Thanks very much for visiting my website! As I discovered when registering this site with the help of my niece Rowan Mangan, there are lots of Pat Walshes in the world, so it’s nice that you have singled me out, like someone calling out to me in a large crowd. The proliferation of Pat Walshes out there might also be because Patricia can be shortened to Pat, as in the case of my wife Annie’s late mum Pat Keogh. I am, however, a bloke though I confess to once trying to convince Immigration in Jakarta that they shouldn’t expel me for my human rights work because the Pat Walsh on their blacklist was a woman, not me. I failed.
I do not feature in the photo above that introduces this site. But it is a photo about me because it shows where I come from – South Purrumbete in the lakes and craters district of Victoria, Australia.
My brother John, who lives on our original family farm, walked up Mt Porndon with me to take the photo on a typical winter’s day when the sun makes only brief, teasing appearances in the wet grey sky. The water glistening in the distance like a brooch pinned to a cushion of green Irish velvet is Lake Purrumbete, a fresh water volcanic lake, home to red ducks after which a local ale is named and gargantuan fish that lurk in its deep. Mts Leura and Sugarloaf, that guard Camperdown like medieval castles, can be seen in the distance.
Some 300,000 years ago, Mt Porndon gave fiery birth to the Stony Rises, a unique landform of lava flows that stop just short of our farm. Now cut through by the obsolescently named Princes Highway, the Rises shelter tiger snakes, bat caves and bears and are a convenient source of stone for fences and structures like our old tank stand and cowyard. The side roads are buckled and hilly. Kids, riding in the backseat of the car, love the tummy churning excitement of surfing their steep peaks and plunging into the troughs below.
Porndon and Purrumbete are both Aboriginal words. The Djargurd Wurrung people hunted and gathered successfully here for thousands of years but, within ten years of European settlement in 1838, were driven from their land. A column of milking cows, dimly visible in the middle distance of the photo, walk where Aborigines once lived. Displaced from Ireland by famine and colonialism, the Walshes benefitted, probably unwittingly, from the silent genocide in this beautiful place.
As my brothers and sister will attest, I fled the muddy bog of dairy farming as a teenager, encouraged by my mother, to explore the world in places my grandparents never knew or visited, and have never really been back, till now. T.S. Eliot wrote in Little Gidding: ‘We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time’.
This site brings together in one accessible location writings on a range of topics, notably East Timor (aka Timor-Leste), updates on projects in the pipeline, my interests in verse, photography and travelling and some favourite links. I am indebted to John Waddingham, Andrew Brown and Rowan Mangan for their generous technical assistance.