at North Rocks.
Growing up just after the war had ended, Roland said it wasn't "fashionable to be German."
"Especially with a name like Roland Breckwoldt, and my father deliberately would loud German," he said.
Roland's father Holm, left Germany in 1933 and moved to Shanghai with his mother Ilse for seven years before they moved to Australia shortly before World War II.
He left behind a son in Germany, Helmut, from a previous marriage.
"There were three reasons he left Germany," Roland said.
"He fought in the First World War, and he could see another looming.
"Secondly, he was an architect, and he designed his great big public works program Hitler was diverting all funds to militarisation.
"The third reason and I didn't find out until I was about 70, was that he had fallen in love with his wife's doctor's daughter who became my mother, so they eloped to Shanghai.
"My sister was born in Shanghai but they had to leave when Japan invaded China."
After the family had moved to Tokyo, Roland's father Holm met an Australian.
"He went home and said to Mum, 'if they are all like that then we are going to Australia'. That one single Australian made an impact," he said.
"Unfortunately, they arrived here just before another war.
"After Pearl Harbour, that's when things were very for bad for Germans.
"There was the Enemy Aliens Act of the time, and it made enemy aliens out of anyone who was Italian, Japanese or German background."
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"My father had absolutely no time for nazis but that could not save him from the internment camp."
In 1941 on Christmas Eve, Holm was arrested in his flat in Bondi. He was sent to Holsworthy Internment Camp and Tatura in Victoria with his family.
According to Roland, his family was released ahead of time thanks to a friendly commander.
"When the war started turning against Germany, there was a friendly commander called Lieutenant Wilcox," he said.
"I've tried to track him down, but I can't find any record of him. He listened to my parents, and my father was let out on a form of parole for three months to find accommodation and work before we could go.
"But my first memory is the little cottage."
Shortly before Roland turned 16, he received a letter from his half-brother Helmut who had arrived in Australia five years prior and was a builder in Monto, Queensland.
"He happened to mention his letter just in passing that one of his recent jobs was building at Hampstead on a cattle station," he said.
"I kid you not, my decision was instant. I didn't even think about it. I just wrote to my brother straight away and said I was coming.
"I resigned from my job the next day."
Once he reached his brother Helmut, he travelled to cattle stations and cattle sales with agents who offered him a job as a trainee auctioneer.
"But I had my heart set on a cattle station," he said.
Eventually, Roland found a position at a cattle station at Augustus Downs near Cloncurry, thanks to a butcher called Sam Nugent.
"Sam had been an overseer on Augustus Downs and left after his 18 year old son Leon was killed in a horse accident. I met Sam and he wrote to the manager of Augustus Downs on my behalf," he said.
"And that's how it started at age 16, never having ridden a horse in my life."
Looking back at his time on cattle stations, Roland said it was "pretty terrific" despite the "tough" conditions.
"I was yelled at of course. I was at the bottom of the pecking order but I didn't mind," he said.
"I just made up my mind that I wasn't going to stay at the bottom any moment longer than I had to and worked hard. After a while I took to it like a duck to water.
"After six months, I was pretty confident. By the end of the year, I was considered one of the old hands."
Roland returned to Augustus Downs station for a second year before he moved to Camboon Station, near Theodore, Queensland.
However, after a year at Camboon Station and two years at Augustus Downs Station as a ringer, he left to study at Hawkesbury Agricultural College.
"My mother had put my name down way back when I was a kid because I was so interested in becoming a cowboy," he said.
"When I was at Camboon, my mother drove up from Sydney in an old Skoda car with my younger brother and a friend, and she begged me to go to Hawkesbury College.
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"So I thought I would go to please her."
Initially, he planned to get it over and done with and fail so he could go back to what he was doing.
"But I didn't fail," he said.
"I liked Hawkesbury after a while. I did okay in exams, and at the end of the year I got a cadetship into the Department of Agriculture to become a beef cattle officer."
Roland said his foray as a beef cattle officer "didn't last" long.
"I sensed that it wasn't going to be my destiny once I got there," he said.
"I came across the newly formed National Parks and Wildlife Service, and I joined them as an education officer."
From there, Roland earned a degree through correspondence and then joined the commonwealth when the head of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service became the head of the Department of Environment in Canberra.
"That only lasted a year before we bought our own farm in the Bega Valley," he said.
Looking back at his incredible life, Roland said he would do it all again.
"It was just everything. It was all I ever wanted to do," he said.
"It never goes away. It's always there."
'The New Ringer' by Roland Breckwoldt and published by Allen and Unwin is on sale at bookstores across the Southern Highlands.
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