Green Point, NSW Australia
Back then I lived about an hour’s drive north of Sydney on the New South Wales Central Coast. The suburb is called Green Point, and my house sat peacefully among others, at the foot of a mountain reserve called Kincumber Mountain. I signed over the house to my ex-wife when we split.
Back then, my job as an animator with Disney was in the heart of Sydney. The commute was two hours from door to door, each way. I had it all planned out: I needed to arrive at work early each morning so I could leave early in the afternoon. This would give me two hours to get home and disappear up into the forest for a few hours. I’d take nothing with me but a bottle of water and I’d arrive home at around 8 or 9pm. That was my routine for several years.
To be there in the forest at dusk, just listening to the creatures stirring and emerging from their holes is something I miss terribly. I usually left the track and walked into the thick scrub to explore, careful not to break anything or make too much noise. Often it was a bit of a challenge to find my way back to the track in the darkness.
One of the most enduring images I have of the place is from one particular evening, when I noticed a wall of thick fog gliding silently but very quickly through the trees towards me. It was simply a cloud moving over the mountain. Quite suddenly, the birds in the trees and the rustling in the grass seemed to stop and I just watched in amazement as this white wall came through devouring the forest, and me along with it. It’s not just the sight, but the whole experience that I long to have again.
Over the years a few things happened in that forest that occasionally come back and make me think. Some of them were perfectly normal things like the fog, but others were, to put it simply, a bit weird.
One particular evening I started a walk down into a low part of the forest where I hadn’t been before. It was a bit of a battle to get through the thorny scrub without breaking anything or getting scratched, but I descended into a small rocky clearing that had a little running stream. The water was only ankle-deep, and the rocks either side were covered with the thickest and softest moss I’ve ever seen. It was a nice place to rest, so I sat there and listened, pulling twigs out of my socks.
From where I sat, the stream trickled away from me and disappeared over a sharp drop, beyond which I could hear falling water. After a while I got up and went to the edge. I was surprised to see that the drop was about 8 feet and the water fell into a small sandy pool at the bottom. It was getting darker now and I knew that soon it would be difficult to see my way, but I climbed down the rock face using tree roots as hand and foot-holds.
I explored the area a bit, and it was one of the nicest little spots I’d seen there. I knew I’d like to come back, but the darkness was closing in so I decided to start home. I was about to climb back up when I heard a little rustling in the undergrowth, somewhere behind me. I hadn’t come across much wildlife as yet, so I decided to investigate. The rustling was accompanied by a grunting, snorting sound and after a little stalking, I saw an echidna. A few dead leaves were impaled on his spikes, which made me think he’d been rolling around in the undergrowth. He was minding his own business, turning over pieces of dead wood with his long nose and didn’t notice me, so I spent a few minutes just watching him eat ants and other insects.
Finally I decided that I really should get moving, the failing light was making it more difficult to see and I had a long way to go, uphill and through bramble and bracken in the dark. From where I had been watching the echidna, I had been standing on a fallen log that resembled a little footbridge over the stream. I looked down to watch my footing when suddenly I saw something in the wet sand that made me stop dead.
It was a tiny footprint, about the size of a two year-old child’s. At first I thought that this random depression in the sand looked a bit like a little footprint, but as I crouched closer I could see that this wasn’t random. This was a footprint, very real and very well defined to the point that I could see the chubbiness of each toe.
I stood up and held my breath, looking and listening around me, wondering if there could be a little child lost way down here in this part of the woods. Surely I’d hear something if there were, the footprint looked very fresh to me. I scanned the sand around for more prints, but there were none. The one print was very close to the water in the wettest part of the sand, which is probably why it was so defined, but it was the only one.
I wasn’t too concerned with getting back before dark, that night. I was more interested to see if there were little people in this untouched, deepest part of a suburban forest. For a while I regretted not having a camera on hand, but now I’m glad I didn’t. I would like to revisit the place one day though.