Canberra - One of Australia's finest storytellers and public speakers, Stan Grant spent years as a foreign correspondent in conflict zones. Here, he speaks about his special relationship with Pakistan and how it furthered his connection to home.

Pakistan was an adventure story. It's an extraordinary country with an incredible history. Carved out of partition with India, it's a country that has been in a fight for its own survival. There is a struggle for the soul of Pakistan, torn between radical Islamic extremism on the one hand and the quest for democracy and civilian government on the other.

I was always attracted to that turbulence. Covering the warzones of Iraq and Afghanistan was often a very confined experiences. In Pakistan, it was a free-for-all. It was a country that was tearing itself apart; there were more terrorist attacks in Pakistan than Afghanistan and Iraq combined since 9/11.

And yet, it reminded me of home. There was a physicality to it. I found gumtrees in Pakistan. Islamabad, where our bureau was based, reminded me of parts of Canberra.  It was deeply evocative - the smells and the sights and the sounds but at the same time exotic and distant, remote and also turbulent.

On home, absence and recognition

I learned about myself while being away from my own country. Absence sharpens your perspective of home.

I'm drawn to writers who have had that expatriate experience; writers like James Baldwin, who wrote so powerfully about the United States while living in exile in France.

In reporting on stories in countries that have been shaped by the big forces of history - countries like China, North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, countries across the Middle East - I saw the forces that were shaping my own people.

Indigenous people in Australia shared those experiences. I really met myself out there. To see people living lives of meaning and dignity, to see people get up each day and find the will to go on for love of family, country and community, to see that resilience, really fascinated me.

On restlessness, distance

and wanderlust

I spent most of my childhood travelling around the back blocks of NSW. I would move from one town to the next with my parents.

We were living a life of poverty, but we had the strength of family and culture that allowed us to survive. Looking out the window in the backseat of the car, I got that observer's eye; that ability to sit in a car, look out and imagine. I think that has really helped me as a journalist.

I feel the need to keep moving. I like new experiences, I like the sense of adventure, I like the precariousness of that existence. I don't trust stability. I really struggle with the idea of being trapped in one place.

On country, belonging and Indigenous identity

Because our sense of country is so deeply embedded in our identities, we don't need to be on country to carry that with us.

I always felt a great sense of connection, and it was that connection that I found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. I would look at people and see that they were people of the land too. They connected to their country and I could connect to them through my connection to country.

I wanted to be free of the shackles of our history. I didn't want to be defined and limited by the low expectations that can really choke off the ambitions and aspirations of so many Indigenous people.

I wanted to be free to experience everything the world had to offer. Ultimately, coming back to Australia reawakened me to my own story, to the story of my people and physically reconnected me to that place.

I've grown into a place now where I can speak about issues with some authority, with a different perspective because of the experiences I've had living away from Australia and also bring a quality to my writing that is informed by 30 years of journalism. I've arrived at the right place to be able to tell the right story that matters to me now.–ABCRN