A Fun weekend exploring the beach and some creative work from Jazz and Dom

One of my favourite places, ” says Jazz.

Lots of  ocean-exploring  over the weekend with Jazz & Dom.  Jazz says she could sit all day and watch the vissisitude of the ocean. We talked about the wild waves crashing and the small timid waves creeping in and the ever changing ocean. I loved it that the ocean holds her in all its moods. It was low tide, which gave us scope to ramble about, rock hopping and gazing into rock pools , one of our happy places.

Jazz exploring at low tide

Jazz pondering  the unceasing quest of the ocean

Jazz who plans to be a Marine Biologist and hopes in some way to play her part in saving our oceans  found lots of interest in our afternoon walk. Our most beautiful being the blood-red Anemone

Sometimes it is called the Waratah Anemone and at low tide it  looks like a small red blob on crevices near rock pools. In this state it has all its tentacles drawn in to minimise its exposure to the air while it waits for the return of the tide. We were lucky to capture a few waving their tenticles around looking flower like.

The Neptune’s necklace actually called Hormosira and other sea weed and the different varieies of  kelp  and sea weed was another interesting thing to explore .  Some people forage this for their gardens or to eat as it is full of sea  mineral. 

Below are some of the haiku and tanka Jazz wrote at school this week.




nature’s stream glowing

glistening in the dark

   cockatoos singing


trees of vibrant green

the silent breeze blowing through

earth’s heart beat echoes


the flowers blooming

nature’s waterfall crashing

cascading rivers


colourful rainbows

reflecting on water

oh what a great sight



the ocean  waves crush

whales leaping joyfully

seaweed flowing through

sealife swimming happily

dolphns squeaking, fish playing


the colour of blue

reflecting off the blue sky

the sea gulls chirping

salty scent of the ocean

wind blowing through my wet hair


Dom practiced spinning stones with Pa,  sliding down sandhills, walling up the rockpools and exploring and sharing out search to observe marine life and sharing his very talented gift of drawing a dragon.


Drawing a detailed dragon

Getting some hints from Pa on spinning stones


and surfing in Keating beach


Back at the beach house listening to the ocean in the shell and having brekky with the family.


The Rickety Bridge by Jacinta v. An exercise in creative writing


The Rickety Bridge

Crash! I heard the loud gushing water as I walked towards the ancient unstable rickety bridge.
I heard the creaking timber planks as I stepped my shaky legs onto the bridge. I saw the splintered wood and the jagged, rigid rocks as i carefully tiptoed across the bridge. I felt frightened and terrified as I thought of what would happen if I fell. I felt the sharp, spiky nails stab my feet. The frothy water like a cappacinno crashed against the sharp rocks 
by Jacints v


Jacinta’s year 5 class are working on descriptive writing .
Her teacher gave the class the image of the rickety bridge
and the class planned their paragraph .
They were encoureged to use similes, descriptive words and  onomatopoeia in their writing .

So proud of our granddaughter Jacinta who had her desriptive writing chosen for the school newsletter.

She loves life, netball, dancing running,  singing, and is always breathtakingingly joyful, light hearted and fun.


Our Coffs Harbour Adventure by Colleen Keating


Our Coffs Harbour Adventure

Coffs Harbour is a jewel on the east Pacific Coast of Australia 5 hours north of Sydney, and we are blessed to have some of our children and hence grandchildren living in this picturesque town.  

We are calling this time in Coffs an adventure, as it included Michael and I having a Van-life Experience –  yes living in a van nearly as romantically as portrayed in the movie when a van is a fun thing and not permanent!

Unfortunately it was not the time or  space to dwell on the simplicity, the freedom, and the fun of Nomad life.

It was not the time or space for re-discovering ourselves on the road.

It was not the once-in a lifetime adventure longed for, by many city people locked in  their routine.  

For we were here  to support our four and a half year old gorgeous little one get ready for school.

However it was in a wonderful  HAWK van that Jessica and Nathan have invested in, that they set it up in a gorgeous resort in Coffs near the beach, with pools and gardens, shady trees  and a haven I called a bird sanctuary every morning as I woke to  the most wonderful canticle of bird song. 

We had two experiences of accomodation. The first was minding a very beautiful home of neighbours of our family, while they were travelling, and that was luxury. Then back to Sydney for awhile to fulfil obligations .

It had been an exciting week in Sydney  with my writing awards at the Gala Luncheon and we returned to Coffs on a high.

And our van venture began. With Jessica and family it was our first time to take stock and realise what a wonderful fulfilling writing year it had been

We opened a bottle of champas and toasted another successfully year.  My Highly Commended Award for a Poetry Book 2022 with Olive Muriel Pink and the Highly Commended Certificate and a few hundred dollars (which will go towards my new computer next year) in the National Writing Award (poetry) was lovely to celebrate with Jessica  and family especially Jessica, who keeps saying how proud she is of me . 


Our first celebration after the Gala Luncheon and Award Ceremony in Coffs with Jessica.


It has been a lot of fun spending time with our grandsons in Coffs Harbour.

The main purpose for the month here has been to assist in getting 4 year old  Darcy ready for big school next year. This has entailed taking him to orientation days at big school and shortening his days at child care to help calm, reinforce some expected preschool knowledge.  . . . .spending some quality time with him in preparation.  

We have worked the time to give us some quality time with his 9 year old brother, Edison. We were firstly lucky to be here for St. Augustans Grandparents Day and so we could spend time in his classroom see his very talented art  – see below his self -portrait for The Archy  


Picking him up from his bus,  listening to his music, going to his cricket on Saturdays,  which was very exciting. At one stage holding our breath hoping he would get a hat trick and having to share the out field with a Kangaroo.  We enjoyed his company when they came to have tea with us, watching him  in the pool, on the jumping pillow, playing basket ball  shots  with Pa and family cricket.  We have been very proud of his Merit Awards leading up to  his second Principal Award. 

                                                                 Note:  the big Grey Kangaroo in the out-field.

Our two older grandsons Lachlan and Doc Cameron are out of town but we had a great Saturday barbecue with them and a full day on Sunday of helping 12 year old Lachlan create his project for Year 7 on planning an ecological and sustainable village for a population of  20.000 . What a project!  It took him a lot of brainstorming with everyone and then a lot of butcher-paper planning and a final drawing to scale on some good white cardboard Michael and I bought on our way to their place.  We are awaiting on our result . . . . Hoping for, expecting an A+


Our Leisure time

 In  between times Michael and I have enjoyed some lovely experiences.

Of course it included poetry readings, walks, sunsets, picnics . Note in photo below I cannot go very far without my bibles of Mary Oliver and Rumi.

1. Watching the sunset each evening with a relaxing glass of Shiraz

2. Our drive to see the Jacarandas in their full glory in Grafton. Unfortunately it was a Saturday of the Jacaranda Festival so was a bit too crowded for us but still a very special experience to be part of.  And we did finally find a seat for our thermos picnic in the shade of a jacaranda tree so purple petals could rain down in us


3. Our long coastal walk from our van, out onto the beach and then a walk to Mutton Bird Island, out to its far headland on the edge of the Pacific.

4. Picnic lunch at the Botanic Garden .  Observed the whole courtship dance and song of the Blue Satin Bower Bird.  Had two very close encounters with a swooping kookaburra which got part of Michaels chicken sandwich  and part of my less tasty cheese and corn thins .and enjoyed a wonderful display with the Scrub Wren the fairy blue and  his harem of brown wrens all flitting about and then noticed the small red Finches also in the same area. 

5 Visited the Coffs Harbour  Fish Markets  on the Mariner and bought wonderful freshly cooked fish and chips  – snapper and salmon. and had a lunch picnic in a shady sea scape spot.

6.  Enjoyed a leisurely drive home with a little stress to get back to our world in Sydney. We tried to remember it was the journey not the destination.   We took the Waterfall Way over the Mountain Range and had our picnic brunch at Ebor Falls, one of our special vortex places.

We had a lovely visit  in Scone with my dear friend Sharon.

She had prepared a yummy lunch from her garden. 

We never stopped chatting and laughing and amazing how we can not see each other for months at a time and pick up where we left off last visit. Her garden struggles with drought and flood and high wind of country but she perserveres.

Because of the land slides on the mountains and the flood damage and road works on the New England Highway, it was a slow journey and we arrived home late and tired.


Fun things we did with the boys

Beach walk to be the first to spot the full moon.  A bit windy and the moon snuck up without us seeing it. 

BBQs here in the park and playing cricket.  

Bird watching. Lots of wonderful bird song especially in the mornings. brush turkey, Ibis, yellow-winged black cockatoos, seagulls, top knot pigeon, koels,  magpies,  plovers, galahs .

Here in our park playing on the jumping pillow, basketball, climbing frames, cricket,  and swimming pool, water slides and spurting water fun.


Playing bingo and cards with Pa: painting and magnetic sand play with Grandma.

Bush walks  to the nearby green koala corridor and Botanic Gardens.

Reading stories 

Kicking the ball with Pa  and listening to and identifying local birds. 

The greatest of these discoveries was observing two Yellow winged black cockatoos and the Blue Satin Bower Bird.


  Our little Pikachu




Flannel Flower Heaven by Colleen Keating

Flannel Flower Heaven


Here’s me in Flannel Flower heaven. 

In Wyrrabalong National Park North . 

It is along  the Coast Walk from Crackneck Lookout to  the Trig Station. 

This is now a pilgrimage experience for me ( i will explain later)  

This pocket of  White Flannel Flowers  attracts many walkers each October. 

The walk includes wonderful ocean vistas and a few vegetation environ-changes

along the way. 

The show of flannel flowers begins slowly, and in the early stages can be easily missed . . . one here, one there,  and suddenly once you have seen these few you begin to see them everywhere.. . . .their presence, breath-taking. 

They clump gracefully together and move gently in the breeze. 

They cluster in masses growing from unobtrusive grey furry wavy leaves.

Stems grow  up and buds appear and then the flowers emerge and blossom.

Ten star petals velvety to the touch each with a delicate pointed tip, exposes a downy pin cushion centre conducive to  bees, butterflies, beetles to land for a feed.

Viewing these plants leaves me with a visceral sense of joy and satisfaction . 

I felt bewildered last year when I snuck along this track during lockdown  (in my 5 km permission radius) to find it had had a back burn, I guess to clear the bush  against fire for the houses further down the hill.  

Now I felt uplifted  this year, 2022, that I had returned with hope for this Flannel Flower Pilgrimage. 

This is not an illusory emotional response but a physiological one

triggered  by the sense in my brain of well being,   

given by the release of neuro-chemicals, endorphins and dopamine.

I wanted more.   I could not get enough.

Every corner I turned and I was not disappointed.

A walk in this Wyrraablong National Park with its Spotted Gums, its few old river Gums (one i take my grandchildren to, for it has the most generous arms for climbing and holding little kiddies,)   for the its banksias, Acacias and wattles and for its Flannel Flowers this week

is one of the places, 

special places for Michael and I, 

that encourages ‘Forest breathing:’  the Western term

for what Japanese call ‘shinrin yoku’. 

This is the practice of  walking and being mindful of the surroundings, letting your senses take in the sights, sounds, smells ,tastes and feel of the forest and bushland.

The health and well-being benefits of ‘forest bathing’ are well documented. There are good research  articles about this.  Today  walking here, reminding each other to be aware is enough, to be very present . The small white nodding heads of the flowers seem to be speaking to us.

They take us out of ourselves and for an uplifting and refreshing time,

we are with them in the world of nature.  

Of course we do not need this marvellous stand of Flannel Flowers or even a forest or the bush to  find ourselves immersed in ‘forest breathing’. 

The mystic and Abbess, Hildegard of Bingen said as far back as the 12th century,  that nature and the green colour in our eyes is very healing.  She was speaking well before modern medicine and she found this way for women who came to her for help. She would say to those feeling depressed, feeling down, feeling overwhelmed:

“Go out into nature ,  find the green: into a park, a paddock, even to a tree  . . .
Feast your eyes on the green, the thousand shades of green.

for its healing powers.  and now japanese Doctors even prescibe a wlk in a forest for healing and for well being. 

(The story for those who have read to the end of this.. . )

My mother loved the sea: my father preferred the hills and bush and so they bought a weekender near both, as the saying goes ‘where the forest meets the sea’.

When Mum went off with the family to the beach it turns out my quiet Dad would put our dog, Skipper in the car and drive to Kincumber Mountain.

He told me once that was his favourite place. 

My father  died  suddenly one day while mowing the lawn and he died young. It was a tragedy in our family life. 

Later as healing of loss and grief progressed I decided to visit Kincumber Mountain to help me find something. . . maybe lost . . . I knew not what. . . 

It was a late spring balmy evening,  I got out of the car and found myself immersed in a forest of flannel flowers and my father was there  .  . .we were there together .  His presence filled me mayup for the lostness in spirit we were talking.   it was  i understand an out of mind experience. It might have been a second, a minute or an hour . I do not know but we walked together. Michael came later and took a photo of me in those wild flannel flowers  nearly as tall as me and I seem lost in them and in that photo I feel my father is there. 

When I started my healing business  ‘Touchstone’ that flannel flower photo was one of my motivating photos . . .maybe about the mystery, or the more then . . but it stayed on my self all the years of my work inspiring me.)

Many years later when I was facilitating a retreat, over lunch with a friend who was Artist-in-Residence and one who understood these things, I shared my Flannel Flower experience with my father.  He listened with joy  and understanding . . .and I felt heard.

  He arrived the next day with  a framed painting of his, saying:

I have always wanted a good home for this painting and I now know where it belongs. He presented one of his signature paintings of flannel flowers.

 It was an amazing generous gift I have always treasured.

So this is the explanation why Flannel Flowers are my spiritual flower. 

PS. I have never gone back to Kincumber Mountain. I never wanted to spoil that moment and today I don’t need to go there.  But this walk along the Coast track is a beautiful reminder.


Ungraspable a poem by Colleen Keating



it happened with the turn of tide
on a shallow sandy shoal
now it had beached dry

hot air sharp as spears
summer sun
glistening on its silver grey skin

blue spots shimmered across its flank
as it flapped intermittently
like a large bird with a broken wing

our carefree stroll along the beach
here was a life and death matter

the world was silent
only the waves measuring time
like a tolling bell

a young stingray lay before us
like a sacrificial lamb
eyes open as if pleading

using our bucket we splashed
water over its fretting skin
like cooling a fever

until it was still
then we noticed the hook
embedded in its flesh

we got down on our knees
my grandson and i
as if to reassure this creature

there was a tenderness
a hole of helplessness

a lifesaver brought a spade –
i was sorry it could not be pushed back
to sigh one last time amidst the waves

later the piled up hill of sand
was still there
Is that where he is? my grandson asked

it was time to take his little hand
and walk to the edge of the ocean
listen to its rill whoose back and forth

see its gifts of shells and spinning stones
watch the gulls whirl in the thrill of life
feel the ungraspable cycle of give and take

by Colleen Keating


A Stingray story  with Mum, Grandma ,Edison and Darcy

(Written while we were holidaying at the Dolphin House)

It happened in the dark of night
on The Entrance beach
and in the morning
it made us all so sad.

It happened at high tide
and we found it as we were rambling
along the edge of the waves
playing happily with pieces of Neptunes Necklace

and looking for all sort of shells the high tide had left behind.
It was Mum and Grandma and us two boys Edison and Darcy.

We were jumping in the waves and running up on the sand
and then we saw it
a large grey and blue blob lying helplessly on the sand
it was a large greyish stingray
beached, left behind when the tide went out


It couldn’t breath air because it doesn’t have lungs.
It has gills like fish and breathes its air through the water
Mum thought she saw it take a last gulp.
It was too heavy to push back in the sea.
It lay there before us all .
It looked so beautiful in the sunlight.

It was grey with beautiful blue marking
and sad eyes and open gills.

We all patted it and were surprised at it soft sticky skin.
and remembered the Torpedo Rays in Octanauts.

We stood helplessly by, till a lifesaver came
He turned it over and it became an even sadder story

because it had a fishing hook embedded in its blobby flesh .

We felt so mad about people who don’t look after our sea because all the sea creatures are so endangered by plastics and pollution.

Back at home we looked up fun fact about Stingrays
and it was good to learn some interesting things.


Fun Facts about Stingrays

1 They are one of the beautiful creatures of the sea as they move along in the water. 

2 They have no bones in their body – their skeleton is made up of flexible cartilage (the bendy stuff that your ears and nose are made of

3 Baby stingray are hatched from eggs that are held within the body of the mother 

4 They use a super set of electric senses to search for food. Their eyes are on the top side of their body   and their mouth and gills are found underneath so in murky water this electromagnetic sense is especially useful for searching for prey.

5 they like to live by themselves  and only come together for breeding . 

6 They protect themselves with venomous spines or barbs in their tail

7 They feed on fish clams and shrimp

8 Sadly they are now a threatened species .Overfishing, habitat loss and climate change are the major threats 


Thank you Edison for allowing me to use your drawing in this story.

Wild Moment: Thomas Keating-Jones, Published by John Muir Trust

A wintery hike on the Downs inspired nine year old Thomas to write An Ice Poem.

An Ice Poem

Glittering, glistening glass gleams and glides across the top of the frozen pond.
Mother nature’s classical music singing as it slides
Like stained-glass, the shattered shards  catch all the colours
It cracks, twinkling across the top of the ice…the ice…the ice…
It twinkles. jingles, like magic on the air.
Shining cracks appear wherever your foot rests on the shelf edge,
Chasing air bubbles, full of life,  out of their frozen prison.
It’s the top of the hill.
It’s the top of our world.

Thomas Keating-Jones, age 9 (with help from Eleanor Keating-Jones)

Thomas K-J ice pond 2

So proud to find my grandson and grand-daughter writing their thoughts about their wintery days on their nearby Downs while on a short exercise time from their strict lock-down

Welcome to Wild Inside – a fortnightly window to inspiration, activities  and a little bit of joy and wildness close to home.

We are incredibly lucky to have some great hikes on our doorstep. This poem celebrates the ice covered pond at the top of the Downs!


The Ocean Wonder by Jacinta Van Eyk


The Ocean Wonder


Waves crashing on Keating Beach.                      

The bright sun cuts through

the dark grey clouds.

The water sparkles on top

of the shimmering rocks.

The dolphins leap peacefully

over the crashing waves.

All morning butterflies flutter                                      

past our window.

All different people walking, riding, running .

The ocean wonder is so


by Jacinta    8 years old








written while on holidays at The Dolphin House, Central Coast

Searching for Mushrooms by Colleen Keating

Finding Fungi

by Thomas Keating-Jones

Walking in the rain is terrible fun.
It’s terrible,
And it’s fun!

Searching for fungi makes it worthwhile!
I mean it’s not that you would choose a day like this
(Unless you’re my mum!)
We have to go slow . . . drip, drip
dripping along
drip, drip
dripping rain on my hair!

It’s like a song where we do the walking
and the mushrooms do the talking

I am listening to the fungi talking through my feet.
guiding me to the next discovery
camouflaged amongst the leaves
some under the trees.
some in the moss.

… magical mushrooms
I walk in the woods
I step carefully
listen . . .

Go quietly. . slow, slow
for underground stories are around each corner.
along with huge puddles
when you walk in the English rain!

We have to go slow . . . drip, drip,
dripping along
drip, drip,
dripping rain on my hair!

It’s like a song where we do the walking
and the mushrooms do the talking
listen . . .

Next time I plan to bring my goggles and snorkel!
Walking in the rain is terrible fun!
It’s terrible
And it’s fun!
Searching for fungi makes it worthwhile!


Finding a purple Mushroom for grandma her favourite colour.

How beautiful .  I saw the fairies  and the fairy ring when I sneaked up.

A little kingdom . We feel like Gulliver in Lillyput land


We have to go slow . . . drip, drip,
dripping along
drip, drip,
dripping rain on my hair!

Thank you Elizabeth and William, Thomas and Eleanor, your walk in the English countryside  was the incentive to go out into the Australian bush looking for  fungi and  mushrooms, the  little secrets of the earth.


a meeting

Colleen Keating

‘How shall I walk in the world
But looking for light and wisdom”  M. Oliver

you rise after rain
in autumnal mist
to walk out
and slow
not expecting to meet a prophet
calling in the wilderness
until you hear
a whisper of colour

Gulliver in Lillyput
you bend closer
your giant hands
part the grass
for secrets of the earth

stunned with humble beauty
the tiny  mushrooms
slight and lowly
strong and perfect
caps intact
have pushed up
from the dung of darkness
smelling earthy and dank
their miniture purple parasols
with ivory ruffled collars
nod slightly
very quietly

that moment
even eclipses the water lilies
that emerge from deepest mud

on return the next day
there is only soggy earth
brambles and mulch of leaves
as if they had never been

Colleen Keating




News on Splash, Slither, Squawk from St Augustine’s School, Coffs harbour

I am full of pride and thanks to my Grandson Edison

from Saint Augustine’s Primary School Newsletter, Coffs harbour.

Here is an extract from page 7 of the latest newsletter.

Exciting News from the LAR

We have a student who has become a published author, congratulations to Edison from 1S. His artworks have been published along with his Grandmothers short story and poem in Splash, Slither, Squawk -nature writing for children from The Society of Women Writers NSW. Thankyou Edison for kindly donating a copy to our school library for all students to enjoy. 







Launch of Splash, Slither, Squark  by Colleen Keating


A very special Zoom Launch today of  Splash, Slither, Squark 
the Society of Women Writers NSW 95th anniversary anthology of nature writing for children.

‘Curiouser and curiouser  it seems to me is the gift we need to give our children and grandchildren.

Curiosity leads to awe and wonder. 
When one has a sense of awe and wonder about nature, about a tree, a river, about flora and fauna one will care for them. 

Anything that creates this in the heart of a child has a chance of being seen as precious. This new book ‘Splash,Slither, Squark, which will go to school libraries will be a step towards this value.

 Sales of this book will help support RSPCA National Bushfire Appeal and Wombat Care Bundanoon.  Many thanks to co-editors Michele Bomford and Julie Thorndyke .

I am proud to have a poem, Platypus spotting is fun  and a short story about wonder when lost in the bush.

So proud the illustration of the platypus on the opposite page  to my poem is by my grandson Thomas with 2  further illustrations by grandchildren Edison chosen and the youngest illustrator Miss Eleanor .


ISBN  978-0-9808407-5-9 RRP  $20 https://womenwritersnsw.org/

Credit Card or PayPal: https://www.trybooking.com/BKXWO