Monthly Archives: March 2014


He was a beggar. Laxman. Just another of the hoarde of beggars who clustered around the Ashram, where they could always anticipate a good midday meal handout, and perhaps a few paise in alms from the pilgrims and devotees of Ramana Maharshi, who passed by in a constant flow.


Like many of the beggars, Laxman had not always been one with his hands stretched out in hope of generosity. He had a history too, of a life far less dependent on others; less humbling. Continue reading LAXMAN




At last the sleeping boot awakes; Permaculture in Italy at last is moving – some people have actually heard of it! I was tired of the lack of people interested in Permaculture courses and workshops, in the ignorant criticisms by people who had little idea of it, and no experience of having tried to put Permaculture principles into practise. Tired of hearing that it wouldn’t work in Italy, as if by some miracle Italy is another planet that just happens to occupy a space on Earth. As if Permaculture is some sort of exotic cultural virus seeking to invade from somewhere else. From Australia? Well of course it couldn’t work here, since Australia is on the other side of this planet. The upside down side, to make matters worse.

But wait a minute. Continue reading ANYONE FOR PERMACULTURE – Italy too?!





Day 1

Northern New South Wales, 1865


With one last blow of his well-honed axe, the great red cedar let out a mighty crack. That sharp sound, of splintering wood, announced to the ancient forest that one tree’s last resistance against an antagonist had been broken. The axeman leapt down off his springboard and craned his neck to look way up the mighty trunk, to ascertain the perfection of his cut, the direction of the fall. He knew precisely where it would drop.

 For a few long seconds the whole forest was suspended in a breathless silence, witness to the ear-splitting crash that would inevitably follow. Many heads turned towards the source of the sound. Soft furred marsupials, shiny scaled reptiles, many-coloured feathered creatures too, peering through the leafy mid-distance from canopy perches, staring between the lichen mosaics of other tree trunks, ogling upwards from the mouldering forest floor.

 Jack Threader stood transfixed, head thrown back as he looked up forty metres of perfectly straight thick trunk to where the branches seemed to tremble for a second. Not a sound punctuated that momentary dance of leaf and limb.

 `Waaaah!` the wiry wood cutter yelled as another crack cleaved the air, and the tree shuddered, teetered, and began to fall. …… 

This novel is complete, but I am not yet satisfied  with the editing process. It goes on. Nevertheless, I welcome any feedback. Here is the skeleton of this tale:

This is a three-generational novel set on the far north coast of New South Wales, Australia. The interwoven stories explore the different relationships of the characters with their environment, and how they confront their individual issues in the cultural context of their times. 

The first is a novel covering three different generations of settlers on the far North Coast of New South Wales, exploring their relationships with their environment and the cultural context of their times.

The first main character is Jack Threader, an indentured convict who has escaped with his companion from violent forced labour near Sydney to the anonymity of a harsh life as a cedar cutter in the rainforest valleys in the 1850s. A loner, he errs when cutting a huge tree and is trapped under the fallen giant for 4 days, watching his life ebbing out as he slips deeper into insanity with each passing of the moon. Finally he is rescued by two local aborigines alerted to his plight by their capacity to ‘read’ the landscape.

The second is a nephew, John Threader, who has settled the land as a returned soldier following the horror of Gallipoli. Working his land is an escape from the nightmare of his memories of the war and his incapacity to fit into peacetime life in the city. His wife joins him when John has created a primitive farm nucleus and together they pioneer the pastureland he has wrested from the rainforested slopes.

The third character, Peter Threader, is a ‘refugee’ from the city in the nineteen seventies, part of the ‘back-to-the earth’ migration to the countryside in the wake of the anti-Vietnam demonstrations. Full of dreams and ideals, he and his partner must confront the realities of their choice of ‘the simple life’.

The three stories of three ages are woven together through the hallucinations and illuminations of Jack Threader’s experience while trapped in the great rainforest.



JANUARY, 2013 – Tuebingen, south Germany

I must be honest with you from the start. It was not simply that I liked the title for this essay, but I also believed it to be true. It was not. That ‘year’ has now entered it’s third, and I can’t be so bold as to say that it has finished yet. The ‘gratitude’ bit, though, is absolutely true.

Two perspectives: the patient and the beloved-carer. Of course we’re talking about the same subject: my cancer and my transplant, and all that has gone and goes with it. But how diverse are our viewpoints. Much of my memory needs to be prompted by Franci’s recollection of events and emotions, but often what emerges is again a pair of different pictures, of the same theme but from a different angle. Continue reading A YEAR OF GRATITUDE


No matter what country it is, regardless of faith or faction, age or education, politics or persuasion, you’ll always find people waving at trains. Passenger trains especially, but goods trains also have drivers to return the gesture, and even if his existence is masked behind reflector-glass windows, the waver knows that he is a presence, guiding his irresistible charge towards it’s destination.

How many of you have never waved at a train ? Be honest now. The response of silence is quite deafening, like the roar the beast makes as it clatters through a cutting, as it rattles over a bridge. As a kid, I was blessed with the good fortune to live near a railway line in a small Tasmanian country town. That boon all the greater for the location of our house being just half a kilometre from the rail-bridge across the river, where the trains rattled over.

From the glass-fronted living-room, I could watch the great metal serpent speeding on it’s way to destinations further afield which at first I could only imagine as an exotic ‘somewhere else’! Continue reading EVERYONE WAVES AT THE TRAIN


Many times while bush-walking, or roaming my land, I’ve felt an uncanny tingle – my snake alarm – which has sharpened my attention to reptillian danger. An extraordinary number of times, this sixth sense has been confirmed an instant later with an encounter of a reptile. Never threateningly, but at close quarters. So I tramped the bush with a certain confidence that, on the rare occasions when a snake would not slither away at my approach, then my chances of falling prey to it’s fangs were very slim indeed.

Mind you, I don’t like the creatures, and despite faith in my intuition, I still react whenever one crosses my path; first with heart-thumping fear and then, when recognition tells me that it is harmless or definitely retreating, with a healthy respect.

After twelve thousand units of tiger snake anti-venene, and countless earnest expressions of ‘You’re lucky to be alive’, my confidence in having a built-in fool-proof snake detection mechanism has deserted me, and that respect has grown many times over. Continue reading TIGER!!