Up Crackneck Mountain by Colleen Keating

 Up Crackneck Mountain

sometimes it takes sadness loss an empty room
to painfully be aware of presence

sometimes it takes stillness of breath
to remind us to breathe deeply
consciously with gratitude

sometimes it takes silence
to remind us to sing


and find

we did today

our first bush walk since our world changed
and we take time to adjust
to a new life without Pat in our world

an amazing eucalypt stopped us in our tracks
a grand old lady holding forth
fully present
from each angle she commandeered our attention

the light played beautifully along her trunk
adding to her starling presence

colours and tones of nature
especially the scruffy banksia men
trunks, bark, brambles decay
ant-eating bores seed pods
humus of leaf litter
were catching my eye
with a chaotic beauty that satisfied me
still feeling close to the out of control
and sense of rawness that is reality
when we experience the threshold of transition
for it takes time to find
ways to close off and re-protect ourselves

yet the music of birds
the baby wren that flew out
on a branch to greet us
the kookaburras,
the goanna that stayed for a photo
the blue and stunning black butterfly that didn’t stay
a few straggler flannel flowers
reminding us of our lockdown spring walks
where we marvelled at their abundance
and their star-light quality

At the top of Crackneck Mountain
we stopped to have a cuppa and muesli bar
marvelled at the grandeur of the ocean spread out
in all its glory
never ceasing to amaze and delight

we walked down the mountain
taking the outer less worn track
where we were reminded of new life
as fresh lime-green candles of banksia
brightly shone

and young callow sprigs of Xanthorrhoea *
their flounce like ballerinas in their grass shirts
the first breath of wind will have them dancing.





*’Xanthorrhoea’  is the name for what we mostly call the grass tree. It means ‘yellow flow’ in ancient Greek and refers to its resin. This resin was much prized by Aboriginal people, being used as a glue or as a coating/waterproofing material. The early settlers also found it extremely useful, as a glue, a varnish, polish and a coating of tin materials. It was used in the sizing of paper, in soap and perfumery and even in the manufacture of early gramophone records.

Pondering this new year . . this Angophora answers by Colleen Keating


i visit my special tree
a regular confidante
and ponder
what this new year may bring

rooted in place
sturdy stronger calmer
than i remember

it gazes upwards
out over the valley
as if it could see
far beyond our horizon

one thing changed
last visit its bark was pink
sleek inviting my hand
to run across its dimply skin





today its bark is splitting
letting go
peeling in strips and curls
burnished as an old rusty drum
exposing chartreuse rawness

i nod and thank
tree wisdom
for its perfect message


The magic colours of the trunk .



The Angophora Tree

Totems are a natural object or creature that is believed to have spiritual significance and can be adopted by particular groups as an emblem or symbol. This special tree like others before me who declared it the hugging tree is my special tree

The angophora tree is a special tree to the Darug people who are the Traditional Custodians of the area. The angophora is an ascension tree, a place where the spirits  go up and down from this earthly plane.

In pre-colonial days at the time of pregnancy, a woman would sit at the base of the tree and wait for the spirit of her child to enter her belly into her unborn child. At the other end of the life cycle, when someone passes, the body is wrapped in bark and placed in the large branches up the tree, to allow the spirit of the person to return to the heavens.

On a recent visit  I felt the spirit is still there.   There is a parallel world here in this Loreto forest .

I am writing my next poem on that at present.


(Angophora Costata   Sydney Red Gum or Smooth Bark Apple Gum)
















Let’s plant flowers! Welcome 2022 by Colleen Keating

New Years Eve

lets hope
the burst of colour and sound
scares off the old spirits
to welcome 2022

I think it will bring flowers
because I am planting them!

Welcome 2022


Dawn came with
chortle of magpies in the deodar
outside our bedroom window

morning greeted with
dawning light golden
atop the trees

the butcher birds shy ring
for them a greeting of another day
– for us a new year.

Our birds began arriving
doves  lorikeets  cockatoos
magpies and native minors.


It was a startling blue day.
An early walk as the heat was coming.
Coops Creek  forest was shady and cool.

Michael pointed out – a natural sculpture –
a very old uprooted tree
rains and winds over the years

washing it clean like bone.
Then we saw sculpures everywhere
This could be our very own Sculpture Park

with stunning shapes
albeit of nature alone.
Trees, upturned roots, caves, fallen rocks
and plants all lend themselves

from some bigger than us
to the fragile, small, sometimes
hidden things, one needs to tiptoe
quietly not to miss






(Angophora Costata   Sydney Red Gum or Smooth Bark Apple Gum)