Barrett was born in Bondi, Australia, the son of George and Marguerite Barrett. He left school at 14 to do a few odd jobs before taking on a trade as a butcher around the eastern suburbs of Sydney. He gave up his trade when a hind of beef fell on him and injured his shoulder. While he was on worker's compensation, he completed three writing courses at the WEA (Workers' Educational Association). When his sickness benefits ran out he worked in various jobs, DJ, barman, or went on the dole. His first writing job was gag writing for disc jockeys on Radio 2SM. He also signed on with a casting agent and started acting in commercials and television series and appeared in what he says are 'two classic A-grade clunkers'; the movies Bullamakanka and The Empty Beach.
Les Norton, a big red-headed country boy from Queensland, has just arrived in the big smoke and is set to make his mark. Working as a bouncer at an illegal casino in the Cross, Les encounters a number of facinating characters who make up the seamier side of one of the most exciting cities in the world - gamblers, conmen, bookies, bouncers, hookers and hit men, who ply their respective trades from the golden sands of Bondi to the tainted gutters of Kings Cross ... usually on the wrong side of the law.