Karl Jaspers – a very brief, very relevant reminder from the past.

Nationalism: you can get it anywhere.

A summary of Karl Jaspers’ writing, “Sunk in the noise of nationalism and technology, people become intellectually and emotionally stifled, stuck. The crowd rules. Slogans and rhetoric pass for meaningful conversations”. Marietta McCarthy, How philosophy can save your life. Penguin Australia 2009.

What have we learnt? A German survivor of the first and second world wars, Jaspers was an early 20th century philosopher. He still speaks to us with relevance, as if alive today. Nationalism is destructive. Those who seek advantage through manipulating others naive enough to follow blindly, to adopt the slogans of ill considered electronic media and rally to the flags of puppet masters – will be perpetrators of great harm.

However, Jaspers was not without hope. “Amidst discussion, a silence is possible in which people may listen together and hear the truth.”

Are we still able to effectively hear the truth, to discover and explore the scant remaining silence? Or have we sunk so deep into the swamp of nationalism and the noise of technology to be beyond positive, constructive, truth seeking communication?

Too long is forever

It has been too long without you
There has been too much time
Worlds lie between us
As I pay for my crime

My cell is my world
of four hard walls

Spartan and bare

My memory is my cell forever
I keep seeing you there

As each long
long day passes .....

My sentence every minute

Gives way to darkness
My loss lies within it

When I look through my barred window
I expect in some light
To see you running towards me
my mind at flight

I pace I groan
squat in the corners

Of this tiny space

Close and open my eyes
And still see your face

I see you on the day as lovers we were wed
I see you in the night on the matrimonial bed
I see us on every outing all the things we did
I see us laughing and loving as besotted kids
I see your auburn fringe and wavy locks
I see your long legs above bobby socks
I see your bright blue eyes black long lashes
I see your olive skin the smile that flashes
I feel you in my arms in the softest embrace
I remember all your charms
I feel my disgrace

Where is your world now my love
And is he there with you
No I am not proud my love
If I could bring you back I’d kiss you

The winding track and where it led

Every corner, anticipation. Every crest, a new horizon.

It was the idea I loved. But, first came the words. The words were, “A winding track.” The words became the idea. The idea developed.

The idea of a two wheel dirt track ahead. It winds up a wooded hillside in the golden hour of late afternoon. This romantic winding track, no destination in sight, no point of origin, beckons. It’s mystery entices.

So, I now find myself travelling this track. I’m leaving things behind and I am excited by the unknown destination ahead. I am savouring the journey.

Savouring, now there’s a word! A word to savour. A word begets an idea, begets a reality.

Ah, here is the real joy, the savouring. The pleasure in the journey, the exciting anticipation of getting there. Wherever there may be.

A bike for every occasion?

My recently acquired touring ebike. Battery assist range 150km. It includes an auto power selection mode. Pedal pushing is always required, but you can choose how much effort to put in. You will keep fit!

Sub title: Central Victoria, the Centre for eBikes.

As I have aged (now approaching my mid 60s), I have progressed from road bikes to mountain bikes to hybrids and now, ebikes.

My message to everyone out there who rides or is contemplating riding is “Get on your bike!” If you are fit and able enough to provide your own power, find the bike that best suits your journeying and ride. If you think you are past it, reconsider. From 8 to 80 years old, anyone with balance who can get astride a bike frame now has bicycle touring at their feet!

With the advent of ebikes for all modes of cycling, the Central Victoria region is perfect for you and your bike. There are many kilometres of un-trafficked rural roads and tracks traversing diversely beautiful landscapes. You will be amazed at where an ebike can take you, from sealed flat stretches across the plains, amongst rustic rolling foothills, to tall treed dirt tracks through mountain forests.

Many people have asked me about the different modes of cycling I refer to in the cycling route descriptors I publish. Most often, about Gravel Grinders. Gravel Grinders as a specialty appeared somewhere in amongst my cycling experience. I missed their rise until alerted by a mad keen cycling cousin.

This alert coincided with the commencement of my mapping and publishing of walks and cycling routes in and around the beautiful Strathbogie region. A good port of call for those interested is the Gravel Grinders Melbourne fb page. The article linked below may be American, but is brief and indicative of gravel bike features for the uninitiated, as well as being fodder for dreamers. It is worth noting that one of the bikes listed is an ebike.


The cycling routes I have been recording will be found here on seanmathews.blog/cycling and the Connecting the Goulburn Broken Catchment Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/591666734808645 .

Walks can be found at strathbogierangesnatureview , VictoriaWalks and in Pozi online mapping

Small Flies and Other Wings

Small Flies and Other Wings by Christine Ay Tjoe (Oil on canvas) 2013
Art in the pink, the hope that it brings
Wings painted from, the smallest of things
The joy of the colour, the mess of it all
A pleasure to view, this artist's call

Not quite abstract, the painting surreal
Based in fact, then allowed to congeal
Into pastel riot, of colour and lines
Into a many makes whole, artwork refined

What underlies, there's tissue paper petals
The subject mixed up, then left to settle
What was the intent, forethought soft light
To please the eye, or just to feel right

So busy so active, yet here is still life
Outlines overshot, not cut like a knife
In the blur there is movement, on a canvas full
But the subject is lifeless, the message - killed

When you look deeper, what do you see
Something different to me, most certainly
I see part of you, I see part of me
I see a gift, a sadness, in humanity

Did this idea form, in the artist's mind
Develop and grow, the mind to bind
An irresistible force, the desire to create
A bane and pleasure, that will never wait

This poem is a response to a dVerse ~ Poets Pub challenge

Being Human

This being human is brutal
Where survival remains primal
Where savagery can be ruthless
Where being human is animal

This being human is joyful
Where sharing is a pleasure
Where smiles reflect happiness
Where being human rises above

This being human is indulgent
Where affluence is wasted
Where consumption is recreational
Where being human is an economic unit

This being human is religious
Where unknowns engender hope
Where faith equates with confidence
Where being human could be spiritual

This being human is political
Where a few choices matter
Where many choices don’t
Where being human is good and evil

This being human is being creative
Where knowledge grows exponentially
Where caution is thrown to the wind
Where being human is a contradiction

This being human is arrogant
Where entitlement reigns
Where extinctions surprise no one
Where being human is collective stupidity

This being human is ridiculous
Where universes are vast
Where consciousness is nebulous
Where being human is being alone

This being human is scary
Where thoughts beget actions
Where actions beget unanticipated consequences
Where being human is in itself an existential risk

To add another dimension to your experience of poetry, I recommend you also engage with the international community of fellow poets at d’verse virtual pub poetry challenges

The green cane chair

The green cane chair
 I sit 
 on my green cane chair
 The best chair for thinking
 It is outside 
 It has the advantage 
 of being 
 in a good place 
 A verandah from which
 there is much to see
 Even if the weather is cold
 it is in the right position 
 because the wind slides past 
 In this chair 
 you can avoid 
 confronting winds of change
 You can sit here for 
 a long time 
 you won’t have to move 
 or make way 
 for someone or something
 You can watch 
 all sorts of things 
 unfold from this chair
 Insects birds animals people 
 the day the night 
 the light 
 Seasons pass you by 
 I unfold from this chair
 This is a sitting for thinking chair 
 It gives access 
 to great scope for thought
 A matching cane table 
 by this chair
 It is for
 all the paraphernalia 
 I choose to utilise
 for observation and thinking
 for research recording and writing
 Endless cups of tea 
 Vegemite and salad rolls 
 Fruit  nuts
 stacks of books
 Pens paper 
 Camera iPad and phone 
 Background noises 
 surrounding this chair 
 are soothing
 Creek water 
 tumbling over rocks
 An irregular breeze
 wafting at leaves
 Morning song birdsong evensong

 Another nice sound
 I often hear from this chair 
 is children playing 
 Always happy to be outside
 In cooler months
 running along the bush track   
 In summer  
 swimming in the waterhole by the bridge
 or excitedly calling to each other
 as they splash 
 about amongst the cascades
 You need to wear 
 a brimmed hat 
 sitting in this chair 
 regardless of the season
 This is to shade your eyes 
 from the northerly and westering sun 
 To balance the glare 
 against the shadows 
 on the surface 
 you are working on
 This chair has soft cushions 
 for the seat and for the back
 They rest against its structure of
 bent cane
 It is a very good fit 
 You can sit for a long time 
 before needing to move 
 However, the arms of this chair are narrow 
 They may confine you 
 to a limited range of positions
 This has the advantage
 of forcing movement
 This state of affairs 
 is  conducive 
 to constructive
 thinking by prompting
 physical activity
 around the house 
 along the verandah 
 in the garden 
 along the creek
 Such activity can be necessary 
 to continue to be 
 A mental activity reset
 New approaches 
 come with a reset
 Quite often they are so
 you get a pleasant surprise 
 This is because 
 you didn’t  know 
 they were there 
 within you
 Another way to reset is
 change the scene
 move this chair
 to the edge of the verandah 
 or reorientate
 A different outlook
 New space
 New thinking
 You have to remember 
 to take the cushions 
 every evening 
 to stop them
 getting damp
 They get tired and worn
 They are due for 
 a new skin
 Just like me
 This chair is exposed to the elements 
 One day it won’t be there
 I wonder will another chair
 be so generous?

Partners: are your blind spots ruining your relationship?

I am so fortunate to have been with my partner for a wonderful 40 years. Sometimes I slip into self congratulation because I feel we have been in a loving sweet spot for so long it makes me very happy to think about it. I try not to take this for granted at any time. However, I do forget periodically and find myself thinking we have everything sorted. I am sure no one does. You both have to keep paying attention

Paying attention requires the ongoing element of mindfulness. To remind myself to be mindful, every now and then I read or listen to stories that may shed light on how relationships work and fail. I think it is a good practice. I continue to learn. From the article I am sharing below I better understood a particular destructive relationship dynamic, invalidation of a partner’s perspective. This understanding can be applied to seemingly trivial concerns. These apparently small things can accumulate to have dramatic outcomes. Are you receptive, perceptive and empathetic enough to see both sides? I think it is worth a read.


Cycling: Longwood – Pranjip Rd Loop

 Hub & Spoke Cycling Route
 Route Name: 
 Longwood: Pranjip Rd Loop
 Road / Hybrid / eBike
 Start / Finish locations: 
 White Hart Hotel, Longwood
 Map (satellite): 
Longwood – Pranjip Rd Loop
 136 – 179m
 Flat terrain plains country
 Bitumen, some ridging from tree roots in places
 Description and Features:
 The township is well worth exploring before or after. The wide un-trafficked streets lend themselves to pleasant cruising around. This route takes you into sheep grazing country, occasional swampy areas, past a few creeks, along wooded roadsides and through open pasture
 Þ   Roadside and patches of Grey Box and Casuarina woodland
 Þ   Bridged creek crossings
 Þ   Return alongside Pranjip Creek
 Clockwise or anti clockwise
 Amenities (Longwood):
 Car parking
 Shop and Hotel
 Picnic tables 
 Public toilets
 Historic features
 Sports Reserves
 Soft shoulders
 Limbs may fall
 No potable water
 Road surfaces vary
 Snakes may be active
 Be mindful of vehicle traffic
 Roads may be subject to flooding
 Mobile reception may be unreliable
 Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart 
 Be equipped for self-reliant riding  
 Anticlockwise Cues:
 Start: car park opposite White Hart Hotel
 North Longwood-Pranjip Rd
 Left Pranjip Rd
 Left Longwood-Shepparton Rd
 Left Grimwade Rd
 Right Longwood-Pranjip Rd
 Finish White Hart Hotel 

On poetry

the romantic
Breathe with the moment
Focus the eye
Tune the ear
when poems are nigh
Be transported
To experience afar
Adventure and romance
Illumination of stars

Poems are companions
For very good reason
For poets are adventurers
Beyond bounds of the seasons
Beyond bounds of the earth
No measure of their worth
Can keep words from welling
Can restrain the work of telling

They convey feelings through
the art of painting with words
Not read before not seen or heard
Beautiful weavings that awaken our hearts
To the emotions of others who cannot impart

Anonymous poems from times immemorial
Modern poems with layers to peel
Poetry is the magic carpet
Flying to places unknown
Ride on the carpet and know you have grown

The fight to protect Strathbogie Forest

Bert Lobert with fellow campaigners

Thoroughly documented by principal activist Bert Lobert, click the link below to view the remarkable chronicle of the successful local campaign for forest preservation and re-wilding. A golden example of what needs to be happening around the rest of the nation and the globe. .


What are some of life’s many simple pleasures to enjoy? Why do we forget to take the time to appreciate and enjoy them more?

Alfred Nicholas Gardens, Dandenong Ranges

I will begin with my list of simple pleasures to enjoy.

  • Fresh air
  • Fresh food
  • Cold, clean drinking water
  • Natural world environments
  • Uncorrupted landscapes and waterways
  • Wind and rain
  • The night sky
  • The day sky
  • Gardens
  • New life
  • Wildlife
  • Vistas
  • Autumn
  • Anticipation of winter
  • Warmth on a cold day
  • Electrical storms
  • New learning
  • Imagination
  • Imagery
  • Music
  • Art
  • Photography
  • Comfortable chairs
  • Verandahs
  • Thinking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Books
  • Walks
  • Cycling

It is so easy to be distracted, to habitually take such things for granted. More complicated experiences repeatedly assert themselves as front and centre of our consciousness and decision making. Issues surrounding insecurity, relationships and others’ bidding clamour for attention, occupy us with busy-ness and distract us.

The experiences that are always there for the taking become secondary due to their very simplicity, their enduring nature, their very availability. We readily forget to be mindful of their existence as the essence of our existence.

These profoundly simple and accessible pleasures can be constant stabilising influences on our lives. They are always present, complete with restorative potential. When we do remember to attend to them we come back to ourselves as capable of choosing to reset, appreciate and experience joy.

Cycling: Euroa – Balmattum Grassland Loop

Hub & Spoke / Bump & Grind Cycling Route

Start / Finish locations: Euroa Railway Station Railway St., Euroa 3666

Mode: Gravel Grinder, MTB, Hybrid, eBike (fats)

Map: GPS -36.749080001925385, 145.56809969105484

Difficulty: Intermediate

Distance: 32km

Elevation: 158 – 199m

Topography: Flat

Surfaces: Good condition bitumen Gravel varies, but overall pretty good. A bit rougher on the minor road end of Balmattum Siding Rd. Old Euroa Rd has a significant camber in places, take care on the gravel when moving laterally for traffic.

Description and Features: Flat with its own form of beauty, you have to be in it to appreciate it. Arrive at the Railway Station by train, car or bike. Euroa is an historic and pretty rural township with amenities aplenty. Appreciate it as you head through town to the fast straightaway of Balmattum North Rd. This smooth sealed bitumen parallels the Hume Freeway, but the traffic there isn’t too intrusive. There are more small waterways than expected and the countryside is quite appealing with the Strathbogie foothills to your right. There is a roadside stop at the only rise. When you hit the gravel you will find tree tunnels and enjoy vast plains vistas. Balmattum Grassland Nature Conservation Reserve is a great stopover for refreshment. Watch out for the playful Grey-crowned babblers. Return to Euroa alongside more waterways, swampy wetlands and lovely wooded roadside.

Riding conditions: It is flat, so exposed to the elements in some locations. Well wooded roadsides provide some shelter in others. Not much traffic.

Options: Access Balmattum Grassland via Wilbrahams Rd. However, the kink in Balmattum Siding Rd makes it a more interesting approach. Anti or clockwise

Anticlockwise Cues: Start Euroa Railway Station car park Railway St Head north east Right Kirkland Ave Left Tarcombe St Left Saxon St Right Balmattum North Rd Left Balmattum Siding Rd Right Old Euroa Rd Right Balmattum Grassland entry South east Old Euroa Rd Straight Riggs Creek Rd Bear left Moglonemby Rd (south) Left Boundary Rd North Straight Melbourne to Sydney Railway underpass Right Railway St back to the Station

Amenities: Car parking BBQ Fuel Shops Seating Parkland Waterways Playground Picnic tables Public toilets Potable water Trail head sign Walking tracks Accommodation Historic features Sports Reserves Swimming Pool Railway station Directional signs Information signs Alternative routes Flora and fauna habitat

Cautions: Open water Limbs may fall Embankments Uneven ground No potable water outside Euroa Slippery surfaces Subject to flooding Road surfaces vary Snakes may be active Beware of vehicle traffic Mobile reception may be unreliable Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart Be equipped for self-reliant riding

Restrictions: Take rubbish with you Native flora and fauna are protected Riders must use formed roads only

Cycling: Nagambie – Tahbilk Loop

Hub & Spoke / Bump & Grind Cycling Route

Route Name / Address: 
Nagambie – Tahbilk Loop
Nagambie Railway Station Nash St., Nagambie 3608

Gravel Grinder, MTB, Hybrid, eBike

Start / Finish locations: 
Nagambie Railway Station

Map (satellite):
GPS -36.785485, 145.160476
Nagambie – Tahbilk Loop
Easy. Thick gravel can add an extra push requirement

27km, 2hrs

128 – 144m
Flat with slight rises.

Good condition bitumen
Variable gravel. Mulberry Drive is smooth, but has drifts of quartz pebbles and blue metal stones. 
Mullens Rd is due to be sealed
Nook Rd and Terrara Lane both suffer water sheeting and mud in winter

Description and Features:
Excellent services, wide roads and service lanes in Nagambie itself. Prime horse stud and wine country. Lots of vast grain fields, pasture and vineyards. The Goulburn River bends and billabongs at Tahbilk Winery are gorgeous. The winery itself is an historic gem.

Riding conditions: 
Little traffic on the mapped route. If you opt to use O’Dwyer Rd there is steady traffic, but the shoulders are bitumen and wide.

Use O’Dwyer Rd instead of Habel Rd if you want to reduce the distance. 
Avoid what seems an obvious route along Vickers Rd. It has no shoulder is a narrow two way and heavily trafficked.
Clockwise or anti

Anticlockwise Cues:
Start Nagambie Railway Station
Left Nash St
Right Prentice St
Left High St
Right Nook Rd
Right Mulberry Drive
Straight Oneils Rd
Left Mullers Rd
Right Terrara Lane
Straight Nagambie – Locklsley Rd
Left Habel Rd
Left Ballantynes Rd
Right Murray St
Straight Nash St
Stop Nagambie Railway Station

Car parking
Picnic tables 
Public toilets
Potable water
Walking tracks
Historic features
Sports Reserves
Railway station
Directional signs
Information signs
Waterways & lake
Alternative routes
Flora and fauna habitat

Open water
Soft shoulders
Limbs may fall
Uneven ground
No potable water while riding
Slippery surfaces
Subject to flooding
Road surfaces vary
Snakes may be active
Beware of vehicle traffic
Mobile reception may be unreliable
Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart 
Be equipped for self-reliant riding 

Take rubbish with you
Historic relics are protected
Native flora and fauna are protected
Riders must use formed roads only
Closed on days of total fire ban

Of Australia


My thoughts are of Australia
Land most covid-19 free
My heart yearns for Australia
The place I’d rather be
For to the north we languish
Now that winter has come
Amidst a pandemic of anguish
Where our suffering is done
As each dawn’s fresh horizon
Offers more sadness, fear and dread
I long for home Australia
Where a rising sun means health instead
And with each passing morning
As the hospitals here do fill
The sights and sounds of mourning
The streets and air do fill
I see mankind retreating
From a cocky arrogant stance
From destruction of ecosystems
To victim of nature’s dance
Where bushmeat's viral load
Transfers itself to humans
Just what have we to show?
For the things we are consuming?
The winter birds and bare trees
Remain testament to the natural world
A world humankind now sees
Corrupted by exploiters and churls
Our world so terra formed
To overwhelming degradation
And Australia heading so
Observe and save our nation

Trumpian Buffoons

These characters are buffoons.
Full of laughter they rail at you.
Carping and harping blaming all.
Innocent of everything when the law calls
Dangerous in their own special way.
Ready to trick and seize the day.
Yet by their pompous humorous demeanour.
You’d think all would have seen it sooner.
The vile attempts at undermining.
The rotten values they’ve been hiding.
Self confident enough to infect the masses.
Rich enough to corrupt all classes.
Replete in vanity self-declared divine.
So full of shit they make shit shine.
Larger than life with seismic crows.
Ready (not) to be the one big (side)show.

The Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler at Polly McQuinns
That clamorous reed warbler
With the protracted breeding song
Passages of enamouring power
Designed to bring along
A partner for the season
With whom to court and spark
To share nesting in long reeds
At the edges of the lake
I do not know the words
Of this loud and spirited song
Launched from this small bird’s throat
Into the gathered avian throng
In the early morning,
at the end of each long day
Persistent and single minded
Seeking a mate to hold in sway
But the message is clear and proud
I am the one for you
Come to me my darling
Let’s see what two can do