[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]
In the morning light, we beheld the beauty of Dad’s choice of a camping spot. Giant gum trees, reeds, and flowers surrounded a large jade-green pool, beckoning us to stay, enjoy, and explore. The mysteries and wonders of the place drew me to taste adventure before breakfast.
I hiked east, traversing the banks of the Neales River until I reached a fence. Hungry, I ambled back to camp, late for breakfast, but not for cold damper.
‘I honked the horn and called for you. Where were you?’ Dad snapped.
After my damper and jam, then washing dishes, I ventured west crossing the Algebuckina Bridge. The creek bed appeared all dried up; the water absorbed beneath the surface. Cracks inches wide marred the clay bed that had soaked up all the water. In the distance, I spied majestic eucalyptus trees and decided to reach that spot, before returning. No waterhole on this side.
I trekked along the sandy plain littered with spinifex bushes.
When I reached the clump of gums, I examined a shallow puddle of moss, sludge and fish.
On the opposite side of the ridge rose a steep cliff. I scrambled to see what wonders lay beyond. I mounted the hill, delighted with the sight of a deep waterhole, crystal green, stretching and winding, and disappearing behind a hill. Snap went my fingers; instamatic photos capturing this moment in Algebuckina’s history.
Then I bounded back to camp.
‘Dad, you should see the water-hole, it’s huge!’ I exclaimed.
Dad replied, ‘TR ventured past the fence east of our camp.’
‘Yeah,’ TR, our family friend said, ‘I discovered Neales Creek goes wider, deeper and runs for miles.’
‘Where’re the fellas?’
‘Oh, the boys went on a shooting expedition.’
TR chuckled. ‘I bet they won’t catch anything.’
No sooner had he spoken than the lads returned with their heads down.
‘How did you go?’ Dad asked.
‘We remain animal-less,’ my older cousin, C1 said.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2021
Photo: Algebuckina at Dawn © C.D. Trudinger 1981