Swimming With Crocodiles

Let him live under the open sky, and dangerously--Horace

Gratefully we put down our packs as light drained from the gorge. The mahogany stone and green leaves slowly became a semblance of red, blue and black dots and the pink river of sky running between the top edges of the cliffs turned purple and filled with stars. The sound of flapping wings in the trees below began suddenly – a mystical sound, like a bird caught in a spider’s web. Geoff’s eyes widened but he did not speak and neither of us moved. What birds are active at night in the Kimberley? Only one: I had heard the curlew, a bird with a long mournful cry like a sob after dark. But this was not the sound of a curlew. The flapping sounded almost like black flying foxes. But the sounds were different, and not accompanied by the high chattering shrieks and whines of the flying fox. As I listened the strange noise stopped, only to be replaced by what sounded like someone throwing large rocks. Feral donkeys making their way down the gorge? At night? Not possible. But what?

For the second time that day the hair rose on the back of my neck and fear trumpeted itself in the suddenly very conspicuous thump of my heart on the cliff ledge. Something was out there. Something with great power. Something that could move through the dark shadow of the canyon with ease and stealth.

Man was in the starlight shadows of Oralee Creek, invisible to my eyes...

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