This book begins with the story of a young boy, Rem Vandenberg, who was born in 1937 in the Netherlands just before the onslaught of the Second World War. His youth was a struggle to exist under the German occupation and in combating the depravation of poverty. Added to these hardships was the ongoing personal battle he fought daily in accepting the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church which were heavily imposed on him by the uncompromising adult belief of the time. His authoritarian father loaded with the responsibility of caring for the large family was staunch in upholding his strong principles and instilling them into his children. Of a less serious nature and with a strong desire to be free of the bonds restricting him from freedom of expression and thought Rem was often on the punitive end of the disciple rod, both at school and home. Opposing this oppression was the endless love and compassion of his mother, who through the strength of her faith, was able to engulf the whole family under her mantle of love and bind them together into a caring family unit.
At a young age Rem had to begin work to help support the family. What he was expected to do for a few cents per week was beyond the capability of this small undernourished lad. His father insisted on strength of character and allowed him to be pushed to the limit of his endurance. Held by the love of his family but tormented with the urge to be free of restrictions Rem finally took his life in his own hands. At the age of sixteen driven by the spirit of adventure he left home and joined the merchant navy. His first voyage was on a whaling ship to the South Pole which was followed by voyages throughout the world for the next few years.
On sailing into his first Australian port his desire to stay in Australia took over. He jumped ship and went inland where he took a job on the railway. After six months as gang worker he was finally picked up by the law and experienced a short jail sentence before being deported back to Holland. His love for Australia was strong and within two years he returned as a legal migrant and still lives in his beloved land today.