Canberra road trip day 2 by Colleen Keating


Sunday 28th March 2021

The Untold Story

At Canberra the air tingles with a vitality
that is breathtaking. We meet the proprietor
on our way out
and stand by our motel room
talking of this moment –

the morning breathes a sigh of fruitfulness
whispers, here I am at my best.
It tastes of autumn crispness.
It feels mild and mellow
and so day two begins.

Thank goodness for google maps –
with her instructions
it takes 7 minutes to loop
around and over the bridge
and out to The National Museum of Australia.

The entrance walk
is now a procession of wildflowers
grevillea, banksia, eucalypt, bottlebrush.
a symbolic landscape Garden of Dreams
exploring ideas of place and country.

And what a great experience we were in for
The story of an untold story –
our nations’ origin story
and how differently it is remembered
by its two peoples.

Exposure of the lie of the bible story
taught to all Australian children
about ‘the discovery ‘ of this land
is nakedly bare.
We meet a young Indigenous man
who explains the exhibition and we enter –
flip back into first contact and re-experience
as if time absorbs us in its arms
carries us  into an other worldy experience.
and three hours were gone
when we exited back into the light

The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians
reaffirms and articulates our thoughts
for so many others  will be a transformative experience.
To our right side was the journey on the Endeavour
maps, telescopes, sextants, levellers, ropes and pressed plants
to the left was how it effected First Peoples
as they followed the journey on land
from the southern most point Pt.Hicks
to Possession Island in the far north
their story carved onto a message stick
and passed by runners, sometimes by smoke signals,
bull roarers, conch shells
the mirror-message,
reflected from shiny mother of pearl shells.
How inspiring for the future of our country
to see the true words of Cook and  Banks
from their  original journals
alongside the thoughts and ideas of First Peoples
who witnessed the passage from land.

How interesting to see together the two painting
of the raising of the Union Jack–
original painting at Botany Bay in mid 19th century
and under it the commissioned painting to white-wash the story.
(in it the fearful black people are gone
and a black servant dressed in suit and waist coat
serves drinks to the group of men raising the flag.
Could the white-washers of that day
ever conceive they could be exposed?

Our picnic today
was in the Garden of Australian Dreams
on the banks of the Lake Burleigh Griffith
outside the National Museum.

Then off to the National Library
one of my favourite venues
with its 16 marvellous stained glass windows
and the three precious French tapestries in the foyer.

Here the Ellis Rowan, The Bird of Paradise  exhibition
was remarkable
every painting unique
stunning in colour and flow
and just beautiful to see.

I had read the story of her life,
painting wildflowers
(interested because of my research on Olive Pink
another woman plant illustrator)
and this was a new addition
that she took on<
with financial support from several groups close to 70
a wonder woman set off for the wilds of New Guinea

All her life she fought for her rights –
told she could not paint landscape she painted still life
then told they could not be judged in the competition
even fought the art gallery to buy her work
(which they did for 5,000 pounds in 1923 after she had passed (1922)
and the same year they bought the original Captain Cook journal
also for 5,000 pounds.

Back to our motel very tired<
but full of enthusiasm and very happy
about an enjoyable day
as Mary Oliver says
“O what is that beautiful thing
that just happened? “






One caption of the exhibition.

‘The story of the 1770 voyage of the Endeavour lies at the very core of the Australian nation.

James Cook, the Endeavour’s captain, is celebrated as a peerless seaman and a remarkable leader whose voyage transformed European knowledge of the world.

But the land Cook charted – strange and ‘new’ to Eupropean  eyes was an ancient continent, home to First Peoples whose history stretches back more than 65,000 years. Until now, their voices have been missing from the Endeavour story.

In this year, the 250th anniversary of the voyage, it is fitting to experience the other side of the story and here we enjoy the story from the sea to the land and from the land to the sea, and embrace the shared history of this country.’

Canberra road trip day 3 by Colleen Keating

Monday 29th March  2021

Our road trip to Canberra

A new day needs birds, clouds and flowers
to begins and here we have all threee
magpies are singing in the eucalypts
we have been reading angels wings
into the whispy clouds for the past few days
and we have sunflowers

A frenzy of sunflowers.
signs everywhere in town
cars are painted in them
canvas seats are printed in them
and we are here to see
one special painting the Sunflowers by Van Gogh
on loan from London
so our day begins
it to opem

We are by accident in the members line
first to go in
we pass as members
show our phones for our tickets and we are in.
Botticelli to Van Gogh with many great artists –

Turner’s painting of the escape
from the cyclops in the story of Odysseus
stunning with the sunsetting
across the water
as only Turner can do
and next to him
Claude with his painting Seaport
The perspective with the tones of creams and browns was rich
and in same school as Turner
picks up the golden sunset and reflection
Renoir with the Blue Lady at the Opera,
Constable,Francesco de Goya, and Monet’s bridge and Waterlilies.
the developmental movement of art and artists over the centuries
from the static Botticelli who paints  movement by developing the story
in windows to Monet with his bridge and water lilies
and finally the Sunflowers
We enjoyed Geraldine Doogues audio on our phones
and at the completion we still had enough energy
to experience a second exhibition
Know My Name , Women in Art from 1900

many Indigenous womens names and paintings of the Seven Sisters,
women who are not well know,
Fiona Hall, Roselic Gascoigne, Cossington,
Preston Olley, Janet Laurence Anne Ferran

and then we reward  ourselves with a sumptuous lunch
on the Portrait Gallery Terrace
Michael had the fish, catch of the day
and I had the wild fig and feta salad
with toasted a bed of rocket

then to Australian Love stories, 200 stories
exploring love affection friendship
unrequited, obsessive, scandalous and creative
Lovely to see some of our favourite couples
Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward
(who fell in love during making the film Thorn Birds),
Stan Grant and Tracey Holmes,
Bob Hawke and Blanche, Jimmy and Jane Barnes
Nick and Susie Cave, Namatjira,Oodgeroo Nunnuccal
Barbara Blackman and Judith Wright
Before we go back to our car

we pop back into The Aboriginal Memorial
comprising 200 hollow logs represents a forest of souls
‘like a large war cemetery, a war memorial
for all those Aboriginal people
who died defending their country’

Then to the James Turrell installation.

Within without 2010

some stunning photos of light and water
back to our car
afternoon tea by the lake\



and to the motel



Michael and I taking a “turn in the shrubbery” as Jane Austen recommends many times in her writings. For us it meant a walk around the block . . . but what beauty to behold


“Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness /close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;     from John Keats Ode to Autumn

Autumn 2019 has been the most beautiful autumn ever.  For me that is because the summer warmth has lingered. And  so the colour has given us its rich glory in  somewhat balmy days.

Sometimes I wonder how many  more autumns will my eyes behold and can they get any more crisp and brisk and sweet in harmony of tone and memory.

If the colours  of autumn were music notes 

the sound  would be a mellow humming tune 

with a back ground of bird song crickets and frogs  

and our wonderful powerful owl 

that comes to perch each evening 

on the cedar tree  

that brushes against our kitchen window. 

We have been vegging  (defined as to relax in a mindless way) on Jane Austen this past week 

and enjoying Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. (Hugh Grant)

We have two copies of Pride and Prejudice one with Colin Firth  as Darcy  It was a BBC series and went for hours and one with Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley.

For Jane Austen, back then, “taking a turn in the shrubbery” is a way of moving both literally and metaphorically “in the proper circles.” In making this daily circuit, women observe the boundaries of taste and convention; reconcile past, present, and future; and redraw the lines of social connection.

For Austen and for her characters, walking is a habitual part of daily life. In letters written in 1805 and in 1806, Austen says, “we do nothing but walk about” and “we walk a good deal”

Hence  in accordance with our Jane Austen motive, Michael and I  have ‘taken a  turn in the shrubbery’ . . . . that is a constitutional walk around the block and heaven was in the oak trees at the end of the street. The crunch of leaves under foot and the sprinkle of leaves that fell silently around us like confetti with their  aura of colour, They fell silently and obediently at the slight whim of the air and the still quiet press of the branches.

In Dylan Thomas’ wonderful Autumn poem  it was his thirtieth year to heaven hence he can speak of being in his summer at noon watching the autumn colour around him.

I would like to say I stand here in summer noon though all below me lay leaved  in Autumn blood but I would have to say to be truthful,  I stand in autumn time with it leaved all around me still singing my name in the sky , still falling like tears and leaved with autumn blood  under my feet. But his next sentiment I sing with all my heart, he marvelled his birthday away up on the hill looking down on his town bathed in October blood   (October of course because it is Wales that is  his autumn: here it is May I am standing in right now, writing this)

O may my heart’s truth

Still be sung

On this high hill in a year’s turning.  from Dylan Thomas Poem in October

The coloured leaves I carried with me . All the music of an octave.

Out the windows

Music in the colour. Little Miss E and my heart ringing for joy . . .  Beauty is all around



by Michael and Colleen on autumn beach walk


CK            on the horizon
shelf of thick cloud
dawn lingers

MK            edge of the ocean
elements in balance
cone of awareness

CK                autumnal sun
catches the wet sand
our mirrored world

MK             gulls saunter
pattern the sand
we ease past

CK            olive-green seagrass
buzzes with insects
fresh from the ocean

MK             warm touch of sun
gossamer seaweed
dart of swallows

CK               the blue-grey heron
forages alone
we curve around

MK              photographers in position
board riders at play
wait for the moment

CK              near the headland
hang gliders colour the sky
autumnal breeze

MK            step through this autumn morning
extras on stage
accept our transience

CK               with incoming tide
two sets of footprints
are gone



no footprint






This poem was inspired by Anzac morning at Blackheath War memorial .It was  a brisk Autumn pre-dawn morning on April 25th  three years ago. A small space, in a small town like thousands of others all over Australia.



we leave our warm bed
rugged up from cold
before dawn


with hundreds
out of the dark
around a cairn of unknown names


silence is broken only by coughs
and crunch of autumn under foot


no birds sing


the breeze sighs
trees weep
a solitary bugle plays


dark grief
for the futility of war
for humanity’s inhumane bent


the soul of anzac
wings our nations’ heart
hope rings in our song
as dawn pierces the inky sky


the first birds sing


zen moments

Zen is a way of being and can be seen as  a state of mind.  I think for Blake it is seeing ‘the world in a grain of sand,  and a heaven in a wildflower’.  For Eliot it could be ‘at the still point of a  turning world.’   For Frost’s ‘Two Roads’   it is taking the one less travelled’  For Michael  he suggests it is the moment at the bottom of the driveway when he is out and  on  his morning walk.

My zen moment  this day was watching a single tawny leaf on its journey.  And all I could do was breathe out slowly . I felt a sense of everything and nothing.  It could be like my heart and gut just connected very satisfyingly. And so I wrote. . .





zen moment

a tawny leaf

the tree

lived its time
served its purpose

takes its leave


how gently
its fluttered spin
air-cushioned down

by the earth

Colleen Keating



Photo taken by Elizabeth Keating-Jones


The first of 9 poems in the section of the Anthology   A Call to Listen. This section is called The Smell of Parsley and focuses on poems that call on our senses. Enjoy. This is my favourite section.

The poem   listen   was inspired by a walk through the Tall Timbers Walk between Eastwood and West Ryde  with my labrador Millie.  She was a wonderful model  reminding me to slow down and look and listen and smell the wonders of nature along the way. It began with the crunch  of leaves under my feet and  the crack and rustle of the tiny skinks out sunning rustling away  from me  as I crunched through the fallen leaves  . The poem ends with an interesting, ambiguous yet cosmic line. Enjoy.



bowed trees sleep
tresses crunch at their feet
hound of wind moans
rhyme with rustle tones
come closer
snick on grass
wake of bird
seed on wing
leaf brush on air
crack and rustle of skink
in their leaf litter rush of hide-and-seek
frog-plonk in pond
snap of seed-pod
kerplop of fruit and berry
and in the underworld
rub of beetle and ant

the only other sound
easy drift
of vesper leaves
to a hush

this seasonal paradigm
whispers its arrival
no fuss
except it’s time