The Water Baby
In 1956, Franco and Claudia Borelli immigrated to Australia. They half jumped, and were half pushed.
Mr Franco Borelli was working as a Civil Engineer in the Suez Canal. Nasser became President and, among other things, promptly started confiscating the assets and property of Europeans living in Egypt. The Suez Crisis had begun.
The likely decision was made easy after an attempt on Franco's life. The Borellis packed their bags and fled, boarding the first ship bound for Australia. Claudia's parents had moved to Australia years before, having anticipated the troubles to come, and they'd given the young newlyweds nothing but glowing reports about their new home.
Upon arrival in Australia, the Borellis and their nine year old daughter Daniela literally had to start over. Australia proved to be a vastly different mentality and culture to what the Borellis were accustomed.
Then, on the 6 of September 1966, the greatest surprise of all occurred, when Gian Pierro was born.
His birthday was exactly the same day as his sister's ten years earlier, and his arrival had conclusively proven wrong the doctors who'd told Claudia she would never have another child. This was to be the first of many enigmas that would surround the ten pound baby boy.
Life never follows a straight line, and in 1972 the Borellis were forced to relocate again, this time from Mona Vale on Sydney's Northern Beaches.
The family had purchased a modest home amidst tranquil bushland. Their closest neighbours, the Burke family, had a teenage daughter of similar age to Daniela.
One afternoon the two girls had a seemingly trivial argument, as teenagers often do, however this provided both the excuse and the catalyst needed for the girls' parents to finally let loose their deep-seated xenophobia. They had always resented the "wogs" living next door. It's no great secret that the tighter a cork is stuffed down, the more powerfully it explodes.
The next two years saw the Burkes undertake a vitriolic campaign which commenced with incessant threats and culminated in property damage, causing the Borellis to fear their home would be torched as threatened.
The events were to scar the family emotionally for years to come. The Borellis did their best to forgive, but they knew they would never forget.
Luckily, the next move would prove a positive one, and would last for many decades to follow. The relocation was to the stunningly beautiful beachside suburb of Manly.
They purchased a top floor apartment located on Manly Point, with breath taking views of the harbour. Claudia would never entertain the idea of living in a house again. She felt more secure in an apartment block.
This particular area of Eastern Hill, as it was known to the social elitists, was unique. Once you walked the couple of minutes down the hill, you were standing on a narrow sand spit which at its narrowest divided the ocean and harbour beaches by only several hundred metres. This sand spit then widened to provide the nucleus of the Manly village.
Manly proved to be the ideal playground setting for a vibrant, young and energetic Gian Pierro. It wasn't long before his parents renamed him a Water Baby. All of the boy's interests and hobbies gravitated around things aquatic - Gian was either in it, on it, or under it - to the extent that birthdays and Christmas gifts became an easy selection. His parents simply purchased diving or fishing gear. By the age of ten, the boy proved himself so competent that his father bought him his first boat, an eleven foot Savage aluminium runabout with a six horse power Johnson outboard motor. More commonly called a "tinnie" by millions of Australians.
The tinnie became Gian's prize possession and allowed him the adventure of fishing or diving many new and distant parts of the harbour. Not bad