"When I was five, a tree was my best friend. An old peppercorn on Grandpa's little farm. I'd haul myself into its calloused arms and hide from the world in its foliage. Apart from the pleasure of looking down on unsuspecting adults, I could be Robin Hood in a one-tree Sherwood Forest or Johnny Weissmuller in his jungle. I fell out of my friend once while Tarzan-ing. Gashed a large chunk from a leg. Almost 70 years later, there's still a scar."
"In the world of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, you pretty soon run out of eyes, and of teeth. "
"Unless you're willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go, success won't happen."
"Today, words. Tomorrow, sticks and stones. And the day after that?"
"The old dead trees are the most fascinating - the countless trees lying in the gullies and up the hills that fell perhaps a century ago, pulling up their roots from the earth as they toppled. The great upheavals left rocks in their huge tentacles and, as they slowly rot, the trunks are home to populations of creatures, from goannas to wild pigs. As grey as tombstones in a cemetery they lie there, having outlasted generations of farmers, as they'll outlast me. In their own way they are as beautiful, more beautiful, than living trees."
"Ditto for dogs. Since that first bitzer I've had dozens, mostly mongrels, all friends. As reliable as trees but with a sense of humour... All intelligent, loyal and sweet of nature. Devoid of vanity. They taught me a lot - particularly how to live in the moment."
"This nation was built on a cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie-down. "
"Sport provides the spectacle, the metaphor, the religious ritual, the putty to fill the cracks in countless lives. "
"I believe and have always believed that life is totally meaningless and that we have no destiny, no purpose, no author. "
"Supermarkets stand condemned as symbols of man's inhumanity to women."
"I love this ripper country
Of funnel-webs and sharks,
With blowies big as eagles,
Where your car gets booked by narks,
Where your team gets trounced each Saturday,
And the pubs run out of beer,
Where there's redbacks on the toilet seat
And you're nagged by Germaine Greer."
"Let the massacres remind us to turn down our political volume and venom."
"Trees are very good friends. Firm friends. My five year old's tree could be relied upon to be there next day, uncritical and protective. And think of trees' contribution to our lives. They provide boats, buildings, paper, furniture and, for clog-wearers, footwear. As well as contributing toothpicks and chopsticks they give little birdies somewhere comfy to sit. Best of all, they help produce breathable air and lock up that naughty carbon. Why is why I am talking to the Greens about giving trees the vote."
"The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths to it are made, not found, and the activity of making of them changes with both the destination and the maker"
"Later, in a different home, I befriended a eucalypt, using a resilient bough as a trampoline. Learning nothing from having plummeted from the peppercorn, I'd bounce happily in my haven in the heavens. I loved that tree - and fully understand why Heysen, Roberts, McCubbin and the rest devoted so much time and effort to painting arboreal portraits."
"It's not for nothing that dog is god backwards. Perhaps He put them on Earth to keep an eye on us, to appeal to the better angels of our being. Perhaps they are angels, wingless and furry ones. With fleas."
"I regard dogs and trees as superior beings to humans. Trees are reliable and beautiful. They give us shade, timber and oxygen - and the paper on which our books and this journal are published. And, unless set ablaze by terrorist arsonists with WMD's that come in a matchbox, they also store carbon. Give trees citizenship, I say. Give 'em the vote. Governments of oaks, elms and eucalypts would be a huge improvement."
"While sticks and stones break bones, words can never hurt? Manifestly untrue. Politics everywhere are holistic, interconnected, and the rhetoric of right or left can produce toxic atmospheres in which lunacy thrives."
"The most intense hatreds are not between political parties but within them. "
"This nation was built on a cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie-down."
"It is greatly to Australia's credit that we are a mongrel nation. None of that Aryan or ethnic purity for us. We benefit from hybrid vigour. Every race and religion - as mixed up as the flora in our multi-horticultural society."
"Fame often comes to those who are thinking about something else, whereas celebrity comes to those who think about nothing else. Celebrity is, if you like, a forgery of fame: it has the form but lacks the content."