Location: Robinvale, Victoria
Date: March 2004
Last Sunday (7th March 2004) my partner and I were camping on the south bank of the Murray River in NW Victoria a few 10s of kilometres SE of Robinvale.
We stayed in the one spot for four days and had a great time, my elder son and his girlfriend were with us and camping about 2k downstream, joining us for meals and much of the day.
Our campsite was in a state forest with low to medium density bush and about 8k away from the nearest habitation, a farmhouse. The forest was very dry with a lot of fallen branches and leaves on the ground. It is the second time we have camped in this forest the first time being about six months ago.
I have spent many, many nights in the bush/deserts all across Australia and the world (probably 50% of those nights by myself) and am familiar with the night noises and animals of such places.
Sunday (by chance a very bright full moon) was our last night camping before returning to Melbourne on the Monday. My partner retired to bed around 10pm in our see-through mozzie screen tent and promptly fell asleep; I followed about 30 minutes later and was asleep within five minutes.
I think it was about 3.30am when I awoke from a deep sleep - I was instantly wide awake and knew what had awakened me, I was not surprised to find my partner was also awake, she was sitting up in bed and looking around at the forest.
We were both listening to the loud and unmistakable sound of a heavy biped moving through the forest towards our camp and, at a guess, no more than 100m away. I listened and looked for a further 5 or 10 seconds using the bright moonlight to try and see the creature walking across the forest floor on the dry twigs and leaves. I could see nothing but I sure as hell could hear it. Two feet, crunching the forest underfoot as they moved. I pulled on my shorts, left the tent and put on my shoes, the footsteps were still loudly approaching but nothing was to be seen.
I decided to hide in the shadow of a large tree about 10m away, as I moved towards the tree I made quite a lot of noise on the dry leaves and by the time I reached the shadow of the tree the sound of the approaching footsteps had ceased. I waited for about 3 minutes and neither saw or heard anything. I moved the few metres across to the camp, placed a chair in deep shadow and waited silently for about 45 minutes. The only sounds were those of the normal night noises of the forest. I returned to bed and slept lightly for the balance of the night, my partner had fallen asleep before my return.
During the night my partner and I had not exchanged a single word about the incident, we both knew we sensed danger and took appropriate measures to protect ourselves so there was no influence or suggestion from one to the other yet in the morning we were in 100% agreement about what had happened and what our perception of the noise was.
As an electronics design engineer I've not given to making assumptions without having creditable evidence and I offer none here; but I can think of no creature which could tramp through a dry forest and then, suddenly, disappear without trace, surely an animal would either have fled when it heard/smelled me and I would have heard it's flight through the bush or it would have frozen for a time and then cautiously moved away and I would have heard it during my 45 minute wait and with such a bright moon that night I probably would have seen it too.
I would return to this location to camp but I suspect I will never sleep there as soundly as before.
I would be interested to hear of experiences others may have had of a similar ilk.
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