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Special N.04 – The Herbarium Tales

Old Man Banksia

by Luke Patterson

here is the wind
that brings life to the flower
cream yellow

				                                 chalky cliffs resembling 
				                                   those of old england

inflorescence bees and honey
honey-eaters perch
antiquities lumpy bark

				                                an opening appearing 
				                                  like a harbour

this ardent sentry guards
a roughened coast 
weathered autochthonous  

				                                the appearance 
				                                  of highest fertility

the flower golden 
browns the myth that nature
conspires against us

				                                our boat proceeded 
				                                 along shore

seed in a bunker
wailing for fire singing
for rain elementary 

				                               in the distance 
				                                 small smoke rising
This specimen was collected in 1973 from a small tree, approximately 3-4m high with yellowish-grey flowers growing on Gweagal land.

Herbarium specimen images were provided by The National Herbarium of New South Wales.

The poetry film ‘Old Man Banksia’ was first shown at the Edinburgh Festival’s House of Oz, which showcased the diversity and vibrancy of Australian arts and creativity from 5-29 August, 2022.

‘Old Man Banksia’ was filmed by Steph Vajda on Gubbi Gubbi land.

Interview with Luke

This film project was generously supported by AIATSIS and produced by Luke Patterson in collaboration with Steph Vajda, Dan Baebler and Sam Watson of Article One.

Italicised lines from the poem are drawn from the diaries of Joseph Banks (accessed at

Published: August 2022
Luke Patterson

is a Gamilaroi poet, musician and educator living on Gadigal lands. His poetry has appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Plumwood Mountain Journal, Rabbit Poetry, Running Dog and The Suburban Review. Luke is currently a Wheeler Centre Next Chapter fellow and Sydney Review of Books Juncture fellow for 2022. His research and creative pursuits are grounded in extensive work with First Nations and other community-based organisations across Australia.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.