Christine Sykes grew up in a quaint fibro home in Cabramatta in Sydney's south-west during the 1950s and 60s, the daughter of a truck driver and a cleaner, but her life changed forever when a "larger than life family" moved into her street.
That family was Gough Whitlam, his wife Margaret and their four children.
The experience features in a new memoir, mixed with Australian history, by the award-winning Stanwell Park author, who credits the Whitlams largely for the person she has become.
"I remember going around to the house and meeting Margaret and Gough as kids, it very much resonated with me at the time," Sykes said. "It shifted my view of what was possible and my aspirations, and Margaret was very much on about how girls had to be educated and think beyond what their expectations are."
Gough and Me: My journey from Cabramatta to China and beyond began as the writer, community worker and former public servant transcribed her life onto a page but realised there were so many influences from the Whitlams.
"It was like the coming of this extraordinary family, for several reasons," Sykes said. "They had an architect design this modern house with a flat roof which we'd never seen before, and we were living in a two-bedroom fibro house built by my dad and uncles.
"There were two university-educated people suddenly moving into our street ... It was like the coming of people from another world into our very working-class neighbourhood. Their impact was enormous."
Despite the visionary and polarising Labor leader eventually being dismissed from his post, Sykes believes Mr Whitlam was still so very influential to the many lives of Australians, and wants to remind her readers how far the nation - especially for women's rights - has come and how he changed her life.
"So many people of my generation, and younger generations as well, have Gough stories and we're just ordinary people and I would love to honour that," Sykes said.
"I remember they were still living in the house when he was elected as Prime Minister [in 1972] ... and Gough knocked on Dad's door and invited him down to the house for a drink, but Dad didn't go because he wanted to get up early to go fishing the next day, but my uncle did."
Gough and Me will be officially launched alongside an art exhibition by Sykes' partner John Svoronos at Wollongong's Project Contemporary Artspace on Saturday at 2pm (the exhibition runs from May 12 to 23).
Svoronos' exhibition, Just a Lot of STUFF, features paintings and installations. His impressive paintings were done over several years and revolve around the stories of the Wodi Wodi trail and the black panther as well as Jonah's Journey.
His installations use discarded items and kitchen materials, such as orange peels, cherry pips and discarded containers, which most see as expendable. En masse, these form art objects with unintended metaphors and meanings.