"I remember walking into the bathroom by myself for the first time in months and being confronted with a chest full of scars, I had no nipples and I looked a lot different to what I thought and I just broke down, it was a bad thing at the time.
A couple of months earlier, we had been working our guts out mustering bullocks and I had some mates coming to visit from down south. My Ute had been playing up and I had been trying to fix it when I got myself covered in oil. Not thinking too much about it, I caught up with the boys and camped at the yards.
I had my drizabone vest zipped up and I drifted off to sleep in the arm chair, too close to the fire – I know it was my fault. I woke up after an ember had landed on me as my shirt caught fire. I frantically tried to rip the vest off, I was yelling out to my mates and rolling around on the ground trying to put myself out. I remember looking down at my arms on the verge of giving up as I could see the skin coming off. I knew I had to give it one more crack as one of my mates woke up and tackled me to the ground, I didn't have much of my shirt or vest left.
I was flown to Brissie Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctors with third degree burns to 48% of my body, they put me into a coma where I stayed for 4 weeks as they had to take 3 lots of donor skin from my legs to cover the rest of my body.
My Boss Fred Appleton from Appleton Cattle Co where I was working, found out late that night and he flew straight to Brisbane to be by my side until my family could get there from Victoria. He treated me like his family.
They told me it would be an 18 month to 2 year recovery and that I better set some goals for what life might be like. My first goal - I wanted to get back to work, my second goal - I wanted to fly choppers.
I didn't enjoy being in the city, I met some nice people while I was in hospital, a cane farmer from FNQ who would be the nicest person I've ever met. I love cattle and I love the bush and that's what I wanted to do. I worked hard at my physio and I made it back to work in about 6 months – I ticked that box. One day I was chatting with my boss and as a pilot himself he encouraged me to "Go chase your dreams".
I got my licence, I got back to work and I still managed to do everything that the others at work could do. It's given me the chance where I can spend my mornings mustering, working in the yards in the arvo and flying myself home in the evening.
It taught me a number of things; It taught me that good people don't care what you look like so there's no point worrying about it. It taught me that sometimes you just need to keep moving forward. I want people to know that you can face these challenges and you can come out the otherside and go back to doing the things you love."