The Road-Trip of No Destination
[Watched the first two of the Mad Max series, lately. Memories of the younger of the T-Team (my brother and me with a couple of friends) surfaced. We piled into my brother’s Chrysler Charger or whatever, and with roughin’ it on our minds, we travel up north of Adelaide to the Flinders Ranges; our sights set on Chambers Gorge…]
Back in the mid-1980’s my brother rarely used a map, not a map I could see. The Adelaide Street Directory, all faded and lying on the back seat under the stiff-from-salt-beach towels, doesn’t cover way-out country areas such as the Flinders Ranges.
Every Easter, commencing Maundy Thursday, we’d pile into my brother’s latest Chrysler charger or whatever, and roll along to the car stereo-cassette player blasting out local South Australian band Red Gum. Up Port Wakefield Road we’d go, and if we were fortunate enough not the break down there, as one tends to do on Port Wakefield Road, we’d sally on forth to the Flinders Ranges, about four hundred kilometres north of Adelaide.
We’d start our journey late, usually after nine at night, as some of my brother’s friends had work and had to eat dinner, then finally pack before they were ready to leave.
One time, my brother and I took friends Barney and Doris (not their real names) on a planned trip to Chambers Gorge, situated in the north-eastern part of the Flinders Ranges. We must’ve left closer to midnight, and my brother and Barney shared the driving through the night. Dirt roads at that time, caused the driving to slow and by the time we neared our destination in the Flinders, the watery blue sky of dawn crept over low hills in the east. In the back seat, Doris and I rested our heads on our bags and slept, while my brother willed himself to keep awake rocking to British band, Dire Straits. There was a short stop as he then, too weary, swapped with Barney.
Doris and I kept on sleeping.
Then…Bang! The car skidded to a halt.
We spilled out of the car. I rubbed my eyes and looked around. The sun peeped over the horizon of flat desert plains, mountains to the west, jutted like pimples on the edge, still dark, untouched by the sun.
My brother checked the front of the car. ‘It’s all right, no damage. The bull bar took the brunt.’
Barney sauntered down the road, and then returned to us. ‘We hit a roo,’ he said.
‘So, we’ll have roo for breakfast?’ I asked, half-joking.
‘Why not? I’m hungry,’ Barney replied.
‘You can cook it, then,’ my brother said.
So as the sun rose over the distant mountains capping the peaks in pink, we roasted the skinned roo-roadkill over the campfire. While we waited for the meat to cook, Barney swilled his breakfast beverage of choice—beer. My brother, a teetotaller and body builder, drank his concoction of protein powder mixed with water and raw egg. Doris and I boiled a billy of water and then brewed ourselves a cup of instant coffee and condensed milk.
Doris clutched her metal mug, then sipped her coffee and said, ‘Not sure about the kangaroo for breakfast.’
‘It’ll be alright,’ I said. ‘I’ve had kangaroo—not so bad. Although, not sure about eating after the way Barney’s cooked it. We fried it once like that on our Central Australian trip, and I had a terrible tummy ache and bad gas. Smelt like rotten eggs. My brother and his cousin had competitions rating the potency of their gas. They thought it was hilarious, but the stink was awful.’
Doris grimaced and put down her coffee mug. ‘I don’t want to know.’
‘You won’t have any choice when we’re stuck in the car driving to Chambers Gorge.’
‘Speaking of Chambers Gorge, where is it from here?’
‘Haven’t a clue. I guess my brother will just keep on driving until we see a sign to Chambers Gorge.’
Barney called, ‘Roo’s ready.’
Doris and I trooped over to the campfire and inspected Barney’s efforts. Barney waved away the smoke to reveal bone and sinew reduced to charcoal.
Doris screwed up her nose and said, ‘I’ll pass.’
‘Me too.’ I grimaced. ‘I don’t fancy the after-effects from that.’
‘Aw, bit over-cooked, but charcoal’s good for you,’ Barney said. He took a few bites and then frowned as he forced the hardened lumps of gristle down.
Barney then took the remnants of the roo behind a bush and gave the poor animal a good Christian burial in a shallow grave.
[to be continued…]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019; 2021
Photo: Lee-Anne on a Limb, Flinders Ranges © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 1984