Scribbly Gum by Colleen Keating

Scribbly Gum

who writes the scribbly dialect
written into trunks of eucalypts ?
I watch the trunk of a gum-tree
no sign of a scribe

who writes the scribbly dialect
written into trunks of eucalypts?
i run my finger along the rambling lines
and enjoy the mystery

May Gibbs found inspiration
for her writing on the gum leaves
Judith Wright peeled its splitting bark
and wrote her poem
of this life she could not read.

how lovely to enjoy wonder 
believing in fairies 
at the bottom of the garden

who is this secret poet ?
who is this hidden creator?
this graffiti artist?
leaving its tag  on trees         
and what is it trying to say?

a brown moth rarely seen
is the curio   its tiny eggs hatch
mysterious larvaes  burrow down
like children in class taking up their pen
they tunnel along writing  their journey
and as the circle of life comes round 
form moths and  like students fly free


May Gibbs 1876-1969    May Gibbs MBE was an Australian children’s author, illustrator, and cartoonist. She is best known for her gumnut babies, and the book Snugglepot and Cuddlepie  and her scary old Banksia man.

Judith Wright 1915-2000   Judith Wright was an Australian poet, environmentalist and campaigner for Aboriginal land rights. She was a recipient of the Christopher Brennan Award in 1975.  Judith was also a recipient of the Australian National Living Treasure Award in 1998.

Scribbly Gum Moth tells the story of the insect’s life cycle.

Scribbly gums are spectacular Australian eucalypts that get their name from the strange ‘scribbles’ left behind on their smooth bark. These rambling tracks are tunnels made by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum Moth and tell a story of the insect’s life cycle.

Photos of the Scribbly Gums were taken by me in the Ku-ring-ga Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

Ku-ring-gai is an Aboriginal word describing the home or hunting ground of the local people.

Waitara Creek first ramble for 2021 and finding balance with nature


Waitara Creek at Normanhurst


New Year’s Day and a resolution to find more balance in life between nature and a writing  project at home. We set out on a pleasant warm drizzly sort of January day thanks to the La Niña pattern which is giving us respite from the dry, brittle, fiery heat of last summer.





Something beautiful is happening before our eyes a cycle which is a new year (January ) phenomena  – the eucalypts are shedding their bark –  the most spectacular, because of its blood red colour is the Sydney Red Gum, standing like a maiden with her elegant gown puddled at her feet .


The clean pink dimpled trunk has the cool alabaster feel of touching smooth curving skin.  One of theses three in the Wahroonga remnant of forest actually has a sign on it  ‘Hug Me‘. Hmmm here is the seed for a very sexy poem.

Angophora Costata or  Sydney Red Gum or Smooth-barked Apple  note the kino stains and careful observation you can imagine grey pink purple and muted tones of browns

The next is the Scribbly Gum  and there is the Narrow-leaved Scribbly Gum also stripping off its bark all the way to the ground

Sush an appropriate moment for us to experience this on the first few days of walking this same track after New Year.  It has become a moment of Contemplation  as we let go of 2020 with its anxities, fears,concerns, worries and  disappointments of missing  the children and grandchildren, missing holidays, having to adjust to celebrating milestones of our family life and my writers lifein new ways. Letting go to begin a new.

And having back my rambling partner and  friend to enjoy and share the beauty of nature with is the best Christmas and New Year gift of all. We have lots of adventures to share.

These past few days we have had some wonderful bird displays and we have been finding hidden gems of  wonderfully coloured fungi and all the stages of a fern in its growth to share.