Who’s afraid of the forest at night?

Certainly not us!

The van rattles along the forest track as we look for our camp. A little black cat asleep in the back, and me, gripping the wheel. Ahead on the trail I see a strange looking stick. As we approach I see the patterning of a diamond python resting in the sun cleared of the towering gums – just a little’n, maybe a metre.

If a snake has a neck it’s a python, and if it’s a python it’s not venomous. Still, I take out my zoom lens and get some snaps at a distance.

Now, we aren’t going anywhere with this guy in the middle of our path, so I gently tickle it’s tummy with a stick as it slides off into the forest and we carry on our way.

It’s halloween night and it’s time to get into our costumes. Willow has a hoodie with bear ears, oh how cute she looks! And clearly I’m an ‘itinerant traveller’ with flipflops and a $2 Dimmies tshirt.

The forest is alive with the chorus of the night as we walk deeper into the forest to see if some trick-or-treating can be had. There are no houses out here but maybe there are some other campers.

At a junction I take the track with a white marker stapled to a tree as Willow follows closely. I think how nice and warm the night is as we wander along. I kneel down to take a thorn out of my flipflop and when I stand up she is gone.

‘Willow! Willow!’, I scream as the air around me stales and the night chorus silences.

I hold my breath as the feeling of cold leather slides around my ankle. Without the bravery to look down I kick, and I run.

I run, I run, I run. And the air feels thicker and colder as I race through it. I see the vines in the understory wrapping their way around the now contorted gums, and the ferns now bow their fronds. My head-torch lights the sandy road and the darkness holds every bad thought imaginable.

I am spent and fall to the ground by the white marker. As I’m ready to give up I hear the night chorus recommence and the air warms. And onto my chest jumps a little black cat.

‘Willow!.. where is your hoodie?’ I pick her up and we run back to the van locking the doors. We are safe now.

Willow settles and as I’m making the bed I move my pillow to the side.

What I see there leaves me in a cold sweat. It’s her hoodie.. 🙀

Okay… I have to be honest, some parts of this story were made up! However, the young diamond python was real and I’m so happy I got a good pic of it. The rest of the story… well that’s for you to decide!

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