The Silent Warriors


You know those days? The ones where there is a whirlwind happening around you, and all you can hope to do is to remain as grounded as possible amidst all the chaos?

I had one of those days on Monday. I have just sold a beautiful beachside unit that I’ve owned for almost half of my life, and I made the trip to Caloundra to pack up my handful of personal belongings that were still left there. It was a journey down memory lane, revisiting a time long-gone when that was my forever home. 

It was important for me to grab a moment of peace amidst the storm. I sat on the verandah, soaking in the ocean view, knowing I’d never again see this particular view. Then the removalists arrived at exactly the same time as the cleaners, and the chaos began.

I bid a heartfelt farewell to a much-loved home, the boxes all got loaded up, and we made our way to Brisbane. The plan? To store everything short-term at my Brisbane home, which is also being sold.

So here we are….the huge removalists’ truck is squeezed down the narrow driveway at the side of the property. At the very end of the driveway is a tiny red-doored shed.


I opened the shed….and while I was standing in it, waiting to show the removalists where to put the boxes, I heard this strange sound. 

My first thought was “Bird!”. I could hear the sound coming from the wall of the old shed. Logic stepped in, and said, “It must be a bird’s nest somewhere here”. So I scoured the rafters and the 10cm gap under the roofline, but there were no nests there.

Then I heard the sound again! How strange? It was much lower down than I’d realised, and it was coming from behind a pile of screens and boxes.

Could it be a bird’s nest on the ground?

The sound was a little tortured. I had this moment’s image of a snake hidden behind the boxes, eating a bird.

Do you ever have that experience where your imagination runs amuck? It takes a sound, and in the absence of any other plausible explanation, it concocts a most unlikely story around it? That’s exactly what happened for me.

I envisaged this snake leaping up, grabbing a bird in mid-air and devouring it on the floor of the garage.

Why a snake? Well, a snake had been seen 2 years earlier going into this shed…so it was remotely plausible that this was one of its hidey holes, and it could (just possibly) be lying in wait behind these boxes.

What to do? I decided to ask the removalists for help with moving the boxes so we could find the source of the strange sound. But at that moment, other things distracted me….and the next thing I knew, the removalists had finished and were driving off down the street, and I had completely forgotten about the noise. 

And I would have left without checking for the source of the noise, except that at that very moment I realised I’d forgotten to give the removalists the drop sheets to cover over everything. So I grabbed some drop sheets from my car, and began draping them over the boxes and mattress.

And that’s when I heard it again. The sound! 

Curiosity wasn’t going to let me rest without finding out what was making that sound. It sure did sound like a bird. And it clearly hadn’t been strangled by a snake, because it was still moving. 

Bit by bit, I moved the boxes out of the way. Behind two very heavy boxes was a wire door frame, and behind that were about 6 window screens. One by one, everything was moved away. 

And that’s when I saw it - there, on the floor, was a furry black tail.

“Cat????” was my next thought. It must be a cat with a black tail! A tiny cat!

I crouched down to get a better look, but it wasn’t a cat. It was a young brushtail possum.


She wasn’t yet fully grown, and she gave me this frightened look, like a child who's been caught with her hand in the cookie jar and nowhere to run and hide. She had been tearing into a narrow cardboard box that was sitting behind all the screens and making a little nest for herself. 

My heart absolutely broke when I saw this. Firstly, with wonder at this beautiful little creature who sat timidly before me. But more, because of the plight that so many of our possums and other native animals find themselves in.

As a wildlife rescuer myself, I remember being called out to a possum rescue in my local area a couple of years ago. There, I found a mother brushtail possum with a little baby on her back, and she was living in the bend of a downpipe. That was her nest. And every time it rained, she and her baby would be drenched.

Many of our local possums are developing severe dermatitis due to the stress they are experiencing with finding suitable habitat to live in and shelter.

And here is this little possum I met on Monday, living in the middle of dense suburbia and trying to create a home for herself amidst my discarded cardboard boxes, because there is nowhere else that she can shelter.

What's the moral of this story? It's this...

We are the voice for the voiceless.
We are the voice for the silent animal warriors
who struggle to live and move amongst us.

Our native animals can’t stop development. They can’t petition the Government. They can’t buy land and reforest it. They can’t donate to a worthy wildlife cause. They can’t cry out, “Help, I need a home!” They can’t even plant a possum-friendly tree on their property.

But we can. And our voices and our actions are sooooo important.

We all have different capacities to help. I donate to wildlife causes. I volunteer my time to rescue injured and sick wildlife. I’ve planted 50 possum-friendly trees on my property, and put up 3 possum boxes for extra shelter. I lobby the Government, and sign petitions whenever I can to help preserve our native environment. These are small things. They are a drop in the ocean of what's needed. Yet many small things make a big difference.

Whether you do one of these things, or all of this and more, please help.

Every step you take is helping one of these precious creatures live its life in harmony with us, rather than being a victim of our culture’s voracious appetite for development, that sees more and more native habitat being destroyed. 

It’s time to balance the scales and give back more than we take.


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