THREE-year-old boys don't tend to walk up steep hills. They run down them.
They don't tend to bolt into thick scrub and have it rip through their tender skin, either. Especially when the option is an acre of soft and manicured lawn to trip over on.
And that is what is frightening the hell out of the people of Kendall.
Two months ago the little mid-north coast town on the banks of the Camden Haven River was any town in NSW, where shopkeepers still busily swept non-existent dust off the pavement and young lads leant on the trays of their farm utes, having a yarn.
Now there is a black cloud hanging over the rolling green fields surrounding the place, nestled a few kilometres from where the old Pacific Highway had cut through Kew on its way to Kempsey and beyond.
And the cloud has a name - William Tyrell.
Because, if they are to allow commonsense to take over their thoughts, then the townsfolk can't help but think that the worst may well have happened to the little Spider-Man wannabe.
It was the morning of Friday, September 12, when mystery came knocking on a town where no one used to lock their doors.
William and his family had arrived from Sydney the previous night to visit his grandmother at her two-storey home on Benaroon Drive, on the outskirts of town.
The Queenslander sits on a corner block, atop a hill that looks back down the street. Behind it, in all directions, is thick scrub.
If you take out the small dirt track off Benaroon Drive, which winds several hundred metres up to a cemetery where William's grandfather is buried, or another dirt track that meanders up another side of a ridge, the street is the only way in and out.
And the walk up both tracks is steep. Very steep.
Most of the 21 homes built in this estate sit well back on their lots, giving their residents a full view of most of the goings-on, if they are so inclined.
But these people are comfortable with each other. They might look after pets when others head off for a few days, and keep an eye out for the postie or the garbo, but they keep to themselves.
"It's just a normal neighbourhood," resident Richard Wilson says.
"We have had a couple of Christmas parties on the next door neighbour's block and everyone is invited. But you don't spend your life looking at what other people are doing."
And it appears that is the case on this specific spring morning.
There are loads of things for little children to keep themselves occupied.
William's mother had already snapped a photo of the little bloke on his grandmother's verandah, playing with crayons and wearing a blue and red Spider-Man jumpsuit. It would become the image that has burnt itself into the minds of so many.
With his grandmother sitting on the back deck, and his mum inside making a cuppa, William and his four-year-old sister start playing "chaseys". It's about 10.30am.
It's less than five minutes before they realise. William is gone. And thin air type of gone.
Neighbours are roused and start the frantic search. Police are called within a few minutes.
And within a few hours a qualified search co-ordinator is running the show.
But nothing. The days drift by and still nothing.
Seven weeks have now passed since William went from playing with his sister to becoming the centre of one of the most mysterious missing person cases in Australia.
"I can truthfully say that nothing has been discounted," Superintendent Paul Fehon of the mid-north coast local area command says.
"Our starting point is an approximate five-minute window where William has walked around the side of the house and has gone.
"We are still at that starting point."
So did William simply walk into the bush and vanish?
Nine days were spent meticulously searching the bush, firstly in the adjacent Kendall State Forest and then the Middle Brother State Forest a little further away.
They looked for any sign of him. From pieces of cloth torn off his little suit, to a body.
They used cameras to send down drains and sewer pipes. And then double checked them. Nothing.
Neighbour Paul Savage was one of the first to start searching for William after his frantic neighbour screamed that he was missing.
"If he had wandered, he would have been found," Savage says.
"When I go for a walk you still find yourself keeping an eye out, hoping for a scream or a yell and not a horrible smell.
"I don't know how his family has coped, it must be torture for them."
All the homes in the estate were searched. And then searched again.
Missing kids are found hiding under beds and in cupboards more times than wandering the streets. But not in this case.
"We have had police through three times," Richard Wilson says.
"Every cupboard, they have had a look in the ceilings, have had a look in the boots of cars."
Police continue to keep an open mind on all possibilities. It is their job to. Investigations - especially the drawn-out kind - have an infinite number of leads and possible scenarios about them.
There have been hundreds of pieces of information handed over to CrimeStoppers since William vanished.
It is not up to detectives to identify a suspect and throw all their resources into getting the brief up on them.
Instead, they meticulously work on excluding suspects. That also means delving into those closer to home.
William has a complicated family history and, for legal reasons, his family cannot be identified.
And that, in itself, has started gossip. But there is no history of family conflict. Everyone has been interviewed and the whereabouts of all relatives checked out and verified.
Police have also looked up known child sex offenders within a massive radius of Kendall with nothing to grab at.
"I can't say I look at any locals differently, but I guess you never know," Kendall Cellars owner Rheannon Chapman says.
"There is that fear that you never know. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors?
"Until we know. It is the unknown.
"I change every day. Some days I think he has been taken and others I think we have just missed him in the bush somewhere. That bush is a big place.
"Although we spent hundreds of man hours out there, it is still a big place."
Chapman said she has heard about the man who had walked into one of the businesses in town and asked for directions to near where William went missing. She believes the story is true.
"I think the police side of things, the suspicion, was there straight away," she says.
"Just little things like looking at our CCTV. We were told not to delete anything and that was the next day.
"I just thought we would find him."
But Superintendent Fehon says there was nothing concrete to point to abduction, or "human intervention", as he puts it.
It is a rabbit warren to get to William's grandmother's house. His mother was looking out the kitchen window making a cuppa when he vanished and she saw nothing.
Not one neighbour saw anything untoward. How do you happen across a child that no one except family know is there, and then, in an instant, snatch him?
"It is out of town and out of the way. Who would be driving there on that Friday morning at that time," Superintendent Fehon said.
"It is a dead-end street."
Hardly anyone in Kendall had ever met the boy whose image on his grandmother's patio in that red and blue suit is now so familiar.
A kid whose fate has irrevocably changed the lives of most of the 2000-odd locals.
Children are not walking home from school any more - many mothers are picking their children up from bus stops less than 100 metres from their front doors - and there is a lack of youngsters playing in the street or in front yards.
Chapman, who has lived in the town since she was 10, now has her 10-year-old son catch the bus to her in-laws' house.
"I just can't get myself [to let him walk home]," Chapman says.
"It is so quiet - hardly any kids walk home. I sat [out the front of the school] on Friday and I think I saw less than 10 walking home when it would normally be the whole town."
Desley Copeland finds herself parked at the start of Benaroon Drive every afternoon these days.
She is across the road from the bus stop where the kids used to be dropped off and walk home, giggling as kids do.
"You don't see them out playing in yards any more, you used to see them riding up and down on their bikes," she says.
"And that is really sad. Because everybody looks after everybody's kids.
"We always had our eye out. If you saw one of them with a skinned knee you would pull over and help."
But the town has changed, possibly forever.
"Nobody knew where Kendall was before the 12th of September," Chapman says.
"I have grown up here, I have my own family here, I own a business here, my husband is the same.
"You get this kind of blanket where you want to protect it.
"But at the same time you don't want anyone to forget William's face because, for us as well, not just his parents and grandparents, it is our town as well."
A local for 26 years, Sandree Peterson worked on feeding the searchers from before dawn to well after dusk.
She says the William Tyrell story has broken the heart of the town, which continued to press on even when all seemed lost.
"That is what happens here. It doesn't matter who it is or what is wrong, people will always look after one another," Peterson says.
"Everyone was just so distressed at the end of it all, even the hardest police officers shed a few tears. The whole town is so devastated, there is not a person it has not touched."
There was a quote from one of the locals not long after the search for William had begun. It has almost become a motto: "If he is out there, we will find him. If he is not, he will find us."