Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The people: my family and friends, Chevalier College staff and students, the indigenous NPWS mob at Morton NP, The Chaser posse, John Safran (perhaps the scariest and bravest man on TV), The Spicks n Specks gang, HG Nelson and the Bush Slam makers, all involved in constructing the first season of Underbelly, Shaun Micallef, Sacha Baron Cohen, the Eremaea regulars, all those at Copenhagen who tried to embrace the Earth, not stuff it up further.

The places: Monga National Park, Braidwood, Melbourne (particularly Collingwood, Fitzroy and Carlton), Morton National Park, Budderoo National Park (mainly the Budderoo Plateau), Berrima, Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale (for Seymour Park, my home away from home), Carrington Falls, Belmore Falls and Fitzroy Falls, Canyonleigh, Mt. Gibraltar, Yarrawah Brush, Robertson, Barren Grounds Nature Reserve, the wetlands at Mossy, Wombeyan Caves, Mannings Lookout, Kangaroo Valley, Cambewarra Lookout, Hyams Beach, Homebush Bay and Mason Park, Canberra, Lake George, various Southern Highland wineries, Sydney (particularly Glebe Point Rd. and King St. and Red Eye Records and the glorious harbour).

The words: Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Paul Ham's Kokoda, Dave Cullen's Columbine (a sobering, raw and incredibly dense analysis of the massacre at Columbine High School ten years ago, showing the killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were not victims of bullying and members of the 'Trench Coat Mafia' as the media reported, but confident, scheming psychopaths and bullies who hated the world and wanted to be remembered for murder), Robert Adamson's Inside Out, Mark Tredinnick's The Blue Plateau, Nikki Gemmell's Why you are Australian - A Letter to my Children, Dorothy Porter's The Bee Hut, Nicolas Rothwell's Another Country, Deborah Ellis' Parvana, Peter Lach-Newinsky's The Knee Monologues and Other Poems, selected essays in Five Bells (Vol. 15 No. 4 & Vol. 16 No. 1), Andrew Lansdown's Communion and Other Poems, various poems by Jennifer Compton published in Quadrant.

The films: The Wrestler, Avatar, District 9, The Combination, Seven Pounds, I Am Legend, Closed For Winter.

The music: Dreadzone, BAD (for unearthed track from '85 Electric Vandal), The Big Pink, UNKLE, Faithless, Boxcar (ah, they're back!), Depeche Mode, Bad Lieutenant, Pet Shop Boys, The Prodigy, Salmonella Dub, 7 Worlds Collide, Paul Dempsey ('Ramona was a Waitress' the best Aussie song of 2009), Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Imbruglia.

The birds: Lewin's rail (my first tick for the year), olive whistler (my other tick for the year), sooty owl, ground parrot (munching on stems on the Budderoo Track), superb lyrebird (listening to its extraordinary impressions of a myriad of other birds and wild music, when foraging at Fitzroy Falls, was awesome), bassian thrush, eastern bristlebird, southern emu-wren, beautiful firetail, dollarbird (skimming Lake Alendandra), peregrine falcon (circling my car and getting aggro because I was disturbing it from its fresh kill, a crested pigeon!), yellow thornbill (two of which landed on my Astra's revision mirror and proceeded to check out their reflection for twenty minutes at the Moss Vale wetlands), yellow-throated warbler (on its teardrop-shaped hanging nest at Fitzroy Falls... finding nest fallen and destroyed with broken eggs some weeks later).

LJ, December 31 2009.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I can see it now...

TIGER. An Oliver Stone film. Will Smith playing Woods. Charlize Theron as Woods' wife. Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton and Megan Fox (in a blonde wig) as three of his many lovers. Music by and Hans Zimmer. A number by Will Smith and over the closing credits. The bill poster all green, with a small black man in red Polo shirt and beige pants looking up at the sky, with a golf club in one hand and a bra in the other. The tag line: even legends have handicaps.

At the Academy Awards, the film will win best picture. Stone will hold his Oscar high and Will and Tiger will spontaneously run to the stage to hug Stone and smile for the cameras. Denzel Washington will be first to his feet to applaud. At the after party, Woods will cry and fall over a table and kiss a cute waitress on the cheek and Annie Leibovitz will take the photo's for a special edition of Vanity Fair.

And somewhere in there, Richard Wilkins will say something profound for the Aussie telecast.

LJ, December 13 2009.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I am crack-bang in the absolute middle of penning a biggish poem for the Australian Book Review's 2009 Prize and I'm reveling in every movement of its sporadic creation. This work is unguarded, ridiculous, fanciful and hopefully, resonant and poignant. It's an Australian-centred piece incorporating drugs, abstraction, visions, crimes, celebrities, wildlife, oddities, kitsch stuff and burning history's pages whilst still celebrating our magnificent, perplexing continent.

My recent sojourn to Monga National Park (and seeing an upside down rotting wombat by the side of a road within), Allen Ginsberg's immortal HOWL and the poetics of Anthony Lawrence were the bright stimuli for the poem.

One of Australia's great poets, Robert Gray, once said to me, in a Country Road store in Sydney, that writing poetry is like dropping stones into a well.

Let's hope this stone causes a tsunami... or at least a wave big enough for a well rat to surf...

LJ, November 9 2009.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Please read the comment attached to my Sydney Harbour Bridge picnic post below... I think the blogger/blogging crew somehow missed the point of my blog!

LJ, 27 October 2009.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Billed as 'the world's most dazzling picnic' and 'a once in a lifetime experience', Breakfast on the Bridge occurred last Sunday morning. Some 6,000 people sat on grass laid down on the car lanes of the Bridge, for two hours, to have a picnic. The event cost NSW tax payers a million dollars. What a joke. Bring back the anarchic spirit of 1932... Where's Colonel De Groot when you need him?

LJ, October 27 2009.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Last Friday, I ticked a new bird for my Australian list, an Olive Whistler. I have now seen 522 of the 800+ species recorded for Australia and its territories.

I saw a few of these Whistlers deep within the Edenesque surrounds of Monga National Park, 20km south-east of Braidwood in NSW. The birds, along with many Pilotbirds and Superb Lyrebirds, were in the vicinity of the Mongarlowe River, where tiny pink waratahs were starting to bloom. The waratahs brought to mind the unclenching fists of toddlers or opening marsupial hearts. It's been a decade since I last came upon the floral emblem of New South Wales in the wild.

The Whistler's extremely reclusive and shy nature had an autistic edge. I was not allowed to get close to its spirit. Unlike Golden or Rufous Whistlers, the Olive is no show off. I was able to record three particular ringing, gutsy calls the bird made on my mobile. I don't think a lot of Australian birders see Olive Whistlers regularly. I'm sure many Aussie birders have never seen one. I count myself most fortunate.

LJ, October 11 2009.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I'm back in the Southern Highlands after three tranquil days on (and around) my father-in-law's property at Ellalong, near the base of the Watagan Mountain Range, deep within the splendid rolling reaches of the Lower Hunter Valley. I found myself unwinding and luxuriating within all the towering gums, seas of ferns and yellow box coppices up there.

The birding was tremendous. I recorded, in a variety of habitats (from yellow box woodland to paddocks with dams), 71 species from Saturday afternoon to today (Monday) at 12pm. The highlights were: Speckled Warbler, Brown Treecreeper, White-winged Chough, Grey-crowned Babbler, Little Lorikeet, Superb Lyrebird, Pied Butcherbird, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Wonga Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-dove, Peaceful Dove, White-throated Gerygone, Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed, Scarlet, Blue-faced and Fuscous Honeyeaters, Jacky Winter, Zebra Finch, Boobook Owl, Australian Hobby, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Brown Goshawk.

It was grand to catch up with wildlife artist extraordinaire, Alison Green, and King of Trees, Max Elliot, when up there. Max told me a great story about when he used to work in a koala rehab centre... He had to 'tame' this koala called Blinky Bill so it would be down with the then novel idea of having its photo taken with tourists. For weeks, all Blinky wanted to do was attack Max. He clearly recalled Blinky biting him so hard, through layers of clothing, one day, that the animal's head was shaking with rage!

Check out Alison's website:

LJ, October 4 2009.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It frustrates me that whenever I turn on the box, all I see are Anglo-Saxons in advertisements.

Australia is a vibrant, exciting melting pot of cultures various, yet we don't get that from our advertising companies. If an alien from Deep Field Six, or thereabouts, was to land in a middle Australian backyard, open a middle Australian back door and wander into a middle Australian lounge room to flick on a middle Australian TV (with more plasma than us), they'd swear Australia was comprised entirely by healthy and happy Anglos.

Whenever you do see those from other cultural backgrounds in advertisements they are usually caricatures jumping about due to culinary joy. I dare say that Chinese folks are more than the sum of their dim-sims.

It's no longer 1899. We aren't Brits or Irish who have been relocated. Let's move on and truly see Aussies the way they are: exquisitely diverse, integral to the way this land moves and valuable for our future.

I doubt the wholesome Anglo mums of Australia's sparkling kitchens (who do ALL the shopping and care-giving for their families' welfare so ad's show us) are going to suddenly cease buying wholemeal bread because a Lebanese family are advertising its appeal.

Yours truly, Insulted, NSW.

LJ, October 1 2009


And as for Rove... He's probably the greatest Australian who ever lived.

LJ, October 1 2009.


How desperately sad it is that Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O's popularity appears to be waning. Over so many years, they've offered this great continent of ours immeasurable wisdom, insight, wit and moral integrity... In fact, they delivered a great cultural renaissance when it was most needed.

Lest we forget.

LJ, October 1 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Ah, how I wish I was over in England now, seeing Dreadzone live on their epic cross-country tour. I've never seen them in full band mode. The tyrannosaurus of distance is a grotesque thing...

The new Dreadzone album (due in 2010) should be a titanic affair. It's great to hear Dreadzone's king, Greg Roberts, has invited into his West London studio Tim (ex-Dreadzone/Subsonar) Bran, and Adam Wren, engineer for dynamic future-dub duo Leftfield, to sculpt the fresh offering.

It can only mean one thing: life turned to something celestial.

LJ, August 30 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Last weekend, I watched Edward Norton's competent bent-NY-cops-meets-bent-heads drama Pride and Glory.

Accompanying the main picture was a behind the scenes doco, where an animal wrangler talked about working with cockroaches on the film. The man said it was important for the 'roaches to be "active and happy". I thought this was hysterical.

I can't imagine this bloke has too many mates. Or a wife. Maybe, I'm just being mean and needing to have a go at someone who is more nerdy than a birder like myself.

LJ, August 5 2009.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


It's sad to see The Chaser's War on Everything has ended. I am a fan of The Chaser boys. They are renegades, fools, larrikins, critics, upstarts, firebrands and dissociatives. We need them. They keep us all in check.

LJ, July 30 2009.


So, eleven Aussie troops have now died in Afghanistan. Can someone remind me why we're over there?

LJ, July 30 2009.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


A couple of weeks back I visited Melbourne Aquarium.

I was knocked out by what I saw there: king and gentoo penguins in various states of bliss in an icy box featuring a cool pool (I thought the kings were robots from a distance!), jellyfish lit for effect, nonchalant weedy sea-dragons, various massive rays being fed by game divers and most remarkably, a leopard shark eating a cos lettuce.

It was also tremendous to see so many kids rushing from tank to tank in utter rapture. Animals are crucial for children - they encourage kids to find wonder, selflessness and empathy.

LJ, July 30 2009.

Friday, May 15, 2009


A poem of mine entitled Valley Pieces is being published in the next edition of Wet Ink magazine. I am chuffed.

That poem was drawn from a sacred time in Kangaroo Valley, on NSW's south coast, back in 2006; a time of Asian tourists running with wombats, ancient gum gloom, failed python and platyypus searches, much laughing over a mythical quest for a Were Wombat with complete stangers, toadlet operettas, green-grey rain, poems scratched in windscreen ice and many types of family nurturing...

Much respect to Dominique Wilson and her Wet Ink team for saluting my work. Apparently, I was ahead of seven hundred other entries! This is a great boost - I recently went nowhere in three significant literary prizes.

LJ, May 16 2009.

NPP 09

I've just started putting paper to pen for this year's Newcastle Poetry Prize, Australia's most prestigious poetry prize. Entries are due in July.

I'm full of gusto and uncertainty all at once. I have two main ideas I'm fleshing out... One involves Joannes Lees, Peter Falconio and the Stuart Highway. I was traveling through the Northern Territory in July 2001, when Falconio went missing - it was a surreal time. I recall Identikit images of Bradley Murdoch being in shop fronts in Alice Springs and this creeping unease under the surface of things. When driving at night, you had to distract yourself from thoughts of being potential prey. The other concept centres on possible truths stemming from humanity's relationship with North Queensland's wilderness.

Who knows which of the two pieces will bloom and radiate the most? At the end of the day, I'm not that worried. If a poem makes it into this year's anthology, as my work did in 2007, well and good, if not, there are always other avenues to explore... As Karl Wallinger from World Party sang in the early 90s, 'the possibilities dance all around me.'

LJ, May 2009.


Ah, you've got to love Eurovision... the tizz, the glamour, the glitz, the pomp, the majesty, the hair, the implants, the cheekbones, the boots, the fire and ice, the passion, the sincerity, the rich layers of meaning and nuance in the song lyrics... and the hair... If you missed this year's early round stuff, check out Bulgaria's stupendous entry... It made me cry.

Oh, did I mention the hair?

LJ, May 16 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


March: teaching and more teaching in a gorgeous Englishesque environment with terrific, welcoming staff... limited creative time... the odd big and small idea emerging then blurring... hoping Cordite will take three poems I sent them... waiting with baited breath on results of Wildcare Tasmania Nature Writing Prize for 2009;I entered a piece on my trip to North Queensland last year... hoping to see my first olive whistler in the vicinity of Fitzroy Falls this weekend... basking in splendid autumnal sunshine every afternoon... enjoying Nicolas Rothwell's Another Country... impressed by The Wrestler; Mickey Rourke one of the coolest dudes on Earth; I've seen nearly all his films; I love his duality (he's a boxer and tough guy, but lover of chihuahuas!)... into the new Prodigy album more than I thought I'd be... digging tours of local wineries... not missing Sydney one scrap!

LJ, March 17 2008

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I read in Metro magazine that dark princes of snarl-folk and gloomy-ambient, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, have teamed up to paint the score for John Hillcoat's upcoming film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's bleak and brilliant The Road. This really is something to look forward to. I was blown away by Hillcoat's last film, the Ray Winstone and Guy Pearce vehicle The Proposition (a sublime and gothic Aussie western); Cave and Ellis's soundtrack for this was subtle yet commanding.

I hope Hillcoat's film grabs the majesty and lyricism of McCarthy's novel and doesn't let it go. The fired flare falling on a grey sea, unexpected discoveries in empty houses, a grieving woman holding an executed crossbow-firing assassin, the father's constant support for his son, the son's pain over his father's death, the entrance of surrogate parents: all these moments need to be kept intact. It'll be most interesting to see how Cave and Ellis explore these vignettes if indeed they are in the film.

I think Viggo Mortensen is an excellent choice for 'The Man' in the film. His work in Eastern Promises and A History of Violence was absolutely captivating. Incidentally, my brother-in-law once, accidentally, had a drink with Viggo Mortensen in a bar in Melbourne. He said he was completely down-to-earth.

On another note, a few years ago I visited a desolate place of spinifex, ghost gums, silence and bustards, called Skull Hole, which is part of Bladensburg National Park in Western Queensland. Skull Hole was the site of an Aboriginal massacre last century. History's imprint made me feel uneasy when I was out there. It was in this area that Hillcoat filmed some of The Proposition.

LJ, February 27 2009.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Some animal stories have caught me eyes and grabbed my ears in the last few days...

Firstly, two illegal loggers in Indonesia were mauled to death by a Sumatran Tiger today, bringing to five the total of Indonesians executed by tigers in the last month on the island of Sumatra. The Sumatran Tiger is the world's most critically endangered tiger. According to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald, there are about two-hundred and fifty left. The deaths of these loggers does not sadden me. How dare these guys illegally destroy this animal's habitat? Still, these people were sons, brothers and fathers; loved people battling to provide for their families.

A five year old boy was killed by a four metre saltwater crocodile on the Daintree River last week. The boy's parents, who ran a rainforest touring business in the area, insisted the crocodile that attacked their son not be killed. The beast is to be taken to a farm. This astounds me. The boy died trying to protect his boxer pup.

In Connecticut a few days back, a woman had her face ripped off by her friend's pet chimpanzee, Travis. Apparently Travis' owner had given the ape some drug and this made the animal hysterical. Police were called and Travis, once a TV star, was shot. Travis could use computers and televisions. Who knows whether he loved his safe, suburban domesticity? I'm sure he yearned for the wild's barbaric and civilized yawp.

LJ, February 22 2009


Today is a National Day of Mourning for the 209 people now dead courtesy of Victoria's fires. Meanwhile, I live my life well... I'm breathing, thinking, laughing and creating whilst many other Aussies have nothing.

How does one mourn for those who are complete strangers? I've given some money to Red Cross and led prayer sessions at school for the families of fire victims and talked about the destruction with family and colleagues...

Perhaps absolute recognition is enough.

LJ, February 22 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009


131 Victorian people, 'good' Victorian people, as Kevin Rudd described them, are dead as a result of the cataclysmic infernos that have engulfed Kinglake and surrounds over the last 40 hours. My heart goes out to these people and their surviving loved ones. News footage from the scorched zones brings to mind 80s film The Day After, Cormac McCarthy's The Road and the road to Basra in 1991. This afternoon I told my history students that this grim hour will be in the history books of future Australian school students. Our nation is not used to this amount of death in peacetime.

God, stay with the Victorian people.

LJ, February 9 2009.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009




Four days ago, my brother-in-law and I climbed Didhol, or Pigeon House Mountain, in Morton National Park, some 25Okm south of Sydney. Captain James Cook gave Pigeon House Mountain its name on April 21, 1770; he thought the peak reminded him of pigeon houses back in England. Hamilton Hume was one of the first white men to clamber up the mount in 1822.

The walk, from where we parked our car, to the summit, was 2.5km, and took us 55 minutes - guides to the area suggest two hours for the steep and testing climb through undulating closed forest. The view from the summit of the Mountain was perfectly clear, transfixing and humbling. To the north were the seemingly endless rugged massifs of the Budawangs; to the west the grand slopes of the Clyde River Valley.

I was thrilled to see a Cunningham's skink meditating under a boulder at the summit; the thickset reptile was about 30cm long and blue-tongue lizardesque, aside from its mottled patterning and spiky, armored tail. An eastern spinebill sipped nectar at the summit's tip. In the vast depths of emerald woodland way below, suberb lyrebirds and green catbirds rasped and chortled. A she-oak by the summit's trig point was home to clumps of what I'm guessing were plague soldier beetles.

We headed back to our car as clouds considered turning the morning on its head.

LJ, January 13 2009.