Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Revisited

[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-K Team ventured out West of Hermannsburg to explore Tnorala (Gosse Bluff).]

Big Day Out West

Night

An alarm wailed.

I sat up and nudged Anthony. ‘What’s that about?’

Anthony snorted, smacked his lips and mumbled. ‘I don’t know. An alarm, I think.’

‘Shouldn’t we tell P? It might be their shop.’

Anthony snorted, turned over and recommenced snoring.

For some time, I lay in bed. Sleepless. The alarm bleating, lights flashing through our window. I assumed that like car alarms in the city, a cat or dog had set the thing off and the owners will sort out the problem…eventually.

Eventually, the alarm stopped and somehow, I fell into a good, deep sleep.

[Photo 1: Sunrise in the Centre © C.D. Trudinger circa 1981]

Morning

I stretched and then yawned. ‘Good morning, Anthony, did you have a good sleep?’

‘No,’ he grumbled. ‘You snored!’

Breakfast

After a shower, and getting dressed while Anthony caught up on the sleep he apparently missed out on while I snored (nothing about the alarm, I might add), I chatted with K over breakfast.

‘The store was broken into last night,’ she said.

‘So, that’s what the alarm last night was all about,’ I remarked.

‘Yep, happens on a regular basis. One of the windows need replacing, again.’

P joined us. Leaning on the kitchen table, he added, ‘If you want anything at the shop, you’ll have to wait until it opens. Store was broken into.’ He chuckled. ‘One lady has tried to impress the cops with her tracking skills.’

‘Who tried to break in? Do the police have any idea?’

P shrugged. ‘Kids probably.’

[Photo 2: Back in 1940’s, some roads in the centre of Australia were virtually non-existent and had to be built © S.O. Gross circa 1941]

Late Morning

After a slow morning, mooching, chatting with P (K had gone to work) bible study and then preparing some lunch, Anthony and I commenced our daytrip to the Gosse Range which is a meteorite crater formed some millennia ago. After some twenty kilometres of bitumen, we took the turn onto the Mereenie Loop and the road deteriorated.  The Ford suffered the juddering of corrugations and slipping and sliding on silty red sand. Anthony slowed the car and crawled at a tense 20 km per hour.

I clutched the handhold of the door. ‘Is the car going to survive? I feel like the car’s going to fall apart.’

‘Why do you think I’m driving so slow,’ Anthony snapped.

[Photo 3: My Grandpa’s truck did break down and they had to use donkeys to pull the truck back to “civilisation” © S.O. Gross 1941]

In the distance, a truck approached us, powering up the road at speed, bull dust billowing behind it.

‘Close your windows,’ Anthony said.

‘They are,’ I replied. ‘I know what bulldust is and does.’ Didn’t fancy my nose, mouth and eyes filled with the stuff as they were in 1981.

[Photo 4: Rough road—Mereenie Loop. Gosse Ranges in background © L.M. Kling 2013]

Midday

The truck powered past, leaving us behind in a cloud of bull dust. Thankfully, the Ford, with its windows wound up, shielded us from the red menace, and we continued to judder along the corrugations for what seemed an eternity.

[Photo 5: Vehicle comes closer. Tnorala in background. © L.M. Kling 2013]

Then we rounded a bend in the road and, there, the Gosse Range spread out before us.

We stopped and captured the range, dressed in a soft mauve in the midday sun. As we prepared to jump in the car, another vehicle came roaring up the road towards us. This time, I caught the car with my camera as it sped up the road as if it were a racing track.

[Photo 6: Gosse Range Approach © L.M. Kling 2013]

With the car disappearing in a cloud of dust behind our Ford, with us safely in it, we prepared to complete our journey to the Gosse Range.

Anthony glanced in the rear-view mirror. ‘Oh, cattle.’

‘Must get photos,’ I retrieved my camera from its bag, ‘evidence for she who does not believe that cattle exist in Central Australia.’

Anthony switched off the engine, and we piled out to take these important photos.

[Photo 7: Proof of cattle © L.M. Kling 2013]

After the cattle were caught on camera, we crawled our way to the Gosse Range turn off. By this time, the jiggling and juggling along the route, must have rattled Anthony’s senses and he had become quite cavalier. ‘What the heck, the road doesn’t look too bad.’

I stared at the two-tyre rutted track. I knew, having been there some 36 years before, that the track would not be much of a track further on. ‘Better to park the car just off the side of the road and hike to the Gosse Range, actually.’

‘Looks alright to me.’

‘Okay, if you must. We’ll drive as far as we can and then walk the rest of the way.’

This we did. Our trusty old Ford lumped and hurumphed over the rocks and ruts until we decided to spare the Ford any further risk and indignity to its under-carriage and suspension. Then we hiked the final kilometre through the gap and into the pound.

[Photo 8: Trek into Gosse Range © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘I’m so glad we were able to walk through the gap,’ I said while marvelling at the cliffs and boulders on each side. ‘If we’d been able to drive through, as we did in the Rover in 1977, I would’ve missed the beauty of these formations.’

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Racing along the Mereenie Loop © L.M. Kling 2013

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

The Survivor (3)

[An extract from another of my little projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]

Escape From the Ice-Cave

She rubbed the frosty walls, her hot hands fused to the ice. Prising her palms free, she blew her stinging hands and then flapped her arms to keep warm. Drops of water trickled around her pooling on the cave floor. She marvelled how the enclosure had expanded to the extent that she could stretch out her arms, the tips of her fingers touching the opposing sides.

‘If only I could fly out of the cave,’ she said.

A groan, then a sigh.

She stood still, arms by her side. She gazed up.

The roof trembled. There was rumbling above her head. The rumbling turned to a roar.

Maybe there’s a search party, she thought. She held that thought and sought some spare piece of clothing to toss through the small gap above. She picked up a soggy scrap of material and prepared to throw. An avalanche of snow swamped her. She tumbled, rolled and suffocated under wave upon wave of frothing ice and snow. Her hand gripped the rag.

With a thud, she hit an icy wall. She gasped; air knocked out of her lungs. A glaring sun and pure white snow assaulted her vision, dazzling her. She blinked; the glare rendered her sightless.

Letitia twisted in the waist-deep snow packed as hard as ice. Her eyes hurt. She squinted and held up her hand. She could just make out a washed-out hand against a backdrop of white. She spun around, slowly, her arms gliding around her on the packed ice as if she were a human drill. Thirsty, she scratched up a ball into her palms. The snow melted under her fingers. She put some crystals to her mouth, the fresh icy water trickled down her throat.

‘Lord,’ she rasped, ‘I’ve been patient enough. I need food and water to survive.’

‘Okay, okay,’ the small voice replied, ‘I’m working on it.’

Once again, an incredible heat overwhelmed Letitia. Her eyes adjusted to the light. Each side, the snow and ice gave way as if it were water, the heat generating from her body causing her frozen captor to melt and form puddles at her feet. She cut through the bank of snow and tottered to freedom. Before her a vista of blue-green sea dotted with icebergs, and a muddy plain with green boxes scattered on it.

Letitia strode down the slope. The hard patches of snow and ice squeaked beneath her numb feet. Had to take care not to slip and slide on this virtual black ice. She headed to what appeared to be faded green shipping containers. The containers seemed to be strewn over a carpet of mission-brown rock as though they were forgotten toy blocks.

Further down the hill, a large shed emerged from the shadows and then a bright red tractor loomed up in the foreground. An old-style ship lurked off to the side, its red hull reflected in the water so still, it appeared as a mirror image.

The air was biting and still, as if holding its breath. Letitia remembered reading that Antarctica was the windiest place on earth, but there was no evidence of that fact this day. Granite-like boulders poked through the mountain blanketed with snow. The heat radiating from within her did nothing for the excruciating pain when she stubbed her foot against a rock.

As she drew closer to the shipping containers, she detected bright orange and red parka padded forms lumbering over the brown ground. Red trucks ferried their human drivers from one Leggo block to another. The closer she came to the settlement, the more impressed she was with the hive of activity.

‘I hope they accept me,’ she murmured and began to feel apprehensive at the thought of imposing herself, her situation, upon this peaceful, industrious community. ‘What if this is another world Boris has sent me to? What if he’s sent me to the Ice Planet? What if the inhabitants are hostile to my kind—human? Or if they’re human, what if they’re prejudiced against people of my colour? I’m not white. Not anymore.’

Letitia remembered the last world, the one Boris said she’d escaped. Black was beautiful. Dark-skinned people were dominant. She’d been so badly burnt, and her DNA so damaged, that the doctors on that world had grafted her skin and reconstructed her DNA sequence to conform to the dominant race. White people had been oppressed on Mirror World; more in the Eastern States, than in Mirror’s Baudin State, the equivalent of South Australia… But on Earth, particularly Australia in the 1960’s, people of colour were marginalised. Letitia shuddered. The indigenous people of the land were considered fauna and denied the right to vote. And when she stepped out with Nathan, the general public of Sydney at that time, shunned her. If this was Earth, then, how would she be treated?

Calendar 1967

A siren brought Letitia back to the present, this world of winter. She took stock of her predicament—not good; not good at all. Destructive vials of chemicals, catastrophic explosions and a plane blown apart, flashed through her mind. Boris’ threat of the southern polar cap melting, and the world forced into further global warming stabbed her with fear and dread. ‘Will I be blamed? I’m coming out of nowhere. Do I have to alert this unwitting scientific community to this planet’s fate? What if they don’t believe me?’

She glanced down at her tattered rags for clothes. ‘How can I tell these scientists anything? Even if I am on the same world, the scientists still believe mankind have ventured no further than a short trip around Mars with a robot probe. Boris men and their mutant armies are beyond their sceptical comprehension. To these men as much of the world, the recent Fusion bombs were merely the work of terrorists intent on religious and racial wars.’

Letitia sighed and hobbled down a slippery scree slope. She darted past the bright yellow tractor, and lumber-jacket clad fellows dragging a lump of metal over to the khaki green shed. She searched for a door.

The buildings and equipment she passed appeared weathered, and antiquated. She kept thinking that the station would appear different; more updated, more slick, more “science-fictiony”, more modern. She was sure that the brochure about Antarctica which she had gleaned in the airbus, had the buildings more rounded in a saucer shape and standing on stilts. She was positive that the buildings had been portrayed in such a way that they reminded her of the Martians and their craft in War of the Worlds. She had not expected out-dated shipping crates with the constitution of Lego bricks. Still, perhaps that was Mirror World, and so, confirmation that this is Earth.

After detecting a likely door, she stood before it, puzzling how to open it. She tugged hard and down on a metal handle. The door swung open with a jerk and she entered a holding cell. She shoved open another, lighter door. A common room cluttered with walls of pin-up notices, photographs and an obligatory dart board greeted her. A wave of heat washed over her. There were no windows. A green strip of felt for carpet bowls stretched over the floor. Battered coffee tables and chairs that had seen better seasons, hugged the edge of the room making way for the bowls tournament. If the place had been graced with a few dark green slightly deflated cushions, she could have imagined that she was back in the 1960’s at a young peoples’ coffee shop.

The group of seemingly young adults were mainly bearded and unkempt, except for the odd female who was merely unkempt. None of the crowd of strangers were affected by fashion or keeping up appearances. They were focussed on the carpet bowl competition. They ignored her as if she were invisible.

The initial heat receded. Letitia shook, her body jerking, her teeth chattering, as if possessed by demons of the cold. Her bones ached with the chill. Her strength left her, and her legs turned to jelly threatening collapse. She hunted for a stray jacket or knitted rug to throw over herself. She staggered back to the entrance hall and grabbed a fur-lined checked lumber jacket. Aware that she was suffering the effects of hypothermia, she reasoned she had no time to be fashion-conscious. She had heard from fellow compatriots of the IGSF that such a species of fashion existed way back last century, but she, herself, had by-passed the joys of such clothing. During that span of time, the previous encounter with Boris’ attacks had catapulted her into another world where those particular fashions never existed. Just the fancy French ones on Mirror World.

Still weak, she shuffled back into the communal hall and watched the scruffy-looking people with pity. ‘At least they are human,’ she muttered. She mused that they must have been so isolated, so far south, that they had to resort to reject attire from fifty years ago. A calendar with a typical Uluru photo hung askew on the wall. ‘My goodness, even the calendar’s out of date!’ She chuckled half-amused that they would have a 1967 calendar still hanging dolefully on their common room wall.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Uluru at sunset © S.O. Gross circa 1950

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

T-Team Next Gen–Return to Hermannsburg (2)

Hermannsburg Here We Come

[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-K Team (my husband and I) return to Hermannsburg and catch up with friends there.]

As we powered along the sealed Larapinta Highway, I mused, what a difference some 60-70 years makes. When Mum T lived in Hermannsburg, back in the 1940’s and 50’s, the trip to Alice Springs was a long arduous half-a-day journey on a dirt track in a truck where one spent several days in Alice Springs stocking up on supplies.

[Photo 1: Travelling in Central Australia in 1950’s required a stop for lunch…]
[Photo 1b: Or for the car to recover… In outback Australia, there were few sealed roads back then © M. E. Trudinger 1956]

As we passed the turn off to Jay creek, I said Anthony, ‘Mum told us the story of her mum (Grandma Gross) who, when the Finke flooded, had to wade through the waters to reach the other side to continue the journey to Alice Springs. She was 8-months pregnant at the time.’

[Photo 2: Community enjoying the Finke in flood © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

‘Hard to imagine the creek flooding,’ Anthony glanced at the dip, a dry riverbed, that signalled the up-coming fork in the road leading the Hermannsburg. ‘But I know from camping in the Flinders Ranges, at the first drops of rain, you don’t hang around, you get out.’

‘Your mum and friend didn’t when they camped at Parachilna,’ I said. ‘They were stuck there on an island with the river all around them for days.’

‘I know, my mum’s friend liked to take risks.’

[Photo 3: K-Team in Parachilna Gorge when not in flood, but very windy © L.M. Kling 2000]

A sign with an image of a cow, and below written, “Beware of wandering stock”, flashed by. Brumbies galloped on the side, as if racing with us. Hawks soared in the cobalt blue sky above. A lone wedge-tail eagle, having gorged on a carcass of roadkill, waddled off the road just in time, avoiding the same fate as its feed.

[Photo 4: Brumbies rounded up in times past, Hermannsburg stock yards © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

This time, when we arrived in Hermannsburg, we made a beeline for the FRM (finke River Mission) store where we located our friend, P. He welcomed us and gave us a tour of the store. So much bigger than in 1981; more like the size of our local IGA store in size and shelves fully stocked. It even stocked fridges and washing machines. P proudly showed us the bakery where fresh bread is made each day and he introduced us to the Indigenous workers at the store.

[Photo 5: In front of the store © L.M. Kling 2013]

After settling into our P and K’s home, we spent the afternoon drinking coffee and storytelling with P and K. Storytelling continued over dinner. Much had changed since the T-team visited in 1981. The population of Hermannsburg has now grown to 600, the Finke River Mission still exists there, and the Christian community is growing. However, there remain challenges for the Indigenous community as there are in communities all over Australia, and the world. ‘It just is,’ as P stated, ‘we’re at the coal-face, being a small, isolated outback community; you see everything…’

[Photo 6: Memories of times past celebrating Kuprilya Day © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

‘Whereas,’ I concluded, ‘in the city it’s hidden by numbers, a larger population and behind the walls of our castles.’ Then I changed the subject. ‘Oh, by the way, this is the house I stayed in when the T-Team visited Hermannsburg in 1981.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Hermannsburg way back when, enjoying a game of friendly footy © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

Choice Bites–The Survivor (2)

The Survivor Part 2

[An extract from another of my little projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]

Tragic News

Late afternoon, the setting sun’s dying rays filtered golden through the curtains. The reflected dust motes danced and twirled, more awake than Phillipe who dozed amongst the sheets and crumpled doona on his bed.

His Dad had broken the news to Max the night before. Strange how Dad made the whole disaster appear as though it was Mum’s fault. Liam could never understand that. Dad was always blaming mum. It was as if, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how much of a pure victim, Mum was, somehow Dad construed the whole situation to be Mum’s fault; as if Mum was willing it to happen. So, as far as Dad was concerned, the tragic disappearance of the plane over Antarctica, was solely Mum’s fault. After all, hadn’t she insisted on assisting Boris in his endeavours?

Dad was furious that Mum would desert this life and leave him with two teenage sons—Max (fifteen) and Liam (thirteen). How dare she! And what was worse, Mum was not around to shout at and take the punishment of the pain that she was now putting Dad through.

‘Get yourself outa bed, you lazy princess!’ Dad roared and then hammered on the door.

Max yawned and stretched. ‘In a minute.’ Then he turned over. He wasn’t ready to rise from his slumber. I mean, the sun hasn’t even set. How dare Dad disturb his twelve hours in Neverland?

The door crashed against his mountain of soft-drink bottles, a shrine to the hours of playing Craft of Warts. Boots stomped on the chip packets. A hand clasped his hair and dragged him to the floor. Max landed with a thud and crunch on last night’s pie crust and left-over sauce.

‘I said, “Get up Princess!”’ Dad yelled.

Max sat up and wiped the sticky sauce off his ear, and attempted to ease himself back into bed.

‘Oh, no you don’t,’ Dad said. He grabbed the lad by the elbow, dragged him into the family room and then dumped him sprawling on the carpet. ‘Oh, and clean up your room, it’s a pig sty.’

Max pulled himself up off the carpet and hobbled out of the room. The family room had already taken on the atmosphere of a morgue where his brother Liam sat at the pine modular table. His younger brother struggled to grind semi-dry Weetbix in his mouth. Since Mum’s assumed chilly demise, Dad had put the boys on milk rations. Actually, everything had been rationed in the last week, not that Max was particularly hungry.

Dad was psychotic. He hurled stuff out of cupboards. ‘Where did she hide the keys?’ He rambled as a mantra as he emptied one cupboard after another in his fervent search. ‘I swear she’s put them in a parallel universe.’

Max picked up his mobile phone from the middle of the dining room table and began to tip-toe from the room. Dad was too mental to notice him leave, he hoped. He spied the keys in the centre of the table and realized that the phone had hidden the keys beneath it. He stopped. He sighed and muttered, ‘Do I? Or don’t I?’

Max snatched up the keys and held them up and cried, ‘Here they are!’

Liam kept his head bent, eyes focussed on the dry flakes, and continued munching.

Max’s calls for attention fell on deaf ears. Dad had gone past all realms of reason. Still Max persisted in following after his blind, deaf and psychotic father. He dangled the wanted keys between his fingers. ‘Here they are! Here they are!’ He called as he trailed his Dad from kitchen to the lounge room.

‘Stop harassing me! Go clean your room Princess!’ Dad yelled. He pushed Max towards his room and totally ignored the keys in his son’s hand.

‘Fine then,’ Max mumbled.

He slipped into his room, secreted the keys into his school bag and crawled back into bed. And continued his dream of a faraway land where the sky was mauve and where his name wasn’t Max, but Phillipe, and Liam wasn’t Liam, but Karl.

Out of the Ice-Cave

In a haze of bewilderment, Letitia blinked. Fractured rays of sunlight winked at her through shards of ice. About two metres above her a pale turquoise tinted sky strained through the ice, smooth and clear like glass. Little suns bounced off the icy barnacles and pillows of snow above her.

All was too calm, too silent in her frozen grave. The absolute silence troubled Letitia more than the concept of being buried metres in what appeared to be a snow cave. In this eerie world devoid of noise, she heard her rapid breathing.

‘I can breathe,’ she mumbled, her lips stung, the cold dry skin splitting into cracks. The sharp air cut her lungs. But her exterior didn’t register the cold. Should she be worried? She checked her fingers in the dim light. Were they blue? How long had she been lying there? Did she have frostbite? Would she get it? Or would the nano-bots ensure some protection?

Her body, stripped of clothing, was numb. Her designer Mirror (French, of course) slacks burnt and shredded. What remained of her silk shirt hung limply over her breasts. Her ankle high leather boots dangled at the end of her feet, the rubber soles having melted into distorted blobs. There was a sticky mess woven into her socks; her socks that held her frozen feet. Her feet were clumps of cold meat that seemed not even to belong to her. The ice scrunched and crunched beneath her as she shifted position.

‘How did I get here?’ Letitia asked. ‘Oh, that’s right—Boris. How dare that creep spoil my life again!’

She rubbed her hands together. ‘Right, well, not this time. You’re not going to do it to me again, evil one. God is on my side. He’s saved me again. I’m alive, aren’t I?’

Letitia looked up. ‘Jemima? What happened to you? God, help me get out of here. Help me find Jemima. Help me do what I can to destroy Boris.’

She wriggled her glowing white fingers. A surge of warmth ran through the veins in her arms to the tips of her fingers. The warmth, it seemed supernatural. She rubbed her shredded boots together and wiggled her toes. Blood rushed to her feet. Agonising pins and needles ensued for several minutes.

Heat, as if from an unseen being, poured over her head and cascaded down her body. She remembered the sensation. She’d experienced it before when she’d attended a healing service and the people had prayed for her.

‘The heat of the Spirit,’ they said. A good thing.

The ice beneath her melted. The snow caved-in around her and Letitia sank. She spread out her arms and stilled her limbs. ‘God,’ she cried, ‘what are you doing? Save me.’

A small voice inside her head spoke, ‘Patience. I have it under control.’

The floor under her feet became firm. She turned and examined the surface below. Her feet scuffed at deep brown gravel-like ground through the glassy plate of ice. She was on land.

She scraped the snow and ice above her in the snow tomb. The whole situation had an unreal edge to it. She swayed and slumped against the side of the cave. Bits of snow and icicles gave way as the heat of her body radiated and melted the frozen parts. The sun and its dozens of reflections shone through an ever-widening hole. The opening, just out of reach. Letitia clawed at the frosty sides and marvelled at the snowballs accumulating in her fist. She dumped the unwanted snow at her feet and stood gazing at the gap.

‘How am I ever going to get out?’ she groaned.

She continued to scrape at the frigid walls of the cave, each time hurling the unwanted snow at the floor. A hollow where she had dug began to expand and the soft fluffy snow began to give way to smooth walls as hard as glass. She stepped on the frosty mound beside her feet to reach fresh wads of snow, only to find her feet vanishing into the mush. She continued to shovel, dig, climb, and sink.

‘I’m not getting anywhere,’ she sighed. ‘I’m just making a wider ice-cave; that’s all.’

Letitia smoothed the frozen walls with her warm bare hands. The activity, she assumed, was keeping her blood circulating preventing her from the inevitable death by deep freeze.

She stopped again and wrung her aching hands. ‘Useless! Absolutely useless. I’m not getting anywhere.’ She chastised herself for getting into this slushy mess in the first place. How did she cause this to happen? It began with a party. A date. Nathan. Tall, dark, handsome. Funny. Nathan. How could she resist? Nathan. He had invited her to the twenty-first birthday party of one of his IGSF colleagues. Frieda. In space. La Grange point.

Then. Boris. And years of “Purgatory” living with on that world. Mirror World. What had she done this time? How did Boris know she had wanted out, and that this was her out? How did he know what her daughter, Jemima was planning?

She recalled the on-line survey. Confidential. They promised. Gathering data. That’s what they said. Data, nothing else. So, she’d filled in the survey. After all, they promised a prize. A new washing machine. Never came. Perhaps her answers weren’t so anonymous. Maybe Boris had access to the information provided…Had she inadvertently allowed spies into her world?

‘I won’t let that cockroach win,’ she said.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Inside the Fee Glacier, Swiss Alps © L.M. Kling 2014

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the mischief and mayhem Boris the over-sized alien cockroach gets up to…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Below…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

T-Team Next Generation–Return to Hermannsburg

[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-Team go their separate ways…]

Monday Morning

After a fitful sleep and then early rise, I looked forward to coffee with mum and the boys. With the sun peeping over the horizon, shining in the watery blue winter sky and reflecting golden on the gum trees surrounding the campground, the frigid desert air slowly began to thaw.

[Photo 1: Sunrise in the Centre © L.M. Kling 2013]

First, though, after a warming shower and filling breakfast, the tent had to be packed up. Anthony needed my help with that. Then, he spent an eternity repacking the station wagon. While waiting, I jogged on the spot and puffed out steam of my breath into the below ten-degrees air.

[Photo 2: Packing up Tent, Mambray Creek, Flinders Ranges © L.M. Kling 2018]

As if a surgeon performing a delicate operation, Anthony punctuated his packing with commands. ‘Bags!’ So, I passed over the bags which he grabbed and pushed into the boot of the car. Then, ‘Tent!’ I hauled over the packed tent to him. Then, ‘Esky!’ I lugged the cool box (esky) to him. Then, waving his hand while head stuck in the boot of the car, ‘Box!’

‘What box?’ I asked.

‘Kitchen box!’

‘Huh?’ I glanced at the piles of stuff still waiting a home in the Ford. Finding the green crate with breakfast cereals, bread and cans of beans, I passed that one to him.

‘No! No! No!’ he snapped and pointed at the red crate, same size but with cooking utensils. ‘That box!’

Apparently, the green crate must go under the back seat with a blanket covering it.

[Photo 3: Challenges of packing are not new. Imagine having to pack a camel like in the olden Hermannsburg Days © S.O. Gross circa 1942]

Finally, with Anthony’s version of luggage-tetris complete, we drove the short distance in the caravan park to mum’s cabin.

Again, we found Mum T glued to the phone. On the small pine table, she had spread out a brochure opened to camel farms. In between phone calls she muttered, ‘Mrs. T has asked me to find a camel farm for them to visit.’ She was not having much luck finding a camel farm or someone from the camel farms advertised, to answer her calls.

[Photo 4: In search of an open Camel Farm © L.M. Kling 2013]

While Mum T remained occupied with the phone, Anthony and I popped next door to visit our boys. The first words out of their Dad’s mouth when he entered was, ‘Have you packed?’

Son 1 and 2 duly showed Dad their packed luggage waiting by the door.

Satisfied that the lads were ready to depart Alice Springs and not miss the flight, we sat down to enjoy a coffee with the boys.

[Photo 5: Flights in the Centre are not new–Air force visitors during the war years © S.O. Gross circa 1942 ]
[Photo 6: Memories of my first flight over Alice Springs 1977 © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Mum joined us. ‘Oh, by the way,’ she said over her much-needed coffee to wake up, ‘the park manager came over. They were most apologetic about the mix up yesterday. Apparently, whoever took my booking assumed the people were T’s, because when they asked them, the lady didn’t hear clearly and just nodded and said “Yes”.’

‘You mean the guy behind the counter assumed the lady was you?’ I asked to clarify.

‘Apparently, the guy asked the lady, ‘Are you Mrs. T?’ and she said, ‘Yes.’’

We shook our heads.

‘Maybe the lady who took our cabin had a hearing problem,’ I said.

‘Oh, well, it all worked out in the end,’ Mum T concluded.

[Photo 6: Years of practise “working it out”; Mum T as a girl (2nd left) having a tea party at the back of the old truck © S.O. Gross 1945]

After visiting the Strehlow Centre and its Art Gallery again, we travelled to the airport to see our sons safely, and in time, board the plane back to Adelaide. Then a brief stop at Woolworths for Anthony to buy some shorts, before commencing our return to Hermannsburg.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Mum’s Ghost Gum near Mt. Hermannsburg © courtesy M.E. Trudinger circa 1950

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

Choice Bites–The Survivor (1)

[An extract from another of my emerging projects in the War Against Boris the Bytrode Series…]

Hijacked

Letitia breathed in the rich aroma red wine. She weened her absorption off and out of the Dickens’ tale and adjusted to her reality. Letitia was on a scenic flight from Auckland heading south, her Mirror Adelaide home and IGSF mission on hold.

Her daughter Jemima thrust a full glass of red under her nose. ‘Try this, Mother! 1984 Grange from the Barossa Valley.’

‘Mmm.’ Letitia leaned back. Jemima, twenty-six, daughter from a long-ago relationship—Nathan. Complicated, war-torn…another universe, actually. And now this present world, this Mirror World was making her vanish…Literally.

Letitia sighed and thought, I wish I could get away for good. To another time another place—Home to Earth before it’s too late. She hung on in Mirror World, though, to thwart the attempts of Boris from enslaving, by stealth, this beautiful world and its population. But for how long? Twenty-six Mirror years had taken its toll. The IGSF (Intergalactic Space Force) medical technology of regular infusions of nano-bots had kept her alive, but now, were failing. Dr. Mario had shaken his dark Latin head after the last infusion and said the words she had dreaded to hear, “There’s nothing more we can do.”

‘To Antarctica we go!’ Jemima charged her glass and took a slurp. ‘Mmm! Excellent stuff! You should try some! Celebrate, this trip is your way out. You know what I mean.’

Her daughter examined her glass of red as though she were a connoisseur.

‘I still can’t believe we are here,’ Letitia said. ‘And drinking such old wine! Must be at least thirty years old.’

Jemima nudged her. ‘You won the prize, Mum! And you invited me to go with you—you knew how much I wanted to complete my quest to visit every continent on Earth. I concede, Mirror, in this case. But, still, a continent. It’s a win-win, ‘cos I’m here to help you. You’ll see.’

‘Of course.’

‘Why else would I take all that trouble to return from our universe?’

Letitia gazed around the passenger cabin. ‘Although, I have one complaint. I thought we’d be put in first-class. I won the prize, what happened to the open lounge plan with plenty of walking space and seats that reclined all the way? It’s nothing like the brochure.’

But here they were, sitting in seats that were blue instead of cream, (as portrayed in the brochure) and the passengers appeared to be more crammed in and arranged in neat narrow (than in that brochure).

‘We won the wine,’ Jemima said as she poured herself another glass.

‘Oh, yes!’ Letitia nodded. ‘Great!’

‘Fancy that, it’s survived all those years…Drink, it’s part of the plan.’

Letitia recollected the on-line competition and how Jemima urged her to explain in twenty-five words or less why she would want to go to Antarctica. She remembered Jemima rubbing her hands together and murmuring that she had a cunning plan.

It was after Jemima’s friend Holly and the rest of the IGSF team escaped through the red spot in Jupiter back to Earth. But before the bad news from Dr. Mario. Bad timing. Now that red spot had sailed and it would be another two years…If only the Doctor had told her earlier, she would’ve gone too.

‘1984! Must have been a good year.’ Jemima remarked as she finished her glass. The screen at the front of the section, played a loop of scenes from the icy continent. Icebergs, penguins, and rough seas battering the orange icebreaker. Letitia couldn’t get the earphones working, so it remained a silent show.

‘Well matured, I guess.’

‘It’s our escape;’ Jemima began, ‘I’ve been checking Earth’s history and in 2014…’

The movie froze.

A piercing scream.

A large man lurched from his seat.

Murmurs rippled through the rows.

Jemima and Letitia craned their necks to catch the action.

Letitia stepped into the aisle to witness a scuffle involving a female air-attendant and a burly passenger. They wrestled a small man.

‘What’s going on?’ Jemima asked.

‘It’s a man,’ Letitia said.

‘Is it—?’

‘He’s ugly—not human—he’s wearing a brown jumper.’

A hairy ball torpedoed down the aisle, bounced on the toilet wall and rolled to a stop. At the other end, a body lay jerking.

Jemima stood and peered at the flailing form. ‘Where’s the head?’

Letitia pointed behind her. ‘There.’

‘I think I’m going to be sick,’ Jemima rasped. She reached for the complimentary paper bag. ‘Where’s the bag? The bag?’

A lady with shimmering auburn hair, thrust a paper bag at Jemima. ‘Here, use mine.’

‘Thank you,’ Jemima breathed before burying her face in its opening.

‘Don’t worry. It’s not real. It has to be a dream,’ Letitia said. The whole episode—the plane, the trip to Antarctica, the action down the front—seemed surreal.

‘This is real Mum. We’ve been hijacked by terrorists.’

‘Shut up! Shut up, you up there!’ a man’s shrill voice could be heard at the front of the cabin.

‘No,’ Jemima gasped, ‘Worse than that, it’s…’

A chill coursed through Letitia’s spine as she spied this man in the tawny jumper lording over his victim’s body. The burly man’s body. The strong man so weak, twitching lifelessly in blood. Blood pooling on the blue aisle carpet.

Feeling queasy Letitia’s legs wobbled as she stood in the aisle.

Jemima retched and trembled in terror.

The man marched up the aisle to Letitia.

He waved a vial of clear liquid between his spindly fingers. He seemed to be moving in slow motion, closer and closer. His black beads of eyes glinted reflecting the fluoro lights. He wasn’t that tall. He didn’t look that strong.

‘I thought, you said he was destroyed near Jupiter, Jemima.’

‘Apparently not.’

Letitia remained standing. She remembered the story of the devil at the end of Martin Luther’s bed. Like Luther, she had God on her side. No way was she going to allow this little man terrorizing the crew and passengers spoil her adventure. Was that a claw on his hand? No, people don’t have claws. Boris does, though. How did he do that to the big strong man? What happened to the security measures back at the airport? Didn’t they check him for weapons?

‘I will not be afraid,’ Letitia said and locked eyes with this man. ‘God is with me. I will survive.’ Convinced—she’d survived the last disaster—many years ago—an alien attack on her ship, cruising around Earth, in space. That was a Boris attack. Boris—she had heard of that enemy of man, engaged in the war against him, but never had she met the cockroach. They said it was a miracle she survived. Burns to sixty percent of her body. Skin grafts saved her. Presently, in this life, on Mirror World, when she wasn’t fading, she looked like everyone else.

‘What’ch’ya looking at?’ He scowled, baring his small, pointy teeth. ‘Have I got a little—no—big, nasty surprise for you!’

He shook the vial. The liquid fizzed.

Letitia gasped.

‘Oh, sh-t!’ Jemima whispered.

A little girl nearby whimpered. ‘Mummy. I don’t want to die, Mummy.’

The man thumped a headrest. ‘Shut up!’

Two air-attendants hung back, glancing left and right. They hunted for solutions. But the threat of violent chemical reactions in the vial, and the potential loss of another head, prevented them from launching an attack on the man.

This man drew close to Letitia. He blew his foul breath into her face and shook the liquid tube.

‘Say goodbye to Antarctica, Grandma! The seas will rise, the coastlines will be flooded, the planet will suddenly heat up, and a few other nasty things…’ He laughed manically. ‘And this planet will be ours!’

‘I’m afraid you are too late—global warming has already done—’ Jemima piped up.

‘Shut up! Girl!’ the man snapped. Then he climbed in the seat next to Jemima and shaved his claw under Jemima’s chin. ‘Do you taste like your mother? Or father?’

‘What d-d-do you hope to achieve with that puny little bottle?’ Jemima stuttered unfazed by this man in the brown jumper who had a claw jutting out from his finger.

He brushed the bottle across Jemima’s cheek. ‘I won’t bore your puny mind with the scientific details…but,’ he gazed at the glass tube with devilish fascination, ‘But—when this liquid chemical compound escapes and mixes with the heat and airline fuel, there will be a big bang and a most delicious chain-reaction. Think of it as a kind of revenge on what you humans did to my kind, once, many, many years ago.’

‘Who are you?’ Letitia asked, although she had a pretty good idea who this particular monster was.

He rose and leaned against Letitia, his pug nose and flaring nostrils within inches from her face. Letitia averted her face from his onion and garlic breath tainted with cockroach stench.

He spoke slowly, and with menace. ‘I think you know who I am, my dear.’

‘I don’t, really, I don’t.’

‘Really? I don’t have time for this,’ the man said. He thumped the vial on the arm of the chair.

Letitia heard a crack, and a sizzle. The cabin filled with smoke. Then a flash of light and a rumble of thunder. Letitia grew light-headed. In the background as if in the distance she heard Jemima say, ‘It’s Boris, Mum…the Bytrode, you know, the giant alien cockroach…so glad we had the wine…’

Then sinking…plummeting towards the Earth. The screams of panicked passengers and the howl of the wind as it rushed through the fast-descending airbus, blended into agonising seconds of horror.

The force thrust Letitia forward. The aircraft pitched and spun. The ceiling caved and banged against her head as the craft disintegrated. The shattered fuselage nose-dived. Through cracks in the hull, clouds skidded past. The icy wasteland rushed into view.

Boris defied the laws of physics, hovering above his prey. His wings whirred creating a gravitational force-field holding Letitia. He bared his jagged teeth in a sickly smile.

‘So, my dear, Letitia, you are getting what you want most,’ Boris said.

Letitia gasped. How can he talk when she can barely breathe? The cold air rushing the plane to its demise, snatched her words before they became thoughts. Surely, she didn’t ask for this. Never even contemplated it. Why would she want to die crashing to Earth?

Bodies jettisoned around the remains of the cabin. Some bounced off Boris’ shell. He was fully cockroach now.

‘Can’t you see?’ Boris said. ‘Earth.’

Great! Letitia thought and then curled up and waited for the impact.

She imagined that her entire life would flash before her eyes. It didn’t.

She glanced up.

The seats arranged in a semi-circle were white. They rotated as if in some crazy show ride. Jemima was gone. Sucked out, and hurtling towards the icy plains of Antarctica, Letitia assumed.

As if detached from her body, she watched Boris vanish. Then she waited for the final thud…

The thud came. Metal crunched and ground around her. An explosion burst jolting her back to the here, now and her body sliding through slush. Ice caved-in on top of her, blocking light out and trapping her in darkness.

[To be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Sellicks Beach © L.M. Kling circa 1985

***

Want more?

More than before?

Read the ongoing battle between good and evil…

Click on the link to my new novel, The Lost World of the Wends

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

T-Team Next Gen–Alice Springs (2)

All In a Sunday (5)

Must Register

[In 2013, the T-Team, Next Generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-Team leave camping in the desert behind and tackle the complexities of civilisation—Alice Springs…all on a Sunday.]

By the time our family and Mum drove the streets of Alice Springs in search of a hotel to eat, night had fallen, and a blanket of darkness surrounded us. As a convoy of Mum’s rental and the Ford, we wended through the few short streets to the nearby hotel which had been recommended by the caravan park.

Photo 1: Memories of Alice Springs way back when—View From Anzac Hill Memorial © courtesy M.E. Trudinger circa 1955

‘Hope we can get a table,’ Anthony grumbled as we walked from the neon-lit car park to the entrance of the hotel. ‘We haven’t booked, you know.’

‘If we can’t, I guess you’ll be cooking tea for us all,’ I joked.

‘It’ll be alright,’ Mum sang her mantra.

[Photo 2: Mr. BBQ extraordinaire © L.M. Kling 2020 (Black and White film)]

Our family of five filtered through the front entrance and into an expanse of dark green carpet and pastel green walls and fronted up to the black topped counter.

‘Do you have a table for five?’ Mum T asked.

‘You need to register,’ the man at the counter said.

Anthony and I glanced at each other. ‘Register?’

‘We need to see your identification; a drivers’ licence will be okay.’

‘That’s normal for me,’ Son 1 said, ‘They always ask for my ID. They don’t believe I’m over 18.’

Son 2 snorted, ‘And here I was getting into hotels when I was under 18, no problem.’

‘Just your luck,’ Son 1 muttered.

‘And I don’t drink,’ Son 2 sniffed.

‘Typical.’

[Photo 3: Neither does my brother, but you wouldn’t think so by the looks of this shot © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1986]

While the boys quibbled and joked, the T-K Team, good citizens that we were, unquestioningly showed our respective licences and registered to enter the hotel.

As we sat at our designated table, we observed the predominance of people of Anglo-Saxon extraction and the lack of First Nation people. There was one Indigenous family way down the other end of the dining hall, but… They seemed happy enough.

[Photo 4: Another hotel, another time, another place (Adelaide actually), same T-Team Next Gen. © L.M. Kling 2020]

Over dinner, roast meat, and smorgasbord, (your average fare for an Aussie hotel at that time), I mused, ‘What’s the deal with registering?’

Anthony waved a hand around the room. ‘Isn’t it obvious? Didn’t you read the sign at the entrance?’

‘What sign?’

Anthony rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Then again, I understood, without further explanation, what my husband meant.

[Painting 1: Memories of Ormiston Gorge © L.M. Kling 2018]

Back at the campsite, I used the communal kitchen to prepare a hot chocolate for Anthony and me. While the kettle took its time boiling, I watched a pair of German tourists and their Australian friends Skyping on a laptop to Germany.

[Photo 5: Dreams of travelling the Romantic Road; something to look forward to. Rothenburg ob der Tauber © A.N. Kling 2014]

Then, soporific from the effects of warm chocolaty milk, hubby and I snuggled into our sleeping bags and it was lights out for us…only, it wasn’t that much light out—we still had the toilet block light beaming into our tent…all night. And on our minds wondering who were the T-Team imposters?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Hermannsburg Sunset © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

In Memory of My Grandma

Elsa

Born March 16, 1906 – March 4, 1981 [40 year anniversary]

THE DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN

Grandma rarely locked the back door; not when home or if she ran short errands. The only times she did lock the back door was when she went away on holiday. Ah! Those were the days! The 1960’s—Adelaide, the front door greeted strangers and salespeople, the back door welcomed friends and family who didn’t knock, but walked straight in.

[Photo 1: Opening the door to Grandma’s “Lace” © C.D. Trudinger 1964]

Grandma lived a ten-minute walk from my home in Somerton Park. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I walked or rode the route down Baker Street, across “busy” Diagonal Road, and into Panton Crescent. Then I trod down her gravel drive of her Trust home to her back door; a door always unlocked and without any ceremony of knocking, I pulled open the fly-screen door, pushed open the wooden door, and walked into Grandma’s small kitchen. I still dream of Grandma’s place, “Grandma’s Lace” as I used to call it as a child, her huge backyard with fruit trees and hen house.

[Photo 2: Escape from Grandma’s “Lace” © C.D. Trudinger 1966

]

The same as her home, Grandma had an open heart with time available to be there for me. From the time I was born, she was there. She bought and moved into her Somerton Park home nearby, about the same time my mum and dad with my brother and me, bought and moved into our home.

Every Sunday all the family which included mum’s brothers and sisters and their spouses, gathered in her tiny kitchen dining area for Sunday roast. The home filled with laughter as we enjoyed Grandma’s roast beef and crunchy roast potatoes—the best ever! Dessert of jelly and ice-cream followed, topped with a devotion, then the Sunday Mail quiz. Holidays held extra treats of cousins from Cleve, all five of them and Auntie and Uncle. Grandma fitted us all in, albeit us younger ones sat at the “kinder tisch” in the passageway. Often friends from church or elsewhere joined us for Sunday lunch. The door was open for them too, and somehow Grandma made the food stretch and the table expand for unexpected guests.

[Photo 3: An example followed by her children from early on © S.O. Gross circa 1941]

One of the first times I took advantage of Grandma’s “open door policy” was at two years old. I’d dreamt my cousins were visiting and no one told me. My beloved cousins were at “Grandma’s Lace” and I was missing out.

So early that hot summer’s morning, I climbed out of my cot, dumped my nappy, and naked, I navigated my way to Grandma’s. I streaked over Diagonal Road, not so busy at dawn, and then toddled down Grandma’s driveway. I pushed open the back door and tiptoed through the kitchen and passageway. Then I peered into the bedrooms one by one. Each room was empty. Where were they? Where’s my cousins? I was sure they were here.

[Photo 4: Lined up with Country Cousins © C.D. Trudinger circa 1965]

I entered Grandma’s room. The mound of bedding rose and fell with each puff of breath Grandma made.

I tapped Grandma and asked, ‘Where’s my cousins?’

Grandma startled and her eyes sprang open. ‘Oh! Oh! What are you doing here?’

‘I come to play with my cousins,’ I said. ‘Where are they?’

‘Oh, my goodness—no dear—they’re not here.’ Grandma climbed out of bed and waddled to the bathroom. ‘Now, let’s get you decent.’

After wrapping a towel around me, she picked up the telephone. I stuck by her solid legs while she spoke to my mum. ‘Marie, just wondering, are you missing a daughter?…You might like to bring some clothes…’

As I grew older, Grandma’s open-door policy included her home-made honey biscuits. My friends and I visited Grandma on a regular basis. We’d enter through the back door and make a beeline for the biscuit tin. Then we’d meander into the lounge room. With my mouth full of biscuit, I’d ask, ‘Grandma, may I have a biscuit?’

Grandma would always smile and reply, ‘Yes, dear.’

Grandma’s open-door policy helped as a refuge when love-sick boys stalked me. Mum and I arranged that when I rode home from school, if my blind was up, I was safe from unwanted attention. But if the blind was pulled down, I would turn around and ride to Grandma’s place.

[Photo 5: Grandma with her white cat © C.D. Trudinger 1965]

Grandma was there also when I had trouble at school. I remember at fifteen, having boy-trouble of the unrequited love kind. Grandma listened. She was good at that. She sat in her chair as I talked and talked, pouring out my heart, while emptying her biscuit tin.

When I paused one time, after exhausting all my words, she said, ‘Lee-Anne, one thing that may help—you need to have Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.’

Grandma passed on from this life to meet her Lord and Saviour in early 1981, less than two weeks’ shy of her seventy-fifth birthday. Her old Trust home on the big block with the fruit trees and chook-yard were razed and redeveloped into four units—front doors locked and no easy way to their back doors.

[Photo 6: Looking beyond into the Hermannsburg compound © Courtesy M.E. Trudinger circa 1950]

The Sunday after the funeral, it seemed to me strange not to gather at Grandma’s. Then Christmas, the brothers and sisters celebrated separately with their own family or partners. I missed the whole Christmas connection with my cousins, aunts and uncles. Time had moved on and our family had evolved to the next stage of our lives.

[Photo 7: Christmas Memories (Grandma in her iconic purple dress far left) © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

In 2021, leaving one’s back door open, even during the day, seems an odd and risky thing to do. Times have changed—more dangerous, or perhaps we’re more fearful of imagined dangers outside our castles. And now in this Co-vid dystopian reality…Well, Grandma’s life and her “open door” policy in a more trusting time, has made me ponder: How open and available am I to others? How willing am I to listen and value others and their world?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019; updated 2021

Feature Photo: My Grandma and Grandpa courtesy of Marie Trudinger circa 1950

***

Also 40 years this year since the T-Team Trekked on their safari in Central Australia.

Check out my memoir: Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

Click on the link below…

Or, if a Science Fiction mystery is more your thing, have a look at my new book. Click here on The Lost World of the Wends.

T-Team Next Generation–Alice Springs (1)

All on a Sunday (4)

[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-Team leave camping in the desert behind and tackle the complexities of civilisation—Alice Springs…all on a Sunday.]

Impostors

Less than one hour later after leaving Hermannsburg, we checked into the Stuart Caravan Park on the edge of Alice Springs. The reception, cast in long shadows, signalled the fast-approaching night and uncertainty that comes with not booking a site. Would there be one for us?

[Photo 1: Namatjira Country the road back to Alice Springs © L.M. Kling 2013]

We trod into the kiosk, glancing at each other and hopeful expressions on our faces.

‘Do you have a tent site available?’ Anthony asked the manageress.

‘Let me see…’ the lady opened an A3 sized compendium. ‘Hmm, yes, site 81 is free.’

After paying the deposit, we collected the keys to the boys’ cabin which had already been booked for Sunday night.

[Photo 2: The boys’ cabin with our trusty Ford © L.M. Kling 2013]

Mum had followed us in, and I noticed her embroiled in some discussion with a young chap behind the counter. Mum did not look happy.

I stepped over to check out the situation.

‘They’ve stuffed up my booking,’ Mum T muttered to me.

‘What? How?’

Mum explained that someone called “Mrs T” had checked in and acquired her cabin as well as a campsite.

Immediately, I dialled Mrs T on my mobile and asked her, ‘Did you book a cabin?’

‘Nuh!’ Mrs T replied, ‘Why would I do that when we can stay for free at me friend’s house.’

[Photo 3: Backyard view from Mrs. T’s friend’s house © L.M. Kling 2013]

Fair point. Why book a cabin and campsite if you can stay with friends and save money?

‘Looks like someone impersonated our mum and snaffled up her cabin,’ I said.

‘Mmm! That’s a bit rough,’ Mrs T said, ‘Hope she can get her money back. She can stay with us, if she likes.’

I looked to Mum T. ‘You can stay with the T-Team at their friend’s.’

Mum T smiled. ‘It’s okay, the manager has given me another cabin free of charge.’

Glad that we had decided to return to Alice Springs and had been there to support Mum. Still, rather ironic that, Mum, who had been the first to book her cabin way back in March or April to ensure she had a booking and not miss out, was the one who almost did.

[Photo 4: After all, Mum T had had her fair share of camping in the Finke River © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

In the golden tones of late afternoon, Anthony and I set up our tent and then took a leisurely stroll around the caravan park and onto mum’s cabin. Fortunately, her cabin was near our sons’. On the way we ‘happened” to pass the cabin containing the fake T-Team. There they sat, out on the front porch, an elderly couple and a younger couple. Didn’t appear to be your average criminal type or distant relatives even.

[Photo 5: Settling into cabin © L.M. Kling 2013]

Visited the boys’ cabin. Son 1 and 2 had settled in for the night, happy with the comfort that the rooms afforded. Son 1 particularly pleased that he wouldn’t have to hear our snoring.

Son 2 however asked, ‘What are we doing for tea?’

‘Maybe we can go to a hotel to eat,’ I said.

My husband frowned. ‘What? Are we made of money?’

‘You want to cook?’ I questioned. ‘Anyway, it’s Mum’s and the boys’ last night up here, they leave for Adelaide tomorrow.’

Anthony sighed, ‘Oh, alright!’

Sprinted over to mum’s cabin and knocked on the door. Mum, holding the phone, ushered me in. Then I stood in the small lounge area while Mum sat at the tiny wooden table, phone glued to her ear.

I waited.

Mum, with phone at her ear and silent, waited.

‘What…?’ I began.

Mum batted her free hand at me to be quiet.

So, I waited.

And waited.

Might as well do something while waiting for goodness knows what. Must be something to do with the imposters, I thought.

[Photo 6: Mum hanging on the phone © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘Yes…’ finally, mum gets a response, ‘yes, right…nine o’clock tomorrow…be there half an hour before…no, we don’t have any luggage; only hand luggage…Right, thank you.’

‘Not news about the T-Team imposters, then?’ I laughed.

‘No, just had to do the check in with Qantas for the boys’ return trip tomorrow,’ Mum replied.

Only then, was I able to discuss with mum about going out for tea.  Of course, the suggestion was fine by her.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Memories of Alice Springs way back when—the Opening of the Flynn Memorial Church 1956 © S.O. Gross 1956

***

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]