Warialda farmer David Conway hadn't written anything since sitting the Higher School Certificate in 1974.
But when he picked up a pen last year, it provided an unexpected comedic relief from crippling drought.
Eventually, it led to a book publishing debut.
Eric the Echidna is the "children's book for adults and the adult's book for children" that features social conscious, humour and romance.
This time last year the only greenery at the property 'Dewrang' was the four acre garden of David's wife, Robyn.
The beauty of the garden amid the bleak landscape meant it also became an attractive home for a range of wildlife, including echidnas, snakes, turtles and birds.
"It just started as a bit of a joke during the drought," Mr Conway said.
"The echidna was coming in to the garden and I kept putting pictures on Facebook with a $50 note and bribes telling him to go away.
"All we were trying to do was get rid of him because he used to dig Robyn's garden up.
"And then blow me down, the second one came along, which we assumed was a female, so we put them together, and then the turtle would turn up and they became mates."
Friends and family followed the menagerie's journey online, and encouraged Mr Conway to put the story down on paper.
After about two months of writing, his daughter Alice stepped in to proof read, while her father-in-law, Henri Caboche, tried his hand at the illustrations.
"I said, 'Can you draw?' and he said, 'No I can paint'," Mr Conway said.
"I said, 'I want a drawing of an echidna'. He is such an affable guy that he said, 'I'll have a go at it' so he started drawing them and the further he went the better he got and then Alice would ring him and say, 'Dad wants one of an echidna playing golf'."
The book was self-published with a Victorian company, Mr Conway received his first copy three months ago.
"It was definitely a comedic relief from the devastating drought of 2019," he said.
"It just kept people amused ... the farm can beat you every now and again but it was good for that reason.
"Robyn liked it because it gave me a hobby."
The book is available for $20 from Wise Words in Moree or the tourist centres at Bingara, Warialda and Inverell.
Mr Conway said it was the perfect Christmas gift for someone who was hard to buy for.
"The whole process of writing, editing and self publishing has been an absolute experience," he said.
"It was something I din't know I had in me.
"It's just an experience for a 64-year-old farmer that came from nowhere.
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