Secret family history of an Australian war hero
AS A kid, Victoria Cross recipient Daniel Keighran would walk around with a hammer, bashing down the rocks that protruded through the carpet below his bare feet.
The carpet came from the tip. His dad Ian had brought it back to their Central Queensland property and rolled it down over the earth in the "old-school shearing shed" they called home.
"I didn't meet my dad for first time until I was 11 or 12 and he'd just been shot," said Keighran.
"It'd just been my mum up until that point in time.
"He immediately whisks us away to the country up in Lowmead 100km north of Bundaberg and there was nothing. It was a 40ha block with nothing on it."
The former Corporal from Brisbane's 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, didn't know it at the time, but his dad had come back because he was "out of options".
"As you get older you realise things and start working things out," he said.
"You don't get shot for no reason."
When Ian lobbed on Judy's Maleny doorstep in 1994, she immediately took him in.
"I know, from speaking to her about it later, that she just wanted me to have my father in my life so she decided to get back with him," Keighran said.
So the four of them, including Keighran's 16-year-old sister Susan, moved four hours north to "the middle of nowhere".
The family was poor. There was no mains power, no money and no room for self-pity.
"I would do my schoolwork by candlelight and lamp light. We never had diesel for the generator. I never had lunch money," he recalled.
"We had a freezer. It was terrible. It was a like a 12-volt thing. We'd put the generator on for a few hours, try and freeze (meat), and then because we didn't have the money to keep it running all of the time it'd defrost again so we'd kick it over again and crank it up for a few hours."
When this Nambour-born boy was thrust into life on the land, suddenly everything - from the meat his family couldn't keep frozen to his parents' relationship - "was not quite right".
It was the 90s and Keighran went from being a city kid, living on the Sunshine Coast, to sleeping in a leaky caravan and later a rusted corrugated iron shed.
There were no hot showers let alone a television to watch his beloved State of Origin. Instead there were endless jobs.
"There was always something to do," he said.
"You'd wake up first thing in the morning and you're mucking out stables before you go to school or you're feeding the horses.
"You'd pump water to a central location and carry it hundreds of metres to the troughs where the animals were and it was just morning chores for me."
Then he'd run 2km to catch the bus each day. All socialising was at school because weekends were for work.
"I'd ride bulls, a few years later, and break in horses and I'd do mustering so I suppose it was a tough upbringing in that regard," he said.
"You were working sunup till sundown, digging post holes, fencing and slaughtering your own livestock - if available - as well.
"Mum would drive the 100km to Bundaberg to do shopping once a week and if you forgot something you missed out.
"I'd do fencing work as well. Just anything to make a living really."
He knows about hardship and going without yet regales every anecdote with humour.
"My grandfather got me a computer but I could use it for only about two hours in a 24-hour period because we had to use batteries," he laughed.
"We just had no money.
"We just couldn't do stuff, we never went out for dinner, we couldn't go anywhere."
But Keighran insists he's grateful for his experience.
"The only thing I resented was that I was OK at sport as a kid and whenever I'd get to a certain point where it would cost money to travel or something I couldn't do it so I never got to explore that or take the next step," he said.
"Mum was a legend and tried her best but I felt bad if she had to travel because I knew it would put strain on the budget.
"But again I guess that dealing with disappointment has made me more resilient."
Keighran spoke exclusively to The Daily Telegraph ahead of the release of an interview with veteran podcast Life on the Line on Tuesday.
In the first episode of season three he spoke about his VC action, military career and mental health. He told host Alex Lloyd that his childhood had prepared him for the army.
"Due to my upbringing as a kid my mental resilience has been pretty good," he said.
But he wasn't referring only to the physical labour.
"My dad was a hard man, a very hard man, let's just say that," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"He taught me a lot of good and bad things as a kid.
"He opened my eyes up to the world and I was exposed to a lot of things from the age of 12 that I hadn't been before."
But there remained a positive male influence in the teenager's life - his WWII veteran grandfather Alan at Maroochydore, who inspired him to join the military.
The 35-year-old said he spent every school holidays with the former sergeant, who always took him fishing and taught him how to shoot.
"He's the one who instilled in me my core values," he said.
"He helped me deal with even the small disappointments and losses, and he'd talk about them.
"He'd be verbal about it and go, 'it's OK to feel something if something bad happened'. No one else had ever done that with me before.
"Even when my dad came on the scene (Alan) was still my go to for advice, my go to for everything."
Judy and Ian divorced when Keighran finished school and at 17 he joined the army.
He was posted to 6RAR as a rifleman in Delta Company.
He deployed to Iraq and East Timor before completing two tours of Afghanistan.
Sadly Alan died before Keighran was awarded the nation's highest honour - the Victoria Cross for Australia - in 2012 for his valour under heavy enemy fire during the Battle of Derapet in Afghanistan in August 2010.