LOCAL LEGEND: Bertie Elliot with Bertie Elliot – The Opposite To My Brother Billy at Summerland Antiques, Ballina.
LOCAL LEGEND: Bertie Elliot with Bertie Elliot – The Opposite To My Brother Billy at Summerland Antiques, Ballina. Patrick Gorbunovs

Bert's been nearly drowned, shot, mauled, eaten, blown-up

"I'M WRITING this story about my life as I think I have lived and done more things than most people," said Bert "Bertie" Elliott.

Having nearly drowned four times, been involved in three "write-off" accidents, narrowly avoided being shot twice, dodged an attack by a white-pointer shark, charged by a wild boar and almost blown up, Bertie's claim to have done more things than most seems pretty well founded.

When local legend Bert set out to write his autobiography last year, largely from his place of work at the Summerland Antiques and Garden Centre in Ballina, the content for his story was never going to be an issue.

The fact that he couldn't read, write, type or spell would be.

"When I started writing this, I couldn't read or write," Mr Elliott said.

"I had never read a book, ever.

"Anyone that was walking past the counter I'd say 'Excuse me, how do I spell such and such'."

LOCAL LEGEND: Bertie Elliott had to learn to read and write to could pen his book, Bertie Elliott - The Opposite To My Brother Billy. He is shown at Summerland Antiques, Ballina.
LOCAL LEGEND: Bertie Elliott had to learn to read and write to could pen his book, Bertie Elliott - The Opposite To My Brother Billy. He is shown at Summerland Antiques, Ballina. Patrick Gorbunovs

But after two or three months of typing at a painstakingly slow rate of one word a minute, getting words onto the screen started to become easier.

The 159-page book Bertie Elliot - The Opposite To My Brother Billy was officially launched at the Summerland Antiques and Garden Centre on Saturday.

Covering a broad range of life experiences, Mr Elliott's book includes accounts from his wide-range of travels including 72 trips to Europe, 68 trips to Asia and 16 trips to the USA.

It also provides a unique glimpse into Mr Elliott's teenage years in Lismore - what he describes as a Happy Days stereotype of young men hanging out in leather jackets in Keen St milk bars next to polished motorcycles.

Mr Elliott said he was surprised by the feedback he has received and by the large crowd at the launch.

"People that bought it the other day and have read it, they extremely love it," he said.

"I've had phone calls back saying how great it is and how they should make a movie on it."

Despite having now written his own, Mr Elliott says he still has no intention of picking up anyone else's book to read.

"If I ever do a second one, I don't want the other book influencing me," he said.

So far, Mr Elliott has sold more than 100 copies - it is available for $20 at the Summerland Antiques and Garden Centre.


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