For more than 40 years Sean Dorney covered the big stories in Australia's immediate neighbourhood as the ABC's Papua New Guinea and Pacific correspondent.
But now the 66-year-old is facing another challenge — living with motor neurone disease.
After learning of his diagnosis, friends, family and colleagues gathered in Brisbane to share stories and jokes, and pay tribute to the life and work of the man they simply call Dorney.
Former ABC colleague Graeme Dobell praised Dorney, "the bloke and the work and… the joy he brings to the craft".
"Lawrence of Arabia, Dorney of the South Pacific," Dobell told the crowd of 150 people at the Western Districts Rugby Football Club.
For more than four decades Dorney was Australia's voice in PNG and the Pacific.
But in PNG he was more than just a foreign reporter.
He was, and still is, a household name.
He reported on the country's major historic events; the Bougainville crisis, the Aitape tsunami and the eruption of the Rabaul volcano.
He captained the national rugby league side, the Kumuls.
In 1984 he was kicked out of the country.
Six years later the government welcomed him back and gave him an MBE.
PNG wasn't the only country he was ejected from.
Australia's former high commissioner to Fiji, James Batley, recalled when coup leader Frank Bainimarama kicked Dorney out of Fiji in 2009.
"Honestly he's just caused trouble over the years," Batley said.
"There I was doing my best to broker an agreement with our dear friend Frank Bainimarama … and Sean just blunders in out of the blue and gets himself expelled from Fiji."
'This isn't normal fare for a journalist'
Over the years Dorney mentored many journalists and broadcasters from PNG and the Pacific and several of them travelled to Brisbane for his tribute dinner.
"Sean thank you. Thank you for everything you've done. Thank you for planting the seed for a generation of all of us," Tania Nugent from PNG said.
Friends organised the tribute dinner after learning he'd been diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year.
It's severely limiting his movement and one specialist predicted he has three years to live.
But he's tackling the disease with his trademark humour and optimism.
"Can I just tell you all who've come here pretty close to me tonight and many of you have shaken my hand the good news: MND is not contagious," he said to laughter from the crowd.
"Having captained the Kumuls, having won a Walkley award, those things pale into insignificance when you can get your socks and shoes on in less than 10 minutes," he joked.
After the speeches Dorney said he was overwhelmed by the tribute.
"This isn't normal fare for a journalist to have people saying nice things about them," he said.
The dinner also raised $7,000 for research into motor neurone disease.