'The Mountain is on fire!' When the bushfires came - a true story of the author's childhood

        It was an unusually hot Sunday morning when the first frantic calls came from outside our garage door. We still basically lived in the downstairs section of our unfinished home. The garage opened onto the sole room: a combination of kitchen, laundry and dining area. The floor was concrete and the walls were thickly plastered double brick. It was beautifully cool in summer and comfortingly warm in winter.

        In one corner stood mother’s vast shining copper. Next to that were two huge stone sinks -- a hand turned mangle was attached to their divide. I had turned that mangle for my mother since I was three years old. A high wooden bench ran against the north wall. Dad had knocked it up from spare bits and pieces -- he was a builder by trade. On the bench stood the Primus stove and the electric frying pan from which my mother concocted miracles. People today still talk about her apple cake which was baked in that frying pan.

        Mother arose from the table and went to the open garage door. Dad and I could hear the urgent voice of our closest neighbour, Mrs Fraser.

        The Fraser family lived in a tumbledown house on the neighbouring property. Locally, this dwelling was known as The Shack. The Shack was much closer to our home than to the house of their landlords, which was located at the southern end of the property. This was one reason that all the Fraser problems ended up in Mother’s lap. Mrs Fraser had her hands more than full: poor health, seven children with an eighth on the way and a husband who was seldom home -- and that was just the beginning.

        One reason the Frasers had moved into the tumbledown house was its size. It had plenty of bedrooms and a wide wooden verandah. Hindsight also makes me wonder about the attraction of the separate laundry: a large building with concrete floor, huge copper and stone sinks. Acres of grassy paddocks surrounded The Shack and the ever-growing brood of children could be firmly dispatched to play outside. Another reason was financial: due to the somewhat dilapidated state of the shabby building -- which also meant no internal plumbing -- the Frasers paid a peppercorn rent.

        Having never known a family with seven-and-a-half children, I would stand and gaze in awe as Mrs Fraser filled her clothesline daily. The clothesline consisted of two wire lines: at one end they were attached to the laundry roof and at the other, to the stout branch of a tree on our property. When Mrs Fraser had finished hanging up her many dozen nappies with wooden dolly pins, she would seize a long pole of wood. She would then jam one end of the pole against the wire line and the other end into the ground. Somehow -- and I never worked out how she did it -- both lines of washing would be elevated to about eight feet from the ground. The process always fascinated me: when I tried, I could never make it work and the pole would just fall to the ground with a pathetic thwump.

        One vivid childhood memory is the day that young Danny Fraser ran his tricycle into the washing pole, collapsing both full lines of sparkling white nappies into the dirt and dust beneath. Mrs Fraser’s well-worn carpet slipper came into use that day.

        ‘May I get down, please, Daddy?’ I was poised to scramble down from my chair at the breakfast table.

        Daddy laughed and tousled my fair hair. ‘Down you get, Blondie.’ He sighed, murmuring half under his breath: ‘Now why do I get the feeling my peaceful Sunday with the papers has just gone out the window?’

        Daddy and I both heard Mrs Fraser thanking mother; this was then followed by the sound of footsteps receding past the window and the geranium beds. Daddy raised his eyebrows as Mother came back into the cool basement room.

        Nearly forty years later I can still remember the words spoken by my mother and the expression on her face as she said them: ‘The Mountain is on fire!

        I felt an unusual shiver run through me and knew I was scared. I may not have been very old but every member of a rural bush community knew of the horrors of fire. I remember running to my mother and clutching at her long skirts, then flinging my arms around her waist. Daddy had already slipped through the orange and white curtains separating the basement room from the garage. I knew he was exchanging his Sunday clothes for working overalls, long sleeved khaki shirt and enormous boots.

        Mother gently put me away from her, telling me she would need a great deal of help. She filled both kettles with water and set them on the double Primus.

        ‘Mummy, why are you boiling water?’ I asked, puzzled at such a strange activity at such a time.

        ‘We’re making tea to fill the thermos flasks for the men to take with them,’ said Mother quietly.

        The shiver of fear returned. ‘Is Daddy going out with the men?’

         ‘Of course,’ replied Mother, ‘all the men will go out with fire truck.’

        The Mountain had always stood there, solid, inviolate, immovable since time began. It dominated the landscape for many miles. In 1770, when Captain Cook first sailed down our coastline, he had seen The Mountain from fifteen miles offshore and noted it in his diary. It was one of the first facts every school child in the area learned.

        I ran outside and stopped dead in my tracks. There was no sun; there was no sky and there were no clouds. A thick grey haziness was everywhere. The acrid smell of smoke filled my lungs, making me cough and splutter. My eyes stung and filled with tears. It was so hot: barely nine in the morning and the heat was terrifying in its intensity. No actual clouds of smoke or flames were to be seen, just this thick grey haziness which was isolating us from the rest of the world. A deathly stillness had settled over the whole area and there was no wind.

        Several minutes later my father was gone with the fire truck. There were no hugs or softly spoken farewells. Father exchanged a few brief words with my mother and then, in an unusually brusque voice, ordered me to obey my mother in every way. He then climbed up onto the open back of the fire truck which promptly shot away down the dirt road. No waves were exchanged.

        'Mrs Silver, Mrs Silver, can you please come and help Mummy?’ the frightened voice came from a tall, thin girl of about twelve. Doris Fraser, the eldest of the Fraser children, came running down the lane. Straggling along behind her were young Danny, Carol and Joe.

        As we all made our way back up the lane to The Shack, the smell of smoke intensified. The old wooden dwelling was located on a small rise and was the highest point in the immediate area. Mrs Fraser was sitting on the verandah, her youngest daughter in her lap. Even I could see how pleased she was to see my mother. Naturally I assumed that the absence of Mr Fraser meant that he had gone on the fire truck with the men. All fathers and husbands helped out when times were rough.

        I had always adored baby Loralee and ran up to admire her. She was dressed in a little pink and white sleeveless romper suit and looked so sweet.

        ‘May I please hold her, Mrs Fraser?’ I begged, holding out my arms.

        Before Mrs Fraser could reply, my mother firmly intervened. ‘No, I want you to go back home and collect as many buckets as you can find. Doris, you and Danny go and help her, please.’

        As we scampered back down the lane, I saw mother sit down next to Mrs Fraser and take Loralee from her. Surely Mrs Fraser couldn’t be crying: I must have made a mistake. In my world, adults just didn’t cry.

        Although the fire seemed many miles away, Mother set us children to filling buckets of water. It soon became a game to see which of us could fill the most buckets the quickest. The water was poured into Mrs Fraser’s immense copper in the laundry.

        The morning dragged slowly by and the day got hotter and hotter. The Mountain summit was eleven miles away, as the crow flies. While we children knew that all the land between the summit and our few homes was native bushland, we had no idea of what this actually meant in terms of fire. We would learn that day.

        Around noon Mother and Mrs Fraser made sandwiches and we children ate them under the shade of our pine trees. A long row of radiata pine had been planted on the boundary fence between our land and the land that The Shack was built upon. Their resinous branches hung well over the fence line, providing cool and fragrant caves of shade.

        Whilst we were having our picnic, a utility truck pulled up and an elderly man got out. I recognised Mr Anderson, a widower in his late seventies. He touched his cap to Mother and Mrs Fraser.

        ‘Ladies, I’ve come to tell you that our boys are hoping to stop the fire at the highway.’ He glanced at the bevy of children who had crowded up to him, and then back to Mother and Mrs Fraser.

        The three adults exchanged glances and I was not at all surprised when we children we ordered away. We were told to collect up all the old sacks we could find and start soaking them in the bathtub. With glee we raced off to fill the old iron tub.

        The highway was only two miles away but it was not until the usual afternoon wind began that the real sense of danger electrified our young world.

        Mrs Fraser put her younger children to rest in the biggest bedroom of the old house. Baby Loralee slept restlessly in her cot, tossing and turning. The copper was full of water and a long row of full buckets was lined up outside the laundry. The overflowing bath was full of hessian sacks.

        In the kitchen the old wood stove was kept burning: a constant supply of hot tea was always available. Mother and Mrs Fraser ate nothing but steadily drank cup after cup of tea. We children gulped thirstily at mugs of cold tank water. The day grew hotter.

        'Mummy, look,’ cried Doris fearfully, pointing to the sky. Thick swirls of angry black smoke were filling the sky from the south-west, cutting a swathe through the isolating haziness.

        The fire had begun close to the summit of The Mountain. It charged through the uncleared native bush, exploding huge eucalypts as it passed in demonic fury, leaving destruction in its wake. The leading fire leapt from tree top to tree top, often leaving the thick undergrowth and abundance of leaf litter below, untouched. Before there was pause to draw breath, the main body of the fire arrived, gobbling everything as yet unburnt, into its ravenous maw. This fire was angry and determined to hurt all who lay in its path.

        It was fortunate that we youngsters had only the barest idea of what was happening to the abundance of animal life on The Mountain. So many species of birds and animals called The Mountain home.

        Whilst exploring the lower flanks of The Mountain I had seen wallabies, kangaroos and the wonderful fluffy grey koalas, but my favourite was the Lyrebird. The thick undergrowth and plentiful leaf litter made The Mountain paradise for the Lyrebird. One of my proudest possessions was the tail feather of a Lyrebird which I had found for myself on The Mountain.

        Two miles away from home, the main highway cut a broad black ribbon through the bush, curving from north to south. West of the highway our men gave non-stop battle against the enemy, knowing it all depended on the wind direction.

        It was just past two in the ever increasing heat of the afternoon when the wind came up. It came in from the south-west, pushing the fire ahead of it.

        The dozen families who lived in our area began to close ranks. All the men were gone, fighting the fire: we hadn’t seen any of them since Mr Anderson’s short visit. But the women and children began to make their way to Mother and Mrs Fraser at The Shack. Somehow, it had been decided that this would be the last bastion.

        Cars slowly drove up the rutted laneway and from them emerged all the women and children of the area. Everybody asked to be given something to do but there was nothing more for anyone to do but wait.

        The afternoon dragged slowly on, getting hotter and hotter. Fights broke out among the children to be abruptly halted by the sharp slap from a maternal hand. How those women strove to keep normality going: innumerable tasks were thought up for us youngsters and all conversation within our hearing was positive and cheerful.

        When the fire jumped the highway with a contemptuous leap, our men were forced to fall back. The wind grew stronger, still pushing the fire ahead of it. Two miles of native bushland lay between the highway and the homes. The last stand would have to be made at the Big House.

        The Big House lay at the southern end of the neighbouring property: the owners were the Fraser’s landlords, thus they owned The Shack. Between Big House and The Shack lay many acres of   cleared land: the hot summer sun had long since baked the grass to a crisp. A number of dilapidated wooden outbuildings lay clustered around The Shack, resembling a brood of chickens grouped around their mother hen.

        ‘Look, the fire truck’s coming,’ yelled young Joe Fraser as he jumped up from the shade of a pine tree.

        Suddenly the world exploded into noise and violent colour. Gone was the waiting period with its intermittent excitement, boredom and flashes of fear. This was pure terror and my daddy was out there somewhere.

        A curtain of flame surged over the hilltop from the direction of the main highway. From then on everything happened in a series of vivid snapshots. There was my father, leaping down from the back of the fire truck: he had a funny sort of large tank strapped to his back, held in place by leather straps.

        There was my father, leading a line of men who all had those funny tanks strapped to their backs. There was my mother and Mrs Fraser, forming all the women into a bucket line. There were we children, frantically filling bucket after bucket with water and staggering back to the line of women.

        There was my mother and Mrs Fraser beating burning grass with wet hessian sacks. There was a group of women flinging buckets of water at the walls of Mrs Fraser’s laundry. The row of buckets always need filling and we children struggled on. Fortunately the two big tin water tanks belonging to The Shack were hard by the house and laundry but how long would the water last?

        There was my father and his mates, now struggling in front of the Big House. The wooden paling fence on the south-west side of the Big House was burning now. The men were frantically spraying the house and fence.

        More snapshots: part of the main fire breaking away and rushing up towards The Shack. One of the smaller outhouses is consumed almost instantly, then gone forever. The next outhouse, a larger building, takes a little longer to be gobbled up. Mrs Fraser is crying desperately now. Some of the women try to insist Mrs Fraser goes and rests but she angrily refutes the suggestion.

        The noise, the heat, the smell,  the colour: it is so hard to breath. Now Mr Anderson is tearing down a section of the wire fencing between The Shack and my parent’s land and escorting the younger children to a safer zone: little Loralee Fraser is clutched in his arms. I refuse to be classed as a younger child -- after all, I am nearly six years old. I break away from Mr Anderson and rush back to the bucket brigade.

        My mother is frantically beating at the burning grass now closing on the Fraser’s laundry: she looks over her shoulder and I know she is checking on my safety. From my place in the bucket filling brigade I wave to her and see her face relax slightly. She turns back to concentrate on beating with her wet sack.

        Then the wind, with no warning at all, suddenly swings around to the east. A cry goes up from the men:

        ‘Come on boys, we’ll beat it yet!' bellows huge Mr Roberts, the voluntary fire chief. The fire truck has long been empty and the tanks strapped to the backs of the men were being continually refilled from the huge concrete tank at the Big House. My dad had built that tank for such an occasion as this.

        I can sense a renewal of hope in the women as the fire closing on The Shack seems to falter in its stride. For a terrible moment it is as if the flames are not sure what to do: there is all that tempting fuel just ahead and the flames are so hungry still. All the food the fire has furiously gobbled up has not appeased it in the slightest: it still wants more and more and I can feel its terrible greed and hunger.

        Eager tongues of flame flicker around the foundations of the laundry: the women beat away with renewed vigour. We children are sharply ordered away: not all of us obey. We know we can still supply the women with fresh wet sacks and water filled buckets. The younger children are watching from our place, clustered around Mr Anderson.

        Then it is over. Forced by the increasing easterly wind, the fire sullenly turns back on itself. It is sullen because there is no fuel: its greed has left only devastation behind it. The paling fence in front of the Big House has gone but the house itself is safe.

        An eager cry goes up: the laundry has been saved! The fire seems to have given up: almost half-heartedly now, mean little tongues of flame target the odd section of fuel they have missed. The tongues are beaten down furiously with wet sacks and sulky smoke drifts up to the sky.

        Mrs Fraser collapses to the ground near her saved laundry: she is carried to the house by a small knot of women. My mother’s face is angry and I wonder why. I see her gently touch Mrs Fraser’s swollen abdomen: how strange, I think. How old was I before I learned that Mr Fraser was not with the rest of our men that day, but with his mistress, more than two hundred miles away?

        The fire left more than sixty square miles of devastation behind it that summer day. Close to the highway, the huge sawmill was completely destroyed, as were the half-dozen houses of the mill workers and their families. No lives were lost that day but several of the older men who fought the fire died during the following week. It was considered we had been let off extremely lightly.

        Some final snapshots: the water hoses of the fire truck stiff and dry in the heat of the fire. A community who came together and fought as one (with the exception of Mr Fraser). I knew my dad and Mr King couldn’t stand each other, yet they battled side by side as comrades. The dead, stark blackness of desolation which replaced the living greenery I had always known. The clearest and most vital memory: my dad with that huge water tank on his back, fighting the flames in front of Big House, and my mother, beating out flames with wet hessian sacks. I was so proud they were my parents.

© Ingrid M. Smith

The Tale of a Ballad

Some years ago when my daughter was in Year Seven at High School, she was given a major poetry assignment.

This assignment consisted of the following elements:

Syllable cinquain
Word cinquain
Free Verse
Extra element of own choice
Extra element of own choice ( second type)
Reasons for choice of poet/poem

Most of these elements had to be created by my daughter but in the case of the ballad, she had to choose two Australian poets and give examples of their work.

Having picked Banjo Patterson for her first ballad poet, she calmly announced she had given my (!!) name in to the English teacher as her second choice of Australian poet!

I was horrified, being no poet and objected strongly. Daughter calmly dug up a couple of my published poems, took them to her teacher and said her mother had written them. Therefore her mother must count as an Australian poet, right? Teacher heartily agreed with daughter and I was sunk.

I was then told to produce a ballad on a given topic within 48 hours.

The result was The Colt’s Day.

I know it is no masterpiece but we did have fun with it and both daughter and her teacher were delighted.

We found it a few days ago and so here it is.

(Daughter scored a perfect 100% for the poetry assignment!)

The Colt’s Day

The very young colt stood in the yard
He stamped his hoof good and hard, 
His action really seemed to say:
'I won’t be broken in today!

He heard the sound of a laughing voice
He thought, ‘I’d better make my choice!
He reared up tall and began to neigh:
‘I really will not be ridden today!’

His owner walked up to the gate
He said, ‘Sorry boy, I know I’m late.’
The colt began to prance and neigh,
‘I am a wild colt today!’

He bared his teeth and ran around
All four hooves, they left the ground,
His coat, it shone, a lovely bay
‘I am a wild boy today!

His owner went to get the bridle
‘I cannot let my colt be idle,
After all, it’s for me to say
Whether we will ride today!’

The colt, he gave an enormous leap
He cleared his owner’s brand new jeep,
As he flew, out came a neigh,
‘I said to you, no ride today!’

The colt, he galloped down the track
Over the fence, then out the back,
‘I’m off to meet a friend today,
A pretty filly of white and grey!’

A real horseman, his owner knew
There was nothing else he could do,
He smiled as he put the bridle away,
‘I wasn’t meant to ride today!’

Our colt, he met his filly friend
She was waiting at the old creek bend,
They really had a lovely day
Playing in the meadow hay.

The owner set out tubs of feed
He knew what tired ponies need,
The ponies gave a weary neigh,
‘Thank you for our lovely day!’

© Ingrid M. Smith

Book Review: Terradox by Craig A. Falconer

Craig A. Falconer has the rare ability to target the world's thought-provoking issues in his writing of highly readable Science Fiction books. Welcome to Terradox.

Firstly, on a practical note: The file downloaded easily to my Kindle Touch and was exceptionally user-friendly to both read and operate. 

The strength of this story lies in its basis of reality: we can so easily identify with the problems faced by the characters in the book. For example:

Not enough food for the world's population? Welcome to the Global Union's Pet Ban who cannot possibly allow humans to waste food on their pets. The horror of the Pet Ban is reinforced by the delight and wonder of teenage Viola when told she may actually get to meet "four real live dogs" on the Venus Station.

Ever imagined a combined group of countries getting too much power? See the words spoken by Yury, aka Spaceman: …"centralised power without representation only ever works out well for one group, and that’s the group that wields it…..the distinction between an all-powerful global sovereign and an international society is not semantic and it is not political. This distinction is the distinction between tyranny and liberty.’’

The story, without giving too much away: Life on planet Earth is now controlled by the Global Union. A small group of people, including two children and their father, has joined the quest for a better alternative. On route to the Venus Station, their ship meets with a seeming accident. Working together in the struggle to survive, it gradually emerges that perhaps not all of the people are working towards the same goal...

The characters are very believable, each having their strengths and weaknesses which emerge at unexpected times. The group consists of young Bo Harrington, his teenage sister, Viola and their father Robert, Ekaterina Rusev, Grav, Yury aka Spaceman, Holly and Dante.

Mr. Falconer manages his cast with creativity and cunning. In the background hovers the menace of Australian Roger Morrison and the tragedy of Olivia Harrington.

The author has nice lines in gentle humour and irony which I hope he will continue to develop. Holly's Plant in a Pot, the Lavendar Scented Venus Station and the food produced by the algae-building-block food machine are all great examples of this.

A high standard in language, grammar and punctuation is maintained, which I greatly appreciated.

I always wanted to keep turning the page to discover what happened next: what more can one say?

© Ingrid M. Smith

Publication of this review includes amazon.com book reviews.

Book Review: The Gift of Originality by Justine Hart

Justine Hart has created the ideal text book for those people who want to take more than a hurried glance at where they stand in today's world. You are gently but firmly encouraged to take a good look at yourself and your place in life; having done that, suggestions are made for taking action and making change.

The writer has the gift of humour, which she uses to illustrate different situations. She also has a penetrating understanding of today's world, both the positive and negative issues. With no hint of despondency in her words, Justine Hart makes some very clear statements about the society we live in: which we have created, hoping to better ourselves. She is also amazingly practical, which I love.

Some of Justine's words which I most enjoyed and appreciated are:

'Just imagine a world with only priests and prophets, novices and nuns, ministers and saints and no one to attend to sanitation!'

'You have helped to create the day's events; your participation will have made a difference.'

'Do not immediately make hasty assumptions on a particular mood and manner.'

'People seem to be working harder and longer, but are they creating something better?'

'It seems possible that soon we could be enmeshed (and floundering) into a fluctuating economy that dictates little personal thought and much spending of money! Is this not happening already?'

'Do we not all appreciate a clean house and delicious meal, so nice to come home to?'

'Consider for instance the tiny invisible sparks and symbols of enthusiasm, excitement and laughter. They are very contagious and will zip, sparkle and spread through the air very easily and quickly.'

'It feels as though we have our freedom and independence, but do we really have full control of this ever expanding monetary need? Could this be another time of servitude and dominance?'

'There are more concerns; is all this easily bought merchandise and produce conducive to our good health? There is the frightening possibility that everything that we need to buy will soon be doused and doctored with chemicals, preservatives and colorants. We are only just discovering the many harmful effects.'

Justine illustrates many of her points with entertaining yet serious anecdotes. We have the story about anger going down the line: it starts with the boss in his office and ends with the poor cat getting a rough time. There is the tale about missed opportunity and the different coloured boxes tied with different coloured ribbons.

There is the mandatory mobile mania: (what a grand piece of alliteration) We will shop, eat, drink, arrange for a plumber, check the emails, take a conference call and sell a new project all in the blink of an eye. Or was it our lunch break?

The Gift of Originality is an invaluable text book suited to many people. Whether you question your role in today's world or whether you wish to argue with some of Justine's points, The Gift of Originality makes an exciting and intelligent read.

© Ingrid M. Smith

Publication of this review includes In Print (Feb 2014 edition) and amazon.com book reviews.

My Beautiful Boy: a short story

My Beautiful Boy is the true story of a cat called Buttercup who spent more than twenty-two years as a much-loved member of our family. Quietly and patiently he ruled his team of ratters and mousers who protected the bales of lucerne and meadow hay on our farm.

My Beautiful Boy was published in the March 2019 edition of In Print,  the official newsletter of The Society of Women Writers of Western Australia.

Buttercup: September 1996 - 7 February 2019

My First Queensland Christmas

'The north wind is tossing the leaves,
The red dust is over the town,
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddocks is brown,
As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ Child, the Heavenly King.'

The words of one of my favourite Christmas carols sang out loud and strong from the airport loudspeakers. I remembered learning them in the Sunday School choir, as an eight year old. I had always loved the Australian Christmas carols which seemed to suit our climate and lifestyle so well.
It was Christmas Eve and the early afternoon sun was blazing down as we emerged from the airport in search of a car for hire. We had just travelled nearly 2,500 kilometres up the east coast of Australia, starting out at daybreak. Three air flights later, here we were in north Queensland. For my husband-to-be, it was the usual annual Christmas return to his north-west Queensland home. It was my first visit to Queensland and I was travelling to meet my future husband's family for the very first time. Our wedding day was only three weeks away.

© Ingrid M. Smith

Some years ago I was invited to contribute to a Christmas Annual in the United Kingdom. The resultant published true story exceeded 7,000 words. The above is the opening excerpt from My First Queensland Christmas. It appeared in The Eighth Chalet Annual (FOCS) Christmas 2003 published by Friends of the Chalet School United Kingdom. The four photographs below are some of the pictures used to illustrate my article.

My First Queensland Christmas
Ponies and sugarcane at Rocking Vee
Ponies and mangoes at Rocking Vee

The Oakdale Cowboys
Bull riding practice at Rocking Vee

Where the Waratahs Bloom and Mike Sargeant

Mike Sargeant is a hugely talented artist who creates his wonderfully unique pieces from recycled materials. Each of Mike's distinctive works is a legacy to his love of the natural enviroment and desire to protect it.
His pieces range from the Keep Australia Beautiful Awards to Claude (Clawed!) the Crocodile; at 3.5 metres long, Mike's largest piece.
Mike's work travels far and wide and can be found displayed in galleries, at exhibitions, in parks and in many homes and gardens. His work has been showcased with huge success at the prestigeous annual art event at Sydney's Botanical Gardens.
Mike is married to the lovely Christine who often arrives home to find that her kitchen utensils have been mysteriously incorporated into works of art! (see the Forcupine)
I am fortunate enough to be the extremely proud owner of one of Mike's amazing pieces, especially designed and created to celebrate the writing of my novel,  Where the Waratahs Bloom.

Here are the details of my piece:

The flower head is created from bent nails,  half a plastic golf ball, fish knives, half a champagne bottle top and painted with glass paint.
The stem is made from a golf club and the leaves are cutlery handles.
The whole flower is fixed to an extremely solid piece of slate, a left-over from a new floor.
The wood and the backing, according to Mike:  'are some odd bits salvaged from the shed'.

I hope to do another blog very soon about Mike's awe-inspiring work.
Photo credits: Mike Sargeant and Peter Smith

The very special piece created by Mike for 
my novel, Where the Waratahs Bloom

The fine detail of one of Mike's waratah flowers

One of the many awards created by Mike

A vase of native flowers featuring the waratah

The Forcupine, composed mainly of recycled forks!

Claude (Clawed) the Crocodile! He is 3.5  metres long
and has found a happy home.

Fish in Water: originally displayed outside Manly Art Gallery as part of the Framework Project in 2001. Fish in Water is now on permanant display at BreastScreen NSW,  St Leonards.

Lest We Forget: an anthology

An Isle of Greece tells the story of Dorothy Measures, an Australian nurse working on the Greek island of Lemnos after the Battle of Lone Pine in 1915.

The dedication inside this anthology,  Lest We Forget, says it all:
'This anthology is to commemorate '100 Years of ANZAC' in this centenary year. The stories, articles and poems of fact and fiction are dedicated to the gallant soldiers of Australia and New Zealand who fought diligently to keep this country free.'

I am proud that my story was considered good enough to be included.


I have started this blog to showcase my books, short stories and articles and also to write about issues which spring from and relate to, the afore mentioned. I intend to keep the blog pretty tight to the subject and not wander all over the place.
Questions and comments from readers are most welcome. 

Quote: 'The pen is mightier than the sword'  Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839