Olive Muriel Pink: her radical & idealistic Life by Colleen Keating

PRESS RELEASE:  Olive Muriel Pink: her radical and idealistic life 

Some good news. My new book has arrived. Olive Muriel Pink: her radical & Idealistic life. An Australian women’s story that after you have read it you will want your friends to do the same.  Thank you to Ginninderra Press & the many that have supported me on this long but wonderful journey.

” It is a triumph for reconciliation and will surely enter the
the annals of Australian literature.’
Emeritus Professor Lyndall Ryan AM FAHA

Colleen Keating brings Olive Muriel Pink’s significant, neglected history
to life with distinctive, beautiful imagery. – Pip Griffin, poet.

Available to buy www.ginninderrapress.com.au

Lockdown walk No. 8: Enjoying the birds by Colleen Keating




Enjoying the birds

I believe all the birds have their individual spirits, their own individul energy their own power.  It  is there for the sharing with us if we are open to it as gift.

I speak to the birds and now I find Michael and I are both talking away to them. . Today I pointed out a kookaburra to a  lady  out walking  and she started chatting  to it. . It made me smile. We are not the only ones talking to the birds.

I even find the willy wag tales chatting back to us . . . .

Take the time to listen . Let then speak to you .

“Speak to the earth and it will  speak to you ”   Elaine Mitchell

We have discovered a track that hugs the lake avoiding  the main pathway which is a jogging track, a bike track  and on the weekends like Pitt Street . It is through a swampoak forest and easy while the days are dry.  With the slightest breeze the She Oaks sing and the whip birds whistle to each other and the constant chirping of the busy wrens  are there and if we stop and concentrate we can catch them darting about . . . the fairy blue wren and the little brown  female  wren.



Willy-wag tales are often with us. They seem to  leave and catch up again or are they a different families? They feel very familair as if they take up their conversation where they left of a bit earlier.

Then looking out to the lake are the Black Swans returned.  I remember one winter in 2013 the first time I saw  the black swans here on our side of Tuggerah Lake it seemed a very rare event and I  observed for the next few days wrote a poem called  a black swan event which is publihed in A Call to Listen  publishe 2014 by Ginninderra Press.

The White-faced heron .  I go back to visit their places they like  –the rock pools on the rockshelf, and in the small creeks near Tuggerah Lake , and along the littoral shore of the Lake. Love my reflection of the two herons in Saltmarsh Creek up on the restored reserved bird santuary.


The busy family of spoonbills wading along in the sea grass  sifting for crustaceans and teal blue crested  ducks like hand maidens waiting for the left overs

and the many shining white elegant  egrets, princesses  of the lake while they stand perusing thier lake world. Here they are in sunset light and morning freshness.  I love the  awkward  disjointed flying  machine when become when they take off




There are the humble doves eating along the ground,  There are lots of magpies but I could write a whole blog about them. The mudlarks are all around.  The rainbow lorikeets feed and play  in the Banksia trees . There are the masked winged plovers and the black -tailed godwit which my Grandson Cammie identified for me but that will come in a special feature  on the saltmarsh Reserse.   There are the sea gulls  and the beloved pelicans.



the day was slowing
time came to rest

the still silent lake held the clouds
grey-blue haze enfolded everything

earth and sky were one
calm presided

reachied out as far as the eye’s gaze
everything was suffused in blue

luminous as the watagan hills
a pile on pile of tones

mirrored in the lake
you could feel them all around you

like a generous hug
nothing protruded

trees rocks sand bars and islands
had forgotten themselves in the blue daze

suddenly a harsh flutter
the lake surface split

a huge cormorant flew from inside
struck up into the air

its ragged black wings
it long snake-neck

its awkward shape
like an eruption from the underworld

against the finely woven lake
its strange form fluttered

gleamed in absolute black
lifted off pierced the air

like a plumed arrow its shadow
crinkling the once still lake

by Colleen Keating



Lockdown walk No. 7 Bedazzled by patterns of nature by Colleen Keating


So is the miracle of rock formations  and their beauty from sand and silt and pebbles laid down, forming rock and then sculptured by the sea and wind sometimes violently like the betrayer and sometimes caressing like a lover.
As we walk from The Entrance Beach around past the baths we enjoy the rocky shelf and headland sculptured by the wind and water and tides. It is waved and striated and patinated and honeycombed and is a joy to the eye.

coastal walk

my eyes trace lines
that curve and swirl
track contours and circled altars
waiting their tide reunion
where only soft padded periwinkles
and sharp edged oyster shells venture
landscapes of sculptures composed
by the dreamtime of water wind and sand
a patterned mosaic
dioramas unfolding
like silken threads from a mulberry tree

each line each ripple
a stretch mark wrinkle scar
has its story

with the tide the ocean
rolls and thunders
sometimes her fingers
like talons scratch and claw
yet eternally patient
her hands caress
love and mould
soothe and soften the violent edges
touch the secret caverns
and with each tide seduce a little more

poem Page 46 A Call to Listen

Lockdown walk No. 6: Colours of early spring by Colleen Keating


Lockdown walk No. 6 Colours of early Spring

a wattle way
harbinger of spring

we take the track
to a chatter of lorikeets

they dangle like monkeys
from golden banksia

spring is coming
steeling through the twigs

silently seeping
through the sap

budding vernal green
once seen it is everywhere


lilac waraburra is showy
it vines over the scrub

purple trails up the trees
no wonder it is often called
happy wanderer

white star flowers sometimes
called ‘tread-softly maybe because
of its spiky leaves

and the pink wax flower
just budding open
sprinkled through the bush
fuchsias delicate little trumpets
stand out

bright red comes
with the dusky coral pea
hard to see at first
and then it turned up hiding quietly
in the brambles in the scrub

maybe wild jasmine
and wonga wonga the native climber
gives us our touch of purple in its delicte white trumpets

And the wattles three we found today

Galahs were busy too
one on a branch as decoy
and this gorgeous one
in a hollow of the old  tree

Finally at the lookout Crackneck
we watched an eagle play

on the air currents
and then down the less worn track
back to the car

Lockdown Walk No.5 Full moon beach walk by Colleen Keating



Rising moon beach walk 

the sun was dropping west
we stood on the beach
with wide expanse
Pacific Ocean vista
a luminous space
held us hypnotically
in the darkening eastern sky


It was beauty
that peeped over the arch
and slowly like an unfolding flower
it was the moon that rose
out of the sea
caught in a red glow
spreading a warm fiery path
‘stairway to heaven’ they call it
in Broome


Michael and I felt so elated
alone on the winter beach
except for one solitary pelican
and the vista just kept giving

the moon bestirred the world
steady  silent  self-assured
swelling our hearts with its light
stronger and stronger
against the dark of night

it was gift
wrapped in light
colour and beauty. No words just us
bursting with joy

this was a moment to reset my world
my days are measured by the moon
its wax and wane my calendar.


winter beach
a full strawberry moon
sweetens each rock pool


Lockdown Walk No 4 – A track less worn by Colleen Keating


A track less worn

in  Wyrrabalong country
where the forest meets the sea
the hidden way winds along the headland
its overgrown track thick with the banksia‘s
and gums a May Gibbs world
of scrawly characters
as old man banksia stares down
to terrify snugglepot and cuddlepie

in this xerlerphyll remnant of forest
grass trees with their thick
green grug-like head of hair
act guard of honour
sway around us as we file
singularly through this other worldly place.

wattles and a few winter wildflowers
catch our attention
eucalypts  spotted gums  scribbles
river red gums and underfoot
leaf litter absorbs our steps
as if we are not there

and the ocean
with its shots of blue
like projected slides
each a new view through the trees
calls – breathe me  . . .my healing air is yours

its glide  roll  crash then gentle lap
a breathed rhythm of in and out
the space between
a silent tension between life and death

and twice we clamber out
to a headland lookout
and watch the waves perform

the only other sound
wrens butcher birds
distant magpies and
the erratic scratch
of brush turkeys

I felt a lightness of being
walking this quiet way
the air fresh
aromas of salty sea, eucalypt
acacia and a woody balm

They say to argue on the side
of happiness
and even though back in reality the news
is full of fragmentation and distress
here for this time is beauty
to feed the soul
and I eat and drink every piece of nature
on the menu.

Time to be slow – John O’Donohue



Time to be slow

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher

Excerpt from his books, To Bless the Space Between Us (US) / Benedictus (Europe)


Photo: Fanore, Co. Clare / Ireland – 2019 © Ann Cahill

Lockdown Walk No 3 Crackneck Lookout to Shelley Beach by Colleen Keating

Crackneck Lookout to Shelley Beach 


Whenever we  are out walking especially in the areas of beauty around our place on the Central Coast we pay tribute to the Awabakal and Darkinjung peoples and this makes us a little more aware  that we walk on sacred ground  and reminds us to pay attention and just ask and thank our entry into a place .   this of course is only a small section of the national Park which clings to the narrow line right along the coast. For us there are three main walks :

1    Crackneck  Lookout to Shelley Beach  and picked up at end  (north)  Ocean

2    Crackneck Lookout to the Trig station and back  (south)  Ocean

3    Magenta  ( lake side) to Canton Beach  north  (Lake )

Winter is  the perfect time for stepping out into our local Wyrrabalong National Park (gazetted in 1991) has the best of all worlds , the wonderful Australian Bush with its Red Gums, Blackbutts and Spotted Gums and  Scribbly Eucalyptus,  the lingering of wattle and other Acacias, Hakea, Myrtles,  Banksia  and the  promise of the odd siren of a red Waratah . (Good to know where they are so you won’t miss the October bloom.) This is backgrounded by the coastal bird life with the iconic crack of the Whip Bird and the spectacular glimpses of the blue reminding us we are walking in a rare piece of land where the bush meets the sea.

Michael gave the walking a miss today but drove me to Crackneck Lookout where we joined with many watching the wide blue sea for the whales travelling north. Excitement each time there was a blow of spray or the break of the water and a silver streak of a tail appeared. Of course they are very distant  and only those with binoculars and one woman I spoke to with a highly magnified camera. (So interesting as she is a poet and writes haiku and uses her photography and poetry together. 

Michael left me to walk down to Shelley Beach and he drove down set up the picnic and read his Kindle. The path has been newly upgraded.  In a way I preferred the old ramble of a track. And I was distressed at some damage along the sides where they haven’t worried about Grass trees and flannel flower plants and other small planting I have been aware of in the past. No doubt next time I come nature will have overcome the damage and be back to it s beauty. The blue glimpses and lookouts give a lovely touch to the walk as it clings to the coast as far as safely possible.


 Brush Turkeys    There was activity with the brush turkeys sometimes called scrub turkeys or bush turkeys. I observed three hens grouped and a bit lost, you could say. I walked on and saw the male rooster cocky as ever coming down off his huge mound of leaf litter, twigs and dirt, which I presume he built although who knows??? but just along the way he met a few more cocks all up tight . Were they fighting over the same mound I am not sure but they flew at each other and chased each other. They all landed on a tree and stalked each other trying to win the battle to be the main cock  . . so funny.  I was caught in this wonderful display.

One stalked the other not knowing he was looking down on him from on high. It was a marvellous bush experience to watch. Not having any understanding but still fascinating. The photos demonstrate some of the activity. Of course the noise as they clashed and fought cannot be captured.   Bush energy at its best.

Yes I know some of my friends shoo these scrub turkeys away and dislike the way they wreck their gardens  but they have wonderful things going for them for us to be aware of .

1. They are the most ancient member of their family dating back  30 million years so that should humble us. 2. They have a hard beginning because their parents don’t care for them after they are born . . .they have to defend for themselves 3. they make compost in the name of love as they rack the garden  into a mound so the heat can build up inside for the eggs and to attract the female for firstly they are built by the male to attract a mate.  And then the eggs follow.No wonder there was such a frenzy going on during my walk. 

Lockdown Walk No. 2 – NorthBeach/Lake walk by Colleen Keating



North Beach/ Lake Walk

A new lockdown walk.  We are calling it the North Beach/Lake walk. Today we set out across The Entrance Bridge,a thing I don’t normally like to do but there were very few cars today. We turned right and headed  up onto the ridge overlooking North Entrance Beach.  It was a stunning winter day. The ocean wide and deep blue lay out like a silken sheet loosely ruffled. Large rolling waves  continuously smooth and regular came in. Spindrift sprayed lightly. A few board riders demonstrated the perfect style of the waves.
Besides the photographic views to our right as we walked through the re-stabilised dunes, we enjoyed the work that the Bush Care groups have done over the years with the vegetation and bird life. 

The track, very smooth. solid, easy for Michael to walk, and the ground cover of cerise pig face,  yellow and orange gazania, pink bindweed and ground covers of daises.  it was like a rainbow carpet spreading out over the hills and down to the beach edge.


Growing up stands of golden banksia  with lorikeets dangling gleefully chirping, Bottle brushes, and the mallees mainly burgeoning wattle . Seagulls, magpies and in the undergrowth lots of fairy wrens . swinging on the native grasses flipping into the shrubs . We walked quietly – the sandy path absorbed the sound of our footstep.Towards the end we came across one of the volunteer workers and chatted briefly.


We came out and crossed the road to the lake side .  We walked along Tuggerah Lake to the Sensory Gardens  where we sat and had our picnic. 

We had come to rest and the lake slept without hardly a ripple.  A winter  afternoon sun



A blue haze enfolded everything . Reaching far into the distance the hills, the Watagans were suffused in a majestic blue to navy light. The hills looked like pile upon pile of tones of blue.  I felt I could reach out and and pull them to me.  Trees, bullrushes, small bamboos, reeds and the grasses had forgotten themselves in the daze blue. 


Just beyond two vegetated islands sat. On the furthest away a platoon of pelicans clustered close  . . one flew in and joined the group, cormorants diving and resurfacing, two ducks glided and then a canoeist glided past  leaving their wakes to whistle the water surface. 

Further out there was a flock of birds on the edge of a sand bank wading . We could not recognise them but had a sense it might have been the family of spoonbills we had caught in the muddy creek running into the lake over the south side. But couldn’t be sure. We were more sure of the chirping in the bamboo along the way and stood and watched the family of wrens . . .the blue fairy wrens and the flitting little brown wrens all busy about their chatter and just being.

(Interestingly earlier we saw a fairy blue wren feeding on  the nectar of a golden Banksia.  it flitted in and flitted away. For the last 100 metres we were joined by two willy wag tails chattering around our feet for awhile. They had a lot to say.  It felt they had been with us the whole way and came at the end to remind they have been watching our journey.

And we came along the lake back to the bridge to cross and our NorthBeach/Lake walk came to an end. How blessed we  are we that we can walk from home along the beach and along the lake all in 12.000  steps. 


Lockdown Walk No.1 Getting to know local inhabitants by Colleen Keating

Getting to know local inhabitants

there is no ordinary thing
the wind’s song in the she oaks drip of gold
on a pelican’s wing the whip-bird tease
the silver meddle of fish on the lake
encounters with magpie and wren, turtle and swan
ancient rocks and shift of tide
this is the joy of discovery

with snake-like neck the cormorant dives
the ibis clings awkwardly
to a branch on the Norfolk
the grey heron feeds in the light
under the brood of hills and
stillness of lake.

here is good energy to live by
each scene is startling
and poetry
to meet with hands open wide

knowing when we look
there are surprises –
other things to come
the heron’s pickax-beak wakes the stillness
wobbling the boats tied by the boatshed
the ibis lands down on the overflowing bin
and just when we are caught
in the moment
a reminder nothing is permanent

the cormorant surfaces to float idley
the grey heron cranks up
and flies into the sun
and we are left with the longing
for more of the extraordinary
or what now do we hold in our open hands?