There must have been a moment. Just one instant when the forest was about to change. How that happened is for speculation. Lightning storms often visit this place - blasting down gigantic sparks powerful enough to ignite dead, brown leaves in spite of the accompanying rain.
Many cars also pass nearby on their way up or down the coast. On heavy, humid days when summer defeats even the best of car air-con a casual flick of a thumb and finger can lead to this. The last glow of tobacco launches into the rushing, hot air beyond an open window to find succour in the eucalyptus detritus.
Whatever the cause, the effect overwhelms all it touches. Fire cares not for species or intelligence. It just burns until there is no more or humans somehow manage to 'contain' it. It is never completely defeated, though, just sometimes delayed. There will be more storms, more flicks of fingers and thumb.
What is left, when fire has moved, on is smouldering devastation. The shock and awe of flames and smoke is seemingly final. For a few days the survivors stand silent and defeated.
The nights immediately after the fire are quiet. Even when wind rustles the scant leaves, it is with the sound of soft, tired sighs. No small animals scurry for food - no larger ones stalk ready to pounce.
The morning light shows earth burnt bare, stabbed all over with black sticks. These dark reminders of growth, of promise, were in reality just food for the fire that destroyed them.
Within a few days, grasses sprout from the coarse, grey sand in exclamation points of green. That anything can grow here in such soil is a wonder. That the battered survivors can be so straight, tall and resiliant is inspiring.
It is in the glow of afternoon light that beauty washes over this place. Nothing is forgotten, even when the evidence of devastation is so overwhelming. Yet, a little green and the warmth of burnished bark hints at a tomorrow not imaginable just a few days ago.