The Egan’s Greenway is an unexpected jungle in the middle of smoke-belching industry and deckchair tourism. The mundane sounds of traffic are deafened by the furious chatter of cicadas – enormous insects that seem prehistoric. Their strange call is like the sound of angry water sprinklers, growing louder and faster until it reaches an alarming tempo, then abruptly stops.
At first light the Greenway is sharply divided into light and dark. The dense, impenetrable forests are still cool – the trees in muted greens – but out on the marsh the grass is alight with fiery golds and oranges. Naked trees poke the sky with sharp limbs white as bone, while beside them sway lush evergreens. It is a land of stark contrast, a spectrum of vitality and decay. Time passes here with the tick of the cicadas.
The day warms up, throwing a shimmer onto the surface of the creek. Here there be dragons, some cruising between reeds on transparent wings, others scrambling up trees with long claws. A flash of movement and then a disappearing act, they blend seamlessly into their surroundings. Just a flick of the beady eye will give them away, and then they will shoot off into the undergrowth.
Other beasts can be found higher up. Perched on the skeleton fingers are ospreys, scanning the creek in every direction. One takes to the air and its mate follows. Together they wheel in deep circles, overlapping in smooth figures of eight. A wood stork, large enough to be unfazed by the raptors, joins their sky with dark wings barely flapping.
Then, a real dinosaur. A creature that survived what forty-metre sauropods could not, almost unchanged for millions of years. This one is only small, an arm’s length perhaps, but even so it floats beneath the water’s surface with the stealth of an adult, startling green eyes always watching. A glance away and back again and it has disappeared, moving across the creek without a sound.
Where is mum? Perhaps it is best not to stay and find out.