Canberra road trip day 1 by Colleen Keating


The Ngunnawal Peoples  on whose lands we stand
welcome you to this special place,
and ask that you acknowledge, respect and appreciate
its story and sacred beauty.

Saturday 27th March 2021

Our road trip to Canberra

As the mist lifts
we see such blue sky
and the air so clean after the wash of rain.

Autumn gnaws at the edges
summer wilts
giving way like one accepts
the turn of age
when one can no longer fight it.

Expansive open country –
gentled nodding brûlée tones of grass
trees, cattle, green hills round and soft
birds, billabongs all brimming full now.

Lake George its waters a shimmering mirage
in the distance the wind-farms green and clean
once called an eyesore.

Our picnic break –
a postcard country scene
the magpies still with us
and chirping of tiny birds
dozens of them
flitting from tree to tree
my research calls them Eastern Yellow Robins
and their flitting about
is on the wing for insects.


Standing before the portrait of Julia Gillard
I know I have arrived in Canberra
and excitedly
walking freely around
Parliament House
for me the centre of of my greatest ideals.

The fun frame is gone
set up with the sign . . .
‘Future first female Prime Minister’
now times have moved on. . . the ceiling broken
but in such a harsh and tormented way.

Hospitality at The House
freiendly and helpful at every turn.
made our walk relaxed
over the glass bridge to the senate chambers
over the glass bridge to the the lower house
looking out over into the court yards
checked the red maple –
the ‘budget tree’
which has a while to go to turn a flaming red.
and stopped at the Terrace cafe
for coffee and lunch.

A ritual visit to the Aboriginal Embassy
its sacred fire that always burns
stirs our  hearts
with the cleansing aroma of its smoke
are the cries
on signs and banners.

And into Old Parliament House
for an exhibition –
best political cartoons of 2020
hawaiian shirts and hoses
blackened trees, orphaned koalas
give way to spiky balls and masks
masks of many types!
cartoons of fires,Trump, pandemic, closing the gap
black lives matter
I can’t breath
iso, sano, toilet paper frenzies.
masks and not masks
sport rorts, pork barreling, dirty coal or not
Cathy Wilcox the Cartoonist of the year
with the year of a dog’s breakfast –
dog eats dog,  top dogs, sly dogs, people thrown to the dogs
panic buying, curves on graphs and on ourselves
finishing with sending 2020 firmly back
to the dog house where it belongs.


Then to our booked motel
in the treey suburb of Forrest
where the summer is gripping to hold on
as the fierce maiden of autumn
determidly shows her face.

We relax after an awesome
reassuring day in our nation’s capital.


Love Gough Whitlams’s  hands open.                                                                                                 Lego
He is the only one with a free and open stance.

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