(light type by helenz ; heavy type by a … z @.

Saturday 22/9/01. September holidays! I intend to appreciate & savour every minute. We left about 10.30 a.m. & went to Denis & Margaret Spiteri’s place via Kinglake and Strath Creek, which put us in the bush quick-smart. Denis’ block is looking great – lots of planted trees & heaps of daffodils along the drive. He is full of enthusiasm & pride – planning his studio & a large lake & a pottery shed for Margaret. She’s teaching art at Seymour S.C. & looks very happy to be a country girl. Then onto our spot for the night on a beautiful creek that runs into the Goulbourn River. The first snake (Tiger, big) of the season was having a nap along the creek verge when we surprised it – it took off into a clump of grass. There are frogs here with a lovely call – like a large plop of water falling into a big glass jar. Heaps of cockatoos (or corellas?), eastern rosellas & crimson rosellas. The mozzies are out too. John is writing out his perceptions of the “war” which Bush has declared on terrorism & the implications of the whole fiasco on the world. I don’t know much & I’m not into predictions or presentiments, but the whole thing is bloody frightening & will not be able to be “solved” by the sort of “Desert Storm” lightning war the US has threatened, because the root causes of why 15 or so healthy, educated & apparently family men would slam planes into buildings are not being addressed at governmental policy level. While third world peoples (including Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Saudis, Africans, South Americans, Indians & Pakistanis) are being systematically dispossessed, denied education, health care, clean drinking water & all the other stuff we in the first world take for granted & as our right, there will be no end of willing suicide bombers. The loss of hope in their own governments & in the willingness of the west to share the goodies is probably why – desperate measures happen in desperate circumstances. I don’t believe it has anything to do with religion – it’s the resentment & hatred of the havenots for the haves, the retribution of those who are oppressed against the system which they see oppressing them. Lots of journos & academics & thoughtful people around the world can see it – politicians don’t seem to be able to. Perhaps we deserve to be brought to our knees for our selfish insensitivity to ¾ of the world’s people. Last night in the Bocadillo I noticed that the couple at the table near us left ½ their meal on their plates – to be scraped into the bin. Mum used to say (when I whinged about eating my dinner) “Wicked waste brings woeful want , and tomorrow you may say – O how I wish I had today those crusts I threw away”. If the daily sight on TV of famine, refugees milling at border camps (or stuck on that hunk of birdshit in the ocean, Nauru), children running the gauntlet of hate-filled adults, & the knowledge of people dying for lack of simple drugs like asprin or vaccines against measles etc. etc. doesn’t move us, perhaps those guys in the aeroplanes thought it would take what they did to shift our selfish & inhumane & greedy thinking. Actions speak louder than pleas. It will be a test of our leaders (?) to see if they can interpret things correctly. As for religion – it is the failure of Islam, Christianity & Judaism to speak out against internal bigotries & external wrongs which have contributed to the situation, but they haven’t caused it. Most things done in the name of Allah, Christ, Jehovah, are done for one reason only – power & wealth. If there is a God, s/he must be weeping at the loud silence of those who should be upholding the basic teachings – mercy, pity, succour for the poor, the sick, the dispossessed, the dying. Where is the loud voice of Pope or Archbishop or Rabbi or Mullah powerful enough to make politicians listen? They have abdicated their responsibilities to the secular authorities long ago & their organizations have been gutted or become simply the mouthpieces of the governments of the day. The Muslim extremists of the Taliban & similar & growing movements world-wide are not interested in the truths of the Koran, but in manipulating it to serve their own power-seeking ends. Extremism can’t flourish in a society where people have access to healthcare, education, food, water, security, basic human rights, where there is hope for their children’s future. We are reaping what we’ve sown 1

in the western world – the oppressor is becoming the victim, the fearless the frightened, the top of the heap tumbling toward the bottom. It could be otherwise if we have the will & vision to make it so. President Bush of the U.S. of A. said you are either with us or with the terrorists. Thats the first division, them (the other) & us, the opposites – the two camps. & there are only two camps. That means that if you have been against terrorism from the start because you are a buddhist who is against all killing but you are against the U.S. of A because of the materialism of its culture : you are with the terrorists. Those who are with the terrorists deserve the same fate as they do according to the president. (But israel and the palestinian authority who are both led by terrorists may resume peace talks). Both camps have eternity in their eyes. One is led by gods messenger (in the tradition of the Mahdi); the other delivers infinite justice. I wonder who picked the term operation infinite justice? (Maybe the same person who chose the name Corpus Christi for the submarine which is the most powerful weapon on earth & capable of destroying it). From the view point of religious muslims it places the campaign irrevocably in the tradition of the crusades. Good vs evil. God vs the infidel (or the devil). (The indians & the pakistanis have named the rockets with which they hope to deliver nuclear bombs after gods too). There is nevertheless something totally new in this war : both camps have renounced any intention or pretence to abide by rules of civilized behaviour. Both camps have been pitched in the same arena – the killing fields. There is an ancient saying that those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. I have a premonition that this time it will be true. There is another more ancient saying & it is an order : Thou shalt not kill.

Sunday 23/9/01. Yesterday’s creek by the way was running over granite & sand, an extremely attractive combination. After a late breakfast (9.30) we walked up to a ridge for an overview of where we were – beautiful rolling hills looking out to the blue-ish plain (Seymour-Yea area). Drove along some small lanes & minor roads to Merton (coffee & paper at the roadhouse) & then to Strathbogie (a stubby, choc. frog & 2 avocados). Now at our evening spot next to a small dam on Lima Creek where the frogs are singing & John is writing. Our immediate plan is to get to Yackandandah via this immensely scenic set of back roads. Margaret Spiteri is going to Bali & Egle & family are heading off to Lithuania, but I reckon we’ll be having the best trip. At Denis’ yesterday we saw a koala up one of his manna gums, & today we’ve spotted two echidnas – if we were Japanese tourists we’d be in heaven! The weather is still fine, though its cooler today & no doubt the night will be cold. Tomorrow we’ve got a 2 km walk to Lima Falls if it doesn’t rain, & a walking track up a hill in the opposite direction. President Bush has declared war. The french president says war is too strong a word. He is wrong. The events of the first world war which changed the face of europe & made the 2nd one inevitable were set in motion by the assassination of one man : archduke Ferdinand. The murder of thousands in New York has the capacity to trigger a far greater chain reaction. Our prime minister has immediately without consulting parliament placed us in the camp of infinite justice. That nuclear weapons delivered by rockets could be used, or for all we know, suitcase nuclear bombs assembled & placed in western capitals for later detonation by terrorists does not seem worthy of discussion prior to defining our stance. Infinite justice will be delivered mostly from the skies by computer nerds who can pinpoint the location of a satellite phone to within 10 metres, of an ordinary mobile to the nearest transmission tower (but there arent many in afghanistan) or of an ordinary phone to right where it is held in the hand. If the latest mobiles have GPS chips in them then they also can be located to within 10 metres. We may get to see the results on our TV screens. Our camp has wealth, power & technology & we will be very reluctant to risk our lives at close quarters on the ground as our pampered stomachs 2

are not used to coping with dysentery. The terrorists have secrecy (we dont even know who they are) & time on their side. Above all they have an intensity of hatred that convinces them that it is worth dying to kill others however innocent. I hope that they believe they are going to heaven for if their hatred is so strong that they are prepared to go to their certain deaths without it we are doomed. The terrorists who toppled the first tower had been seen frolicking in a swimming pool like schoolboys. There is a symmetry here with the death of christ : he went to his death calmly to redeem life, they went to destroy it. Monday 24/9/01. The falls proved elusive though the walk was worth it. Onto Swanpool for coffee & the paper. Swanpool has a cinema specialising in art-house films patronised by people up to an hours drive away. It’s a small, well-kept place. Then to Moyhu along roads less travelled where we ate a sandwich & then had a beer/squash at the pub. A larger well-kept town. All this country seems at its peak – lush, long grass, lots of birds, plenty of water - & its very beautiful in a calm, small-scale way. The hills are rolling & tree-covered, but not the highest in the Great Divide, so they don’t tower too imposingly over the green cleared land. John has found a small road from Whoroully to Beechworth, off which is a lovely lane (Kelly’s Lane), off which is an even smaller & more lovely unnamed lane which we walked along in the warm Northerly which is preceeding a cooler, rainy patch of weather. We’ve decided discretion is the better part of nature appreciation & will park for the night closer to the Whoroully-Beechworth entrance to Kelly’s Lane in case it buckets down or a tree falls & cuts the exit. We are in a large basin surrounded by hills, with a 360° view – couldn’t be anywhere more beautiful. Just discovered a leech from this morning’s walk to the undiscovered falls – he’d had his fill from the upper part of my foot & my sock is stiff with blood. Nearly everything we do we were always going to do. The causes which appear to precede the actions are only the reasons (rationalizations) given afterwards. The emotions (intentions) precede the events that appear (are said) to have given rise to them. When colonel Powell says it feels like war he is saying that if feels like whatever it is that we do when we say war – the action of the word. War means we kill on a massive scale. It means that we have decided to throw away dialogue as all other options have been exhausted. Talk of minimizing collateral damage, of why efforts to restrict the theatre of operations went wrong (of why it all went wrong) are later rationalizations by us to disguise our responsibility for the initial decision. It is not a coincidence that israel & the palestinian authority are led by generals or that Powell is a colonel. Most of the key players in the coming events are already men of war – the decisions were made long ago. There are multiple causes & they have their own causes but I suspect that it was set in motion by colonel Gaddhafi when he decided to sponsor hijacking. That it stopped after libya was bombed points to his involvement. Though the method of conducting it is totally new (campaigns can be separated by what appear to be periods of peace) the end result will be the same : massive killing. Something else is new. The world is bristling with nuclear weapons. Infinite justice is at hand. Prepare. Tuesday 25/9/01. Didn’t have breakfast in anticipation of a meal in Yackandandah, but had a coffee & paper-reading at Beechworth after a short shopping expedition at the supermarket. Then a tour around the town, made necessary by rain. Found a good shop selling handmade books from Nepal & cheap beads – spent $7.00. I have no resistance. Then on to Yackandandah for lunch at the “bottom” pub, followed by coffee & cake (me)/sausage roll(John) at the bakery – on rainy days you have to behave like tourists. Both towns are beautiful & very comfortable. After a break from driving to do some writing we are now in an ironbark–box forest in a very secluded track off a track & it’s pelting down while we get a small evening meal ready. Here is a poem about our experience at Lima Creek Falls : from the carpark that didn’t exist 3

to the falls that couldn’t be found we walked along a narrow track with obstacles to climb over or crawl under or skirt around listening to cockatoos shouting a warning or a welcome washed with a breeze full of perfumes & smells between silent trees; in the distance hearing the grace note of water falling in veils over rocks we never reached : our two hour metaphor for life This way of travelling is very peaceful & calming, as the usual speedy rhythms of my working life slow down to the sort of pace that allows the important things – companionship, the appreciation of warm sun, the fresh air & green earth – to be savoured. Last night we had no frogs to serenade us, but some young hares & their parent were feeding in the grass along the track edge. John snuck up on one & caught it for inspection & then let it go. I cant be bothered analysing the various positions that can be taken on this war so here is a grab bag of disconnected comments. There is a symbiotic relationship between terrorists & the state : terrorists need the state so they have something to target – the state grows stronger by needing to limit individual freedoms in order to combat them. If it wants the state can monitor all individuals requiring them to report on mobile phones as an alternative to the old fashioned passport. This would allow the state to check the locality of anyone at a given time by retrieving info from a computer databank. Avoiding detection by using someone elses phone wouldnt work as the same computer technology that is used to recognize faces can be even more successfully used to recognise voices because every voice has a unique timbre. My guess is that the method would already be in use by US intelligence. In spite of John Howards claims that our intelligence services & the US share their info freely we do not understand (though we help with joint facilities) how the US monitors individual phone conversations : thats why before we allowed a singapore company to buy Optus we had to ask the US govt whether we would be compromising their intelligence operations. The US president can listen to any world leader talking to his wife, including ours, but John Howard wasnt able to listen in on Bill Clintons hot phone sessions with Monica & never will be. The biggest single change since the last war (this is the 3rd) is in the relationship between man & technology : we are becoming smaller & more dependent on ever larger & more complex & more integrated technologies. Our lives are increasingly at risk from system malfunction or sabotage. Aeroplanes are becoming bigger & faster & carry more fuel. Single buildings can house more people than a medium sized city. Poisons are becoming more widely used by farmers who spray them from the air. Hugely toxic poison waste products are stored in ever bigger complexes of tanks sometimes close to city centres or rivers (remember Bhopal). There are more & more larger & larger tankers transporting poisonous materials & extremely explosive liquid gases (dont park them in narrow lanes please, & I notice they dont observe the 100k speed limit they are supposed to). & so it goes on. A time will soon arrive when high school kids will be able to pull info off 4

the internet that will allow them to contaminate, with poisons that cannot be filtered out, entire reservoirs. Last year a single individual in the phillipines released a computer virus that did $100 million worth of damage & we are being urged by our banks to switch to the internet. As this dependence increases we will become more & more vulnerable to terrorist attack. & it is increasing at an exponential rate. To win this war the terrorists need do no more than wait. It is essential that the circumstances which lead people to be prepared to kill themselves to kill others be removed because even without their acts of suicidal terrorism we are on the point of blowing ourselves up. The solution of ‘draining the swamp’ as one american leader suggested will not work. It would involve total subjugation & humiliation of the muslim world & produce untold numbers of would-be suicide murderers. The crews of the two aeroplanes that toppled the towers do not hold the distinction of having knowingly murdered the largest number of innocent individuals in a single event. That distinction is held by the crews of the aeroplanes that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Wednesday 26/9/01. After a short walk (early start this morning as we both woke up about 6 a.m.) we headed back to Beechworth for coffee & paper & a second go at the Nepalese hand-made books, too good to miss at $3 for a large & $1 for a small. The bakery where we had the coffee was trying hard to establish a trendy, city-style atmosphere but missed out a bit because they didn’t have mugs & were short of spoons! However the town is quite charming & has been the biggest one weve been into since leaving Ivanhoe. Then onto Yackandandah again for a sausage roll & a pie & some rolls for John’s evening meal. Our attempt to move on was foiled when we accidentally took a side road that took us straight back to town. Gave in & went on the highway to Tongala & then to Walwa on the Murray where we sat in the sun for a while for John to continue his interpretation of recent events. I hope it helps to sort out his reactions. I am keeping my equilibrium simply by doing the head in the sand trick – I find I can’t make sense of any of it & have no internal indicators of what might happen, so I’m concentrating on the minutiae. We are camped tonight in a pine-forested area abutting some cleared land, near where a marked walking track (Hume & Hovell) crosses the area from the slopes of Mt. Jergyle east towards the road connecting Towong with Tumbarumba & on into the Bago Range & then north to who knows where. We plan to walk a little bit of it tomorrow. It’s very still here & will be a cold night. I dont normally write when I’m travelling with Helen but over the last few days before leaving the implications of the war were beginning to sink in. I was not able to sleep & was subject to a peculiar kind of agitation & paranoia that I recognise as an indicator that things are out of kilter for me. Writing helps me to achieve some stability. After putting it down on paper I’m able to better assess what it is that is disturbing me. Its as if I am an intersection of domains of discourse (by which I mean both the practices represented by language & that develop from it) & that my peculiar task is to resolve the instability of it however slightly by putting it into words. Unlike most Melbournians I didnt find out about the toppling of the towers till mid morning of wednesday when I went to Errol st., as is my habit, to read the paper over a cup of coffee. Tuesday evening I had been at the Make It Up Club & didnt get home till about 1 a.m. Later when I was walking into town for lunch I stopped in a lane to listen to a tradesmans radio & got into a heated discussion with him which consisted mainly of him shouting repeatedly at me that we should nuke them all. He wasnt particular about whom other than that they should be in large cities like Baghdad. I found him very disturbing as I fear mass insanity (perhaps because I’m an eccentric & my instinct for self preservation tells me that there is no room for them in times of mass hysteria). When I dropped in on Danius on sunday I had not yet talked to anyone about the events. I suggested he might go to the Astra concert I was going to later in the day & we could discuss what had happened on the walk back but Jane who had been sitting in the background quietly broke out into a nervous giggle & said she’d had enough of the topic. Danius (who is inclined to resolve the domains that intersect in him more visually than I do) pointed me to a picture on the front page of the Herald Sun of the explosion of one of the towers. The fact is that at the time I 5

had still seen only a single TV news version of the events as I dont normally watch telly. In todays Age there is a Leunig cartoon titled infinite replay but I’ve still only seen the one. So I suppose I’m going through a delayed reaction when everyone else has digested the events & appear to be going about their tasks as if nothing has happened. The fact is I am full of dread. Whichever way I analyse possible outcomes I sense catastrophe. lamb of god take away the sins of the world Thursday 27/9//01. Had a wash in a rainwater puddle after breakfast & then a short walk along the Hume & Hovell Track (whose marker posts have a very cute picture of a man & a woman in hats & boots looking quite despondent – the man has a prominent nose pointing straight out, the woman’s nose is pointy & directed at the ground – it’s as if she’s saying to him : “We’re lost & I’m scared of snakes & my feet are tired & when will we be at the end?” & he’s saying : “Shut up & keep walking!” I liked it so much I took a photo of it. Someone responsible has a sense of humour – either that or they can’t afford a proper graphic artist. From Mundaroo West (or thereabouts) we headed for Tumbarumba for the paper, a couple of free NRMA maps, some milk & buns & then along mainly back roads to Tarcutta on the Hume Highway for a hamburger/steak sandwich & then to a lovely spot on the Yaven Creek which runs into the Murrumbidgee, along which we plan to drive tomorrow. North West is Wagga Wagga, North East is Gundagai. This country is beautiful rolling foothills carrying cattle & sheep & cockatoos. The sulphur-crested cockatoos are the most obvious birds here, both visually & by voice, in trees, on paddocks, even in a shed full of hay, standing about on the bales. Have been thinking of a collective noun for them (Collection? Century (like the Roman 100 strong infantry units)?) but think that Cacophany is probably the best & most accurate. By the way, we found 2 other really beautiful spots today – one in a cleared area inside a pine forest which had a dam at one end, on the H&H track; one with a sign saying “TSR Gundagai PP” which was on a stream where John had a dip, between Tumbarumba & Tarcutta near Westbrook (locality) on the Oberne Creek, which joins the Yaven Creek we are spending the night next to. (5/10/01. We later found out these are Travelling Stock Reserves, open to the public for recreation, and we passed a number of them later in the trip, most attractive enclaves of woodland great as places to sleep). The camp of infinite justice has been renamed camp of enduring freedom. Theyre listening to me! A scriptwriter has been sacked. But make no mistake – this is a war. The terrifying aspect of it is not what is being said but what is being left unsaid because it is too frightening. The central question is whether a nuclear bomb, call it a suitcase bomb, can be assembled at leisure, in stages, in a high rise apartment in New York or Tel Aviv to be detonated at a time to be chosen by a suicider or maybe just a phone call. Is such a bomb already primed? Can Saddam Hussein or any of the other rogue states (the states that arent rogues already can make them; maybe thats what Vladimir Putin was referring to when he said some years back that it would be easy to get around the anti-ballistic missile system the US was proposing) make them? It seems to me that the immediate reaction of the american leadership indicated that they cannot eliminate the possibility. Otherwise why was Bush kept in the air in a command plane for a couple of hours after the towers were struck when it was just as easy & maybe safer to simply whisk him away from the tallest buildings? Besides by then the large commercial planes had been grounded & the airforce ordered to shoot down any that strayed over cities. What possibility was envisaged when it was thought wise, days later, to keep him & the vice president apart in case they were jointly assassinated? If the US administration foresaw the possibility of a nuclear explosion they would never tell the public because the ensuing panic would cause the financial system to collapse. Since then it has been put about that one of the hijackers had previously tried to get a licence to drive a semi-trailer, an ideal hiding place for a bomb, & the crop spraying aircraft of an entire nation have been grounded. For the president & vice president of the most powerful nation on 6

earth to be too frightened to be together is extraordinary & I am sure that the US cannot be expected to & will not allow that situation to continue. Friday 28/9/01. Into Cootamundra via back roads to get the paper, then onto Jugiong (where the publican wouldn’t get up for Miss Australia - & the pub is very unused looking) where we set up in the reserve by the river we discovered one 40° day travelling back to Melbourne from Sydney, where even the snake I saw was swimming it was so oppressively hot (that’s the day we heard the local store-keeper’s assessment of the publican). Today it was beautiful – the river running over stones & sand, the sun shining, the air mild & the trees shady. Didn’t think we could top it, but we have. We are in the picture-perfect valley, on an expanse of bright green grass heavily sprinkled with Salvation Jane, next to the Murrumbidgee River about 20ks downstream from Burrinjuck Dam, with granite studded hills all around, birds calling, ducks swimming & trout jumping out of the water. You can’t get better than this. There is a mixture of gums & casuarinas along the water’s edge, & it is a truly tranquil place. The road (unsealed, grassy verged) has come through 4 or 5 properties & we are between 2 gates where the road surface is grassy in places & looks little used – our very own Shangri-la. If the world outside wasn’t in such a mess I could feel very happy. Rang home to check on the kids – Ben had a fall in the bathroom & cut his chin (needed 5 stitches) & chipped a tooth (needed capping), but he sounds OK & Joe says he’s fine & that all is well in our smaller world, & that’s enough for me. I hope that the possibilities I fear are the products of an overheated imagination building on journalistic exaggeration I’ve read in the papers. Arrange the following statements & questions in any order to suit your political inclinations. Israel had put together an arsenal of a couple of hundred nuclear weapons virtually in secret & with hardly any testing program (only a couple of tests with the cooperation of south africa apparently). Could iraq in the period since the gulf war have produced a few nuclear bombs that can be assembled from parts? Pakistan is thought to have about 30 hiroshima size bombs – what a can of worms that could turn out to be. Last year pakistan & india were said to have come close to priming their bombs. I’ve read a claim by a serious journalist that nuclear bombs are quite easy to make compared to the difficulty of making rockets. Even if there are no suitcase bombs (apart from the ones made by the side of infinite justice (no muslim is going to be fooled by the change of film title to enduring freedom)) already in the hands of the ‘rogue’ states can it be long before there are? Can the side of enduring freedom (which however sponsors the saudi regime which is one of the most oppressive & whose intelligence service probably answers to the US) afford to wait to find out? Would the knowledge of the existence of such bombs & the possibility of some being already set up in let us say New York or Tel Aviv by itself be enough to topple the western financial structure without them even being set off? If a bomb is set off in Tel Aviv about 100 israeli nuclear bombs will drop on the largest arab cities. If one is set off in New York or Washington? Could a third party (eg china or its intelligence service) fool US intelligence into a belief (by fake talk on mobiles in arabic about bombs) that such a bomb was or could be set up in order to put the US & the arab world at each other? Are all intelligence services fully accountable to their governments? There was a legion of nuclear physicists made available to the highest bidder at the time of the collapse of the soviet union. Do the russians have a reliable system of accounting for materials that can be used to make bombs? Can russian guards in nuclear establishments be relied upon not to accept bribes or get drunk on the job? If the solution is to take away their sovereignty from the rogue states (including north korea and youd have to include pakistan in case the bombs fell into extremist hands) would the side of enduring freedom sponsor UN administration of the kind that prepared cambodia & east timor for elections even though the costs would be far greater than the Marshall Plan after the 2nd world war? Will the US prefer the cheap option of sponsoring client governments with compromised intelligence services along the lines of the saudis? Will anyone even try to tackle the kind of desperation that leads extreme people to become suicide murderers? My guess is that just as hijackings stopped after the bombing of libya 7

the terrorism of Al Qaeda will cease after the death of bin Laden. The soldiers themselves will scatter to form new cells & identities to prepare for the next & final move ten years from now. If the forces of infinite justice decide to permanently violate the sovereignty of the rogue states they should in equal measure forego their own sovereignty & allow the poor of the world entry into their countries : it would constitute a genuine sharing of wealth & just might solve the problem. Buckleys chance! The US has the technology to monitor by computer every person within its borders. The state always wants to be more powerful. Is that where we are heading? Regardless of any temporary political alignment the issue of a bomb assembled in a capital city such as New York will have to be faced. The broader issue is the relationship of technology to man – the progressive subservience or even disappearance of mankind. Saturday 29/9/01. Started the day with a walk up a stony creek bed to the ridge above the Murrumbidgee into a field of mixed yellow & purple (Capeweed & Salvation Jane – I know they are both introduced noxious weeds, but boy do they look beautiful together), then a further walk along a running creek into the hills & back along another & then a quick dip in the Murrumbidgee before leaving for Wee Jasper via Adjungbilly – quite a precipitous drive close to W.J. Had lunch in the sun on a high pass & then onto Yass & out of it to a spot on another ridge off the road to Burrinjuck, along a property road which is not marked as private. Settled ourselves in on a nice flat spot in lush grass alongside the road, between 2 fencelines, when another car came along & the driver told us we were actually on a property (his neighbour’s). However, John talked his way into staying. Apparently there are some extremely valuable sheep just below us (a ram sold for $110, 000 in Dubbo about 6 weeks ago, which John had heard on the radio on his last trip). Wee Jasper was not attractive – seems to be a base for fishermen/boaters using the waters held back by the Burrinjuck Dam. Another attraction, Carey’s Caves, are only viewable on organised tours at $8.80 for adults & $4.40 for children up to 15, so we gave that a miss. John finished his writing at our lunch spot, and seems more relaxed. Perhaps the walk through beautiful country this morning helped too. We’ve hardly walked so far this trip – a big change from previous years. The evening is coming over chilly after a bright sunny day. We are having a light meal. Brisbane Lions have won the AFL final over Essendon. Have just rung home to check on Ben – Dan says he’s fine & has gone to work & that everyone is OK. Yesterday I heaved a sigh of relief. It was connected with the knowledge that the writing was complete or almost so. I’ve got it out of my system. I notice it usually happens when I’ve still got a few entries to go & dont necessarily know what they will be. When at the end I review what I’ve written I find that what I wrote at the start presupposed the final entries. Its very strange & an indicator of how much takes place outside awareness. I could have settled my agitation with drugs (besides beer) but thats a very blunt instrument & possibly counterproductive - & there would be no pieces of writing to hand out at the end. Its also the easiest option recommended by overworked general practitioners. Choices of this kind present themselves all the time & I notice that generally its worth taking the harder, riskier road, often against good advice. Once the hard choice is taken the execution can be remarkably easy – the rewards unlimited. Sunday 30/9/01. Had an early start in anticipation of being sprung by the farmer, & so we were. What a surprise he was – about 40 with 2 small girls, a dog & 3 lambs aboard his truck, who talked quietly and with authority about balance, living your passion, the hardships that give rise to personal growth & certainties, & the interconnectedness of everything – a philosopher in John’s mould. His prize-winning ram was the highest priced in 10 years, & he had also had a $90,000 one in the 90s, but still doesn’t have a house to live in – he’s looking forward to building one on his property called Billa Burra Burra (“River Sheep”). He is Keith McGrath and quietly impressive he is, too. After that meeting (nothing happens by chance?) we have stopped on a true lane off a great road (Lavistock) that comes off a road off the Yass Highway where we spotted 2 handsome hares & a baby magpie barely able to flutter who had either fallen or jumped out of the 8

nest. Hope he survives. By the way, when John heard the interview with McGrath on the radio, the commentator had mentioned that the ram wasn’t the biggest or best fleeced, but was a beautifully balanced animal – an interesting reflection on the philosophy of its breeder. Lavistock Road was extremely visually attractive, flanked by smallish gums. We came out at Binalong, a very pretty village & stopped at a causeway called Carr’s Crossing on a granite & sand river called the Cumbamurra by some locals who were picnicking there, but seems to be officially known (on the map) as Jugiong Creek. Then along a ridge road which was spectacular in its own bare way – a yellow road flanked by lush unfenced pastures carrying mainly cattle. At the bottom of the ridge the river snakes its way along a sandy bed & a bridge allows access. We did a nice walk along the valley to a rocky part where we had a beaut swim in water which was very refreshing & not nearly as cold as I had expected. Then a return to the ridge for our night spot – 360° view of sheep & cattle pastures & yellow sheets of canola on rolling hills – “the vision splendid” - & even a patch of Salvation Jane underfoot & a lovely old gum to park under. The wine is out for celebrating my birthday eve, & the sunset should be something to see. There is a small troop of black-winged butterflies doing acrobatics above the Salvation Jane. Continuing on in the eclectic style. We didnt know a passenger airline filled with fuel could bring down the largest building. Now every tinpot dictator knows he has a more powerful weapon at his disposal than all the military hardware theyve been buying from the superpowers. The superpowers have probably known all along which is why the US shot down an iranian domestic flight in the persian gulf when they mistakenly though it got too close to one of their warships. The US did not call that an act of terrorism (didnt even admit to it at first) but the arabs and iranians did call it that. If a passenger airliner filled with fuel is used to sink (if they do sink) a warship of a country at war with you that is anchored in a port of a large city is that an act of terrorism or war? If one of those ships is full of nuclear weapons & is powered by a nuclear reactor would that contaminate the surrounding waters or even set off the weapons? In areas of conflict it is worth knowing now that any passenger plane can suddenly change course & head for the tallest building in your capital city. In areas where there are many countries & airstrips close together would you have time to react? Last year an egyptian airline pilot committed suicide by crashing his plane. Now every suicidal pilot knows he could crash it into the tallest building or largest ship en route. I am glad the Grollo tower which was to be the tallest building in the world didnt go ahead. I wonder if all those highrise apartments that were being sold off the plan to finance the construction of buildings around the centre of Melbourne are still selling. The insolvency of the japanese financial institutions (they lent 19 for every one they had in the belief they were superior to everyone else & could sustain a 7% p.a. growth rate indefinitely (as against us locking ourselves into a 2% growth rate)) hangs over the global financial system like a Damocles sword. How many of these events would it take to make it implode. For make no mistake if a global run on the banks took place they have to crash. Our financial system is predicated on the best kind of knowledge there is : the actual experience of how our mass psychology in relation to money has worked over the last 200 years. I sense that the psychology of the human animal is about to change. The changes that are taking place in our lives over the last 50 years are taking place at an exponential rate. When my parents left litho land 80% of the population still lived in villages. In times of catastrophe city dwellers could always seek refuge among relatives in the village & in many third world countries they still do. What would happen now in a modern industrialised state? (nevertheless I imagine australia would be one of the best countries to be in in such a meltdown). Technology grows from us – it is what we are evolving into. It is not a metaphor to say it like that. It is not even a growth that comes from outside & is only rooted onto us like an epiphyte on a tree : it is an extension of ourselves coming directly from our own decisions. It is a being born. We are transferring ourselves into technologies & digital structures. The animals & plants around us appear to have no choice (though there are changes over the long term) in what they give birth to. Do we have a choice? I ask the question because the time is close where we will have to get completely wired up (by US 9

intelligence?) to protect us from ourselves (our technologies from each other) or we will have to find a way of turning around – returning to simpler things. I hope we can turn around but fear that it is too late. Terrorists dont need to hijack aeroplanes : they can charter them. Monday 1/10/01. There were no sunset colours yesterday but early in the morning I saw a deep pink sky out of the van window. “Pink sky at night, shepherd’s delight; pink sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning”, and so it proved to be. It was fine & warm after breakfast, though cloudy, when we went down to the river to burn our rubbish safely in the sand. Since we haven’t been into a town since Cootamundra the flotsam & jetsam of the trip has been piling up. The fire was nicely underway & (hopefully) most of the rubbish burnt when we were overtaken by a swarm of what I first thought were tiny black flies, but turned out to be swarming ants (the females take to the wing escorted by their beaus to settle new territories, usually before rain). They were pestiferous – getting down the neck of my shirt & up my sleeves & John was covered in them having put on his shorts. We made a run for the van & further up the road stopped to spray it as they had flown in with us, but they were still flying through the area. We surprised some sheep by galloping up & down the road in an effort not to get covered again. We decided earlier to drive south via Jugiong to Tumut via Brungle. Not a great decision as the pink sky in the morning should have told us. The rain set in at Tumut & basically didn’t let up till we got to Holbrook. At Rosewood we stopped to read the paper in a little shelter in the park. From Tumut we travelled 70 odd ks through pine plantations on either side of the road, most with solid understoreys of blackberries. I actually have fond memories of pine plantations round Forrest, where John & I & the kids spent many hours picking mushrooms (saffron milkcaps, fried with bacon pieces & onions & served with a dollop of sour cream) & collecting pinecones which make great additions to open fires. But they were small & easy underfoot. These ones became oppressive & it was a relief to get out of them, back into the rolling pastures again. disciplined europeans elegant pines in their tidy ranks look on with disapproval at the gums over the road staggering up and down the slope bristling with broken branches trailing tatty streamers of bark like drunks at a footy match leaning on each other or lurching off at dangerous angles laughing like drains tossing their larrikin challenge into the air: “well, whadda you looken at then, mate? yair, whadda you looken at then?” Out of Batlow there are large (apple?) orchards entirely under netting, so the hillsides look like a Christo performance. Rang mum this morning to say “Thanyoufavingme” – she sounds fine. Got a happy birthday message from Kate. Shopped up at Tumut at Woolworths – its much better than Coles in Ivanhoe – got a chicken dim-sim, 2 pieces of chicken & a bag of mixed nuts for my birthday party, which continues this evening with the second bottle of wine from “Fruit Ballad”, the fruit winery near Narooma on the South Coast. Last night’s was Lavender and Apple, tonight’s is Rose Petal and Honey – the piece de resistance. 10

The combination of good wine & warm loving went to my head last night & I composed 4 poems during the wee small hours. Its been a great trip & a truly memorable birthday. birds grow in the grass up here cockatoos scattered across the slopes like lilies of the field suddenly able to fly * in a shock of colour parrots leap up from the grass ruby and sapphire citrine and emerald a handful of jewels flung into the afternoon sky * head cocked eye bright a young magpie stands attentive considering the slow scrape of worm click of clumsy beetle sudden whirr of grasshopper learning the lessons of grass * helenz


a flock of ibis sits in dead trees dozing in the sun do they dream of the glory days when great Thoth stood beside the scales and watched along his curving beak as heart was weighed against feather under the eternal gaze of golden Ra? helenz