Dec 16

I’ve blogged many times about marriage, I’m hoping that one day I’ll be accepted as a full citizen in Australia and be allowed to marry the man of my dreams, (position currently filled, no need to apply, there isn’t a waiting list).

In particular I wrote this blog and this blog.

Michael, my Registered Partner (as I’m not supposed to call him my husband), has written a letter to Kelly O’Dwyer, Federal Member for Higgins.  She’s on the Liberal (conservative) side of politics and thinks that civil unions and not marriage is the solution.

Perhaps you’d like to contribute and tell your personal story too.  Everyone who thinks all Australians should be equal should jump on the Australian Marriage Equality Website and take some action.

Here’s Michael’s letter.

16 December 2011

Dear Kelly,

I have been in a relationship with my partner Gregory for over three (3) years now.  We are committed to each other and have a solid, loving relationship.  We even registered our relationship at the Victorian office of Births, Deaths and Marriages on April 21, 2010 for legal reasons as we had not been living together two years at that stage.

Gregory was previously married to a woman, and together they had two children Tomas and Caitlin.  Now 17 and 19 respectively, Gregory has been the primary care-giver to his children for most of their lives.  They are still dependent on him and are living in the family home, that I also live in.

Gregory has nine (9) living siblings, and one sister who died last year.  All of his siblings have been married.

I have a very good connection with Gregory’s family and get on well will all of the people we see in his family.  Geographic separation makes it hard to connect with them all.

As Gregory’s partner, I feel that our relationship is not equal to that of the rest of his family.  Gregory is not looking to have any more children and I am not looking to start a family at the age of 42.  If it were an option, ie via surrogacy, adoption etc, if Gregory didn’t already have two children, and if we were both younger, we might have considered having a family.

My family are extremely welcoming of Gregory into my life and into their family.  He is close with my parents and my brother’s two children Justin (7) and Sarah (8) adore him as much as they do their uncle Michael.

Gregory’s sister Angela has two young children Alice (7) and Abbey (5) and they adore their uncle Gregory and also me when we visit them.

As you can see, we have very warm, loving families, our relationship is accepted by our families and we are equal on every level except that we are not allowed to get married to each other.  This hurts both of us deeply.

We are not allowed to have a legal recognition of our relationship in the eyes of the government.  This denies us the same status that Gregory’s 10 siblings attained in society, the same status his parents attained over 60+ years of marriage, the same status my parents have attained over 45+ years of marriage, and the same status my brother has attained after 12+ years of marriage.  It also denies us the same status my two cousins attained after two marriages and one divorce each.

Are Gregory and I not good enough for marriage?  We know marriage is not about children, but Gregory has his children, doesn’t want any more, and I’m too old to sensibly start a family now.  Yet we’re not too old to get married, and we’re not too old to continue showing our love to each other, for another 40 or so years.

There is no reason the law should discriminate against us simply because one of us isn’t female.  Our relationship is as good as that of any heterosexual couple.

Please take the time to consider this and about giving all Australians equal rights, because we are all equal.

Michael Barnett.

Dec 05

I’m a very resilient man.

Really, I am.

At the moment, I’m in Hamilton, town of my birth.  I’m here because my mother is dying.  I’m in the hospital looking down at this once great woman, who has been married to my Dad for over 60 years.  He’s here too.  Looking at his wife with a great unsaid sadness.

I don’t know how long this will go on.  I have no idea.

It’s very depressing.

On Saturday, while trying to deal with the overwhelming sense of loss there is another issue going on in the background.  Michael and I are listening and watching the reaction to the Labor Party conference and their decision to change their party platform.

Now, it seems, the Labor Party agree that my equality is worthy of attention.  They changed their party platform to allow marriage equality.  There’s a but.  But, they won’t force their parliamentarians to vote for the change.

During the debate at the conference, members of the Labor Party got up and said some of the most disgusting homophobic things I’ve heard come out of the mouths of people on the left of politics.

Outside the party, some rabid bloggers have geared up to further add to the groundswell of homophobia and hate.  The Australian Christian Lobby is falling over itself to denounce the move.

The Labor Party deciding to make this a conscience vote is truly insulting.  So many of their polices don’t get to be made on conscience.  Think of our fight on terrorism.  Think of the sale of uranium to India, think of the carbon tax.  Think of their support of the 2004 change to the Marriage Act that inserted the clause that ‘marriage is defined as between one man and one woman’ no conscience vote there.  Yet my right to marry the person of my choice has to be debated.DSC_8561.JPG

I’m tired of this.  The party lets ignorant homophobes use their  party platform to spout intolerance.  This really does make me feel like a second class citizen.

I’m not treated equally, because I’m gay.

Yep, this is a significant change, it’s a step forward.  At last there seems to be a shift happening.

We’re not there, it wears my resilience down to hear again how my sexuality will destroy society, how my parenting is second rate, how I’m not worthy of full equality.  How I have to be happy that about 80 bits of legislation has been changed and I should be grateful.

I’m aware of how insidious homophobia is.  This sort of rhetoric from the religious right gains the media’s attention, and the homophobes continue to get tacit permission to inflict their hate on others.

Gillard and those who oppose full equality want to be seen as accepting of gay people, but their actions don’t match their words.  They give approval to the far christian right to continue with their lies and they don’t challenge the misinformation that is being trotted out.

The rights of the citizens of this country is not something that should be debated.  My rights should not be up for discussion.  I’m not christian, I don’t accept that christianity should have any bearing on my life. Yes, people have a right to believe what they like, as deluded as I think that might be.  I don’t get why those beliefs have to impact and influence a secular state and government.

As I watch my Dad bend and kiss his wife of 62 years and whisper something into her ear that is shared between the two of them, I see a commitment in marriage.  He is not questioned as to what he’s saying, his actions are not scrutinised.  My mothers sister isn’t screaming for him to get away from her, her children aren’t discouraging his public display of affection.

They’re married.


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Dec 01

Last night the Queensland Parliament voted 47-40 to introduce a civil partnership bill in their state.

I watched the final hour of the debate via a live web stream from Brisbane.  I heard people get up and use their christian values to oppose the bill, and I heard people get up and support it based on their view that all people should be treated equally.

It was both exhilarating and depressing.  Depressing because there is still much hatred in our society.  Those who supported it because of their christian values would claim to not want to discriminate against me in one breath, and then say that allowing gay couples to register their relationship was wrong and would undermine marriage.

Exhilarating because some people just see everyone as equals – they get it.

It’s interesting to note that the world didn’t end.  It’s interesting to note that here in Victoria our civil union bill hasn’t caused widespread disruption to marriage or civil unrest.  In fact, nobody even thinks about civil unions.  Not unless you want one.

Again and again, the opposition to the civil union bill was based on three things that have nothing to do with it.

1.  It will redfine marriage.  (This was a state register, nothing to do with the Federal marriage act)

2.  It will deprive children of a mother and father (This has nothing to do with peoples right to breed, and they’ll do that regardless of the union of the parents)

3. It will lead to polygamy, polyamory, incest and probably sex with animals (umm… what?)

The reality of this new bill is this.  Nothing has changed.  Couples who lived together may now register their union.  Couples wanting to live together may now register their union.

What so wrong about that?

Another state has the foresight to recognise that everyone should be entitled to legal recognition of their relationship, regardless of gender.  It shows Australia coming to terms with acknowledging that all citizens are equal and that nothing bad happens because of equality.

The passage of the legislation sends a message that yes, indeed, gay people are valued, just like everyone else.

Well done to the 47 people who voted for this bill. It gives me hope.


Nov 15


I’m an Australian.  My family has resided here for generations.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I acknowledge the hurt and chaos caused by my forebears.  I do this because I have respect for those who have been treated as if they weren’t human1.

I look at World War II and am confounded by the amount of death of the Jewish people, based solely on their religion2.  How devastating that whole generations can be wiped out while the rest of the world watches.

I see the destruction of the Rwandan genocide3 in 1994 and have great angst about the role we all played in ignoring it.

My world was turned upside down on September 11 20014.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand how anyone’s religion could lead them to kill innocent people.

The Boxing Day Tsunami5 was the one that ultimately lead me to walking away from religion.  Hundreds of thousands of people died under a wall of water caused by an earthquake.

Now I have a new passion.  My rights.  The rights of those around me to be who they are.  I have respect for people. I understand and acknowledge the many different perspectives in the world.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s Michael’s family’s Jewish traditions, the Catholic faith  of Jennie, mother of my children, or even the people I work with who read their stars in the paper every day.  They have my respect in so much as they are entitled to believe.

I am not about changing people’s beliefs.  Sure, I’ll challenge your beliefs, ask you to justify them and even get into a long and sometimes heated debate.  But at the end of it, you’ll go on believing whatever you want.  Maybe I’ll spark something in you.

Today, to read the underlying message from the Prime Minister of Australia, leaves me cold.

The first is on same-sex marriage. I am proud Labor has been at the forefront of changing laws to end discrimination against same-sex couples in so many areas. We have come a long way as a more inclusive and fair society in a relatively short time.

Julia recognises that there is discrimination, she has even been a part of helping to eliminate that discrimination.

However, I equally recognise the deeply held convictions in society on the questions of marriage. This diversity of public opinion is reflected in the passionate debate inside the Labor Party. Given the personal nature of the issue and the deeply held beliefs, I believe that in future it is appropriate that a conscience vote flow to Labor MPs. They should be free to vote in Parliament according to their own values and beliefs.

Deeply held convictions are to be respected.  Diversity in public opinion is to be expected.  We should only ever expect our MP’s to vote according to their own values and belief.  What a country we would be if that was the case.

Many will ask what my opinion is and where I stand in the debate. As I have said many times, I support maintaining the Marriage Act in its current form and the government will not move legislation to change it. My position flows from my strong conviction that the institution of marriage has come to have a particular meaning and standing in our culture and nation, and that should continue unchanged. The Labor platform currently reflects this view.

Julia supports the marriage act, as changed in 2004 by the Howard Government.

“marriage” means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life6.

In that short addition to the marriage act we have an Act of Parliament that was created to deliberately discriminate against people wishing to enter into marriage, who are of the same gender.  In a sense, the marriage was redefined.  It was given a particular meaning.  Australians weren’t asked about it, it just happened.  I can’t help but observe how this small amendment now gets thrown around, as if it’s always been part of our culture.  Marriage is the union of a man and a woman.  Howard put that in there in 2004.  It’s pretty new.  Nobody talks about the second part, to the exclusion of all others and entered into for life.  It’s too sticky because we know that marriages end, people have affairs.

When Julia talks about marriage having a particular meaning, and that meaning should continue unchanged, she gives no reasoning, other than her strong conviction.  We have no idea what the strong conviction is based on.  It’s fair to say that nobody is talking about getting rid of marriage in Australia.  Changing the act would not prevent marriage between a man and a woman from happening.  The world would not end, and I wouldn’t be considered a second class citizen.

Oh, yes, that’s what I am.  Second class.  My love, my life, my sexuality is not equal to the heterosexuals love, life or their sexuality.

That hurts.

Julia calls for respect.

What we must do when that debate is over is to respect one another’s point of view.

I already respect the other point of view.  I understand it.  Now it’s time for the respect to flow the other way.  Those who oppose my point of view have no respect for me.  I have not once seen a well reasoned argument for why I shouldn’t be allowed to marry Michael.  I get it when people talk about children needing a mother and father, but that’s not marriage.  I get it when people have their religious belief, but that’s not my belief.

Yet, I have to accept that my life is being judged as unequal based on perceptions that are not my reality.

I’m realistic, I understand how the politics work.  One day maybe I’ll be allowed to vote on worth of the marriage of my brothers and sister, of my friends and colleagues.

I can’t do this alone.  The people, the lobby groups,  struggling for marriage equality can’t do this alone.  I need your help.  We need your help.

I am a human being.  I would like to be respected by the laws of this land.

Marriage Equality Australia

Straights with Mates

The Potential Wedding Album

I Do



  1. Stolen Generations, Federal Parliaments Apology SOURCE
  2. The Holocaust
  3. Rwandan genocide
  4. September 11 attacks
  5. Boxing day Tsunami
  6. Marriage Act 1961 as amended, s5(1)SOURCE
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Nov 13

I talk to my two children all the time.  Sometimes, they talk to me.  As Tomas did recently, to talk about an upcoming play for drama that his class was working on.

Tomas wasn’t so keen to participate as he was worried I might frown up the topic, which was the Westboro Baptist Church.  The Reverend Fred Phelps runs the church and uses the slogan “God hates fags”.

Just as an aside, there is no god to hate fags.

I was happy that Tomas raised it with me, and we spoke about the implications of doing a play based on such hate. I had a few questions about the content and then told Tomas that as he’s only acting, he should do it.  I’ve been abused and vilified many times in my life because of my sexuality.  I was pretty sure I could cope with this.

The expected performance date arrived, however they weren’t quite ready, so the play was moved to 4.00 p.m. during the week.  I really didn’t want to miss this, so I left work, not worried about leaky roofs, telco technicians or illegal rubbish dumpers!  They could all wait until tomorrow.

It was made clear from the outset that the play was mostly unpolished, the play was the work of the students and it had some swear words in it.

First scene was a sermon from Fred Phelps in his church, telling us that god hates fags.  It was certainly something to sit in the theatre and hear those words spat out by a teenager.  A few nervous titters from the audience as we copped the full force of the hatred emanating from the Westboro Baptist Church.  We had a choir singing “God hates fags”.

We got the perspective from some young members of the congregation who looked into the distance and said that’s where the gays live, and showed how indoctrination can impact on children. They showed a fear of people they’d never seen.  Thought that the gays were monsters and to be avoided.  The dissenting voice among them was corrected by peer pressure and the hate continues into the next generation.

We also had a taste of the ‘traditional family’ where the talk was about slavery (being acceptable) the roles of men and women and the tension between those traditional roles where women are fundamentally subservient to their husbands.

Finally there was a coming out scene. We saw two families.  One family embraced their son,the other family rejected him.

This was quite an emotional moment as we saw the full impact of rejection on a young man.  His family cast him out.  He was left devastated and in tears.

The other family offered nothing but love and support for their gay son.  They embraced him, hugged him and accepted him for who he was.

I grew up in a time when people hated people who were gay.  It was nothing to be called a poof, a poofter, a fag or a faggot. Despite trying to be a small target, my school life was full of taunts and rejection, it really did hurt.

To see a bunch of teenagers actually stand up on stage and take on homophobia in such a direct way is a marvel.  Sure, it was challenging to sit there and listen to laughter at the expense of ‘the fags’ but as the play progressed there was less laughter from the audience.  A few times I wanted to stand up and make a speech about the real impact of this type of homophobia.

The students did a fantastic job, giving me hope that in some parts of the world everything will be alright.  Sure, there’s still hatred and misinformation out there, but here is a school, a student body, who has respect for all people.

Congratulations to them all.

Oh, and somewhere during the crowd scene, I’m sure I heard the call of a wild wookie.

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Sep 29

Two news stories doing the rounds recently have got me thinking about our society, and what it is to be part of it.

I’d hope that the society I live in will be inclusive and welcoming of all people, no matter what their personal stories or backgrounds are.

The two stories are that of Jeff Kennett, chairman of Beyondblue and Andrew Bolt, journalist for the Herald Sun.

Recently both men have found themselves in some hot water about their attitudes to those around them and how they interact and respond to them

I must say, both men appear to be unrepentant, even when their behaviour is highlighted as unacceptable.  They carry with them a certain amount of arrogance that I find rather grating.

Both men are also rich white straight men.  They have grown up surrounded by the privilege of being a white Australian, with all it’s trappings and comfy lifestyle that that entails.  They have not had to defend themselves because of the colour of their skin or hide themselves because of their sexual orientation.  While I’m sure that their lives have had their ups and downs, they have been very lucky to be born a white Australian in a white Australia.

Bolt has always been controversial in his writing and ramblings.  To me he appears to be a right wing conservative hack.  He recently had a court finding that he contravened section 18 (c) of the Racial Discrimination Act following on from two articles that he’d written for the Herald Sun.  Bolt basically said that because somebody who identified as Aboriginal who was more white-skin than black that they were only claiming their indigenous background because it would bolster their career advancement.

Kennett is a former Liberal Premier of Victoria, he had a reputation for getting the job done, and also had little regard for those people who where struggling.  I recall during his time in the top job that he once described people who took sick leave as being ‘unproductive units’ – charming.  He’s always been controversial, but recently, as head of Beyondblue he suggested that children are happier when raised by a mother and a father.  Check out Doug Pollard’s excellent article on the background and why Kennett needs to step down.

I’m a white Australian.  I was lucky enough to be born into a family that was relatively rich, while at the same time struggling!  My parents had 11 children, we all went through the local catholic private school and most of us did pretty well.

I’ve clearly had struggles with my sexuality.  For years and years I hid in marriage thinking I was doing the right thing.  The ramifications and mental anguish that this caused still linger.  Yet, I think I’m pretty lucky.  I understand how much it hurts to have my ability to raise happy, healthy children questioned based solely on my ability to keep a straight marriage together.  To even begin to suggest that I couldn’t have raised my two wonderful children if I was married to another man creates such a feeling of despair in me.  What would it have been like for me if I’d heard the likes of a straight, white, Kennett suggesting that people like me can’t raise kids when I was younger?  I was surrounded by entrenched homophobia, it’s distressing.  Kennett is adding to the burden of young people who are gay.

I can only imagine what it’s like to have rich white folk take broad swipes at you and question your honesty and interigty based solely on the colour of your skin.  I imagine that these ‘fair skin’ aborigines have had a tough time throughout their life, and they’re still fighting the battle.

It’s all too easy for those who have had a pleasant ride to deride and belittle those who struggle to make their way.  Instead of reaching out and helping those around them, people like Bolt and Kennett (who have enjoyed a luxurious ride in a society that treats married heterosexual, white, able-bodied men as ‘normal’)  seek to tear us down and use us as a way to score cheap politcal points or readers.

It’s a selfish arrogant attitude that they have that seeks to keep anyone who isn’t just like them out of their version of society .

Shame on both of you.




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Sep 04

Mt Imlay is just over the border and into New South Wales, our pre-reading indicated that it was a hard walk, but the reward was stunning views of the coast and mountains.  The day was postcard perfect, bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky and the forecast for about 20°C

All properly prepared, we jumped in the car and headed off.


It’s a quick drive up the highway from Mallacoota to the turn off at Burrawang Forest Rd.  As we drive through the East Boyd State Forest it’s clear that this whole area has at one time or other being logged.  Just to confirm this government has provided us with nice signs that tell us when it was logged, 1977 and 1978.  The natural bush land is growing back, but it’s a slow process and will take many years.  The road is gravel it’s evident that its made for log trucks to thunder along.  Michael’s little Golf manages to weave it’s way over large rocks, deep pot holes and the odd branch.

After 10 kilometres on the beaten track, we arrive at the picnic ground, consisting of one picnic table, a display board and a toilet.  There’s a tank off in one corner for those that forgot to bring water and a little boot cleaning station.

DSC_0098.JPG The information board gave us some additional information about the park, we’re warned to wear good boots, not take children, and be prepared for cold wet conditions on the mountain, even if the weather is fine down here.  It tells us that the lower slopes are 450-500 million years old and was once the ocean floor, the mountain top is much younger, only 350-400 million years, and it is made of much harder stuff.  Not surprisingly the area was (and probably is) also sacred to the local indigenous population, we are asked to treat it like a church,  and to respect and protect the whole area.

We’re looking forward to this walk, even though all the research we’ve done says that it’s a steep and difficult walk.  There are a number of rare things to see here, foremost in our minds is the endemic Mount Imlay Boronia (Boronia imlayensis).  It only grows near the top of the ridge, and it’s just into spring, with a bit of luck we’ll see it flowering.

There’s two other cars in the car park, but nobody else to be seen.  We don our walking boots, pack our lunches and water, Michael readies his camera, I’ve got my binoculars and bird book and plenty of water.

First stop is the boot cleaning station.  DSC_0108.JPG The National Parks are trying to stop the fungus phytophthora cinnamomi from getting into the forest. The fungus gets into the roots and causes them to rot.  The little boot station is a steel construction with three brushes to scrub your boots, two on the side and one for the sole.  Then a chemical solution wash for the soles, just to make sure you kill the little buggers.

We can see Mt Imlay in the distance, it really does loom above everything else in the area.  The first part of the track is wide and scattered with plenty of dead wood, it looks like it was a road once upon a time.  It’s steep, and long, within moments of putting one foot in front of the other my calves are screaming at me, my pulse is thundering making my teeth shake and sweat is pouring out of every pore.  Bent over, with my little back pack on, I manage to tilt my head upwards and can see the track continues to steeply rise in front of us.  We made slow progress.  Really slow.

The track evened out slightly and we found ourselves standing between some Austral Grass Trees,DSC_0113.JPG each tree was between one and two metres tall, and they were in the way!  We had to push our way through their long narrow and somewhat pointy shoots.  For a few minutes it felt like we were in the middle of some African jungle and needed a machete to punch our way through.  A small sign board said that the local aborigines used these trees in many ways, the long stalks made ideal spears after being harden in a fire, the sap was a glue for adhering shell blades to the end of the spears and the dried flower pods were an excellent burning material.  There weren’t any flower stalks visible, I’m guessing that no fires has been through this part of the forest in many years, and the trees need a decent fire to flower.

We now found ourselves in a small saddle that linked the small (but very steep) hill we’d just climbed to the base of Mt Imlay.  We skirted around the edge of the saddle, not dropping to far into the valley.  At times the track became nothing but rocks as we wound our way around, there was a clear drop to the valley floor, and I had the distinct impression that one foot in the wrong place would see me tumble towards the trees far below.  I’m sure it would be a spectacular fall.  The reality really being a knock on the head on some loose rocks that would stop me tumbling in such a spectacular fashion.  Still, the trail headed around the top of this impressive natural amphitheatre,  and shortly we found ourselves at the base of the mountain.  The relatively flat track around the edge had allowed us to recuperate, which was just as well as now the track began it’s slow climb up to the summit.  We could see it, along with the ridge that would get us there and the steep incline that we now had to tackle.

DSC_0129.JPG The forest was now mostly tall Silvertop Ash trees, these magnificent gum trees are covered in dark bark around their lower half, and the top half silver, crowned with a bush of leaves, up to about 30 metres tall, waving in the wind.  It’s quite an impressive sight to look up see a forest of these trees.   Silver ash also makes great timber, the trees grow tall and straight.  We started scrambling over rocks as we headed towards the peak.  It wasn’t too long before we got to the top of the ridge, the hard work was now mostly over.

The tall trees had given way to much smaller trees and shrubs.  The area abounds with a variety of wildflowers, so many colours, purples, blue, red, pink and yellow.

We were now on the razorback ridge.  I’ve seen worse!  The sides did drop away quickly to the valley far far below, but the ridge was quite wide. I can only imagine that the razorback it was named after was quite fat.  To the west was mountain after mountain, tinged blue as they faded off into the distance, to the right was the Tasman Sea, tinged blue as it faded off to New Zealand.  To the north was the peak.

DSC_0245.JPG Here we saw our first boronia, a delicate little white flower. We decided to get to the top and have time for photos on the return trip.  It wasn’t too much longer before we did reach the top.

There, 886 metres above sea level, was the peak.  A trig point marked the spot.  We had got there, the beauty was stunning, if you ignored the huge Telstra installation sitting right there behind you.

DSC_0154.JPG At the beginning of the walk we are reminded to treat this area with respect as the local aboriginal population regard it as sacred.  Bit hard to do with the solar panels, security fence, tin shack and multiple antennae belonging to Telstra, but clearly it’s treated just like a church that also has Telstra installations on the top.  I think the final disrespect is the dire warnings not to cross the fence line, dangerous radiation inside!  The communications array is of course very important.  It forms the last link to ensure continuous sea communication between Melbourne and Sydney for the ships out there on the water.

DSC_0155.JPG The view is simply breathtaking, the waters of the ocean are beautiful as they meet the wonderfully blue sky.  We can see as far south as Mallacoota, just making out the inlet, in front of us is Wonboyn and further north Eden.  The coast gives way to the rolling hills full of their magnificent trees. It’s easy to see why this part of the world has been slow to be ‘developed’ for pastoral needs, it’s remote and wild!  Not to mention hilly.

We eat our prepared lunches, drink some water and take some time to soak up the glorious sunlight, the superb views.  It’s now about 2 in the afternoon as we turn around and head back the way we came.

DSC_0171.JPGThis time the haste to arrive has gone, so we are able to take our time descending, this allows Michael time to snap the photos of the flowers we’d come to see.   Probably not as many blooming as we’d like, another couple of weeks and the area will be alive with the scent and sights of spring time.  The flowers are stunning.  The boronia blooms are a wonder to gaze at and Michael spends a lot of time and clicks of the camera to get some amazing shots.  Be sure to check out the Picasa Gallery.

The sounds of the forest are stunning.  All around us a cacophony of birds sing their tunes to themselves and each other.  We can make them out flying between the trees, but never still enough or close enough for us to recognise.  One call that we did stop to listen to is that of the lyrebird.  What starts out as the shrill call of a forest bird quickly changes to the raucous cry of a galah to a currawong.  A stunning repertoire.  I delight in it’s on-going call and the versatility of it’s voice.  All around us we can see the scratchings of the lyrebird, nothing fresh.  It’s ever elusive.  Lyrebird scratchings are accompanied by wombat poo.  We’ve noticed that the wombats like to poo on top of things.  So you’ll find a nice little pile on top of a log or a rock.  Very neat.

DSC_0283.JPG While the walk up the steep incline had tried our legs, the walk down now tries our balance.  The rocky areas are fine, as we grapple with lowering ourselves down, but the woodland path is downright dangerous.  Many years of leaf litter, twigs and shale make the downward journey very slippery, it’d be even harder if there was any rain! We stagger our way down, trying to keep our balance, and some how manage to get to the picnic ground without falling all the way over.


Our legs are worn out and aching as we quickly take our hiking boots off, change into a dry shirt.  For all our hard work, we enjoy a really good cup of coffee and a mixed berry muffin each.

As we drive away from the mountain, a cloud descends upon the top.  There are no other clouds in the sky.



Michael takes great photos, the photos are all his work, check out the whole gallery.

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Aug 16

For the first time in many years, I’ve taken a four week break.

Michael and I considered many places to go, but in the end we decided on Mallacoota, in Victoria’s East Gippsland. [map:,+Victoria&hl=en&sll=-37.89892,145.054146&sspn=0.009939,0.01929&vpsrc=0&z=11]

14th August

Our first stop was at Metung, about half way to Mallacoota, we stopped at a delightful one bedroom flat called Pelican Perch.  We got in at about 4.00 p.m., unpacked and then took a walk along the board walk into Metung, about a twenty minute stroll along the edge of Bancroft Bay.  The water was pretty murky and for reason unknown there were a few bales of hay in the water.  Probably washed in by recent floods.

We walked passed Legend Rock,a plaque on the wall retells the local Aboriginal story of how greed will be punished1. When the fisherman didn’t share their catch with their dogs,

Legend Rock

Legend Rock - photo by John O'Neil

despite have more than enough, the women turned them into stone. Of course, in true Australian style, there is only one rock left, the others were in they way so they have been destroyed.

We walked into Metung, made a reservation for dinner then walked across to the other side of the narrow peninsula and watched the sun set over Lake King. We watched as a pelican skimmed across the lake so close to the water that it left a little wake as the tips of its wings hovered millimeters above the surface. A helicopter flew over us and seem to land close by, perhaps some sort of emergency we thought.  Alas, it seems the owner simply wanted a drink at the pub and flew in to land right next to it!  In the twilight we walked back to Pelican Perch to collect the car and then drive back into Metung for dinner.  We didn’t really fancy walking back in the dark!

Dinner was at Bancroft Bites, a wonderful little cafe with plenty of atmosphere and some funky music.  Duck for Michael and a steak for me.  Yummy.  We spoke briefly with a couple who were visiting from England. He was up for a chat, telling us about his trip and drive from Canberra to Metung, before heading off to the Great Ocean Road.  I like chatting with travelers, it’s good value.

15th August

Next morning we packed up and headed towards Mallacoota, a further 3 hour drive.  Stopping at a few of the towns along the way, through Lakes Entrance (which I’m sure is the best way to do Lakes Entrance) stopping in Orbost for a bite to eat at a local cafe.

We arrived at Mallacoota by about 3.30.  Our accommodation looks out over the Bottom Lake with the Howe Ranges in the background and Rabbit Island just off shore. The place is cozy enough, the view is nice and it’s so quiet!

We discovered the joys of rented accommodation, there’s a nice looking fire-box, loading with wood, but no matches to light it.  There’s a selection of tools to cook with but no can opener, there’s a wonderful array of crockery but no wineglass in sight.

  1. Check out the story on Wikipedia
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Jul 01


My name is Gregory Storer. You will probably call me Greg, I prefer Gregory, but you know what, whatever works for you. My preferences are often overlooked because they’re just too hard for people to deal with. At times I introduce myself as Gregory, other times as Greg. It’s hard to work it out in my own head.

Today I took part in a baby shower. Isn’t that great. One of the women at work is having a baby and we all celebrate. I can only wish her all the best.

We do it a lot, celebrating the important events in peoples lives. It’s all so normal. We celebrate the engagement, the marriage, the conception and the birth of children. We then celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and other major events in peoples lives.

I don’t have a problem with any of that. I celebrate too.

But, then, I’m not so normal. I don’t have a wife any more, I do have children, but they are adults. Some people like to tell me that I’m gay. Ok, let’s go with that. I don’t think you need to define my sexual preferences, because that’s what it means when you say I’m gay. It means I have sex with men. And you know what, that makes you feel uncomfortable. To be perfectly blunt, I have anal intercourse. Most people don’t even want to think about it. It’s not all I do, I enjoy a very full and rich sex life. It’s gratifying on so many levels. Deeply gratifying.

This isn’t about sex at all. I just wanted to get that out there. Perhaps you’d like to talk to me about it one day. I’m sure you’ve got questions. But in a polite society we don’t discuss it.

I listened today to a radio broadcast on Joy. The co-presenter said something along the lines of respecting people with religious beliefs. They think homosexuality is wrong, and I need to show respect to them.

You know what? I don’t respect them. You know why I don’t respect them? Because they don’t respect me, not even slightly. If they did they would remove the offending verses from the bible that refer to me as an abomination. They would remove the verses that call for my death. Don’t pretend that they don’t exist. Don’t pretend that they don’t matter, and don’t ever tell me that it’s about my actions and not about me. This is deeply personal. A large part of the community thinks I’m an abomination. They may not say so in so many words, but every time someone uses the word gay, fag or poof in a derogatory sense then that hurts me. Every time somebody says that homosexuality is immoral then that hurts me.

This is vilification, and it’s driven by religion, and driven by the horrible words used in a book. All sorts of readers of the book then use it as a weapon to ensure that I can’t live a happy and full life. They calmly sit there and tell me that I have to accept people’s beliefs. Even the Prime Minister uses the bible to defend antiquated notions of marriage and thinks it’s ok. If the bible said that people in wheel chairs where an abomination, would that be ok? If the bible called for death by stoning for adulterers, would that be ok? If the bible called for the death of anyone who worked on a Saturday, would that be ok? Sure, the moderates will say that the institution of marriage needs to be protected to preserve the family. Sure, they’ll say that I can change my sexuality, sometimes they’ll even claim that having a wife and two children is proof that I can change.  The truth of these claims is that it is only driven by the notion that their god said being gay is bad.

I’m here to tell you that I can’t change. I tried and I really got messed up good and proper. Along the way I messed up the lives of some others too. Why did that happen? Because I was trying to be normal. What ever that means.

Would the world be different if the bible (and other religions) made no mention of sexuality?  What reason would you tell me that I couldn’t marry Michael if the words “it is an abomination” didn’t exist?

You know what I want? I want to feel ok about going to a baby shower because I know that people don’t think twice about same sex partners having children.  I want to rejoice in marriage because I can do it too. I want my life to be celebrated too. At the moment there is no celebration because there is no milestone that can be clearly waved around.

I want to walk down the street and hold my partners hand without fear of every shadow that comes up behind me. Without the smirks and raised eyebrows, or worse, those who avert there eyes, coming towards me.

The other night I had dinner with my sister and my partner in Hardware Lane, lovely. When Michael arrived I gave him a kiss and a hug. I do that with some trepidation because people don’t like it and you never know how they’re going to react. Then a friend, a long standing, best mate friend, appeared out of no where. He hugged me and I felt an overwhelming sense of joy at seeming him. But in our world we can’t express that feeling. He’s got a wife, it won’t do for others to think he might be gay. (Although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind)

You want to know why I don’t ask about your partner? Because you’ve got an opposite sex partner. You won’t ask about mine, because it might be awkward. Best to keep it all sort of superficial.

Every time some person makes excuses for the religious types that they are allowed to have their beliefs, then they hurt me. Sure, I defend your right to believe whatever you want, but don’t think you can believe that I’m an abomination and expect that I’ll let you get away with it, because with or without your belief, that’s vilification. When you defend the right of religious people to believe the bible as the word of god, then you defend their right to think I’m immoral, that I have no right to life. You defend their right to hide behind their religion as a way of making it some how more acceptable to harbour hatred and to openly abuse me.

Here’s a challenge for you, what are you doing about marriage equality?  When did you last have the conversation about marriage equality with people who are happily married or the engaged couple?  When did you last raise it as an issue when no gay people are about?  I bet it doesn’t even matter to you unless I happen to be sitting there.  When it comes to that, when did you last ask me about marriage equality?   When did you check in with me to see if I was upset by Julia Gillard suggesting that marriage is between one man and one woman and that’s not going to change?  Did you ask me what I thought about marriage equality in New York?  Did you even hear about it?

My deep and personal thanks to my brothers and sisters, my extended family,  all of those friends of mine that actually care about my life, care about my former wife, care about my partner, Michael, care about my children, care about finding those things that we want to celebrate. The respect you show me is wonderful and I hope to honour you with the same respect.

I celebrate my life with Michael, I celebrate the joy of children.  Thank you for being you.

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