Pay attention: spring is peeping in. by Colleen Keating

Paying attention

With a smile I capture a rainbow bouquet–
for spring is peeping-in along the bush track *
but in my excitement to capture colour
maybe some might be classified weeds 

and that makes me laugh
and reminds me of Mary Olivers ponderings
it doesnt matter
as long as you are paying attention
to the world around you
and have the attitude of gratitude
to carry you forth.




The poem by Mary Oliver:


It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

— Mary Oliver, Thirst

Pay attention, then patch a few words  together.

* Along  the north arm of Wyrrabalong NP  bush  track




A new Hike in the Wyrrabalong National Park by Colleen Keating



It was going to be a short walk in the Wyrrabablong National Park this afternoon, the air so clear and fresh after the many squalls of rain we have experienced in the past week the leaves of the trees and palms and ferns sparkling in the mild autumn sunlight . The sight reminds me of TS Eliot description of thee leaves like children  clapping hands with joy.  The perfect day for a walk. The plan was to walk along the Red Gum Trail to the Swamp Track which I usually walk on a dry path frolicing along to the song of the frogs  on both side in amidst the ferns and palms and towering wonderful Red Gums. However the swamp track had become real  and explained why it is called the Swamp Trackand we learnt that about half way along as it became impassable. And we had to turn back!


acoss our track

water flows

into  our world

upside down

So we turned back and decided to do the full track Red Gum Trail joined into the Lilly Pilly Track and then wound back by the bushy Burrawang Track.  Michael did well even though we had not planned to walk that far. We had two pleasant sit downs  on lookout platforms over the Lake.



Sydney red gums have beautiful bark, which changes colour and texture as it is shed. They have twisted and winding branches, strange looking growths and protuberances and wonderful creamy yellow blossoms when in flower. The unusal shapes especially where the trunks and branches ‘flow’ over obstacles and around obstacles.  They have excellent old growth cavities and hollows for birds and squirrel gliders to shelter.

Besides the Red Gums the Burrawangs and Banksias were spectacular fresh and green after the rain.




After our hike we settled at Canton beach for a cup of tea from our thermos and we watched a spectacular sunset.













Possessed a poem for uncertain times by Colleen Keating




                   uncertain times

where is the still point

in this world wildly whirling?




the search for a still point
in this wildly unpredictable world
beckons us out along a bush track
listening for guidance
a calming

everything a scene
to be staged
the quiet ones
whispering wisdom
a calming hush

the creek red gums sandstone
moss-coated rocks
ferns unfolding tight-knit fists
the reassuring calls of the whip-birds
a calming hush settles

a lightness breathes
a forest breathing lightness
resurrection spangle of greens
new life blooms in every crevice
and a calming hush settles us


Everywoman by Colleen Keating


The Walk

after the  deluge 
the track was heavy  hard-going 
shoes muddied  bogs to be side-stepped 
yet there was grace in the morning walk

light was breaking
through unzipped clouds 
making the bush smile
 a thousand welcoming smiles
 dazzling  and  bright eyed  

a slow waltz shimmered through leaves 
vibrant red gums  stood friendly sentinels 
mossy rocks verdantly green
palms washed clean 

i leant against the familiar trunk of a gumtree
reassured by its sturdy cool presence  
a shadow crossed my path
i looked up –
a yellow-crested cockatoo 

ferns caught my eye  dripping with dew
 as tears 

 * * *

they are walking too today
along cold corridors 
on frozen earth
they can’t hurry although it’s urgent 
a matter of life and death 

they are pressed 
no time for a last glance back
their homes their precious things
surrendered  for  desecration

the air cries silently
for their wounded homeland 
they are slow 
burdened with babies children elders pets 
 no comfort of saucepans tea pots  books music

 a shadow crosses their path
they cower  huddle  whimper

 * * * 

she is walking now
not like me
she is walking for her life 
and the life of her child
her track is short to safety
but it ‘s not 
she sees a welcome sign just ahead
but she doesn’t      let us imagine
people welcoming her with warm soup  hot bread
reassured by soldiers like sentinels 
many who reach out to help

let someone kind ease her burden
let smiling eyes greet her 
tired  and sad 
and give her shelter

when a shadow crosses her path
let her and her child be safe
and its noise not exacerbate her fear

her words i cannot decipher 
but i understand the language
she is  everywoman

Walking two worlds by Colleen Keating

“Walk as if we are kissing the earth with our feet” exhorts Thich Nhat Hanh 

A summer storm blew up just when I was about to take a walk and I waited an hour. Little did I know in some parts of Sydney trees were downed and much damage had been done . 

However It added to an interesting walk as the bush had experienced a wild storm. There was still a wail of wind in the upper echelons of trees.  The forest world had been disturbed  

Leaves were blown wild and ripped twigs and brambles scattered the ground. Bark from the many eucalypts stripped fallen like a garment discarded forcefully. 

The light played through thunderers grey cloud with a sudden dazzle of breakthrough, lighting up small pockets of bush and then crowding over. It was an eerie feeling. 

Yet the movement of walking slowly, brought back the rhythm of my mind in step with nature.  Washed clean by the storm there was a new green and the sparks of rare sunlight threw another dimension onto the scene.

The forest floor was alive –  the small world under my feet, writhing beyond sight, but the aroma was strong with roots, mycelia, decomposers, bacteria, protozoa, worms, grubs, beetles beyond counting, beyond knowing . . .   the living and the dead brushing together to create their own symphony of sound and activity.  

The small steps in evolution going on right before my eyes,
its own miracle.  And the constant reminder we are not needed here. 

Coloured algae rooting into the sandstone, fungi at work,  soft moss and lichen covering the rocks in this rainy weather . maybe they will receed into grooves, nooks and crannies in the dry.  Small ferns, bracken ferns breaking up the rock for soil for the tree ferns,  palms, trees, and towering eucalypt  – the evolving world of plants.  All here for the ,  curious to observe the whole evolutionary plan before us.


it seems to me modern life is happening faster than the speed of thought, thoughtfulness. there is no time to ponder an event before the next one comes tumbling in and like an ocean wave  drops it new story. So it is good to walk in kairos time rather than the every day khronological time.. . .well just for awhile. 

As i came across a quiet corner the light briefly broke thru the clouds . i felt dizzy.

I found myself in two worlds. I was present here in the echoes of coolness but sensed a whole world around me 

 I had a foot in two worlds . . . there was chatter, laughing, mourning birthing.  I realised this was an ancient popular indigenous place. I am prone to being in two worlds . Once arriving at Schofields to celebrate a new school opening, as I got out of the car and put my foot down onto the ground I was part of a massacre the thudding of the ground, the cries, the moans .The memory  has never gone away. It made me quite sick as no massacre had been acknowledged there, at the time. I believe acknowledgement is better now. 

Happier crossovers have been at Terramungamine Common where we camped many times outside Dubbo on the  Macquarie river bank. Sitting there around a fire once I was aware of stamping, dusty feet and knew on another level we were not the first here and not alone. These were ponderous activities to be mingled with. And another in the bush at Marg’s old place . I found I was in a bora ring . It was happy too and was a good reminder of our ancestors before us. And of course at Myall Creek I smelt the burnt flesh once but at least I knew this was a documented event.  

Not sure how I rambled onto this experience . The  sense of two worlds was gone as quickly as it came and the heavy clouds dulled the forest world into an ominous and enchanting place to be. 

A tiny bunny rabbit peeked up at me and then ran as fast was his little legs would go  and I called after it .  . . You stay well hidden or we will have signs up saying baits are set here . like in other places. 

I disturbed a brush turkey courtship ,. . .the female waiting below and the male preparing the nest for the next stage. I sneaked past and apologised for the disturbance. 

 I knew I was well off the normal track as I was wandering to see if there was an easier way to get Michael to the hugging tree . (didn’t find it)

The forest holds such wonder and by going slowly to savour it I find much to be grateful for. 

The intricate patterns of trees, the colours on rocks the pools and the circles I made by dropping in a pebble.


Having this time to stop and absorb my surroundings is a luxury I am grateful for. 

It is my air pocket, my lifeline  needed in the busy city of life with the crowed world of demands. 


The waterfall today after the three days of rain

Waterfall in the remnant of forest  in easy walking from home. This is my air pocket in this city of 4 million people.

If you click the IMG below you will get an amazing 13 seconds of refreshing beauty.




through the trees i glimpse a waterfall
and marvel to think it has always been here
carving musically into the heart of the earth
it has sung its song for aeons   (from new bush track)

I felt very energised after my walk .My first time to put up a video. It is only 13 seconds but amazing . I am so thrill to have this so close I can walk there and be in another world .

A poem that I wrote when i first found this place and it was published in Fire on Water 2016 publ. Ginninderra Press

new bush track

moving house means searching
for new wilderness
like a miner after an elusive air pocket

following a green area on a map
hidden by development
encroached to the edge
behind an old scout hall

a brambly track
winds me down
through a sandstone escarpment
the dawn-sun plays into the hands
of eucalypts stretched
to seek the light
yet their search for meaning
being found more in their roots
symbiotically curled around sturdy rock

here dew tipped casuarinas sparkle<
here grass trees verdantly splurge<
as if their whole purpose is to shine

self important palms push upwards
screaming rock stars

honey birds swing on rusty-gold banksia
magpies warble
in the whip-cracked air

this is the Australian bush
how it pulls me in

through the trees i glimpse a waterfall
and marvel to think it has always been here
carving musically into the heart of the earth
it has sung its song for aeons
it is the human in me that delights

nature just is
in its own world
whole unto itself
it doesn’t even know I’m here
there is a loneliness in this
yet lost from the world
i am found
and to the cadence of nature
i dance 

Superb Fairy Wren by Colleen Keating


Finding that the Superb Fairy Wren has not disappeared from our city but has just retreated to a last safe vestige of the Creek reserve is my gift for today.
Even so man encroaches as close as building are permissable into this fragile habitat.

Yesterday I discovered another new track in legal safe walking distance from my place.
It is the fourth new track I have explored since the pandemic lockdown.  I have been here 5 years and just find myself walking familiar ways .

At this new discovery of a world away from the world I was so happy

I felt like shouting my delight from the mountain top but knew that was impossible then I thought of telling the world through face book but decided against that as so many put things up and it depends on other readers moods if it works or not. It can be seen differently from how I meant. So I decided I will recored it for myself on my blog and if it is seen well and good. But it is a gift of this Autumn walking time, it is a gift of this slow down and self isolate time for me and of course it is a gift from the Waitara Creek Bush Walking Track.
Along the way, before I climbed down to explore the bush,  I enjoyed the thrill of autumn colours and  some wonderful Camellias so picturesque with the carpet of petals falling.

And a wonderful shot of a lorikeet. It looked up at me and I captured it.

I felt so happy but the happiest I was finding the superb fairy wrens that I thought had left our city because their habitat is destroyed . A dubious reason some agree some dont that our bush and scrub and undergrowth is burnt in winter as a fire-hazard reduction . The creek is an exemption and hence my discovery. I wrote a poem to celebrate.

Can you see the trill of his tail? 


in search of  the small birds

the superb fairy wrens 

the lyre bird
scratching at the forest floor
and singing
every song she could mimic
pulls me up

i fail to see her
rustling along
at the edge of the creek
which was singing its own song
a rainy flow and fall song
delicious to hear after
the lament of summer silence

it is one of those places
with haze of blue gum air
that McCubbin could have painted
with deepest space
of a child lost amidst the threat
of muscular rocks
but here softened
by moss and maiden hair fern
shadowed by tall tree ferns
still in their stillness
eerie and lonely

i disturb a brush turkey
who trips across my rough track
like a jazz dancer across a stage

then i hear them!

i stopped to touch the pink dimpled trunk
of a river gum
looked up at its grandeur
that makes me feel so small
and catch
the trill twittering of small birds
in the undergrowth
to the far side of the creek

i still
became one with the trees
and watch the play like ritual

it was a salutation to the whole world
only they could capture it in this bush
as they whirr needle-like
dance along branches
wings blur blue and brown
flirted fluted fanned
their tiny tales teased
maybe for them even I was their audience

but once again the birds
teach me enchantment from a distance
and they were there
now they are gone
so many times

i worry about our tiny birds
lost from our city by the necessity
of fire hazard reduction
of their habitat
a case of survival of the fittest
in this case the biggest

for me it was the gift
to know they are not gone
just retreated
and i am reminded once again
of Mary Oliver’s words –
walk slowly  bow often 





Getting fresh air while self isolating and social distancing


Bush for us to walk in and experience a world away from the world

From our home over the highway which is taken by a overpass we walked down the road into a fragment of Australian bush  and Wahroonga Creek. So revitalising and refreshing in this world away from the world.There is still a lot of track we have to discover but today we just wandered along on the high track overlooking the creek and listening to the song of the water falling and running along as  a small creek.


Getting fresh air and exercise while self isolating

Social distancing and self isolation doesn’t mean sitting on the couch . It means being vigilant and very  carful of your discerning what steps to take to stay healthy physically and mentally  and for me this needs walking and finding spaces of veriditas that is green and moist and alive. and we have a few of those pockets of vitality walking distance from our home.

Normanhurst Park and Waitara Creek catchment today was vibrantly alive. The waterfall was singing and the place was alive . I will let the photos tell the story.





Bush Walk: Crackneck Lookout south to the Trig Station


A Spring Coastal Heathland walk 

Today we took the walk from Crackneck Lookout  to the Trig station.

Last Spring the Flannel Flowers were spectacular so this spring September 2019 we returned to enjoy the same. We were a little early. Recommend you wait till mid October to see acres of wild Flannel Flowers. For us they were mostly baby buds still hiding from the world.

However the spring brought wildflowers,  with lots of new colour to the bush. Spectacular –  purple boronias, powerful pink eriostemons australiensis,  red grevilleas, bright blue dampiera, yellow ispogon, dillwynias, gompholobiums, bossiaeas,  yellow hakea.  Add to this the vibrant Cabbage Tree Palms and the Grass trees and the vistas of the sea through the bush made for a wonderful morning. The trees and variety of barks and colours I will leave till a later ‘Tree’ post.

It is becoming a tradition to take this walk each spring –its sandy path and bird life serendading us along the path invigorates us for the rest of the day.

Can you see Michael amidst the beauty of the grass tree and palms ?