[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 commence their return to Adelaide from Alice Springs.]
Back to the Big Smoke of the South
After packing up our belongings into our trusty Ford, topping up with petrol, and cash supplies, we departed Alice Springs and headed south to Adelaide. It’s amazing what one discovers retracing our steps to South Australia. In the morning sunlight, there, mini-Ulurus, mini–Kata Tjutas, and mini-Mt Conners.
At Kulgera, we shared lunch with flies. All around us, people swished at their faces. My glasses kept falling off as I fanned the flies away. In the end, I put on my sunnies. Then, when that strategy failed, we retreated into the roadhouse and had coffee in the restaurant. Self-serve for $3.
I drove the following 180 kilometres to Marla. A slow drive at times stuck behind cars pulling caravans.
‘Why don’t you over-take?’ Anthony whined.
‘I’m playing it safe,’ I replied. ‘Better to be late, than dead on time.’
The caravan convoy eased into Agnes Creek.
‘Ah, freedom!’ I said and pressed on the accelerator. The Ford powered up to 100 km/h.
‘Careful!’ Anthony warned. ‘Don’t go too fast.’
I kept my promise and maintained a steady 100 km/h all the way to the border of South Australia and Northern Territory.
There, at the border we parked to check our itinerary of food for fruit and vegetables. Owing to the prevention of fruit fly into South Australia, fruit and vegetables had to be disposed of in the bins provided. More flies hovered around joining our forage in the back of the Ford.
A passing Northern American tourist remarked, ‘Are South Australian’s so precious?’
‘Yes, we are,’ I muttered to Anthony, ‘how else have we kept the scourge of fruit fly out of our state?’
All around us, fellow travellers hauled out their luggage from their cars or four-wheel drive vehicles and disposed of their fresh produce. None of them looked happy.
Sitting on a picnic table, a lad about Son 1’s age, and wearing a fly net, boiled up a pan of canned corn and peas on a portable gas cooker.
Nodding in their direction, I remarked to my husband, ‘Do they think canned vegetables are a problem?’
‘Quiet, Lee-Anne, they might hear you,’ Anthony snapped.
‘Maybe someone should tell them that it’s only fresh vegetables that need to be disposed of.’
Anthony shook his head. ‘Come on, let’s get going.’
After depositing the few offensive apples and oranges in the bin, we piled into the Ford and charged forth on our journey south down the Stuart Highway.
A sign warned penalties for the non-disposal of fruit and vegetables.
Anthony breathed in. ‘Oh, no, what about the potatoes?’
‘We have potatoes?’
Anthony nodded. ‘What are we going to do?’
I shrugged. ‘Eat them? For tea?’
‘How are we going to do that?’
‘I guess we’ll have to stop over at Marla and camp there tonight. Then cook up the potatoes.’
‘I guess I could try and make rösti (Swiss potato bake) on the BBQ facilities provided,’ Anthony sighed. ‘Good luck getting a campsite.’
With the potatoes securely stored in the cooler hidden in the Ford, we stepped into Marla’s red brick tourist park office. Tent site? No problem. Plenty of room on the grassy park for campers.
However, fearful that the biosecurity police might emerge from under a mini-Ayers rock and ping us with a hefty fine, I was designated to cook up the potatoes and one offending onion, while Anthony pitched the 2-person tent in the middle of the verdant camping reserve. My potato dish was not exactly rösti, though.
While frying up this “contraband” fare, a familiar white van whizzed past. I stepped out of the BBQ shelter and waved to them. The white van turned around.
The T-Team joined us for our potato and onion fry. Our nephew contributed their stash of vegetables to make a stir fry. Mrs. T shared the T-team’s adventures visiting a friend’s cattle station south of Alice the past couple of days.
My older niece was not her usual cheerful self. While helping me wash the dishes in a crummy camp kitchen with little light, Rick confided in me that she may not have been happy about driving the Oodnadatta track.
‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘she must know that track is full of tacks to bust tyres.’
Rich laughed. ‘Oh, yeah! Maybe we won’t go that way…’
We waved the T-Team off on their venture south at around 8.30pm. Then Anthony crawled into the tent and began tossing out clothes, bags, and stuff into the frigid cold night.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked.
‘Where are you hiding the drink bottles?’ he cried.
‘Are they in the car?’
‘No, I’ve looked there.’
‘Sure, they’re not in the BBQ hut?’
‘No, where have you hidden them?’
‘I don’t remember, “hiding” them. They must be left somewhere,’ I said. ‘it’s too dark to look for them now, so you might just have to be satisfied with the thermos.’
With a grunt, he who is always right, shrugged on an extra coat, sat outside the tent, sipping hot chocolate from the thermos, and playing with his phone. Wrapped in my sleeping bag, I sat beside the man who had lost his water bottle, and wrote my diary by torchlight. Ours was one lonely tent in an expanse of couch grass.
Having lost the battle to mourn the temporary loss of his water bottle alone, Anthony crawled into bed at 10pm. Soon after, I followed him and in the warmth of the thermal sleeping bag, I soon fell asleep.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Mini Ayers Rock © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013