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Because you let me go

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It is almost a quarter of a century since my Mum died at age 82. She gave her solitary boy life and love and freedom. The first two were unconditional, but she never let me forget that freedom comes with responsibilities and consequences.
Here are a few words for her on Mothers Day just to let her know she’s not forgotten.



It’s Mum’s Day number sixty six,
Again I think of you.
The heroine of my childhood
Who taught me what to do.
Of course I don’t remember
My first step long ago,
I hear you held my hand one stride
But then you let me go.

There were cuts and scrapes and bruises.
Misadventures on the farm.
I crashed my bike into a tree
And almost broke my arm.
When gored by Jersey horns I said
A bad word, yes, I know.
You patched me up and told me not
To swear……… then let me go.

You watched my years of awkwardness
From youth to adulthood.
Not judging all the foolishness
Like other mothers would.
And now I’m old and thinking back
Of gifts you did bestow.
The greatest was to love, and care,
…..but then to let me go.



The place where less is more

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The place where less is more

There is a land where tarweng* grows
In fields of verdant green,
Where mountains soar into the sky
And spirits dwell unseen.
When every little child is born
On dusty bamboo floor
And doesn’t cost a King’s ransom
In this place where less is more.

Where food is plucked from spreading bough
Or coaxed from underground.
Gifts from the heart of Mother Earth.
Simplicity profound.
No learning forced in cloistered rooms
Of things you could ignore.
They sit at the feet of elders
In this place where less is more.

Then when it comes your time to die.
The ancestors to join.
A transition seamless, touching,
Without exchange of coin.
The cortege moves on bare brown feet,
For these people rich not poor,
The currency of love prevails
In this place where less is more.


* Xanthosoma saggittifolium
Copyright 2014 GOF.


Three bags full……….of evil.

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Two questions arising from the following recent event in my town;

1.  Does each one of us have a latent capacity to inflict barbaric acts on another human being?

2.  Under what circumstances is it acceptable to tell the world about the sexual intimacies we have shared with past lovers?

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not a nice man
Sadly whenever we see a man tearfully pleading on television for the return of his missing wife chances are that he’s already bumped her off.
There was certainly never much doubt from the very beginning when this 70 year-old bastard staged his television debut with a smirk on his face.

The following facts emerged during the court process;

1.  He bashed and killed his 42 year-old Chinese second wife in their home before he went to bed and had a sleep.
2.  Next morning he brought their plastic wheelie bin inside the house and threw her body in it.
3.  Then he went down to the hardware store where he bought 60 litres of hydrochloric acid  using her credit card  before dissolving the body and pouring everything down the street drain in the dead of night.
4.  After that he toddled off to the Social Security office and attempted to have her Government payments redirected into his bank account   ‘for easier bookkeeping’.
5.  Occasionally he took time off from all this exertion to send text messages to his 35 year-old Thai mistress explaining that ‘I’m sorting out our problem’ …and that they could soon be married.

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None of the evil mentioned above surprises me. After all, he got his ideas from television and the movies.
What I do find extraordinarily repugnant however was his decision to justify these heinous acts by publicly revealing graphic details about the ‘unsatisfactory’ sex life he shared with his wife.
An additional hideous betrayal of trust.
He told the court and the news media about her apparently lacklustre and lethargic sexual performances which drove him to murder. His younger mistress on the other hand received his equivalent of an Olympic gold medal for her dexterity, athleticism and gymnastic flamboyance.
Words almost fail me.  Not being content with extinguishing the life of another person he then chose to deliberately and grotesquely defile her memory by providing all these sordid details in front of her grieving relatives gathered in the court’s public gallery.  For them the nightmare will never end.

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For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on the questions above;

1.  I have no idea. It’s completely beyond my comprehension, but if someone did this to my daughter I suspect I’d  be quite capable of killing for retribution.

2.  None.  My intimate memories reside in a special secure vault somewhere within my consciousness.   No-one, no circumstance, and certainly no court of law will ever make me divulge a single one of them. They are inviolable. They are sacrosanct.  They are my strictly private record of those who cared enough to help me make them.

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A flight back in time. (Part 1 of 2)

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Given that I’ve been contentedly living my modest dream for the last 30 years, it is highly unlikely that I could ever be bothered compiling a Bucket List which might provide me with one or more of the following enrichments;

1. Being carjacked and mugged in Nairobi.
2. Accidentally discovering a ladyboy in Thailand.
3. Having my cranium dunked underwater whilst dangling upside down on the end of a bungee rope.
4. Experiencing little cannibal fish swimming up my penis or worms eating me from the inside out in the Amazon.
5. Learning Russian in order to completely satisfy the urgent needs of Hot Olga who keeps reappearing in my email spam folder no matter how many times I delete her.

No, when I’m ready to kick the bucket none of these things would bring the slightest smile to my pallid wizened face. 

Just one thing has been on my wish list for several years.
I wanted to fly a light aircraft one more time.

In 1983 I relinquished a perfectly good flying job along with my pilots licence, a company-supplied house and car and many other perks of civilisation including electricity and a flushing toilet.    Then I dragged Mrs GOF, the Infant Inga and a 10 foot caravan onto an abandoned 46 acre horse paddock in the middle of nowhere at the beginning of the tropical monsoon season.  All of this just to follow my lifetime dream of living sustainably from the land.

I never flew again.

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As the years went by, doing some circuits at the local aerodrome with a flight instructor always seemed to be nothing but a fanciful dream and a complete waste of our precious money.  Truth be told I seriously doubted whether I still had the courage or sufficient residual skills after 30 years to do it.
I no longer have the unbridled self-confidence of a thirty year old, but every time a little Cessna flew over our farm I felt nostalgic yearnings to relive the magic of flight and the unique sense of freedom and detachment from mundane events on earth which pilots feel.

Recent events in my life convinced me it was now time to cough up the cash, confront my fears and just DO IT.

Doing ‘circuits’ (touch and go’s) with an instructor is a demanding and stressful business which requires precise flying technique and intense concentration.


Pre-flight, the instructor sat me down for a half hour lecture in the classroom.  By the end of this time my head felt like exploding with all the instructions and numbers relating to altitudes, engine settings, flap extension, climb-out, approach and landing configurations. I very nearly aborted the entire exercise to go back into town with Mrs GOF for a quiet cup of tea instead.

Having come this far, I reluctantly, nervously and perfunctorily carried out the pre-flight inspection of the aircraft before buckling myself into the drivers seat.  Instructor next to me.  Mrs GOF in the back.



Then something quite magical and unexpected happened.

Suddenly it was 1977 all over again.  It was wonderful and exhilarating and no-one got killed and the aircraft came back in one piece, even though the first landing seriously tested the strength of Mr Cessna’s tricycle undercarriage.



Yep……in exchange for all my memories of flying I’ll give you my broadest jaundiced and toothless deathbed grin.

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With P2-WKD at Mindik airstrip, Papua New Guinea, 1977

With P2-WKD at Mindik airstrip, Papua New Guinea, 1977

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Mrs GOF’s video of recent events is here.

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Where did the road go?

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When Inga was an inquisitive little girl asking lots of tricky questions about life, Mrs GOF or I would occasionally answer “I don’t know.”  This response invoked criticism from the more highly educated mother next door who believed that parents should never reveal fallibility or uncertainty in front of their children.

(In this case I suspect her kids eventually discovered some previously unrevealed parental weaknesses after the family imploded shortly afterwards at Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh’s ashram in India.)

As a Dad I wish that I did always have the answers, and that whenever things inevitably went slightly pear-shaped for my children I could easily “make it all better again.”

Today my little girl is all “growed up” and recently she blogged about “How did I turn thirty without realising what I want to do with my life”(here)
(Reading through the responses warms my heart with appreciation of the quality friends we have made on Vox and WordPress.)

I suspect many people feel the same way as Inga as they travel through life. After all it’s often very difficult to be objective when selecting itineraries best suited for ourselves from the multitude of options available.

The route to happiness and contentment is rarely an Appian Way stretching into the distance as far as the eye can see. Sometimes it involves being stuck in some unfamiliar favela and trying to find a way out of the maze of alleyways into more comfortable territory.
I’ve been there myself.

When I was Inga’s age I had to put the cleaners through my own life; terminating a toxic personal relationship and making a stand against having my working life dominated by bureaucratic bullshit.
I left the job I loved in Papua New Guinea and moved to the Australian bush. Few people have bothered me ever since.

The Highway of Destiny has been good to me but as retirement age and diminished physical capacity loom ever closer I can see another confusing roundabout coming up on my horizon.

One possible solution offered by Inga for herself was that of  “Spiritual Enlightenment”.   Maybe lots of Gen X’s and Y’s will need to follow this path.  If so, I think I’ve just found a way to avoid my own upcoming identity crisis;
How does Bhagwan Sri Gof sound to you?
Would anyone like to donate my first Rolls Royce?

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Inga, you are in very good company as you search for the answers which you will ultimately find within yourself.
From John Denver’s “Sweet Surrender”…..

Lost and alone on some forgotten highway.
Traveled by many, remembered by few.
Looking for something that I can believe in,
Looking for something that I’d like to do with my life.

There’s nothing behind me and nothing that ties me
To something that might have been true yesterday.
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more
Than enough to just be here today.

I don’t know what the future is holding in store.
I don’t know where I’m going, I’m not sure where I’ve been.
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me.
My life is worth living, I don’t need to see the end.

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Cairns Botanic Gardens Festival

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‘Tis time for another offering in my series on thankfulness.

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As I canter (and occasionally limp and hobble) down this final straight of the Three Score Years and Ten Stakes, I carry in my saddlebag a full measure of thankfulness for my good health, the contentment that I feel with my place in the universe, and also for the privilege and gift of life itself.

Every day is precious, but if I had to choose one extra special day from the year it would be Fathers Day, the first Sunday in September.

At 3 am I drive down the mountain to civilisation with Mrs GOF asleep in the passenger’s seat, and then we set up our little ‘one carpark’ sized market stall on Collins Avenue, a location which must surely have one of the most beautiful backdrops in the world. (photo above by Mrs GOF)

My enjoyment and appreciation of Father’s Day is multi-faceted.

Firstly it ceremonially marks the beginning of Spring, my favourite season which recharges me with all the energy lost trudging around in the driving rain and cold ankle-deep mud of Winter.

We really do derive great satisfaction from growing potted plants in partnership with Mother Nature, despite the bad words I said and wrote about her after recent cyclones Larry and Yasi.

Icing is added to our little cake of productivity by being able to sell our products directly to the end users at local community markets like this one. There are rewards for both parties in this time-honoured trading relationship that transcend the simple commercial transaction which takes place, and many of our customers have, over the years, also become friends.

Fifteen thousand people flock to the carnival every year, including dads enjoying precious time with their children and families.
Musicians perform throughout the day in the street, restaurant and the garden’s natural amphitheatre. This is the one day of the year when I actually tolerate and dare I say it, enjoy, being part of a large crowd of human beings.

Finally, my own kids, chips now dispersed far from the old block, still choose to stay in touch with me regardless of all the parenting experimentation I carried out on them…………all in all it’s enough to blow the cork right out of my bottle of Chateau GOF Life Satisfaction Vintage 2012.

Long live Father’s Day.

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Garden stage, Louarde Thomas performing. (link below)

Louarde Thomas is a local singer/songwriter who possesses a unique musical gift.  Here is her song Superman’s Lullaby.

Girls, four, attractive, striped, puckered.

One of several orchid stalls

Dog, crouching, duck-mustering.

Butterfly, blue, female, apparently.

Sheep, mortified, being shorn with a less than perfect view of the world.

The girls of Korbau

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The most enjoyable and productive times I spent working with village people in Papua New Guinea occurred when I was based at Pindiu Patrol Post between 1972 and 1979.

The climate was close to perfect all year round. The people were industrious and hospitable, and unlike some other tribal cultures within PNG, women were involved equally with the men in most of our development projects.

The hamlet of Korbau was nestled in a mountainous saddle between the Masaweng and Mongi River catchments at 4000′ altitude. With a population of just one hundred plus a few, it was a hard three-hour walk from Pindiu.

I spent a lot of time working with the Korbau people constructing earthworks and developing and modifying our prototype micro hydroelectricity unit to provide village lighting.

(Story with pictures of the Korbau Hydroelectricity Project here)

Everybody participated. Old men and women, boys and girls and even the little kids. It was a wonderful working atmosphere. Despite being some of the poorest people on earth, the days were always full of laughter, frivolity, banter and even occasional innocent flirting.

Australians working in PNG at this time in history were mostly treated like minor dignitaries and rarely invited to join mundane day to day village activities.  It was therefore a pleasant surprise when, late one day after work, the girls of Korbau invited me to join them in a game of basketball.

I had never played basketball in my life although I knew the object of the game was apparently to throw the ball through the hoop.

No worries.

Even though these girls were strong beyond belief from carrying heavy loads of food, firewood and babies up and down mountains,
I was over 6 feet tall, and they were all only knee-high to grasshoppers.

So……….How difficult could this be?

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Korbau basketball court circa 1977. Add one more ingredient…..slippery.

So……How difficult could this be? 

The Korbau girls invited
Master GOF to play a game
Of basketball, local rules,
A big chance for sporting fame.  
They’re tired from a hard day’s work.
And I’m twice their height I see.
Bring it on, you little chicks.
How difficult could this be?

The ‘court’ was something diff’rent.
So I uttered words profane
Mudholes where pigs did wallow
Their complexions to maintain.
And big boulders two feet high
To trip me arse right over tee.
Then suddenly it registered
How difficult this might be.

But I ain’t seen nuthin’ yet
‘Till the girls brought out the ball.
At the top end of the slope
They all looked eight foot tall.
The Amazons then threw the orb
To me, then they charged with glee
And slammed me into the goal post.
Shit!  Difficult this will be.

I eventually got back vertical
To gasp and wheeze and stagger.
Then ‘Sister’ Barbara elbowed me.
Rib pain just like a dagger.
They accidentally flattened me.
Despite my attempts to flee.
It seemed that saving my life
Would my priority be.

Thank God they’re at the other end
Shooting goals at my expense
And giggling uncontrollably
At my sporting incompetence.
Oh Christ no! here they come again
One tonne of femininity
To trample me in the mudhole.
How embarrassing this will be.

I hit the ground six more times,
Which caused lumps upon my rump.
But every time they helped me up
And none said White Men Can’t Jump.
They didn’t keep the score that day.
Which needed no apology.
‘Cos everyone was a winner.
‘Specially me, I now can see.

Memory looks back all these years.
What a privilege it was
To be accepted as an equal,
But much more than that because
They showed me joy and happiness
Depends not upon degree
Of wealth, and to forget them
Is impossible for me.

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Green and grateful GOF

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I was blessed with an almost idyllic childhood growing up on a little farm in Australia.  Despite that, I can always remember wanting to get it over and done with quickly.  To grow up so that I could view the world from full adult height then ‘go out and do something useful.’

‘Doing something useful’  I have since come to understand means different things to different folks, and my interpretation is no more or less legitimate than that proposed by others.

My life’s dream of ‘usefulness’ was enabled by a three-year tertiary Diploma of Agriculture which included practical experience in a broad spectrum of rural activities.

These included barbed-wire fence construction, chicken sexing, repairing farm vehicles using only Jesus Juice, pliers and fencing wire, blacksmithing, doing time trials with Howard mini-tractors racing in reverse gear around chook sheds, milking cows and making butter, butchering almost anything which moved and was edible, distributing DDT liberally onto anything which moved and was inedible, and shoveling more tons of animal shit and stinking fermented silage than any city dweller would think possible.
I’m exhausted just recalling this comprehensive education and indeed the Diploma proved to be one of Great Usefulness.

Then followed twelve years inflicting these dubious skills upon unsuspecting natives in remote parts of New Guinea, but taking time also to observe the inner workings of the Government Department for which I worked.
The experience taught me that many corpulent people who were even more pale-skinned than I actually ‘worked’ in comfortable town office buildings, and they considered that shuffling pieces of paper and attending committee meetings and conferences constituted a genuine form of ‘usefulness’.  Perhaps it did.  They certainly thought it did.

For me ‘usefulness’ invariably meant doing physical work and constructing something tangible.  Preferably alone.  I always pig-headedly and obstinately refused assistance from well-intentioned friends and neighbours. Perhaps this is an unfortunate legacy of being raised as an ‘only child’.


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As the curtain closes on 2011,  I will sit on the verandah each evening watching the cumulo-nimbus clouds germinate in a clear blue sky before burgeoning into massive tropical thunderheads at 40,000 feet.
I will reflect upon the absolute magnificence of the nature which surrounds me and review my lifetime spent attempting to do ‘useful’ things.  I will absolve myself from transgressions made during the year past thereby allowing myself to repeat the more enjoyable ones  in 2012 without any guilt.

I will also accept that most forms of human ‘usefulness’ including my own are a cosmic irrelevance and when reviewed from half a millenium hence my lifetime achievements will have been of no greater value or lasting importance than those of Nelson the dog who is presently attempting to dehusk a coconut outside on the lawn.

Nevertheless I am absolutely content with my place in the universe and my limited understanding of it.  Despite a lifetime punctuated by some regrettable occasions of ineptitude and thoughtlessness I am satisfied that I did my best to be ‘useful’ in the only way I knew how.

In the final anaylsis nothing much really matters apart from treating ourselves, our families, other people and Mother Nature with the care and respect they deserve.

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The following “before” and “after” photographs show the results of our ongoing 20 year reforestation project covering 30 acres.
A token act of appreciation for this small piece of earth which has sustained and nourished our little family for the past 29 years, but which should never have had it’s rainforest clear-felled by the original lease-holders half a century ago.

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1A 1982

1B 2011

2A 1982

2B 2011

3A 1982

3B 2011