Six weeks before Darko “Dougie” Desic handed himself in to Dee Why police, he shared his dilemma with one of the few mates he trusted in his adopted homeland. The 64-year-old had spent 29 years on the run after one of Australia’s most audacious prison breaks.
The dilapidated house he called home – so rundown he and his fellow tenants placed an umbrella over the outside loo – had been sold as Sydney’s Northern Beaches property prices peaked in the pandemic, making Desic homeless.
Men – particularly older men – are notoriously reluctant to share their emotions or inner secrets. Thank goodness, otherwise we wouldn’t have the English literature canon from Jane Austen onwards. Or Hugh Grant’s movie career, come to that.
So I was stunned at a recent lunch when a group of former alpha males switched the conversation from sport (“Why are there no rugby tackles in the Winter Olympics?“) to their own main failing in life. Impotence? Absence during the sleepless early years of parenthood? Non-attendance in budgie smugglers at school swimming carnivals?
They called it Granite Town, and it was arguably the first purpose-built multi-ethnic settlement in Australia.
Long before the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme revolutionised non-Anglican migration to Australia in the 1940s and 1950s, another gigantic engineering feat had pioneered the way — the Dr John Bradfield-inspired Sydney Harbour Bridge which celebrates its 90th anniversary this weekend.