He made his way to Australian shores at the age of 15 with forged documents from Malta but ultimately Charlie Fenech called the Southern Highlands home.
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A well-known figure in the Southern Highlands, Charlie worked several jobs before he opened White Gate Stables on Ascot Road, Bowral.
While he passed away in February 2003, his son Mike Fenech remembers his father and a by-gone era.
Charlie was born to a family with seven siblings; four brothers and three sisters. His birthday however is not known.
According to his son Mike, his birthday and exact age was something his father never talked about - that and death.
"He always changed the subject," he said.
For a short period, Charlie lived in Kings Cross where he worked as a kitchen hand in cafes to survive.
"The only ones that looked after him were the wharf labourers, mafia and old fashioned prostitutes," his son Mike recalls.
"All he had was the clothes on the back. He was determined to get through in life.
"He knew no one."
While life was hard in the Cross, Mike said it was where his dad Charlie met his Bowral based wife Mary-Ann Fenech nee Bopping.
"They were pretty keen on dancing," he said.
"They met at a dance, got married in Sydney and moved to the Southern Highlands.
"He started with nothing and slowly he bought land and started building.
"My dad worked in mines, as a bricklayer but horses were his passion. He always wanted to work with them."
Charlie's passion and commitment meant White Gate Stables on Ascot Road was built in the 60s.
"It was a passion he always wanted to do, something that he always liked," Mike said.
A keen horseman, Charlie opened his doors to jockeys and horse trainers alike. He even hosted Olympic horse trainer Franz Maringer and jockeys from the Australian Jockey Club, now known as the Australian Turf Club.
"A lot of well-known jockeys trained there," Mike said.
"He would help condition them before races, get them ready to race.
"People who went to the Bong Bong Races stayed there overnight as well."
Ever the entrepreneur, Charlie would also sell hay on the side.
"He was switched on," Mike said.
"If there was a dollar there, he would make it."
According to Mike, his dad had plenty of sayings to motivate people.
"My dad had some funny sayings. He would say the best friend you have in life is your wallet because without it no one wants to know you.
"Another thing he uses to say is that when you had a shocker of a day, the best therapy you could get in life was to walk into a cemetery,
"You walk into a cemetery feeling the way your feeling and then when you've had enough time walking around, you walk back out and see if you feel any better.
"They're still there, but at least you're alive."
The Fenech family sold the stables more than 30 years ago and while the stables and Charlie might be gone, they haven't been forgotten.
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