"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Trees are, after all, our largest and oldest living things. They are Australia's natural, national treasures - the true Elders of our vast continent. "
"According to ancient mythology, trees link the Earth to the sky. In this respect trees link humans to another world. "
"The celebrated Aboriginal painter Albert Namatjira loved the Ghost Gums of the Northern Territory... They are evocatively Australian, their white trunks contrasting with the red earth and the deep blue sky of the Dreamtime region that has for centuries sustained Namatjira's Aranda people. "
"As for the Ghost Gum... there are those who maintain with a lump in their throats it is the most beautiful tree on earth. "
"The difference between me and a butterfly is that the butterfly looks at a flower with no purpose in mind but to sip nectar. The flower feeds its body while for me the colours and shapes and scents of flowers feed my heart. But how arrogant of me to assume that the butterfly does not feel its miniscule heart also soar for no reason other than touching and being touched by beauty! "
"Shy gold begins to peep through the sombre green - the wattle's wedding dress - and Spring is near... Then suddenly it seems, one golden morning, the Bush awakes, a living thing. Flowers bloom, birds sing, and all the world puts on its gayest dress to greet the laughing Spring."
"The gum tree is Australian, as Aussie as can be,
And there's no more Australian than the eucalyptus tree."
"The Australian continent is rich with indigenous flora whose power transcends any sense of jingoism. "
"I can't think of any flower that wouldn't be suitable to merge with an image of a newborn, and as I was planning for the book, Miracle, I was drawn to blossoms that appealed to me artistically."
"The trouble with flowers is that invariably, when I'm ready to photograph them, they are not in season."
"Not very far way a number of Banksia men were sitting
in a Banksia-tree, basking in the sun and planning mischief.
'Bunch and scrunch 'im!' shouted one.
'Hit and spit 'im!' growled another.
'String and ring 'im!' snarled a third.
Then they all jumped about, grunting and chattering
and shaking the bough till the leaves rattled."
"A few tin strips of fleecy cloud lies long
And motionless above the eastern steeps,
Like shreds of silver lace: till suddenly,
Out from the flushing centre to the ends
On either hand, their lustrous layers become
Dipt in all crimson streaked with pink and gold;
And then, at last, are edged as with a band
Of crystal fire."
"Not a sound disturbs the air,
There is quiet everywhere;
Over plains and over woods
What a mighty stillness broods!
Only there's drowsy humming
From the yon warm lagoon slow coming:
Tis the dragon-hornet - see!
All bedaubed resplendently.
O 'tis easeful here to lie
Hidden from noon's scorching eye,
In the grassy cool recess
Musing thus of quietness."
"The design of the gum is expressed in the flow of it trunk and limbs, and the design of the European tree mainly in its foliage. In Europe great masses of foliage first attract the eye, here the limbs and trunk, which, on account of their proportion and colour, make themselves felt first, and one thinks of the foliage as a secondary matter."
"There is an infinity of landscape here, caused by the purity of the atmosphere. It has been said that there is a lack of colour. It is not so obvious as the greenness of England, but it is infinitely more varied and more delicate in tone. The landscape is a pinky mauve, a lilac, and the reflection of the sun of the particles of the atmosphere is a warm amber. So I should say our colour scheme is amber and lilac."
"All the unhallowed beauty I have found;
All free - discordant shrills
and form-defying wonders above ground,
like writhen trees with draggled foliage
struggling along the courses of wayback creeks;
scarlet - and - green
sky - streaking parrot - fires with parrot shrieks
echo - shattering the shoulders of the hills;
and desert - sunset - rage
Rage for my mind, be clamant, do not cease
you are my holiest habitat of peace."
"It is a thought as sweet as heaven to know that in the minds of each of us the may by the fence still blooms in an eternal springtime; that the snowdrop has in our hearts a triple birth, and blooms in three separate minds, faultlessly... So that if all the flowers and grasses and hollows and hills of the old house were razed and mutilated - as they are now, I suppose - we keep them intact in three minds, each depending on the other to supply it with the delicate minutiae of remembrance."
"I wrote for her, I fought for her,
And when at last I lie,
Then who, to wear the wattle, has
A better right than I?"
"Though poor and in trouble I wander alone,
With a rebel cockade in my hat;
Though friends may desert me, and kindred disown,
My country will never do that!
You may sing of the Shamrock, the Thistle, and Rose,
Or the three in a bunch if you will;
But I know of a country that gathered all those,
And I love the great land where the Waratah grows,
And the Wattle bough blooms on the hill."
"Australia! Australia! so fair to behold -
While the blue sky is arching above;
The stranger should never have need to be told,
That the Wattle-bloom means that her heart is of gold,
And the Waratah's red with her love."
"I saw it in the days gone by,
When the dead girl lay at rest,
And the wattle and the native rose
We placed upon her breast.
I saw it long ago
(And I've seen strong men die),
And who, to wear the wattle,
Hath better right than I?
I've fought it through the world since then,
And seen the best and worst,
But always in the lands of men
I held Australia first."
Blood, flower and tears
Red tears of the desert."
"I always figure I have this tree and there's always some green fruit that's not ready to pick or blossoms that are ready to flower; there are always some ready to drop off too."
"Here tower bright green soft woods smothered in all manner of living parasites, orchids and ferns; looped and twisted with hundreds of feet of great vines, thick as the upper arm. The jungle teems with exotic birds who never cross the dark threshold into the sunny warmth of the eucalyptus country. Here too, are colourful outlandish flowers which bloom only in green twilight."
"To the native-born Australian the Wattle stands for home, country, kindred, sunshine and love - every instinct that the heart most deeply enshrines... Let Wattle henceforth be a sacred charge to every Australian... Let us rouse our young people's sense of chivalry, and make the Wattle synonymous with Australia's honour. "
"Nowhere in the world does spring announce itself with so lovely a splendour as in Australia... our wattles burst in such passionate profusion of golden blossom as no other country can rival."
"The gum-tree, fiercely misunderstood by the laborious pioneer wresting his little clearing from its vast forests, is only now beginning to be appreciated at its true worth by a generation that, through an easier and gentler contact with it, has come to love its manifold beauties."
"Toujours, tourjours gum-tree! "
"Here in the slack of night
the tree breathes honey and moonlight.
Here in the blackened yard
smoke and time and use have marred.
leaning from that fantan gloom
the bent tree is heavy in bloom."