Story of: Ross Cotton
ALONE in a dark and snowy forest: this is where Ross Cotton would spend weeks at a time.
His goal while out in the wilderness was to hunt, surviving off essentials being dropped to him from planes - if he's lucky to find them.
It's a situation not too far removed from the fictional world of The Hunger Games.
Mr Cotton spent weeks in the frozen landscape hunting feral deer; a major problem for the New Zealand environment.
"You would sleep with your feet up against trees,” Mr Cotton said.
"I got lost once.”
"Professional hunter” is one of many jobs Mr Cotton has held in his life, alongside titles including marketing manager, farmer and great-grandfather.
Among Fraser Coast residents, he is best known for establishing the Pier Park Community Markets in 2012.
As a young boy in New Zealand, he grew up with "dirt on his hands” as he describes it.
Whether it be weeding his teacher's garden or preparing cattle for the sale yards, he was always out being productive.
Sitting on a porch swing at his home in Scarness, he can't recall when he didn't work at least 50 hours a week during his work life.
Nowadays, the 78-year-old grows organic produce including kale, rocket and eggplant and supplies them to local business Frog Organic Boxes.
He says the hardest gig he ever had was working in construction in the deep cove tunnel at South Island.
Shifts went for 24 hours amid pouring rain, he said.
It was back-breaking labour, but he wouldn't have had it any other way.
He has fond memories of his hometown of Christchurch, including contributing to the town's vibrant botanical gardens.
As he followed reports of the recent Christchurch massacre, many of the places televised were familiar to him.
He only lived around the corner from one of the mosques.
Mr Cotton loved life in New Zealand except for one major factor: the cold.
His dislike of frosty weather was enough to convince him to move to Australia.
An advertisement for a marketing job paying $100,000 caught his eye.
Despite not having any experience in the field, he was on a plane and headed for a job interview soon after.
He recalls telling the hiring manager "I want your job” at the interview. Call him psychic, but he eventually achieved that goal, becoming a national marketing manager for a high-end resort chain.
He was managing "600-odd” staff, which he recalls was "good fun.”
Being a top player in a hotel chain company certainly had its perks, including regular travel across the country and a work trip to America.
Around retirement, the keen green thumb became involved in marketing hydroponic systems, which became his connection with the Hervey Bay market scene.
Never afraid to speak his mind, Mr Cotton said he took the initiative to set up the Pier Park Community Markets after becoming frustrated with stallholders complaining of not having a decent market to go to.
The father-of-three used his marketing skills to help the event become a staple of the weekly Fraser Coast calendar.
His advice to youngsters is to get out there and work hard.
"I've enjoyed everything which I have done,” he said.
"If you're not enjoying what you're doing, go find something else.”
The keen camper plans to continue going on adventures for as long as he lives.