Nikola Radocaj was born in Croatia. As a single man, Nik came to Australia by ship in December 1967 and spent three months at Bonegilla Migrant Camp in Victoria before being sent to Mooroopna Vic for fruit picking. After a short time Nik and two friends turned up at Spencer Street Railway Station to ask for work with the Victorian Railways Special Gang.
Nik's life was that of a wanderer, working on many large projects around Australia including with the Gordon River Hydro Electric Commission in Tasmania, the railway from Townsville to Greenvale (north west of Townsville). Back in Victoria, Nik worked on the construction of the Upper Thompson Dam and the Dartmouth Dam.
While working at Dartmouth, Nik would travel to Melbourne at weekends and on one of these visits he met Maria. They married in 1975. Maria is a twin. Having a wife who is an identical twin has provided some interesting moments! They have three children - a daughter and two sons.
Nik worked on Melbourne's Underground Rail Loop for four years and when the tunnelling work had finished in 1979, with a wife and three young children to provide for, Nik decided to work overseas. He travelled way up into the jungle in Irian Jaya, Indonesia where he worked for two and a half years.
After his return Nik went along to have a chest Xray which were free at that time. It was then that he was advised to have a more thorough check.
From 1985 until his lung transplant, Nik's life was very difficult as he continued to work with his lung problem and by 1996 things became worse.
IIn 1996 Nik decided to travel to Croatia, and more especially to see if there was anywhere in Europe that might be able to give him some treatment - but he didn't have any success.
Nik was reluctant to go on the transplant waiting list despite being encouraged by the medical specialists. It was not until he was so ill that he finally gave in. And he is so glad that he did!
Nik's early transplant days were a bit difficult. His lung transplant went well but he ended up briefly in the Cardiac Ward shortly after. Nik also lost his voice and could only whisper. He was referred to a speech therapist and this was another appointment to keep during his time at the gym. The good news is that his voice did come back.
Nik walks to keep fit. He also enjoys working in his fruit and vegetable garden. Nik likes to eat healthy food to keep up his strength and with Maria as a great cook he is very lucky. Maria often brings along special cakes as a treat for everyone to enjoy at the BBQs.
Nik and Maria have just returned from a trip to Croatia to visit his elderly mother. Nik said it was wonderful to see his mother and catch up with his family of three sisters and a brother. He is very grateful to have had the chance to visit his family which would not have been possible without a transplant.
They were away for three months and enjoyed travelling around some parts of Europe. Nik said he felt very healthy during the trip.