As a child I was fascinated by dinosaurs and astronomy. I lucked into a career in journalism with the local in Mildura after leaving school in 1965, and moved around. At 27, now married with four children, I was working the airport round for the now-defunct Canberra News, cold interviewing travellers who might have interesting stories to tell. I interviewed a CSIRO entomologist who had just found a giant dragonfly fossil in Tasmania. It reignited my childhood interest in science, and I secured a job as a science journalist with CSIRO in 1974. I decided to specialise in writing about molecular genetics and biotechnology – the only Australian science journalist to have done so.
I became science writer for The Age in 1987, and by 1990, it attracted the largest correspondence of any specialist round – nearly all of it positive. I won a Michael Daley Award for Best Science Feature in an Australian newspaper/magazine in 1988. In 10 months with Time Australia from 1993-4, I won another Daley, the 1994 Peter Hunt Eureka Prize for Environmental Journalism, the inaugural Amgen Award for Biotechnology Journalism, plus an award for best science feature in an Australian University magazine. In 1990, ex-New Scientist editor Michael Brooks said he regarded me as the best science writer in the southern hemisphere – it was a compliment of sorts.
After Time moved to Sydney in 1994, I became science writer/columnist with the Sunday Herald-Sun in Melbourne. I continued writing for the paper, and freelancing, after returning to Mildura in 1997.
I rejoined my old local newspaper in 2007 as a general reporter, but my interest in science is undiminished. In a 40-year career as a science writer, I've contributed to leading international research journals including Nature, Nature Biotechnology and Science. My scientific knowledge runs broad and deep, and I can converse with most scientists as a peer. Scientists respect my accuracy, and readers respect my facility for explaining complex science in simple language.