From the truck the cows are the same height as the grass. Dwarfed by the mountain range that hides the secret waterfall. Hard right, dirt track, park by the drain, follow the water downstream. Tea-stained rock pools with spiders that swim. Mud slide if you don’t know where the rock staircase begins. The cave that I’m not game enter. The natural arbour on the hundred metre drop off. Old fires on flat rock over sheer cliffs.

That range is disorienting. We look at topographical maps and it makes no sense.

Follow the winding, potholed road to Malcolm’s Corner. Fairies live where the trees touch overhead. Seven causeways, a slight acceleration on the last two to wash the dust from the truck and hear the squeals of the four year old in the back. Up the near-vertical driveway with the single trunk blocking the way — a cheeky left-right to avoid clipping the mirror on it.

Engine off, buckles released, silence you can feel in your chest. Climb the moss-covered stone steps, new wood replacing the two pieces that rotted away. Pass the Hills Hoist that is never used — the trees are so dense above that its base is moss and ferns.

At the Balinese gates, a pat on the head for the ‘smiley guy’ Buddha statue. Despite the letterbox and wheelie bin, Gran’s house is as secret as the waterfall on the range. Someone called the cliff above her house ‘Wild Dog Mountain’ — that’s not its name but it sticks.

The fish pond in the veggie garden is grimy. We pick mint to eat, drop a leaf in for the fish. The sweet peas have grown so tall they pull down the netting over the beds. Cherry tomatoes are picked by four year old hands at sunrise.

The orange tree third from the left has the sweetest fruit. One time, visitors picked bags full of them — they won’t be invited back. If you pass the oranges and swerve six metres to the right at the top of the wobbly stone steps (is that West?) there are mulberries ready to be picked for breakfast dessert.

The path down to the waterhole is more of a cliff. You can hear the creek rushing below but can’t look for it or you’ll misstep and cut your leg on the nail that sticks out of the grass smack bang in the middle of Step 23.

If you slide on the slippery boulders at the creek there is a faint whiff of cow poo, but can there be cows this far up the valley, above the range? There are spiders that swim and fish who eat mint so there are probably cows. Don’t put your head under.

Entering the water is an entirely ungraceful exercise — left leg extended in search of firm ground, both arms gripping the ‘shore rock’, a wobbly middle trying to balance the two. Are there eels? If there are cows in the valley there’s likely eels in the creek. The two aren’t related, but don’t put your head under.

The serenity, eyes closed. Remember the bright toenail polish applied that morning — get out before an eel notices the toes but dunk your head under quickly. Forget cows.

Dress slowly in the sunshine on a rock. Climb the cliff and avoid the nail. Eat hidden mulberries — stained thumb and forefinger are the tell. If there are 136 oranges on the tree and a cockatoo breaks open the lemons to eat the seeds, what is the citrus-looking knobbly fruit below the orchard? It doesn’t taste good.

A return to the house is met with a waking family or the popping of a champagne cork, depending on the time of day. I point out my favourite tree (the Japanese Maple), Sam says its leaves look like marijuana.

The kids run through the grass and dance naked under the hose and squeal about being covered in caterpillars. The leeches are salted off and brushed aside with feigned non-panic by adults.

For one week of the year, around Pip’s birthday, the fireflies come out just after dusk and the forest is magic. They like the bamboo best but build nests in the wide-leaf ferns, making their undersides glow.

Gran’s house is a secret place where orchards grow in rainforests and hammocks hang over rushing streams and the moon shines through the skylight at 2am and the Hills Hoist remains, defiant.