I was hiking through the bushland, I’m no bush walker, I don’t even like nature that much but I’d been fishing down on the edge of Lake Sandsmith and some rotten low life prick stole all my gear while I was relieving myself in a nearby bush. I may not be a bear but even I have to go in the bush if I spend too many hours on the lake bank. It was coming back from that tinkle that this story started.
I had just ducked under a low hanging branch and stepped over a log laying on the ground when I stood upright and looked hopefully down to rivers edge to see if there was anything taking the bait on my line. It was at that time that I realised two things, there was no fish, and no fishing gear. There was also no fishing chair, no esky full of beer and the 60cm flathead I caught (honestly, it was <--------------- this --------> big), no bait and no fishing basket.
Despite coming out of the bush exactly where I wanted to be I looked left and right in quick succession, almost as if I was expecting my gear to have just got up and gone for a walk while my back was turned. Of course it hadn’t, well if it had it had walked out of site and I didn’t think I’d been gone that long. No it was plainly obvious to me that my gear hadn’t walked away by itself it had been stolen.
I stepped up to the area where my fishing seat had been, the rod holder I’d been leaning my fishing rod on was only a few metres away, apparently a stick in the ground is not worth stealing. I looked around the immediate area, I was no sleuth but even I could follow clues. The first thing I noticed was foot prints.
“Aha, my first clue. Footprints an obvious sign that someone had come into my little fishing hole and stolen everything.” I thought and immediately started to follow the footprints.
I’m no He-man, no muscle bound beefcake, no body builder and no martial arts expert, I’m just an average guy, I had no idea what I was going to do when I found the prick who stole my gear but I was going to find him, or her, or it.
Looking downward as I walked, I followed the footprints in the soft dirt. They started off heading to the right of my fishing spot, there was a well formed track there which looked like it had been trodden on a million times by other keen anglers heading further up stream. The dirt of the path was also dry and soft and I could still make out the footprints so I followed them. About five metres into the trees the foot prints to a right turn and headed straight into the bush. The trees were low but easily traversable so I kept my head down and followed the footprints.
Less than a minute later I came to a stop, just in front of me was a wet puddle of dark dirt. It was at that moment I realised I’d followed my own foot prints directly too the spot where I’d relived myself. I laughed at myself as I made my way back to the water’s edge.
Strangely enough as I stepped out from the trees for a second time I half expected to see my gear sitting there, I have no idea why that thought was in my head but it was. Disappointed, well not really, I returned to the foot prints and decided they had no more information to offer me.
Not wanting to give up, admit defeat and most of all lose my fishing gear I decided to go for a walk along the path and see if I could find anyone else. I didn’t hold out much hope, the bank was a very popular fishing spot on weekends but during week days there was very few anglers gracing it’s shores.
Heading along the path I immediately resisted the urge to follow my own footsteps for a second time, then low and behold the bloodhound in me picked up another clue. Well another pair of footprints and the best part about these ones was they weren’t mine, I knew that straight off.
I followed the path, the dirt was dry and dusty and each step puffed up a little cloud of dust around the toes of my boots, but I kept my head down and eyes on the foot prints. Strangely enough while I was walking along the path with my initial thoughts of finding other anglers on the bank I didn’t once consider the foot prints I was following could belong to them, nope in my detective like mind I was follow the prick who stole my gear.
I’d been walking for nearly twenty minutes, seen no one, seen no sign of anyone and seen no sign of my gear, I was getting quiet frustrated. The foot prints had stopped long ago but for some reason I didn’t, I just kept walking and watching the puffs of dust at my feet. Strangely enough my concentration on the dust at my feet even ensured that as the path left the lake’s edge I didn’t even notice it and by the time I did look up I was completely surrounded by trees, I couldn’t even hear the lapping of the water on the bank I’d moved that far away from the water.
It was at that moment I saw something glimmer through the trees ahead of me. Once again my detective mind kicked in and off I went to investigate. Within a minute I was standing at in front of a wooden cabin.
“Someone’s fishing retreat.” I thought to myself, not even thinking about that fact that for that to be true meant I’d inadvertently wandered onto private land. Even if someone held a gun to my head I would have suggested there was no private land in the area I’d been fishing, but I also knew people were not permitted to build log cabins on Crown land. I would have been really confused if I could think of something other and finding my fishing gear.
There appeared to be no one around, there was no noises, no smoke in the chimney, no cars, nothing to indicate anyone was present. Because I’d recently come to the conclusion that my fishing gear didn’t get up and walk away by itself, which meant someone was somewhere, I decided to walk up to the door and knock too see if anyone answered.
As I approached the cabin I took in more details. The cabin was your standard log cabin in the bush, if there is such a thing as standard, it was made of logs and it was in the bush. I couldn’t see the rear of it but on the front I could see two windows with a door in between them. There was a verandah that ran the full width of the building covering the entire porch and on the porch there was two rocking chairs separated by a rickety old wooden table with three legs. Looking down the right hand side of the cabin I could partially see what appeared to be another three rooms, if each room had one window.
The closer I got the more anxious I became, I wasn’t scared, I was just an anxious fisherman looking for his gear. I stepped up onto the porch, both steps creaked as they took my weight and I realised that any hope of a quiet approach was hopeless. Standing in front of the door I hesitated slightly but regained my nerve and knocked on the door with three hard raps.
Although my knocks were hard I honestly didn’t think they were hard enough to make the door swing on it’s hinges but sure enough that’s exactly what the door did. If the door had swung open any slower I think I’d have fallen asleep watching it but I didn’t instead I just watched on, eyes focused on the door handle because I wasn’t sure what else to look at.
When the door was fully open and had stopped swinging I forced myself to look up. The cabin was dark but light was streaming through the open blinds on at least some of the windows leaving me just enough brightness to see into the middle of the cabin.
I let my eyes adjust to the new light and then I saw it right in the middle of the cabin floor.