Hong Kong-born Francis Lee was a familiar voice on Sydney's SBS radio station for many years before his retirement earlier this year. Lee left Hong Kong in the early 1960s, when he was 16 years old and his parents wanted him to study at an Australian university. 'I remember boarding the ship on my own and looking at my parents and four brothers and sisters as they waved goodbye to me from the dockside. I had never travelled anywhere on my own before and I suddenly realised the enormity of what I was doing. I cried and cried for a long time.' Brought up in Shau Kei Wan and educated at the Italian Salesian School, Lee has fond memories of the area, especially family outings to Shek O. 'My parents were not well-off. My father did not have a fixed income. He was a self-employed fabric salesman and had four other children to support. Still, they wanted me to have a good education, so they paid for my tuition. I remember it cost 900 Australian pounds for each term. They also paid for my board and I worked whenever I could. 'I went to stay with my uncle in Sydney for a while but then he got deported. In my first year in Australia, I moved house five times until I became a boarder at the school.' Despite the distractions, Lee gained a masters degree in civil design engineering and secured a job with the Public Works Department in New South Wales. He stayed for 35 years. 'But it was not a fulfilling career,' says Lee. So, when he was offered the opportunity to present a national Cantonese radio show, Lee seized the opportunity. 'It started as a casual job which turned into a full-time position and I eventually became head of the group. However, for about 10 years, I was still working at my engineering job during the day. 'I translated local, national and international news and stories into Cantonese, held interviews, made community announcements and played a few songs,' he recalls. The show became an important link to home for Australia's migrant Cantonese speakers. Lee says roughly two thirds of the Chinese in Australia listened to his show regularly - at least once every two weeks. A popular segment of the show was devoted to English idioms, a quirk of the language that learners find baffling. 'They are something you can't learn from books and I was very confused by them when I first arrived in Australia. Phrases such as 'read between the lines', 'tongue in cheek', 'off the record', 'you can't have your cake and eat it, too' and 'bite your tongue' sounded like nonsense.' Lee would relate the idioms to his own experiences and weave short stories around them, which Australia's Chinese-language newspapers picked up on and published for a number of years. He then compiled a number of them for two books: English Idioms - a Cultural Fascination and English Idioms - Under the Lucky Stars. Lee took early retirement this year to focus on finding a publisher for his memoirs, Out of Bounds: Journey of a Migrant, and to help his wife in her fashion business. He says: 'I love it here [in Australia]. I think it is the land of opportunity and the people here are very honest and fair. I have never regretted coming to Australia.'