HUGH Rose has proven it’s never too late to publish your first book, with the 84-year-old ex-sailor, fisherman, farmer and Loch Sport resident recently releasing his memoir Don’t go into town, Tonto!

Hugh Rose was born in December 1937 in the UK. He left school at age 15 to join the Royal Navy. He then joined the Merchant Navy and emigrated to Australia where he travelled extensively.

He worked in a copper mine, did various labouring jobs, and went back to sea again on a Tasmanian lobster boat. In later years he worked in Aboriginal communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Red Centre.

The sea would not escape Mr Rose’s heart, and he’s now enjoying semi-retirement with his wife Rosalin Sipirok in Loch Sport, surrounded by water once again. Despite living in Australia for 59 years, he finally became a naturalised citizen in January this year.

His many unexpected encounters with colourful characters and events taught him life lessons in an entertaining, humorous and honest manner over the years, and it was a story he wanted to tell.

“I had the ideas in my head about 30 years ago, but started writing the book in 2015,” Mr Rose said.

“We had moved back to the Snowy Mountains where we used to live. But eventually, we knew that because of encroaching age, the property we were living in was too much – it was way too large.

“We wanted to go back near the water again. We found the right house, the right time and the right price, here in Loch Sport at the end of 2018.

“It was at that point, we suddenly decided, let’s see if we can get the book published.”

Mr Rose didn’t use a computer to write the book, he wrote it by hand. Ms Sipirok, a community development worker, assisted with administrative tasks like emails to get the book published.

“It’s not easy to do the website stuff and emails. It’s a jungle out there,” Ms Sipirok said.

“Especially for the older generation. But we still got the book published by Austin Macauley Publishers, a British publisher.

“The publishers loved his honesty.”

Mr Rose said it was an easy book to write.

“It was the editing that took a long time,” he said.

Asked if he had any advice for those who want to write a book, Mr Rose said “don’t bugger around”.

“Just sit down and write a lot of bull, and stacks of it. And then take out all the dross, condense it, and then keep on writing whatever comes into your head. And you can write from memory if it’s a memoir,” he said.

Hugh Rose’s manuscripts. Photo: Stefan Bradley.

The couple wants to show that anyone can get their first book out there, no matter what age.

Mr Rose was part of a Writers Club, which was run by Loch Sport Community House, but stopped when COVID hit.

“At the writers club, they talked about using mind mapping to write fiction or if you don’t know what to write about,” Mr Rose said.

“But I didn’t need a mind map with this book. I started with when I was born, I went to school, later on the bombs (that) fell on us and that sort of stuff. It was just using my memory, and it was chronological.

“When writing it I didn’t have a deadline or an advance for the book, so I could take my time writing it. The actual writing was easy.”

Ms Sipirok said the club was very encouraging towards her husband.

“They said they liked his style,” she said.

Mr Rose hopes that readers sit down and take the book in.

“I think those over the age of 40 in particular will understand all the references and get what I’m talking about in the book,” he said.

“It’s definitely a reader’s book. You don’t just skim through it.

“I’m telling you, you don’t. And if you got a sense of humour, it’s got a lot of laughs.”

“And it’s very educational too,” added Ms Sipirok.

The title refers to the Tonto character from The Lone Ranger.

“I was 15 years old during my navy traineeship and there were 200 of us boys. There was a cinema in the gymnasium we watched once a week. What was very popular at the time was The Lone Ranger,” Mr Rose explained.

“Tonto would ride into town and you knew he would wind up into the slammer. Always.

“So when we would hear the line ‘go into town Tonto and see what you find out’, 200 boys would stand up and yell ‘don’t go into town Tonto!’ at the same time.

“And it made me think about when I went to sea. Every time I went ashore, I got into s**t,” Mr Rose laughed.

Front cover of Don’t Go Into Town, Tonto!

The hero spoken about in the book is Mr Rose’s stepfather, Robert Wynne.

“He had been in the Navy as well and he was on the same ship I was on, donkey years ago of course,” Mr Rose said.

“My mother met him after the war. My biological father had disappeared in the war, so (my stepfather Robert Wynne) was the hero I needed as a seven-year-old kid.

Mr Rose said he doesn’t like to refer to Mr Wynne as his ‘stepfather’. The word ‘step’ is not used at all in the book in this context. Mr Wynne is Mr Rose’s pop.

“We never used the word ‘step’. Never. Us four boys weren’t his step-sons, we were his sons,” Mr Rose said.

Mr Rose is looking at doing more writing, but this time a book full of short fictional stories.

Don’t go into town, Tonto! by Hugh Rose is available at bookshops now.