[The last few months I have revisited The T-Team with Mr. B: Central Australian Safari 1977 which is a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981. In preparation for its release later this year, I will be sharing posts of this adventure.
Here’s how it all began…]
Beginning With Mr. B–Adelaide
1977, August, mid-winter and I was excited. Dad had never taken me camping. Then, when I turned 14, he decided to take the risk and allowed me to join the T-Team on a Central Australian safari. Dad’s friend Mr. Banks and his son, Matt (not their real names), joined Dad, my brother (Rick) and me on this journey of adventure. I had gathered from Dad’s reluctance to invite me on previous adventures out bush, that he had some reservations how I would cope…
Our trip began in the grey dawn in the foothills south of Adelaide, where we collected our companions, Mr. B, and his son Matt.
August, two weeks before the September school holidays, and Dad eased the truck, as he called the red hired Land Rover, to a stop on the slope. He yanked up the handbrake and sighed.
‘I hope it holds,’ he said.
‘Is this where Mr. Banks and Matt live?’ I asked. Mr. B, as we nicknamed him was Dad’s friend and Matt, a few years younger than me was his son. Only fair as my dad had the nickname of Mr. T.
A tall man, about Dad’s age, dressed R.M. Williams trousers, checked shirt, and polished hiking boots, bowled up the steep driveway to meet us. ‘Come into our humble abode,’ this man, Mr. B said gesturing to his home; hardly humble, as inside, it was more like a 1960’s style Swiss Chalet set on the hillside with a vista of the Adelaide plains.
We admired the view, through a large window spanning the wall, a panorama of Adelaide, lights winking as the city woke up.
‘Nice view!’ I said observing Mrs. B fussing around her husband, her hair perfectly coiffured, even at this time of the morning.
‘The advantages of being a bank manager,’ Mr. B sniffed, then waved at his eleven-year-old son, Matt. ‘Come on boy, can’t be late.’
‘Wow,’ I said to Dad, ‘the B’s must be rich to have such a large home with a view. We’d never be able to afford this on your teacher’s salary.’
‘Lee-Anne!’ Dad muttered. ‘Keep your comments to yourself. Don’t embarrass your hosts.’ Or me for that matter, he implied.
‘Sorry.’ I was always putting the proverbial foot in my mouth.
My brother Rick nudged me and whispered, ‘I wonder how this bank manager is going to cope on one of Dad’s camping trips.’
I shrugged. ‘Who knows?’ At fourteen, I did not consider too deeply how a man of class would cope with a camping trip minus all the luxuries a well-to-do city slicker like him would be used to. ‘I wonder how I’m going to manage. I mean to say, this is my first time camping in the bush.’
Matt slung his sports bag over his shoulder and after reluctantly hugging his mother and older sister who made a brief appearance, followed us out to the Land Rover.
‘I say, girl,’ Mr. B strode to the truck, ‘you take a photo of me. We must mark the occasion.’
‘I’m not sure, it’ll work out, Mr. B,’ I said. ‘It’s still pretty dark.’
‘Go on, girl, there’s light enough.’
As Dad packed Mr. B’s and Matt’s baggage into the back cabin, I lined Mr. B with the road and, with my nameless brand instamatic camera, snapped a photo.
‘It won’t work out, Lee,’ my brother said as he passed me. ‘It’s too dark.’
‘I know,’ I mumbled.
Mr. B appeared in my photo to be keeling over, such was the slope of his street. Little did I know how prophetic that photo would be of Mr. B’s adaption to the ways of the bush.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022
Feature Photo: Adelaide in Sea mist © L.M. Kling 2020