The three baby Willy Wagtails grew so very fast that in less than a week they were treading on top of each other in their tiny nest, and taking turns to flap their wings.

Hearing a prolonged — well, perpetual — chattering from the verandah, I went out to see both parents in a right tizz, and not wanting me there at all.

The reason was a young one, wedged in under a roof batten, a few metres from the nest.

I went inside to ease the panic and hope for the best. It seemed far too soon for a baby to be out.


Ten minutes later the chattering was coming from two directions.  The baby had flown out to the vegie garden edging, so one parent had to keep watch out there, which it did from the top of the water tank.


The airspace out here was being guarded even more vehemently, with a baby on the ground.


But two more remained in the nest, so the parents had to patrol two nurseries.


Not for long. Next day the nest was empty and the whole Wagtail family was doing aero wheelies out the back and taking their ease in the ti-trees.

Less than a week from eggy nestlings to daredevil teens!


This Spring the Welcome Swallows and the Willy Wagtails have both chosen to raise their families on my verandah.

The Willy Wagtails built a tidy and solid new nest, a smooth cylinder of cobwebs and grass and bodily fluids.


The slack Swallows just re-used the old one; didn’t even shore up the crumbling structure, just did an interior makeover with more feathers.

But at least two of the Swallow babies survived and flew and still kept returning to the nest area as home base.


When the Willy Wagtail decided hers was good enough, she sat. And sat. A rare occasion for the hyperactive Wagtail to be still long enough for me to get a photo.


When she sat less often, I waited for the first peeps, but heard none. Compared to Swallow babies, these are quiet — just bundles of fluff and beak, huddled together in a tiny nest.


There look to be four of them, as yet far less handsome than their dapper parents. They are all keen to be ready for a feed when a parent appears.


The parents are kept frantically busy, catching food and returning to feed one chick at a time, putting their own beak right down the chick’s throat.

At this rate they’ll outgrow that nest very soon…


September was wet enough, but appropriately gentle.

October is delivering its rain in tropical tantrums, with sunshowers and rainbows and start-stop deluges.

This double rainbow appeared on the very first day of the month, to announce how things were going to be.


A week later and we were treated to another fulsome beauty. Sadly, no pot of gold has ever been found by me, however hard I’ve looked.

The plants love the frequent drinks — not that they need extra encouragement to grow here. Weeds like dock are over my head already.


This wallaby approves of the state of my ‘lawn’ at least.


The swallow family don’t seem to mind being alternatively drenched and baked. Like me, they have to make the best of what the gods deliver…

Here’s a great offer from my publisher, Exisle — The Woman on the Mountain and Mountain Tails at just $A14.99 for the two.

You can order direct from Exisle here, but be quick because stocks are limited.

Young mum Nicky Coombes is passionate about her beautiful Bundook area, her Gloucester River, and her family’s right to clean air and water.

As AGL’s coal seam gas project at Gloucester threatens all of these, she instigated a Gasfield-free Community survey in her Bundook locality. The first in the Gloucester region, the results showed that the great majority of residents do NOT want to live in a gasfield.

Nicky has come a long way from the first tentative public talks that I heard her give, and I think she has become a most eloquent spokesperson on the issue.

When I heard her speak recently, I complimented her:  ‘It was very poetic’.

‘Well, I have actually written a poem about it’, Nicky replied.

And she read it to me.

So now I share Nicky’s river poem and her beautiful river photos with you.


Ode to the River

If you sit quietly & listen
You can hear her call your name
She wants to know your whereabouts
Your part in the game

We all claim common ownership
Her responsibility is ours
She wants to remind you
It’s your land that she empowers

It’s with your silence that she suffers
The cause of so much angst and pain
She questions your priorities
As without her you’d complain

Within you is the courage
And the strength to be brave
She’s asking you to speak up
Without you she can’t be saved

When we all speak together
Like her waters we can roar
She needs us to be united
A voice that cannot be ignored 

If you sit quietly and listen
You can hear her call your name
Please take responsibility 
For your part in the game


Here’s Nicky at the recent Gloucester town walk. AGL better believe that she means what her sign says; the reverse message is ‘We will prevail’!


Photo of Nicky and me by Linda Gill, who also made the steering wheel cover sunflower for The Ground Beneath Our Hearts event in Gloucester.

The end of a Spring day when the sun is still setting north of west brings the last of the light low over my ridge’s shoulder. 
It finds the far escarpment and paints it gold.


The wallabies have been in clover — literally — as Spring has sprung with flushes of flowers on welcome plants and weeds alike.


Birds arrive that I have not regularly seen here, to feed on blossoms and seed heads. Lorikeets hang upside-down in the callistemons, galahs waddlle through the yet unmown grass, beaks full of booty.


Under the verandah roof the swallows are nestbuilding, perhaps even eggsitting by now, so this hopeful kookaburra keeps perching on the nearest star post.

The swallow parents divebomb his head relentlessly; he just keeps ducking. When they occasionally connect, he flinches, wobbles slightly, refluffs his feathers — and stays put.

On six continents groups large and small gathered to creatively celebrate and soothe the earth that we have so grievously wounded by our gung-ho extractive industries.


In Gloucester, the Knitting Nannas Against Gas had been making sunflowers of every hue and size for months. On the day, sunflowers sprouted all over town, even on the garbage bins.


Mannequins were found in the most unusual places and positions.

People were extra colourfully dressed for the monthly Walk through town and the mood was more positive than ever.



Children in golden wings danced about like butterflies but couldn’t bring a smille to Nora the Knitting Nanna’s face; she knows CSG is deadly serious.


At midday we met again at the AGL frack site gates where so many anxious and sad early morning vigils had been held as the fracking went on behind that high green wall in the distance. 

Now the Halliburton crew and their rigs are gone, AGL still have to vent the gas into the local air and take out the CSG water — then truck all the way to Queensland as no facility in NSW will have it, due to the BTEX it contains.

Today those gates bloomed with sunflowers and people parked and picnicked on the verge where once we were forbidden to stop.

Sunflowers are so much prettier than security guards…


The security camera watched it all but no burly, poker-faced guards appeared. Clearly sunflowers and Nannas are not considered threatening enough.

AGL should not be fooled.

The Gloucester KNAGS certainly aren’t planning on giving an inch – or a stitch – until AGL are gone from their beautiful valley.

Last week I loaded my much-loved Gypsy camper on to my ute for the last time. 

I have had to sell her due to financial problems.

The first to see bought her, and I had several callers wanting me to gazump them and buy her sight unseen.

I delivered her to her new home base near Inverell, where she is going to be used on a tray back ute and have major additions done to take advantage of the extra external side spaces.

I am now looking for a small 4WD campervan instead.

Here’s a few reflective pics of our time together.


When she first arrived at my old Mountain home in 2012, she was immediately utilised by the locals for shade. I slept in her for the first night, just to celebrate what seemed my unbelievable good fortune in owning her.


She was usually parked at the side of the cabin, very soon under a special sail for weather protection.



Even while stationary there she had quite a few adventures with the local wildlife.


I used to joke that I should rename her an ‘Activist Camper’, rather than an Active Camper, as she accompanied me to several protectors’ camps. At the original Leard Forest camp, a local frog immediately took up residence.


We had only one actual ‘holiday’ — for two days — but she was wonderful for getting around to distant book talks, as in Victoria.

We did make it to a few national parks in between commitments in a given area — like Mount Kaputar when I was in the Pilliga, or the amazing Bunya Mountains here, from Toowoomba.


Towing the final trailer load, she came with me as I passed through my gate for the very last time at the Mountain… a tough day.


We made it here to our new home on 14th September, almost a year ago.


Once here, at the Gloucester Protectors’ camp she was a frequent visitor, making the early morning action starts very easy for me.

She also coped with what seemed to be the frequent wild weather we copped there.

I felt guilty as tents ballooned and blew apart.

So my Gypsy has earned her new life and transformation. 

I loved having her, although I always felt she was too good to be true…

Morning glories

September 7, 2015
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Spring is here, with welcome rain freshening the creek, which had slowed and dropped alarmingly. Having only one tank here, when I used to have four, is nerve-wracking. Nights are still cool enough for a fire, and mornings are bright and crisp. Not so crisp as to make me want to stay in bed, however. […]

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Blue move

August 31, 2015
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A few months ago, some necessary clearing of shrub weeds like lantana was undertaken along the fence line. A few weeks ago, the burning of the large pile of rubbish from that clearing was finally possible. What it revealed was a Satin Bower-bird’s ‘bower’ — the grass U-shaped ‘avenue’ surrounded by a mat of grass and […]

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Co-existence with coal?

August 10, 2015
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Hadyn Wilson is a friend of mine from the Hunter Valley — south of the coal wasteland, but he’s deeply aware of it. He is also a fabulous painter, a deep thinker and a sincere environmentalist.  Recently I saw an exhibition of his work at the Frances Keevil Gallery in Double Bay, Sydney. Hadyn describes […]

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New kids on the block

July 30, 2015
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I have reluctantly become a grazier. These two Friesian dairy steer calves are now our permanent resident lawnmowers, and company for Clancy the horse. This block is cursed with setaria grass, introduced for cattle, but harmful for horses. That’s it towering over them on the right. It depletes horses’ calcium, so Clancy needs supplementary calcium, […]

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