Countdown to Hildegard’s Anniversary 17th September by Colleen Keating

Countdown : Hildegard’s Anniversary 17th September. She still speaks to us today . Her encouraging words to us to care for our planet, her sacred music, her knowledge of healing plants, love of the cosmos,

is all there for us in the 21st century . . . 842 years after she passed.

We celebrate you Hildegard.

Hildegard writes,
“The earth is at the same time mother, She is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human. She is mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all. The earth of human kind contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power. It is in so many ways fruitful. All creation comes from it. “
~ Hildegard of Bingen
My photo “Veriditas” was taken of the moist undergrowth in the Wyrrabalong National Park on Darkinjung country Central Coast.
Veriditas – ‘the greening power of the divine’ – or ‘the healing power of green.’ Hildegard believed in the unifying power of the divine as reflected through growth. The “greening” in nature serves as a symbol of spiritual and physical health and reflection the divine in nature

Celebrating Hildegard of Bingen: Count down to her Anniversary 17th September.

The Story of a Young Pilgrim

in search of Hildegard of Bingen

by Colleen Keating

I take a train out of Bingen
through the Rhine Valley
on this  summers day
trek up a steep hill
relieved to find an old sign klosterruine
which points to a verdant track
into a cool shady grove

here remnants of the twelfth century monastery
moss-mottled stone walls
mostly buried by vines
and embedded tree roots
is Hildegard’s world

standing in this moment
with the outlines of another world
time is shapeless
the divide of centuries a blur

only my mind’s eye can see
a spirited young woman
flourishing herb gardens

she prepares salves and tonics
attends the sick
listens to the breeze
and finds God in the hills above her

the earth is our mother she would sing
revere and care for her
if we exploit and savage her
she will be out off balance
and the price will be high

then silence for nine hundred years

I lean against the wall marked Hildegard’s cloister
in the lush shade of an almond tree
hanging fruit voluptuous now
is falling to emptiness
the void
the nothingness
how human to fear the waiting
for fullness to return

scattered around me
are rotting almond fruits
flies enjoying their feast
the decay fodder for the soil

my eyes scan for her presence

a maiden hair fern
grooved into a crumbling niche
catches my eye
delicate and tenacious
I feel a quickening
like a first flutter of new life

too often the fragile the intimate whisper
the lightness of touch
the flicker of a sanctuary lamp
like the breath are portals and easily missed

I ponder the rise and fall of my breathing
listen to the rhythmic heart beat
hear veriditas chants in the crumbling walls

veriditas murmurs hildegard

hildegard is here
I do not flinch i expect her

nothing like the grey statue at the abbey
holding the orb and feather

her presence is intimate
light glows luminous
her arms full of herbs from the garden
and her muddy hand-made sandals
make me laugh

by Colleen Keating

Commended in Society of Women Writers Poetry Award. Giving women a voice. 2017

“A triumph of reconciliation” Emeritus Professor Lyndall Ryan AM FAHA



Only being aware of the past 

                 can we understand the present 

                                   to live into the future 

The radical and idealistic Olive Pink worked on the edge of the

 frontier of Australian history through the turbulent first 75 years

 of the 20th century. A woman warrior for Indigenous people, she tolerated

 no cover-up by individuals, society, governments or the law.

* * * * * 

With a meticulously researched, absorbing verse narrative, Colleen Keating

brings Olive Muriel Pink’s significant, neglected history to life with distinctive,

beautiful imagery. In powerful lyrical stanzas, she tells the story of Olive’s struggle

for recognition as a female anthropologist, her life-long work for the rights

of the Warlpiri and Arrernte people she loved and lived among, and the creation

of her arid garden. ‘High on a camel swaying to and fro /with a straight back

and a broad smile / Olive rides into her future.”  Olive’s persistence, her triumphs

and her passion for justice make for uplifting and compelling reading.          

   – Pip Griffin, poet


Olive Pink is one of Australia’s  unsung heroines.  In this original and

deeply moving biographical verse novel, Colleen Keating enables Olive Pink’s

experiences with Aboriginal people in Central Australia to emerge with

sensitivity, intellectual curiosity, understanding and grace.  It is a triumph

for reconciliation and will surely enter the annals of Australian literature.’   

    Emeritus Professor Lyndall Ryan  AM FAHA 


A play, a dance, books, a proposed film, an opera and now a wonderful

narrative poem by Colleen Keating. I wonder what Miss Pink would think

about all this attention – her battles and passions appreciated at last!!

      Dr. Gillian Ward,   Curator and author


Olive Pink’s life floats off the page – very much the character I’ve come

 to know and admire while translating her experience into music across

 this past decade.  Colleen Keating gives us a seriously beautiful work

 based on research that brings Olive vividly to life.  It is wonderful

 to see the astonishing story of this Australian woman Olive Pink, 

given the attention she so deserves. Such a visionary.

      –  Emeritus Professor Anne Boyd AM  Composer of the Olive Pink Opera


An invaluable and powerful addition to the story of Australian women who

 lived their lives working for equality and social justice.  A joy to read.

      – Elizabeth Keating-Jones  MA

Lockdown Walk No 13 Out to the trig station and back

Out to the Trig station and back  

the coddled clouds 
were part of a gentle day
their feather touch
even the horizon misty 
a moist lightness on the sea air

the path soft and established 
with sandstone built sides 
the only reason we have hesitated 
is the steep gradients of ups and downs
today it seemed right to tackle 

I expected wildflowers at their best
a past memory was a gathering
of flannel flowers 

we met a back-burn
dry acrid smell
black ashen ground 

the air tasted acerbic
it harshened my breath 
agony of  past summer fires
miniture here 
reminded me of loss   
of absence  

yes nature survives fire 
yes banksia uses heat to propagate
yes it can prevent wild-fire destruction

but here I stood before empiness
my mind spinning

will the flannel flowers return?
will the flying duck orchids 
break this hard dry barren place?

all I can say
I grasped for answers
only when I got past this area
did they come
in colours and patterns
resilience and belief in renewal


Lockdown walk No 12 Spring today by Colleen Keating

Spring today opens

curious with the willy wag tail’s
chit-chat that encourages our walk

golden as sun-lit candles of banksia bushes
awaiting the  honeyeaters

green as unfurled fronds of fern
basking in morning sun

bright as the morning glory
spangling across the dunes

colourful as the wildflowers
bursting forth amidst the scrub

secretive as the hollow in the  old iron-bark
where two lorikeets hover

joyful as the magpie’s warble
from a high branch of the river gum

cantankerous as the territorial fights
amongst the bird gangs

busy as the scrub turkey scratching
up its mound

cheeky as the cheep-cheep
in answer to its partners sharp whip-crack

determined as the strait backed flannel flowers
preparing  to blossom on time

delicious as the fish and chips
we enjoy together by the beach

wide-eyed  as the one with sea-blue eyes
I wonder with,  walking spring today




Lockdown Walk No. 11 featuring the Sensory Gardens on Tuggerah Lake

A joint project of Wyong Shire Council and Lions Club The Entrance, located at Terilbah Reserve, The Entrance North. The gardens are filled with native trees and plants, a viewing platform overlooking the beautiful Tuggerah Lakes pathways, bridges, restful seats and all weather shelters.


A special feature of the garden of course is the sensory aspect. One is able to feel, touch and smell the many aromas and textures of the Australia Bush.   The colours of the Banksias , grevilleas and the three types of wattles  I discovered


Our picnics are very relaxing

And some of the birds that came up closer enough for us to observe each other

Spoonbills, heron, cormorant , pelican, egrets, ducks, honey eaters.




Lockdown walk No. 10, Under-cliff rock platform by Colleen Keating


Under-cliff Rock Platform 

A low tide walk
to explore the rock platform
snugly hidden
under the grassy cliffs
of Crackneck Lookout.

On the steep walk down
a whip bird song accompanied us
darting in and out of the foliage
with a clear sharp whip
content with an instant cheep-cheep reply

down on the beach
under the undercut of the cliff
through sand and rock and bush
scrub and mangroves

there was a salty feel to the day
out on the rock platform
we found a viewing spot
behind us the high projecting
grassy headlands
before us waves rolled in
dashing with jubilant spray
against the rocks

suddenly we were
the only two people in all the world<
the wide vista of horizon
like long arms curled around us
we relaxed into our oneness
into a cone of happiness
with permeable membrane
that allowed the real world to lean in
crashing of waves, rolling ofocean

then from out of a rock pool
a white-faced grey heron
like a mystic appeared

we accepted it as gift


our hearts as light as
lifting grey wings

At home I pondered once again the quote that has been tacked to my office wall for years

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.  Marianne Williamson 

Launch of Olive Muriel Pink: her radical & idealistic life by Colleen Keating


Sun September 19 @ 11:00 am




  warmly invites you to the launch by

          Emeritus Professor Andrew Hede PhD 

  of the book


Her radical and idealistic life

by Colleen Keating

Venue: Olive Pink Botantic Garden

Stay for lunch at the Bean Tree Cafe with the author and buy a signed copy.Later join us for a Pioneer Walk in the garden and learn more of Olive Pink with the curator of the park Ian Coleman 



Sun September 19
11:00 am
Event Categories:


Olive Pink Botanic Garden
08 8952 2154


Olive Pink Botanic Garden
Tuncks Rd
Alice Springs, NT 0870Australia
+ Google Map
08 8952 2154

Looking for Olive. Member’s Talk at SWW on Olive Muriel Pink by Colleen Keating




I .00 PM–2.15 PM



Looking for Olive – the radical and idealistic life of Olive Muriel Pink

by Colleen Keating


Colleen, author of five poetry books  with Ginninderra Press and 5 poetry chap books  with Picaro Poets will talk about the inspiration, development and publication of her latest book,  A Poetic Journey with  an Australian women Olive Muriel Pink .  Colleen first became curious after visiting the Olive Pink Botanical Garden  in Alice Springs on a holiday and unable to find local information about Olive.  Back home she became immersed in the passions and struggles of Olive Pink’s story, a pioneer Australian woman of the first half of the 20th century.(1884-1975).  Here was a justice warrior, an advocate for the rights of the Indigenous people, a trained anthropologist, artist, gardener, botanist and curator.  And one whose song needs to be sang.  



A woman writer’s journey – the restorative justice of writing Australian Indigenous themes

by Julie Janson


Keynote speaker – Julie Janson: A woman writer’s journey –  the restorative justice of writing Australian Indigenous themes

Julie is a Burruberongal woman of Darug nation, Hawkesbury River NSW. She grew up with an Aboriginal father and mother of English descent in Boronia Park, Sydney.
She is a teacher, artist, novelist, playwright and poet, and a recipient of the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize and the Judith Wright Poetry Prize.
Julie’s published novels are The Crocodile Hotel (Cyclops Press 2015), The Light Horse Ghost (Nibago 2018) and Benevolence (Magabala 2020). This latest novel will be published by Harper Collins in USA and UK 2021.
In a career as a playwright, Julie’s plays have been produced in Australia, Indonesia and USA:
  *  Two plays-Black Mary and Gunjies (Aboriginal Studies Press 1996)
Gunjies, nominated for an AWGIE
The Crocodile Hotel, nominated for Patrick White Award and Griffin Award
  *  Black Mary produced by Company B Belvoir St Theatre 1997
The Eyes of Marege, Sydney Opera House Studio, Adelaide Festival Centre 2007 and Makassar, Sulawesi
Julie was fortunate to present at the Adelaide Writers Festival 2021, Bendigo Writers Festival 2021 and Byron Bay Writers Festival.
She has also experienced Asialink Literature Residencies Indonesia 2000, 2003; Varuna residency; Tyrone Guthrie Writing Residency, Ireland 2006; Australia Council BR Whiting Residency Rome 2013; Listowel Ireland Writers Festival and Belfast Book Week 2016.

To book and pay:
$10 members, $15 non-members

Book via TryBooking:

or by direct debit:

The Society of Women Writers NSW Inc
BSB: 062 018
Account:  00950433
Code:  VM (for Keynote Speaker) or VMW (for Workshop)

Email Amanda Mark – Email Amanda –
with your name, receipt number and date of event