Stretching an additional half an hour from the twilight seems perfectly reasonable when your world is a constant stream of other people’s needs.
My wonderful husband has the three little people well entertained back at the Daintree Forest Retreat. There was no need for a second invitation to take an hour or so for myself.
Coffee at this time will certainly keep me awake, hang it all, that precious moment on the beachside cafe was priceless.
I take another liberty before reconnecting with my family and pull into a rainforest eco-walk that I spied on the drive out.
It has since closed and I wonder if the boardwalk will be locked, fortunately there is a little honesty box at the open gate.
As I step onto the damp, moss stained planks I am reminded of the brilliance of Mother Nature, she lures me in and I become transfixed with her rhythm. With the calls of birds so many and varied, the shrill resonating chirrup of cicadas and the guttural choir of frogs, none of which I can see. They are hidden in the depths of the forest’s arms, entwined in thickets of ancient and primordial flora.
I have heard of the ancient fairies of our tales and folklores as being timeless creatures. My own gypsy heritage is without confines of time, and again in that brilliant state of motherhood, with that newborn infant nestling into the bosom - there is only dark and light, day and night.
Here I am hypnotised with the sounds, smells and wisdom of this place. I am timeless.
At some point my focus is drawn away from this marvelous place by the distinct sensation of another person nearby. Not far behind me. My streetwise nature overrides the pleasant sensation of harmony with that of alarm and personal safety.
As I turn, careful not to appear alarmed, sluggish enough to catch a potential assailant off-guard and force a standard introduction I am surprised to see no-one in sight.
Just a long line of boardwalk planks stretching out into the distance.
The dim and set darkness of my surroundings surprises me. It seems only moments ago I entered this place, just a few seconds ago I was admiring the emerald green, and yet now all is in shades of grey, with just the slightest fluorescence ascending from nearby foliage.
I again become aware I am not alone.
A feeling of overwhelming eeriness creeps it way up my spine and elongates the length of my arms, leaving distinct goosebumps in its place.
The fact that I have no idea how far I have walked, and thus have no idea how long it will take me to get back to the relative safety of my car, leaves me dangling on the precipice of panic.
I take a breath, calm myself, and take slow deliberate steps back towards the car park.
Running, screaming like a banshee, or falling into a state of ridiculous hyperventilating all seem like inappropriate options right now.
So I steady my feet and just keep walking.
I offer apologies within my heart and soul, to this magical place for being so weak a character that I could not amble through her decorative skirts oblivious to danger. I feel shamed at my human fear, and wish myself a being of the forest, able to glide about freely.
My own, Earthbound family, and the tenacity with which I love them, keeps me alert, aware, and grounded. I am eager to return to them, to safety.
All the while the eerie sensation of someone behind me grows stronger. They are so close I can feel their breath. There are more than one there now, many, from all directions, all behind me. There and not there in unison. I glance freely behind me and each time my eyes make out nothing but the path stretching out endlessly.
I consider myself fortunate to have studied some detail of our Indigenous culture, and even more so to have come to know several Indigenous families well. To really know them, as close, personal, family friends.
I have been associated with the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg for seven years now, I have a limited but decent understanding of their ways and powerful ancestry.
Shortly after I turned my feet back towards the entrance and gate I realised the people with me were the custodians of the land. By all rights this should have given me great comfort, and yet I sensed that I was very much an intruder on their patch and most unwelcome.
Perhaps they can not tell I am a friendly Migaloo, at one with the forest. Maybe even in the spirit world it is impossible to distinguish a racist aggressor from a peaceful passerby. Possibly these rich and endowed entities of the forest don’t care who I am at all.
I don’t belong. I am not one of them, and I am on their turf.
All the while I treat the scenario in the same way that I would if I were being followed by a ‘flesh and bone’. I walk careful, balanced, steady paces. I push the desire to cry out way down in my diaphragm from whence it wishes to project. And I hope like heck that these spirits will let me leave without interaction.
As I become close enough to the still open gate to feel confident that I will be allowed safe passage back to my own small tribe I turn back to the forest and address the spirits nearby. “I thank you for allowing me this time, to visit your place. I leave you wishing blessings and harmony.”
There is no reply other than a forest echo that has changed slightly in key and pitch, appropriate to the shift change between day creatures and nocturnal.
The ancestors are gone. With them goes the eerie, otherworldly sensations which already, I miss.