A Summer City Walk by Colleen Keating

A summer city walk

We might live up in the hills amongst the trees and birds
but a pleasant train trip has us in the heart of the city
in just on a hour

Our walk into Hyde Park past the Pool of Reflection
through the War Memorial past the Mary McKillop tribute
along Macquarie Street to our first coffee stop


like a Narnia cupboard our State library
is a portal to another world.
we begin with Cafe Trim for a morning coffee

Had to smile how famous is this cat Trim *
statues in his honour in England and here
books written and now a cafe in its name

a quiet walk through the displayed collection
one painting catches my attention
Maria Little c. 1895 worthy of a poem *

across into the Botanical gardens
where the same tree pulls us up every time
its presence so grand that one’s memory

cannot hold it as such and so each time
we meet it one stops and sighs deeply
as if in its presence for the first time

the Calyx was where we walked and sat
amidst a kaleidoscope of colour
plants and passion

close up of the Wollemi Pine
had me in adoration before nature
its early place in evolutions

looking close up at its binary nature
a tree that lived and survived before
even insects evolved

used wind only for pollination
needing the updraft from valley floors
to secure its continuation

Hildegard would’ve given her approved nod
to The Green Wall
and its 18.000 plants

with shades of green in great variety
and spelling out the word Diversity
this ambience gave us a restful vibe

Further on we walked in a wild English garden
mesmerised by the colours
and enterprise of bees and butterflies


a shady spot midst sandstone outcrops
and sparkling vista of a busy harbour
our picnic tasted delicious


    The best and most illustrious of his race
    The most affectionate of friends,
    faithful of servants,
    and best of creatures
    He made the tour of the globe, and a voyage to Australia,
    which he circumnavigated, and was ever the
    delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers
    Written by Matthew Flinders in memory of his cat

    Memorial donated by the North Shore Historical Society
  • Maria Little    c. 1895  by Tom Roberts.
    This captures my attention..
    Who is she really? What is she hiding?.Is she just shy?
    What sadness she knows!
    what has the invasion of our civilisation
    done to her peeopls !
    Archivists from the historical Yulgilbar Castle in the Clarence Valley Northern, NSW have recently identified the woman to be Maria Little , a local Bundjalung woman, who worked  in the laundry at the Ogilvie family’s Yulgibar Homestead. Maria’s mother, Queen Jinnie Little, also worked at Yugilbar, along with many other Aboriginal people from the near by Baryulgil Comminity


Note below my gorgeous blue monarch butterfly


So that was my day in the city and here is another interpretation of the same day

Saturday 21st January 2023

from the diary of  Michael Keating

Today we set out for a solid walking tour of the city. I took the Fizan Explorer Walking Pole. We drove to the station and just missed a train. It is so good to get off at Normanhurst on the return journey and have the car waiting for the last 300 metres of up hill. There were plenty of people on the train and in the city.
The Lunar New Year brought a wide range of people into the city. Many were in fancy dress (Rabbits Ears for Year of the Rabbit) and groups were chasing Pokémon type targets. Colleen was amazed by the range of women styles, fabrics and designs.

We alighted at Town Hall and used the Woolworths vintage escalators to make our way towards Hyde Park. We misread the changed pedestrian conditions towards Hyde Park and chalked up a few extra criss-crossing steps. We did the full stretch of Hyde Park. We walked down to and through the Anzac Memorial and around the  Pool of Remembrance. Colleen took a photo of myself reflected in the pool. We were at either end and I was standing in front of the Anzac Memorial. The Anzac Memorial deals with WWl specifically with various acknowledgements of later encounters.

There are four sections of wall where mention is made of  every town, village, suburb from where men signed up to join the various Armed Forces together with samples of soil.

It was intriguing to wander along and note places of interest – Coonamble, Moonan Flat, Wanaaring (Paroo), Quirindi, Bega – amongst hundreds of others. The Cooee trail is iconic in NSW legend. Since I was last there, they have  added a significant water feature on the southern side (Liverpool St) of the Memorial.

From the main steps of the memorial one sees all the way to the Archibald Fountain at the northern end of Hyde Park. We walked down  the Hyde Park Avenue and made a detour past St. Mary’s Cathedral. The sculpture of Mary McKillop drew our attention. I would have liked to have wandered inside the Cathedral but I had a hat and was unable to disentangle mask, sunglasses, hearing aids, hat cord. We walked down Macquarie St to the NSW Library where we had a cup of coffee.  Thence took some time in the Portrait Gallery. It is interactive and I always like to wait for some inspiration from someone gazing down at me and then doing some basic interactive research. Today the subject was Maria Little – the  indigenous daughter of ‘Queen Jinnie Little’. Colleen was quite intrigued.

From the art gallery  we walked through the Botanical Gardens. We spent some time at the current Calyx flower exhibition. One of the Volunteer Guides was very pleased to answer our queries.

We had taken some food for lunch. As we walked down through The Gardens we kept a lookout for a shady seat. We are beyond just looking for shady grass. We were almost at the Opera House when we managed to find a seat. It was a great spot and we watched  a wide variety of boats. There were no Cruise Ships in today.

We walked around to MCA to use the bathrooms. This enabled us to have another look at some of our current favourites. Colleen did have to take a rest at  MCA and then we were on the Light Rail to Town Hall, through Woolworths and thence to Normanhurst via Hornsby.

Evening meal was a mixture of selective cheese, leftovers and a Lite’n’Easy meal.

We watched a French film called Amour. The film was from 2012 and had taken out some awards for that year. It was typically European film with subtlety and tension. The ending was both unexpected and predictable.

Thanks Michael, such a gorgeous day we both enjoyed. The venue 5 star. The company 5 star.

Soft Gaze by Colleen & Michael Keating


Soft Gaze our new Picaro Press book has just been released. Thank you to  Brenda Eldridge and Stephen Matthews at Ginninderra Press.. This is our second collaborative effort and we found our poetry blended very well to create this beautiful collection.

We are proud of the cover we have titled  ‘still and still moving‘ a photograph taken by our daughter, Jessica.   As she walked on the beach , she  observed the sand designs on the ebbing tide. One needs attention and the art of  soft gazing to  see this phenomena and  once seen of course  it is never unseen. One can never walk again on the beach and not watch for  the intricate designs the sand and water makes at their edge.   Thanks Jessica.

The dedication reads:
For our children and their partners –
the role models for our grandchildren.

Michael’s poem  gives the title to the collection

Soft Gaze
by Michael Keating

On this rim of the Pacific
an alfresco café fills and empties
swirls with chatter and laughter.
I allow my thoughts to drift.

On the rumpled velvet water
a canoeist eases into view
captures centre stage
then fades out of sight.

Folded against a cloud-gripped sky
the ocean is polished, gunmetal grey.
Pale pockets quilt the surface
where the sun probes to burn through.

The horizon arcs –
a tightrope where a coal bulker crosses.
A sharp scurry of seagulls
reframes my attention.

I Protest! Poems of Dissent selected by Stephen Matthews


So exciting to receive in the mail our complimentary copies of Ginninderra Press’ new Anthology.

I Protest! Poems of Dissent. 

Congratulations to Stephen Matthews on a superb publication  and so timely.

Both Michael and I are  very proud to each have a poem   chosen for the Anthology.

Michael’s poem is called Disconnect  and is a poem about the precious commodity we have
in water which has its own fragility and he writes how we can be lulled into forgetfulness
‘The fragility of our country  and the worry about the aquifers’

My poem rock-a bye-baby  speaks of the earth is in pain and yet how easy we can be lulled into sleep, into silence.

I  like to think I end hopefully
‘like green shoots from black stumps
will rise   poems of possibility’

There is 20% off all books at Ginninderra Press till the end May.


Shared Footprints Autumn

Our special Ginko walk  a seasonal walk along the beaches The Entrance, Blue bay and Toowoon Bay. Michael and I will make this season walk the first week of each season for the following year and note the changes.

AUTUMN March 11th 2018



MK two sets of footprints
crisp on the washed sand
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




by Michael and Colleen  on beach walk winter





CK  beanies coats and gloves –

our shadows long

on washed sand    


MK at the edge –            

foam trimmed

fingers of ocean               IMG_2336


CK  surprise

orange sand crabs 

bask in winter dawn


MK  slant of sunrise

yin-yang shadow

stone and shell


CK  spaciousness

on a winter beach

solitary seagull


MK    low low tide

untouched canvas

be awake                                                        IMG_2326


CK   over seaweed 

flirt of swallows

warms us


MK  fisherman and heron 

wade knee deep –

winter warriors


CK   rock pools mirror


our lives stilled                                  IMG_8152


MK  dawn

cuts sea and sky 

pelicans wait


CK burdens fall away

in morning light

willy wag tails


MK winter sun

softens our world

two sets of footprints  






A Healing Colour: Poetic Journey



1.Hildegard of Bingen with her  tablet to write while listening to the Divine Light  



Colleen Keating at Disibodenberg where Hildegard lived for 38 years. (1112 -1150)


A Healing Colour

The none bell fills the air
for afternoon prayer. 
Richardis runs ahead with the sisters.
Hildegard in the new garden
adjacent to the monks gardens,
lingers a moment, cherishing the freedom.
Her basket filled.

She gazes around her 
sighs with joy.
Her smile can hardly be contained.
How she relishes these moments
to be lost in the loving, living Light.

Dappled, the sun textures 
trees and grasses,
with crunch of heaping leaves underfoot, 
a riot of russet and gold.

Affirmation comes on the breeze,
God hugs you.
You are encircled by the arms 
of the mystery of God.
Feast your eyes on the green
a thousands shades of green
a healing colour, let it heal you 
with its greening power rooted in the sun. 

This moment is my miracle
she murmurs,
as she hastens back to the convent.
Colleen Keating





Photo of Veriditas  taken by Elizabeth Keating-Jones

I watched an aerial view of the destruction of forests and bush in Queensland recently, yes in 2018, we are still destroying forests here in Australia. I thought of the natural habitats, animals loosing their homes and the birds’ nests falling and the wildflowers and moss and tiny orchids now gone and the bare vulnerable earth left to be washed into erosion gullies and then the droughts, because the forest canopy has been destroyed and the earth no longer sustaining the people. And I thought how relevant are Hildegard of Bingen’s words from the 12th century across the ages to us today in this age of climate change and greed and with the loss of so much wilderness and natural habitats.

Hildegard has a word veriditas that was a touchstone of her spirituality. It is said to be coined from two words green and truth.
For Hildegard this was the greening power, the animating life force manifest in the natural world that infuses all creation with moisture and vitality.
She talks of the “exquisite greening of grass and trees,   of earth’s lush greening.
She says all of creation and humanity is “showered with greening refreshment, the vitality to bear fruit”

Clearly for Hildegard creativity and greening power are intimately connected.
To her, the divine was manifest in every leaf and blade of grass. Hildegard saw the manifestation of the Creator in every flower, every stone. For her creation revealed the face of the creator.

Hildegard celebrates the sacred in nature.

I am the breeze that nurtures all things green,
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh
with joy of life

For all of us who know and love Hildegard of Bingen,
let us be aware, awake and alert to bring lush greenness to the shrivelled and dried and wilted, to our earth and all its people. It only needs one more to sway the scales to change the critical mass of people who say,  leave our trees, our rivers, our forests, our air alone. This tiny blue sphere we live on is our home . . protect and love it.

Hildegard says,  we are here to cultivate the earthly and thereby create the heavenly. We do this in all of our creating . . . music, art, poetry, sculpture, bush walking, hobbies and culture.
The tragedy of drying up and ignoring the greening power is that nothing is created.

Colleen and Michael at Disibodenberg at Hildegard’s Kapelle




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