Like many of his generation, Alf Fish not only knows the value of hard work, but has a love for it.
At 80 years of age and with a terminal illness presenting a final horizon, Mr Fish is taking time to reflect.
It has been an adventurous work life, both on land and sea, encompassing fascinating pieces of local history.
Mr Fish was born in the original Koroit hospital on Port Fairy Road to working class parents.
When he was five, the family left the bright lights of Koroit when his father purchased a property in Southern Cross. It was here lessons on how to partake in Koroit's most famous industry, potatoes, were learnt.
"Dad used to cut the seed himself, and plant the bloody things by hand with the old plough and horse, and dig them out with a fork. That's where I first learnt it all, " Mr Fish recalled fondly.
"I went to school in Yarpturk and then wanted to go to North Tech, but mum and dad couldn't afford it so I left school. I remember not long after leaving school sitting at home and the old man said we better have a chat.
"He said 'I don't want you sitting around on your bum, get out and get a job'."
And so he did, milking cows for a neighbouring farmer for 13 quid a week.
But the lure of the potato paddocks was too strong to resist, with Mr Fish spending the next decade travelling the district from Koroit, Killarney, Illowa, Southern Cross and Crossley as one of the district's famed spudpickers.
It was work not for the faint-hearted, heavy, dirty and usually under a summer sun.
But for Mr Fish, it was never a burden.
"I loved it," he said.
"I could pick 100 bags a day, I just loved the work, it kept you fit.
"The most I picked in a day was 125 bags, it was good money when the spud prices were up. We would go from paddock to paddock, finish one, and go to the next.
"It was a good crew, blokes like Bob Harry, Tommy and Red McCutcheon, Pat Brady."
These were the halcyon days of Koroit and district's spud industry, with a captive market and plentiful crops.
Mr Fish recalls the best crop he picked in was in Illowa, which yielded 25 tonnes of spuds to the acre.
"You could put your arms out and touch a bag on each side, that's how good a crop it was," he said.
While picking the spuds was the core business for men like Mr Fish, a day in the paddock included a couple of other tasks. Each 50kg hessian bag had to be sewn with string, a skill in itself.
Mr Fish still has spud needles, with a glint in his eye as he proudly looks them over.
Another skill in the paddock that needed to be mastered was the art of loading.
Trucks would roll down rows with spud bags standing on each side.
A team of three men would hurl the bags onto the truck, with hundreds of bags sometimes piled on.
"There was a method to it," Mr Fish said.
"Our team of three had it down pat, we could throw it six foot high if we had to."
He went on to work in other fields, but the spudpicker was never far away.
"Even when I had other jobs I'd go out picking spuds on my holidays," Mr Fish said.
For a man who enjoyed hard labour, Mr Fish was able to find endeavours to feed that desire. He worked as a concreter, a fisherman and at Nestles in Dennington.
His days as a fisherman were colourful ones, heading deep out to sea, catching sharks and snagging pots of crayfish. He was on the water for eight years.
In his early forties, with the hard yards of spudpicking, fishing and concreting behind him, Mr Fish decided it was time to head indoors to work in the Nestles factory.
He worked in the coffee and milk department over a 15-year span, walking out the door for the last time when he was 58.
"The coffee had closed and they were offering redundancies," he said.
"It was perfect timing for me, I was able to retire early."
For many going to work is a necessary chore, for Alf Fish it was a passion that has shaped much of his life.
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