IT WASN'T all plain sailing, but once he made it into journalism this Mildura boy never looked back.
Ben Knight is about as grassroots as it comes when you are talking foreign correspondents.
He is recently back from almost three years as the ABC's man in the Middle East - home address Jerusalem.
But the boy from Mildura would almost certainly have been voted the student most unlikely during his school years in the Murray River town.
And he is not too proud to admit he was the classic dropout. Twice.
"I had my first go at uni in Melbourne and dropped out pretty quickly," Ben says. "So it was back to Mildura and a job as a block hand.
"Which convinced me I had better get serious and give it another go. "So I started a second course through La Trobe at its Bendigo campus."
Yep. Ben dropped out again. And it was back to Mildura again.
It was one of those decisions that could have seen him lose direction.
Except, then a mate asked him to fill a gig on community radio to help fill his day.
"I got the Monday night shift, with an audience, as best I could tell, of three taxi drivers," Ben recalls.
"But I really enjoyed it, so without knowing any better I fronted up to the ABC Mildura office and asked for a shot at work experience.
"They gave me seven weeks - I think I was really just free labour - but that stretched into casual work, with a day here and there stretching to weeks.
"At 23 they decided to give me a shot and I suddenly had a career, not just a job."
Ben stayed at ABC Mildura for more than three years before taking the plunge with a job in the ABC Melbourne studios, using his bush background to contribute to Statewide's regional content for a few years.
"Regional and 3LO (now 774) were under the same boss so I hit him up for a position," Ben says. "But he knocked me back, telling me I lacked some crucial skills - grey hair, a wife and family.
"He said I would be better off going upstairs and doing some work on AM/PM and World Today, do a bit of TV.
"Best advice I ever got."
Because within a few years - and he still has to pinch himself - he was given the plum role in the Middle East. There he would not just be ringside; he would be smack in the middle of some of world history's greatest turning points.
Along with wife, Ainslie Hodgkinson, and their children Finn, 8, and Poppy, 6.
Although he does admit that as excited as he was about the opportunity, he had to consider the safety of his whole family.
"Mark Willacy and his wife, Susie, had been there just before us and told us there weren't many safety issues and it was too good an opportunity to pass up," Ben says.
"So we sold up, packed up and pushed off.
"As it turned out, so much started to happen there the biggest pressure was on Ainslie, and I don't know how she coped and can only admire her, and be grateful for the support.
"As we flew into areas where revolution was breaking out, the dictators immediately shut down internet and phone systems, so at times she would not have a clue where I was, or how I was, for one or two weeks at a time.
"On one trip into Libya the Israelis shut down their mobile phone network and I could not reach her - that gave me a horrible insight into what she had been going through.
"But it's amazing how you adjust. On one occasion she was caught in a terrorist incident, there were soldiers and chaos everywhere.
"So she simply pushed our 4WD up over the median strip and took a different path home."
Ben covered Egypt's January 25 revolution and was in Tahrir Square with protesters when Mubarak quit.
He was in and out of Libya during some of the fiercest fighting, and was in Tripoli when Gadaffi was toppled.
He says he is over being gun shy, but a good backfire will see him first man on the floor.
And it's all such a long way from entertaining Mildura cabbies on the graveyard shift.
Although he now does have those crucial skills - grey hair, the wife and kids.