Thursday, October 01, 2015

Blog Closing

Dear Readers,

Please  note that no further items will be posted to this blog. Please subscribe to my web portal for future posts.  My new site address is

Friday, January 30, 2015

Religious Holidays 2015

Religious Holidays 2015: An Interfaith Calendar (Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim And More) (PHOTOS)

We live in a beautiful, diverse world, and almost each day of the year is a sacred time for someone, somewhere. HuffPost Religion is proud to present an interfaith, inclusive religious calendar for nine major world religions: Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, Paganism, Shinto and Sikhism. We hope you will come to this page regularly to learn about the festivals of your religious tradition, as well as your neighbors' traditions.
Please note that Jewish holidays start at sunset and continue until sunset of the next day. Also, due to Islam's use of the lunar calendar, some dates will be confirmed closer to the holiday. If this list does not include your sacred observance, please email with a brief description of the holiday so that we can add it here.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tony's Diamond Jubilee Events

Hear ye, hear ye hear ye!!! On the twenty third day of the second month in the coronation year of 1953 there was born in Baxter House Geelong to Alex and Kath, nine months after their wedding, a son.

And so in this year, 2013 I declare and announce a year of Diamond Jubilee Celebrations for my 60th anniversary of birth. The Jubilee will be celebrated with 60 events over the next 12 months with an invitation to join me in the fun and the fanfare of this milestone.

Dates for future events will be posted as they are announced to include gatherings for breakfasts, dinners, dances, movies, pub crawls, coffees, talks, tours,BBQs, and other such suitable Jubilee festivities.

Jubilee memorabilia will include Certificates of Appreciation and Participation. Copyright free photo opportunities with "Jubilee Man" will also be available at the advertised events.Regular updates will be posted on this page

60 Songs of a Lifetime
Songs and music have been among the most formative experiences of my life. To celebrate this I intend to post 60 songs that have been part of my life journey during the year of my 60th birthday festivities.

Forever Young is a song written by Dylan and sung by Pete Seeger. It captures the wish of every birthday and the passion of my life:  

As friends and supporters gather in Sydney for the Mardi Gras I am reminded that as I was being born in 1953 Perry Como was singing: Keep It Gay! Keep It Gay 

This song  honours the women who have nurtured me over the years and celebrates International Womens Day We Are (Sweet Honey in the Rock)

Each year  we celebrate St Patrick's Day I honour the women who staffed St Patrick's Primary School in Geelong West. They taught me a love of community and choral singing and each year we belted out "Hail Glorious St Patrick" with heartfelt passion for a land we never knew  

Holy Week in the Christian Calendar has inspired much of the religious and spiritual music I love . Many artists have recorded The Lord's Prayer This version from David Fanshawe's African Sanctus remains one of the most haunting and has been part of my musical collection for many years.Our Father 

Gerard Manly Hopkins is one of my favourite English poets.Here is a much loved version of Lead Kindly Light

As a young Church musician I was strongly influenced by the new music coming out of American Catholicism Be Not Afraid

I love Taize music Taize: Misericordias Domini

On Eagles Wings

If You Want Your Dream To Be

Amazing Grace


Christ be Our Light

Stabat Mater

Behold Behold the Wood of the Cross

On The Turning Away

A Russian Resurrection

This song  honors my late mother. Monday April 1 would have been Mum's 86th birthday. My love of music was nurtured by both my parents and so today I add my mother's song to the collection I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen The Fureys

One of the classic comedy songs that featured in the early hit parades of the 1960s. As a special treat check out the other tracks when you play this to see the Bee Gees version of the same song My Old Man's a Dustman Lonnie Donegan

In 1963 I turned 10. As well as reaching "double figures" the year stood out for me in so many ways. Three world leaders passed away: Daniel Mannix, Irish Patriot and Archbishop of Melbourne, Pope John XXIII,Church reformer and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.USA President. The music of that year stood out as the Beatles took over our air waves, J'OK belted out great rock music and Bob Dylan's Blowin In The Wind was popularised by Peter Paul and Mary. Song number eight in my "Sixty Series" is the Bee Gees version of Blowin' In The Wind which was screened on Australian TV in 1963   

This last week of April includes a public holiday for ANZAC Day. My father was a WWII veteran who fought in Borneo and PNG. He never spoke of the horrors he experienced and never marched ion the ANZAC parade. When he died he requested that we did not have the Rising Sun badge on his headstone which was his right as a returned serviceman.I have always been impressed that in my birth town of Geelong our city gardens memorial to deceased service women and men is called a Peace Memorial. Song number nine in this series is Eric Bogle's classic ".The Band Played Waltzing Matilda 

This song  was in the charts in 1963 when I was 10 years old. I was entranced from that time on with the harmonies of Peter, Paul and Mary. This is also one of those songs I had in my early guitar playing days. It remains a classic communal song that fires the imagination of children and the child within of adults. I dare you to listen and not sing-a-long: Puff The Magic Dragon 

This song  celebrates Labour Day and my commitment to unionism.We have had to fight for basic working conditions and dignity in the workplace.The tragic incident in Bangladesh only serves to show the need for unions to protect workers from exploitation.Solidarity Forever Pete Seeger

In 1963 music was rockin all around me but the song that stood out that year when Geelong won the VFL Premiership and stands out today after 7 straight wins in the AFL is the Geelong Football Club theme song

One of the movies from my teen years that has stayed with me is Dr Zhivago with the beautiful Lara's theme, 

 Bridge Over Troubled Waters is my life anthem. I heard it on my local radio station 3GL in Geelong when I was 19 years old. It captured my heart and vision and has been a source of hope and inspiration for my commitment to community.

I grew up in a "short back and sides" family. The Beatles, the Easybeats, the Stones and all my rock heroes had the sort of hair I longed to wear. Then in 1969 the Cowsills released the theme song of the Rock Opera Hair and I had a song that became one of the anthems of my late teens

I belong to the generation that tuned into The Monkees with their mix of sing-a-long lyrics and comedy. RIP Davy Jones (2012) You were my fave Monkee.

Some of these memories are intentional searches on youtube. Today's song was featured in this morning's screening of Songs of Praise. As well as an interview with one of my peacenik mentors, Bruce Kent the program included a clip and interview with Ralph McTell. The Streets of London was another song from my young adults years that helped to form my values and life choices. Come and sing-a-long to change our world

Each year I acknowledge  World Refugee Week. The stories of Refugees and the urgent need to provide a safe haven challenges our global community's political and economic structures. A Refugee is dislocated from home and family. This situation is unbearable when it happens in your own land. Today's song "We Will Go Home" tells of the plight of the Palestinian People with whom I stand in solidarity. 

I have carried a 1970 version of Joan Baez's song book with me over the years. Her life and music have been inspiration and challenge so I look forward to seeing her perfomg live for the first time in my life.This week's song is Joan Baez singing the Leonard Cohen classic: Suzanne:

This  song from the the move One Night the Moon as Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody sing "This Land". 

One of the songs that has inspired my sense of global responsibility is Somos El Barco:We are The boat, we are the sea. I sail in you , you sail in me 

In recent weeks I have taken some time off work for an opportunity to reflect, honour friendships and travel. The song that describes much of my spirituality of holidays is Enya's Pilgrim. A wonderful sound from my Celtic origins with lyrics that speak to the soul of life:

From early childhood I have loved and joined choirs. Choral music embraces both classic and contemporary sound which have taken me from great concert halls to local parks. As with many of my generation, Beethoven's 9th was popularized in the text of the Ode to Joy. This version from Osaka is simply glorious. Watch the conductor in full flight.

As we celebrate Seniors Week I think back to the old 33s in my Dad's record collection which included Vera Lynne\s version of When I Grow to Old to Dream. As a Muppets Fan I just love this version with the great Linda Ronstatdt. 

In my teens I had a conversion experience that took me to the streets protesting against the Vietnam War. When Redgum released their iconic song I Was Only 19 I knew I had made the right decision to stand against the imperial powers that would take our country to war. Today the Masters of War would have us armed and invading Syria. A new generation needs to hear this song again. Thanks to The Herd we now have a hip hop version that carries the power of the original 

Bobby Darin was a great American performers and I have just discovered his version of "Simple Song of Freedom". Many of the songs have gathered for this collection are songs that speak of peace and justice. This song from 1969 speaks to us today as we face the thereat of another USA invasion in the Middle East. In Australia we have just elected a government to whom I am unable to give endorsement or loyalty as a citizen. We need to sing a simple song of freedom: 

September 21 is the International Day of Peace. In 1969 John Lennon wrote the anthem, Give Peace a Chance. Popular youth culture had a dream and a language that challenged the war chants of Washington,London and Canberra. As a young man growing up in Geelong I was always struck by the fact that we had a Peace Memorial building to remember the fallen in wars. The call to Give Peace a Chance hasn't diminished in urgency or volume since Lennon first sang it for us 

Monday, April 23, 2012

An ANZAC Challenge

As the dawn breaks on Wednesday April 25 I will rise and remember the  the 500th. anniversary of Julian Assange being detained without charge and  Bradley Manning  jailed for 700 days without trial.

I will remember the witness of peace activists who have stood in court docks and served in prison to preserve my freedom.

I will remember
Members of the Society of Friends
Members of the Catholic Worker Movement
Mennonite Friends
Members of Pace e Bene
Members of Pax Christi
Christina Peacemakers
Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers
Palestinians for Peace and Democracy

I will remember my Dad a WW11 veteran who never marched in an ANZAC parade and carried the horrible memories of his experience to his grave in a silence that seemed to  haunt him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On beginning my 60th Year

Tony with his parents Alex and Kath at three weeks!
This week I celebrate the beginning of a new era as I begin my 60th year with my 59th Birthday History was being made all around me in  1953: , Perry Como released "Keep It Gay". The VFL footy season saw Geelong and Collingwood play off in an historic Grand Final  win to the "pies"  Dag Hammarskjold took office as the second Secretary General of the United Nations and of course in the UK  they put on the best bit of post war pomp and circumstance for the coronation of Elizabeth II.

It's a time of thanksgiving, of celebration and an opportunity to look to the future.I acknowledge the ownership and pay my respects to the Indigenous Peoples of Australia whose land is my birthland..

It's a time of humble gratitude to my parents and family who nurtured me in safety and love .It is a time to acknowledge that I carry the story of previous generations from another land.It is a time to wonder at the unknown diversity of those who have gone before me carrying the family names of Robertson and Tracey.

I've packed a fair bit into 59 years and there are still mountains to climb and deserts to cross in the challenges that the future offers. Relationships  are at the core of my life. I carry around a growing collection of photographs of people who have shared my life as family, friends, companions and visitors. Since moving to Brisbane I have kept a guest book which tells wonderful stories in many languages of coffee, port and  hospitality in the shared households

In the past 59 years I have lived in:
2 Countries; Australia,  Papua New Guinea
3 States Victoria New South Wales, Queensland
12 Postcodes: 4103 3169 3066 3065 2040 4122 3215 3051 2761 3011 4101 3218
Terrace House
Mission Station
I have travelled with 7 airlines: TAA, Ansett, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Virgin Blue, Jetstar, Telair

The photos taken of me over 59 years tell a story as well. My toothy grin at primary school is still my trademark. Family photos from school days, and gatherings show my parents' preference for convention. There are no photos of the gear I bought for myself as a pretty flamboyant teenager. ( I still miss my bright red shirt with puffed sleeves and it's long collar) My own photo collection includes the  variety of hair styles, travel, and people from all sorts of backgrounds who have challenged, hugged, fed and inspired me. Above my desk I have two family shots, one taken for my parents 40th wedding anniversary of us kids and the last photo I took of my Father with Mum and a few of my friends from PNG who were visiting Geelong during a scout jamboree. On the wall is one of  my favourite shots which I took in Oxford Street Sydney back in the 90's with one of the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence in animated conversation with some  locals... my straight family and my gay family watching over me as I work here at the keyboard!!

The learnings of 60 years come in the usual packaging of joys and hopes, grief and anguish....not in equal servings thank heavens. The joys and hopes have far outweigh the grief and anguish. The reality of middle age came home to me recently in the Boundary Hotel in West End when two young guys in an animated conversation turned to me and said "let's ask the old fella"!!! The responsibility of middle age awes me with the trust of young people and the wonderful families who have "adopted" me as a surrogate uncle and brother. The  pain of middle age is realising that the body can't do all the great physical things it once did...well not at the same speed!!

My passion in middle age is to challenge the remnants of prejudice  homophobia and racism that I inherited from my cultural environment. My education, religion and family life were supportive and nurturing,  however they were not able to support my sexuality as a gay youth and young adult; They sheltered me from the reality of the exploitation of the Indigenous peoples of my country and they blinded me to structural power that men and women continue to use in political and religious systems.

In many ways I have made an intentional choice to be "alternative" in my lifestyle. Part of this choice is forced by my sexuality, part is chosen in my living as a  "Community Jester" a role that allows me to use humour and a love of the eccentric to challenge many conventions that keep people in "Little Boxes".