T-Team Series–On Top of Mt. Liebig

[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]

A Day to Climb Mt. Liebig

Part 2

 All alone, I fidgeted. How long were they going to be? Where have they all gone? I edged towards the height of the gully and looked over. A loose stone skittered down the cliff. I retreated to the safety of the gully and waited. I bit my nails. Had they all fallen to their deaths? Do I join them? I stuck my head through the gap, then my shoulders, and finally my whole body. I placed my hand on the granite. How did they get up here? My height-challenged frame failed to reach the footholds and niches necessary to climb this rock wall. How did they do it? I stood on tiptoes, trying to reach a notch. Just too high. Just my luck, I’ve been left here all alone.

*[Photo 1: Deadly cliffs of Mt. Liebig © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 My brother’s head poked over the ledge.

 ‘There you are!’ I said.

 He grinned. ‘Where did you think I was?’

 David R appeared beside him.

 ‘I don’t know. Splattered on the rocks at the foot of the mountain.’ I reached for my brother. ‘Where have you been? Where are the others?’

 ‘At the top,’ Richard, my brother said.

‘But what about me?’

 ‘Don’t worry, I’ll help you.’ My brother scrambled down. ‘Now climb on my shoulders and David will pull you up. Then you’ll be right. This is the hardest part.’

 I did as I was told. I steadied myself on my brother’s shoulders and from there David grabbed my wrist and pulled me to the next level. Then I negotiated the rock-pile obstacle course on my own and made it to the summit of Mt Liebig a second time. My arrival recorded at 9:28am.

[Photo 2: Conquerors of Mt. Liebig—meh! © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 Older cousin (C1) perched himself on a flat stone and wrote his diary. Rick fiddled with his spinifex shin guards and muttered, ‘Fat lot of use they were.’ He picked at cunning spikes that had slipped past the guard. Younger cousin (C2) munched on an apple. Dad peeled an orange and with hearty slurps sucked its juices. David wandered around the summit, gazing at the land below, and then examining the cairn of stones.

 ‘We are on the right peak, aren’t we?’ Dad wiped the orange drips from his beard. He pointed at the other peak. ‘There’s a cairn of stones over there.’

 ‘Hmmm.’ David stroked his beard. ‘I think so. That one’s used for surveying.’ He picked up a rock and then as if by magic, extracted a rusty old can from the cavity. Without saying a word, he pulled out a roll of paper. He unfurled the paper and his eyes darted from right to left over the page.

[Photo 3: Survey of the terrain below from which we came © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 C1 paused in his journaling to ask the question. ‘Well, what does it say, David?’

 ‘Some people by the name of MacQueen and Smith of Alice Springs climbed Mt. Liebig on the 27th of August 1977.’

 ‘You’re kidding!’ Dad lifted the yellowed paper from David. ‘We climbed Mt Liebig in 1977, but a couple of weeks before.’

 ‘Maybe they picked up your quart can,’ I said.

 Dad frowned. ‘I don’t think so.’ He looked at his watch. ‘And what’s the date today?’

*[Photo 4: View of the nearby ranges from Mt. Liebig © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

My brother shrugged.

C2 scratched his forehead. ‘I don’t know.’

C1 hunched over his diary.

Dad stepped over to C1. ‘What’s the date?’

C1 ran his finger along the top of the page. ‘The 27th of August 1981.’

Dad counted on his fingers and then said, ‘Well, fancy that! Exactly four years to the day.’

‘Must be the date to climb Mount Liebig,’ C1 said and returned to scribing in his journal.

We remained at the summit at least an hour, engraving our names with the amazing date onto a stone, and celebrating our Liebig conquest with fruitcake for morning tea.

*[Photo 5: Liebig conquerors 1977 © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

[Note from the author: We ascended to the summit, not two weeks before that Dad had calculated, but one day before Mr. MacQueen and Smith summited. We climbed Mt Liebig on August 26, 1977. Read our adventures in the series Travelling with the T-Team: Central Australia 1977, particularly our previous venture climbing Mt. Liebig, “We almost Perished”.]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; blog update 2021

Feature Painting: Mt Liebig (Acrylic) © Lee-Anne Marie Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981 — Not for Sale


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T-Team Series–Mt. Liebig


 Thursday, August 27, 1981

[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]

Part 1—First Leg of the Journey

By the time we left camp to climb Mt. Liebig, the sun peeped over the horizon, and the nose-shaped hill leading up the mountain glowed in crimson.

*[Photo 1: Mt. Liebig at dawn © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 Dad looked at his watch and said, ‘The time is 7:05 am.’ I imagined him continuing with “Captain’s Log, Star Date the 27th of August 1981…” But Dad’s focus switched to negotiating the lumps and bumps of the make-shift road ahead.

 We parked near the foot of the range and then hiked through the second gully from the north-eastern edge of mountainous waves jutting up from the plain. We trekked up and down four ridges until we arrived at the base of the gully nearest Mt. Liebig. The lads bounded up the gully while I lagged behind with Dad.

[Photo 2: The terrain around Mt. Liebig © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 My father seemed to be dragging his feet. He looked left and right, and every so often screwed up his nose.

 ‘You won’t find it,’ I said.

 Dad kicked a spinifex clump. ‘No harm in trying.’

 ‘You lost the quart can last time we climbed four years ago, way before the gully leading to the summit. Besides, we went a different way.’

 ‘Oh, I thought it was around about here… You never know.’

 Dad scanned the prickle bushes, loose rocks and red sand for his beloved quart can. How Dad survived the intervening years between 1977 and now, without his quart can, I’ll never know.

 ‘I remember that ghost gum,’ Dad said and pointed at the gum as if its pure white bark set against the blend of purples in the cliffs shadows held special powers to cause Dad’s quart can to materialise.

*[Photo 3: Suck on lemons for refreshment © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 We rested under the ghost gum, eating apples, sucking lemons to find strength to continue, but we failed to locate Dad’s trusty old quart can. Dad gazed over the valley of silver slopes of grass, his mouth downturned, and his glasses fogged over. He missed that quart can. He stood and patted his pockets. ‘Ah, well! We better keep on going.’

One by one we hauled our packs on our backs, and loaded up as pack animals, we picked our route over rocks, loose stones and sharp spinifex spears. My brother wore home-made vinyl shin guards. Much had changed since we last hiked up here in 1977; boulders had fallen down, the spinifex grew in more abundance, and effigies of burnt trees dotted the terrain. Single-file we mounted the steep ascent until we reached the pair of five-metre-high walls at the top of the gully.

Dad shaded his eyes and squinted up the barrier of rocks to the west. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. Some of the ledges on the cliff had crumbled.

*[Photo 4: The tantalising Trig © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 My brother sprinted up through a gap in the boulders. We waited for his return and signal to proceed.

 The wind whistled through the alley of cliffs. I looked through the crevice between the rocks. No sign of My brother.

 ‘I hope he’s alright,’ I said.

 More minutes passed. We sat poised to move at any moment as if sitting on spinifex, yet we remained calm, mesmerized by the emptiness of the landscape, and the silence.

*[Photo 5: Down the Gully from where we had climbed © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

I looked through the gap again and asked, ‘What’s taking him so long?’ Then I slumped onto a large stone. Visions of my brother falling off the cliff plagued my imagination.

 ‘I’ll go up and have a look,’ David R (our guide) said, and then he disappeared through the hole.

 More minutes ticked by. I glanced at the hole that had swallowed up David. ‘What’s happened?’

 ‘Just be patient.’ Dad seemed content to sit staring at the scenery. ‘They’ll come back.’

 But they didn’t. Instead, the hole drew in older cousin (C1), followed soon after by younger cousin(C2). I peered into the tunnel of no return.

 Dad hovered at my back. ‘Don’t go up there.’

 ‘Why not?’ I replied. ‘Everyone else has.’

 ‘Let me see,’ Dad said as he nudged me away. He crawled further in the hole and traced the granite wall inside with his fingers.

 ‘Don’t you leave me behind.’ I saw Dad place his foot in a crag and lever his way up to a ledge. ‘You tell someone to come back and help me, you hear.’

 Dad called back. ‘Don’t you move.’

 Easy for him to say. ‘Yeah, okay, but don’t forget about me.’

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; blog update 2021

Feature Photo: Dreams to climb Mt. Liebig © S.O. Gross 1946


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The Lost World of the Wends–Free


World of the Wends

The rooster crowed. Amie yawned and stretched her hand slapping against Wilma’s pillow. ‘Oops! Sorry,’ Amie mumbled. Wilma did not stir; she slept like the proverbial babe.

Amie peered at the window.

The rooster crowed again.

Amie eased her way out from under the doona, and then tottered over to the window. The landscape was cloaked in shades of violet, the black blocks of village buildings barely discernible against the nightscape. Standing at the window so long she shivered, Amie studied the stars, trying to make sense of them. Stars sparkled through a cloud shaped like the hand of God. She thought it must be a cloud. Why do the stars all look so different? She examined the clusters but couldn’t make sense of any constellations. None seemed familiar. ‘Must be I’m tired or perhaps dreaming,’ she murmured.

The rooster crowed yet again.

‘Oh, go on, you! It’s the middle of the night,’ Amie said. She returned to her bed and crept under the quilt.

The rooster continued to herald the dawn. Cockle-doodle-doo! Cockle-doodle-doo. Amie lay awake. Cockle-doodle-doo. Cockle-doodle-screech! Squawk! Squawk! Screech!

‘Don’t tell me—foxes.’ Amie turned over and tried to steal a few more hours’ sleep. But sleep eluded her.

The hens clucked. The rooster squawked. A gate squeaked and then clunked. Then the noise of chooks in the chook yard sounded like a party with a cacophony of squawking, clucking, cockle-doodling and footsteps scrunching.

Amie heard a thud. Shrieks and the sound of wings flapping followed.

Must save the poor rooster. Wearing only her nightdress that Frau Biar had lent her, she raced out of the bedroom. She stumbled in the darkened living area as she made her way to the door. The squawking spurred her on. She fumbled for the knob. No knob. She groped at a long metal thing—a latch. She worked the latch, tugging it, pulling at it, wiggling and waggling trying to open the door.

[Extract from The Lost World of the Wends]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature photo: Chook on the run, Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2001


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The Hitch-hiker

Mission of the Unwilling

T-Team Series–Climbing Mt. Conner

Picnic on the Plateau

[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]

At midday Dad, my two cousins (C1 and C2), and I set off to conquer Mt. Conner. My brother stayed back at camp to nurse his sore feet and our family friend, TR to recover from his Uluru climb. All that hype from Dad about a perilous and impossible ascent to the plateau was highly exaggerated. We followed a euro (rock wallaby) track, although rocky, had no loose rocks and the spinifex was sparse.

*[Photo 1: The prospect of climbing Mt. Conner © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

We reached the plateau in ninety minutes. After hiking through the bush for ten minutes, we found a clearing. Dad lit a small fire. We cooked damper and boiled water for tea. So, for lunch we enjoyed sardines, peanut butter and jam on our damper, and washed down the whole fare with billy tea. I reckon Dad had to reassert his glory as chief cook after I’d provided porridge for breakfast while Dad went rabbit hunting—unsuccessful rabbit hunting.

Our stomachs settled, we wandered towards the cliffs.

‘Oh, we’ll be hiking for quite a while,’ Dad said erring on the side of pessimism. ‘The cliffs are five miles away.’

‘Well, what’s this then?’ C1’s voice floated back through a thick wad of tee tree.

We stepped through the wall of scrub. My older cousin lay flat on his stomach peering down a 500-metre drop, his bare back hanging over the edge.

*[Photo 2: Careful, cousin © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘Ah, well.’ Dad tiptoed toward the precipice and looked down. ‘You be careful.’

‘I know what I’m doing Uncle.’ C1 inched further over the ledge and snapped a few shots with his camera.

I held my breath as C1’s body edged over the cliff side. I took a photo of his dare-devil act. For most of the time C2 loitered way back by the bushes with his uncle, reluctant to venture too close to the edge. However, I do have a photo of my cousins on a rocky outcrop near the cliff.

*[Photo 3: The drop © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Mid-afternoon, we commenced our return to camp T-Team. Wanting to locate the highest point of Mt. Conner, I made a little detour. Everyone followed.

We stopped in the middle of non-descript scrubland where Dad muttered, ‘We’ve wasted half-an-hour.’

‘Alright then, not much of a summit anyway,’ I said. ‘It’s like Mt. Remarkable in the Southern Flinders; most unremarkable. And no view.’

We trudged down the stony euro path to the plains below.

*[Photo 4: View from the plains © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Our descent took an hour and, as the sun hovered just above the horizon, we arrived back at camp triumphant and exhausted. A box kite constructed out of brown paper hovered above the mulga trees. At the other end of the rough string, in a small sandy patch, Richard tugged at his lofty creation.

The sun squeezed golden rays through high clouds near the horizon. A photo opportunity arose. Soon it’ll be over, I thought, and plucked up Dad’s chunky camera bag and darted towards the bush.

‘Hoy!’ Dad yelled.

I cringed. Just my luck he’ll make me peel those petrol-tainted spuds. ‘What?’ I yelled.

‘Where’re you off to?’

‘I just want to take a photo of the sunset on Mt. Conner with your camera.’

‘Oh, I don’t know about that.’

‘Oh, please!’ I placed the bag on the ground and then clasped my hands together. ‘I’ll be careful.’


‘I won’t go far.’

Dad took two paces towards me. ‘But—um—er—’

‘I’ll be back to help with tea in a minute. I won’t be long.’

‘Oh, alright! Go on then.’ He flung his hand around his face as if shooing a fly. Then he locked eyes with me and shook his index finger at me. ‘But don’t go off the road, do you understand?’

‘Yes, Dad.’

I picked up the bag and skipped through the scrub.

I did have to go off the road in search of a vantage point. All the good high ground happened to be off track. The forest of mulga trees obscured the view of Mt. Conner. I climbed a tree. Dad never said anything about climbing trees. Perched on a branch, I watched the sienna tones on Conner’s cliffs deepen. Then I grew bored and moved to a higher tree.

The sun sank through the clouds and into the horizon. The cliffs turned orange, then soft crimson, and finally, blood red. I snapped each stage with the best shot just after the sun had set, bathing the mesa in crimson.

*[Photo 5: Mount Conner at sunset © L.M. Kling 1981]

Pleased with my photographic efforts, I commenced my descent down the rough branches of the mulga tree. Snap. My foothold broke and crumbled. My lower half scudded a few inches catching on the splintery trunk, while I caught and hung onto the brittle branch above. Dad’s heavy camera dangled like a lead weight compromising my equilibrium, causing me to teeter. I rotated my body, shifted the camera to my side, then, hugging the tree trunk, began climbing down bear-style. The strap got in the way and as I used my elbow to slide it and the camera to my back, I lost my balance and plummeted to the ground.

I picked myself up and checked the camera. The body and lens appeared whole and unscathed. My shirt sleeve was not so fortunate, having been torn by the trauma of the fall. Ah, well, I’ll sew it up some time. I dusted the spinifex needles from the seat of my pants and marched back to camp, arriving just before nightfall. I rolled up my shirt-sleeve hiding my brush with personal catastrophe.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016

Photo: Mt. Conner Sunset © Lee-Anne Marie Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981


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T-Team Series–Mt. Conner

Broken Springs

Have been reviewing The T-Team with Mr. B, the prequel to my first travel memoir, Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981. The updated manuscript has been resting long enough for me to revisit Mr. B and his intrepid adventures with the T-Team. Ready to publish…Maybe in the new year.

The sun sparkled through the gold-green leaves of the river gums, and a flock of white cockatoos chattered in the branches. The air hinted warmth and enticed me out of my sleeping bag to explore. Dad had mentioned we’d be probably camping near Curtain Springs on our journey to Ayers Rock (now called Uluru). But this morning I wanted to check out a spring closer to camp.

[Photo 1: Flock of Parrots © L.M. Kling 1984]

I ambled down the soft sands of the creek bed, past Mr. B wrapped up in his sleeping bag of superior fibres for warmth. He smacked his lips and snored as I trod to the side of him. Matt and Richard stood like the risen dead warming the cold blood in their veins by the fire, offering no help to Dad who stirred the porridge.

‘You sure that’s porridge?’ I asked Dad.

‘Of course it is!’ Dad snapped and then peered into the billy to be sure.

‘Can never be too sure, after egg soup last night,’ I said and kept on walking.

Richard and Matt laughed. First sign of actual life from the boys I’d seen that morning.

Dad called after me. ‘Er, Lee-Anne, where are you going?’

‘For a nature walk.’

‘Oh, don’t be too long, breakfast is almost ready.’

I patted my camera bag. ‘Yes, Dad.’ Just after I’ve checked out the spring to see if the scene was worthy to be photographed. No need to tell Dad that information. He’d just try to persuade me to have breakfast first and then I’d miss the not so early morning photo opportunity.

The creek narrowed, and I scrambled over rocks, pushed through reeds to the spring. Anticipating a pretty pond, with waterlilies, ducks and a kangaroo or two drinking the fresh clear water, I was disappointed. The spring, if you could call it a spring was little more than a pit of slime. A puddle at the end of our driveway at home was more photogenic than this hole filled with muddy water.

After a glance at the so-called spring, I tramped back to camp and ate cold porridge for breakfast.

 [Photo 2: The pond of disappointment © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

After our “business trip” to civilisation, Ernabella, where we collected the trailer, had a shower, filled up with petrol, water and replenished our supplies from the store, we began our travels to Uluru.

On the way a large flat-topped mountain emerged through the red sand dunes.

[Photo 3: Mt Conner © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘Is that Uluru?’ I asked Dad.

‘It’s Mt. Conner. Remember we saw it from Mt. Woodroffe?’

‘How come it’s higher than the land around it?’

‘In Central Australia’s prehistoric past,’ Dad explained, ‘this piece of land kept its integrity while the surrounding area had eroded away. It’s called a mesa.’

I was fascinated by this monolithic plateau. ‘Can we stop and get a photo of it?’

‘When I find a good place to stop,’ Dad said.

He kept on driving up and down the red waves of sand hills, winding left and right, the mesa appearing and disappearing, never quite the perfect view or park for our Rover. We rolled onto the plain and in the distance, Mt. Conner rose above the dunes. Dad parked the Rover at the side of the road and we jumped out. I hiked further up the road. The flat-topped mountain looked so small in the viewer of my instamatic camera.

[Photo 4: Mt Conner, Dad and Rick © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Dad groaned.

‘What?’ Mr. B asked.

‘The trailer’s cracked up again.’

‘Not again!’ Richard muttered.

‘I’m afraid so,’ Dad said. ‘Can you fix it, Richard?’

The men gathered around the trailer, once again sinking into the ochre sand and leaning on its side.

‘It’s the springs.’ Dad circled it like a shark. ‘Can’t take the rough track.’

‘Hmmm,’ Mr. B grunted, his hands on hips and elbows akimbo.

Richard lay down on the ground and peered up into the trailer’s underside.

Dad sighed. ‘We better unload the trailer, I suppose.’

While the men relieved the ailing trailer of its load and bound up the fissure with some rope, I scaled a small rise and took several shots of Mt. Conner. Then as the males in the T-Team stuffed most of the luggage into the back of the Rover and then with the light left-overs, reloaded the trailer, I gazed at the mesa, this top-sliced mountain in an expanse of yellow grass and sienna dunes. Boring! My photos needed a human figure to add interest. Richard and Matt, having completed their trailer-duties, wandered up the road.

I ran down the hill and chased after Richard. ‘Take a photo of me.’

Richard gazed up at the cobalt blue sky. ‘Oh, alright.’

Positioning myself on the side of the road, I looked at Richard. ‘Come on, I’m ready.’

‘Just wait, move to the right,’ Richard said.

I did and then noticed Richard’s finger hovering over the camera lens. ‘Move your finger.’

He shifted it, but as he snapped the photo, I thought his digit remained too close for comfort to the lens.

To ensure I acquired at least one good shot, I photographed Matt, then Dad and Richard as my humans in the foreground of my mesa muse.

[Photo 5: Mt Conner and me © R.M. Trudinger 1977]

‘Careful you don’t waste your film,’ Dad warned.

‘I won’t,’ I replied without telling him I’d already “wasted” several frames on the wonder of Mt. Conner. How could I resist?

I climbed in the Rover and asked Dad, ‘Can we visit Mt. Conner?’

‘Er, um, not this time.’ Dad had places to be and trailers to properly fix. So the next vital destination on his agenda was Curtain Springs.

To be continued…

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; new and improved 2018; updated 2021

Photo: Mt. Conner by Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013


[Cover photo]

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