In this episode we venture up close and personal to Uluru/Ayers Rock…]
When we arrived at the fence that bordered the Ayers Rock-Olgas Reserve (as it was known back in 1977) *, we took more photos of the Rock, rusty-red with black streaks, and towering above us. We drove to the Park Ranger’s office to pay an admission fee to enter the reserve and see the Rock. Once Dad had returned from fee-paying, we commenced our drive around the Rock.
As there were more tourists in their Land Rovers and cars also circling the Rock, Richard and I descended from our high status on the top of the Rover and crammed into the back cabin. The roads, though not sealed, were better graded with gravel tempering the bull dust, so though the dust was still a nuisance, it didn’t make me cough.
‘When are we going to climb the Rock?’ Matt asked his dad.
‘Soon, ma boy, soon.’
‘Have you climbed the Rock?’ I asked Dad.
‘Erm…’ Dad coughed.
‘Of course, you did. Back in the 1950’s. Not so many tourists then, I reckon. Were you the only ones camping near the Rock back then?’
‘You went with mum and her family back then, didn’t you Dad?’
Dad put his dusty handkerchief over his mouth and coughed.
‘I remember the beautiful photos taken by Grandpa. He was a missionary pastor at Hermannsburg, you know, Mr B. And Dad was a teacher at Hermannsburg. That’s where he met mum, did you know, Mr B?’
Mr B rolled his eyes. ‘I know.’
‘I bet the place has changed a lot since then.’
Richard chuckled, ‘More tourists.’
‘The roads are better,’ Dad said. ‘They were just tracks back in the fifties.’
‘I dare say, ol’ chap,’ Mr. B butted into our conversation, ‘the Rock must still be the same.’
Dad chewed his lip. ‘Well, er, yes, I s’pose.’
‘If you ask me, all looks primitive to me,’ Mr. B said. ‘I mean to say, the land looks like we’re back in the 1950’s. I really think they should invest in some decent hotels or motels. Perhaps a tourist village. For the tourists. I mean, just look at the Rock—they’re missing money-making opportunities.’
Dad shifted his weight in the driver’s seat. ‘Er, I don’t know if having lots of tourists is a good idea for the Rock. The Indigenous consider the Rock sacred. I think they’d want less tourists, not more.’
‘Tourism, that’s where it’s at. And from what I’ve seen of the natives in this part of the land, they could do with some money to boost their living conditions.’
Richard and I glanced at each other. I pondered, Was this man for real?
Dad pursed his lips and turned into road leading to a cave in the Rock. ‘Before we climb the Rock, there’s this cave. It has ancient aboriginal artwork on the walls’, Dad said.
We walked along a narrow path under the shade of ironwood and acacia trees. The Rock awed me by its size. If I had a camera with unlimited capacity to take thousands of photos, I would have spent the whole trek to the cave snapping away behind the lens. Nearer, the Rock surprised me with shades of tangerine, crimson, umber and red of the iron stone. As we got up close and personal with the Rock, I thought it looked like a giant elephant’s flank all scaly and knobbly. It had looked so smooth from far away.
We entered a cave which appeared as though it was a huge umbrella from the inside. In a zone of wonder we walked along the narrow passage under the roof. I imagined that waves had crashed against it and carved out its form. In one part, I studied the carvings of the ancient owners of this land.
We trod through the cave in silence. This was sacred ground.
[*Note: Named by William Gosse in 1873 in honour of the chief secretary of south Australia, Henry Ayers. In 1993 the rock received the dual name, Uluru/Ayers Rock, Uluru being the Pitjantjatjara name for this sacred site.]
1977 gave the fledgling T-Team a taste for adventure…
Find out how they fared on a full-two-month safari to the Centre in 1981…
Why not binge on the T-Team Adventures in outback Australia?
[Another relic from my childhood…and Dad’s catchcry, “for the time being” dogged the choice of cars he brought home.]
The Wolsley 6/99 Saloon
Dad’s midlife crisis began in earnest in the early 1970’s. His penchant for early model, British-made cars was disguised as “this’ll do for the time being”.
The blue and cream saloon took up residence in the backyard behind the Hills Hoist washing line while presiding over Dad’s vegetable garden. On weekdays, it attempted to ferry us to school, but more often than not, failed in its endeavours.
So began my education into mechanics (and my older brother’s), alternators, batteries, starter motors and lemons.
One positive, the Wolsley made a great hideaway because it never went anywhere — for the time being.
In this episode more carnage to the trailer. This time the tyres take a beating. But there are unexpected rewards for those who wait…]
Tyre Carnage On Way to the Rock
We sailed along on the road to Uluru, the warmth of the sun on our cheeks and breeze in our hair. Sand-hills rolled up and down and then into the distance. Black trunks of ironwood trees flitted past. The Rock made random appearances and disappeared. A wheel flew past and bounced into the bush.
I looked at Richard. ‘What was that?’
‘Where did that come from?’
‘The trailer,’ Richard remarked with a sigh and pointed.
The trailer scudded on its side, red dust billowing all around it.
Richard leaned over the rail and thumped the driver’s window. The Rover eased to a stop and Dad leapt out. ‘What?’
‘The trailer!’ Richard said. ‘Again!’
The men gathered around the trailer and discussed their options in lowered tones. Dad frowned, he put his hands on his hips and gazed at the ground as Mr. B glared at him.
‘Poor! Very poor for a trailer!’ Mr. B muttered. ‘What are we going to do about it, mate?’
Dad shifted his feet and then with his boot scuffed the stones. ‘I don’t know. What do you reckon, Richard?’
‘I say, laddie, can you find that tyre?’ Mr. B asked.
‘It’s long gone,’ Richard said. ‘But I’ll try.’
‘They’re expensive.’ Dad kicked the one remaining trailer tyre. The men stared at the one-wheeled trailer as though they were visiting a gravesite.
‘Alright,’ Richard muttered, ‘I’ll go and see if I can find it.’
Richard stomped down the road. He placed his hand above his eyes and peered in the direction the tyre had vanished into the scrub.
Matt caught my gaze. ‘Boring!’
‘Let’s go up that hill and see if we can take a photo of Ayers Rock and the Olgas,’ I said. As we were walking, I conveyed the information I had gleaned from Dad about the Olgas. ‘Did you know, Matt, that the people who own this land call this amazing collection of giant boulders, Kata Tjuta which means “many heads”?’
‘How far are the Olgas from Ayers Rock?’ Matt asked.
‘My dad reckons they are 30 miles west of Uluru,’ I replied. ‘he says we’re going to camp outside the national park, just beyond the Olgas.’
‘Olgas, that’s a funny name.’
‘Yeah, it’s German, I think. Dad was telling me that in 1872, the pioneer explorer Ernest Giles discovered them and called them “The Olgas”, after Queen Olga of the German Kingdom of Württemberg.’
‘Imagine having a few rocks named after you.’ Matt laughed. ‘The Boulders of Lee-Anne.’
‘Matt’s Massif,’ I joked.
Matt tittered. ‘What about, Richard’s Rock?’
‘Hey, I just remembered, back in Ernabella, there’s a Trudinger Hill. How cool is that?’
‘So, every time, people see those funny rocks and boulders in the distance, they will be reminded of some mouldy old German queen.’
‘Now that you put it that way, sounds a bit odd, us Europeans putting our names on the features of this ancient land. I wonder if they’ll eventually change the names back to what the Pitjantjara peoples call it someday.’
We mounted the nearby rise and admired the Rock, bathed in the blue of midday.
‘There are certain advantages to trailers breaking up,’ I remarked.
Matt nodded. ‘Yep, sure are.’
‘It’s like an adventure.’
‘Yep, sure is.’
The men decided to leave the trailer on the side of the road and fix it upon our return when we passed that way. By then we hoped to have the parts and equipment required to reattach the rogue wheel that Richard had found and then hidden underneath the trailer.
[Driving around Adelaide these days, I see many classic cars. Brings back memories of our family cars from my childhood…]
After 50 years, I have discovered the significance of our Holden FC’s name.
My dad was called David. In the Bible, there’s a King David who has an illicit affair with a woman he spies in a bath on a roof top. Her name, Bathsheba. Bath-she-ba; an apt name considering the circumstances of their meeting.
Did Mum think that when Dad bought this car, this silver-pointed beauty was his “mistress’?
Similarities: Both Davids were master of their realms. Both Bathshebas, not new, used, yet beautiful. And both Bathshebas became parked in their David’s palace, in a harem, their love shared.
In this episode my dad, Mr. T comes up with a rather unorthodox anduniquesolution to the bull-dust in the back cabin problem…]
The Curtain of Springs
Sometime along that rough-graded road, we crossed over the Northern Territory—South Australian border. We passed no sign but the road, though still just a dirt track, really, became smoother, wider and much kinder to our poor trailer. But the bull-dust that billowed into the back cabin of the Rover wasn’t kind to Richard, Matt and me. We were squashed together like sardines amongst the piles of extra luggage and boxes that Dad had relegated to the Rover in order to lighten the trailer’s load. The dust filtered into my lungs and I coughed. And coughed. And coughed.
And Richard complained, ‘Would you mind not coughing all over the place?’
‘I can’t help it,’ I wheezed. ‘I need some fresh air.’
Matt held his throat and rasped, ‘I can’t breathe.’
Mr. B glanced back at his son. ‘What’s that, boy?’
‘I can’t breathe,’ his son said.
I coughed, extra loud to emphasise our discomfort.
‘I say, David, old chap,’ Mr. B tapped Dad on the arm, ‘I can’t have ma son dying from suffocation in tha back of tha Rover. We need to sort this out.’
‘Aw, it’ll be alright, it’s just some bulldust.’
I coughed, a deep barking cough.
‘I say, David, old chap, ya girl’s not sounding too good.’
‘She’ll be alright, it’s just a cough.’
Matt clutched his throat and gazed with big pleading eyes at his father.
‘Look, David, my friend, I really don’t like the way ma son’s looking.’
‘Well,’ Dad said, ‘what about you sit in the back and your son sit in the front?’
‘What about me?’ I barked through another cough.
‘Ma son first, girl,’ Mr. B said.
‘Great! I have to share the back cabin with Mr. B!’ I whined.
‘Lee-Anne!’ my dad scolded.
With my head bent down, I muttered, ‘Sorry, Mr. B.’
‘Well, anyway, David,’ Mr. B said, ‘I was thinking, I could drive and you could have a turn in the back.’
Dad’s lips thinned, and he frowned. ‘Er, um…’
‘Come on, the road’s not so bad now, so I reckon I can have a shot at the wheel.’
Dad slowed the Rover to a stop and we evacuated the dust-filled Rover. Richard paced over to the trailer and stooped down to check the axle. Dad shuffled to the rear of the Rover and looked up at the roof-rack. Secured to the front half of the roof-rack were a few boxes and some extra luggage. The rest of the roof-rack was empty.
Dad kept his gaze on the rack and squinting, screwed up his nose. ‘We could use the roof-rack.’
‘I’m not moving the luggage again,’ Mr. B said.
‘I mean, we’re in the middle of the desert, no one’s going to know,’ Dad said.
‘But I will.’ Mr. B had to be practical and down-to-earth. ‘We want to get the Curtain Springs before dark, don’t we? We want to get there to fix the trailer, don’t we?’
‘It’s better than sitting in the back of the Rover.’ Dad coughed as if anticipating his own discomfort. Dad’s lungs were not the best since he suffered pleurisy some years ago.
‘What? You mean you’re thinking of camping here?’ Mr. B asked as he edged to the driver’s side of the Rover.
Dad looked at Mr. B. ‘No, no, no. I mean the kids can sit on the roof-rack.’
I jumped up and down and clapped. ‘Yay!’
‘Alright!’ Matt said.
So, Matt and I took up residence on top of the Rover while Dad continued as the designated driver without any protest from Mr. B. Richard enjoyed the extra room afforded him in the back of the Rover. Without so many corrugations, travelling up on the roof-rack was an easy ride. So liberating with the wind in our hair and a panoramic view of spectacular desert scenery. Ah! The freedoms we had in 1977! Even so, Dad took care that we only rode on top of the Rover in unpopulated areas, as Australian road rules did not allow the riding on top of vehicles.
Without any further incidents, we reached Curtain Springs which lies 50 miles (80 kilometres) from the South Australian—Northern Territory border. Dad parked the Rover in an area to the side of the store where the two elders launched into action to repair the trailer.
Richard hovered around the dads who wanted to be heroes. ‘Do you need any help?’ he asked the men’s backs.
Neither Dad nor Mr. B responded.
Richard shrugged and joined Matt and me as we wandered off to check out the nearby aviary. A white cockatoo in a cage bobbed its head and squawked, ‘G’day.’
‘Hello cocky,’ I replied.
My darling brother insisted on taking a photo of me in front of the parrot cage, my braces matching the bars.
Following the bird inspection, we sauntered in the shop. I drifted over to the souvenir section. I admired the miniature renditions of Mt. Conner and aboriginal dot paintings on boomerangs carved out of mulga wood.
‘Richard,’ Dad called, ‘Can you come and help us fix up the trailer?’
‘Finally!’ Richard murmured and then followed Dad out of the store.
Rich’s mechanical prowess, lead to a successful resolution to the trailer’s woes. Mr. B rejoiced and celebrated by buying all of us an ice-cream. After a bland diet of damper, rehydrated rice and egg soup, the ice-cream was the best that I had ever tasted. With Matt and me again perched on top, we progressed to our next camp for the night.
In the magic golden light of late afternoon, we foraged for firewood. The land, now called the APY (Angu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) lands, is not at all what one would call a desert. Hardy plants that can survive months or maybe years without rain, grow in this country. Desert oaks with their straight black trunks and grey-green leaves like feathers, grow tall amongst the spinifex bushes, salt bush and acacia bushes. Mulga trees with their gnarled and twisted trunks also dot the landscape. Since there had been a drought, a number of the trees appeared dead and void of leaves. Good for us as we found plenty of firewood.
With my arms full of sticks, I tottered back to the camp. Some mauve flowers peeped out from a tangle of twigs. The petals appeared so delicate, like crepe paper. I knelt down and picked a couple. These flowers would go in my diary. My not-so early morning venture to find the spring, had been disappointing. In fact, all the promises of “spring” had failed to deliver. I mean, did we see the springs of Curtain Springs? And was it the “springs” on the trailer that weren’t working so well causing the trailer to crack up again? But this sunset fossick for wood had its reward—the desert rose.
After tea, Dad gave a devotion thanking God for our safe passage into Northern Territory and covering our trailer trials. In the midst of our suffering over the trailer, he encouraged us with a verse from the Bible like Job 1:21 saying, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Having both studied English at university, the subject that comes up often when visiting Carol is about all things writing and what makes a good story. So, one of my first blog posts came to mind…to encourage and inspire all of us who are writers.
‘Writing is a lonely craft,’ my university tutor said.
All of us in the group nodded and I thought: Yes, a writer has to hide away in their study clacking away on their typewriter. They have to concentrate. Those were the days back in the 1980’s…
I recalled as a student, hours locked up in my bedroom, writing my essays, trying to concentrate while my family went about their business, stomping in the passageway, dishes clattering in the kitchen and the television blaring in the lounge room. Not to mention my dear brother lifting weights, and dropping the things with the inevitable clunk and thud, in the lounge room. Did I mention trying to concentrate? Yes, trying, but not succeeding. And even now, as I write this blog, can’t go five minutes without interruptions. These days, though, I write my first draft, by hand, in a quiet place at a quiet time, and then I write this blog on the computer as a second draft.
Suffice to say, the statement by my tutor all those years ago, has an element of truth. And compared to being an artist or musician, writing is a lonely craft. I belong to an art group and enjoy going each week as the hall is filled with happy chatter and my fellow artists are friendly and welcoming. And I can imagine a musician, mostly has to play and sing with others in a band, their craft has to be performed to an audience. The lonely parts of a musician’s life, from my observation, is the process of composing music. Although, many musicians collaborate when they jam together and create new songs together.
On reflection, though, my experiences over time with the process of writing as isolating, no longer resonates with me. I don’t write alone. I have my characters. I go into their world. Call me crazy, but it’s like when I was a child and had imaginary friends. Come to think of it, perhaps because I was lonely, I became a writer. Figures, hours after school, on weekends and holidays to fill. There’s only so many hours my brother, five years older than me, would share with me playing games. And friends, too weren’t with me all the time. So, books became my friends, as well as characters in the world of fantasy I conjured up. I swooned away, sitting in my cubby house, and whole days drifted by in my other life of fiction, science fiction.
As I grew up, I became used to my own space. My loneliness transformed into the joy and peace of being alone. Time to think and explore ideas, the “what if’s” of life’s path, stories of people I’ve met, my story, and also the stories of my characters. Time to express these stories, writing them down. Many of these stories remain hidden in my journal, a hand-written scrawl; a mental work-out, sorting out ideas and emotions. Some make it to a Word File on the computer, others a blog post, and a few hundred pages have ended up as works buried on the shelves of Amazon—self-published but published all the same. And for six years, now, there’s my blog, again mostly hidden in the blog-pile of the world-wide web, but more visible today than in 2015 when I started the blogging journey.
Yet, once I’ve written the first draft in quietness and peace, the craft of writing becomes a collaborative process. Good writing needs feedback, editing and proof-reading. An effective piece of work needs a second, third and numerous sets of eyes, and many minds to weed the “gremlins” that beset the plot, content, and pacing. And a keen set of eyes to comb through the text to pick up grammar and spelling issues. The computer’s spell and grammar check are not enough.
I love to go to writers’ group. I heard someone on radio say that reading is the ultimate empathy tool. When we read, we enter into another’s world and how they see the world. Exploring another’s world—how much more social can one get? This is what happens at writers’ group. We share our own world through our writing, and we explore other writer’s world as we listen to each other’s stories; a privilege and an honour to be trusted with these gems. As fellow writers we need each other to hone our skills as a writer. We need each other’s feedback. How else will we refine our craft without feedback?
Still, there is an aspect of writing that makes it a lonely existence. As writers we are modern-day prophets, proclaiming words given to us, believing these words can and will make a difference in another’s life. Hoping, the change will be for good. The word is a powerful tool; a double-edged sword. God’s Word is described as a double-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) There’s a saying that sticks and stones can break bones, but words cannot hurt me. Not true. Words can hurt. Words can also heal. Spoken words can sting or soothe, and then are gone, but the written word can endure and have power. People believe something is true because it’s in print. Reputations have risen and fallen on the power of the written word.
The printing press revolutionised the fifteenth century. Imagine words once written and hidden in some monastic library, then with the advent of the printed word, being duplicated and spread, and even appearing on church doors, for all to read. In our times we have witnessed the evolution of the power of the word through the internet. Need I say more—the gatekeepers of the past, by-passed, allowing all who are wanting to have a voice, freedom of written expression.
However, with freedom and power to influence, comes responsibility to use our gift and passion to write wisely and for the good of others. As a writer, I have written with good intentions to help others grow, help others see the world differently, change attitudes and effect a positive change in the world. Even so, my good intentions posted on my blog may have affected others in ways I didn’t intend. So, I have an understanding now what it means that writing can be a lonely craft as there will always be someone who doesn’t see the world as I do and may find my public interpretation of life offensive. My voice in the world-wide wilderness of the web may actually alienate me from others. So, I’m back where I started as a child, alone, with time and space to explore my world of fantasy with my characters as friends.
I guess that’s why I’m drawn to write. With fiction, it’s out there, it’s fantasy and it’s a safe platform to explore ideas, issues and ways of looking at the world, the other world of “what-ifs”, that help readers open their minds to investigate alternative attitudes and create discussion. And with fact through my travel memoirs, sharing my life and worldview, joys, challenges and faith. Through this process, I hope to bring goodness and personal growth to all who are willing to join in the journey into my world.
In this episode,the T-Team with Mr. B scale the heights of the highest mountain in South Australia, Mt. Woodroffe. Even back in 1977, Mt. Woodroffe being on land owned by the Indigenous people, we needed permission and a guide. Don’t know what happened to the guide back then, but we had permission. The situation has changed in the 44 years since we climbed…more about that later.]
The Top of SA — Mt. Woodroffe
The sun climbed over the horizon, its rays touching the clouds in hues of red and Mount Woodroffe in pink.
In the golden light, packs on our backs we filed up the gully. The narrow creek in the hill-face gave way to the slopes leading to the summit. With no defined track except for euro (small kangaroo) ruts, we picked our way through the spinifex. Rick carried his .22 rifle in the hope of game for dinner.
‘You’ve got to watch that spinifex,’ Dad said. ‘If you get pricked by it, the needle stays inside your body for years.’
‘Years?’ I asked. ‘What does it do there?’
‘It works its way through your body and eventually it comes out through your hands or feet or somewhere.’
‘Ouch!’ Rick screamed. ‘The spinifex just stung me.’ My brother stopped and pulled up his trouser leg to inspect the damage and then muttered, ‘Next time I’m making shin-guards.’
‘I guess one should be careful when one answers the call of nature out here,’ Mr. B said.
I gazed at the acres of spikey bushes and decided to resist the call of nature.
After about two hours of weaving our way through spinifex, climbing over rocks, scaling waves of ridges, we reached the summit.
We gathered around the cairn and surveyed the mountain range that spread like ripples of water in shades of mauve below us.
Dad pointed to the north. ‘Can you see? Ayers Rock, The Olgas and Mt Conner.’
I studied the three odd-shaped purple monoliths popping up from the plain. After the strenuous hike to the top of South Australia, I gazed at the ranges resembling waves rising and falling in the sea of the desert was filled with euphoria.
‘Wow!’ I gushed. ‘Apart from spinifex, the climb was a walk in the park—a most worthwhile journey.’
Mr. B folded his arms and grunted.
Still on a high, I ran around the stone pile, snapping photos from every direction with my instamatic film camera. Then I gathered the T-Team. ‘Come on, get around the cairn. We must record this momentous occasion for posterity.’
The men followed my orders like a group of cats and refused to arrange themselves. Mr. B hung at the back of the group and snapped, ‘Hurry up! We need to eat.’
Lunch of corned beef and relish sandwiches at the top of South Australia was Dad’s reward to us for persevering. We rested for an hour on the summit taking in the warmth of the sun, the blue skies dotted with fluffy clouds and the stunning views of the Musgrave Ranges and desert.
My adventurous brother climbed on his own down the slope and out of sight.
‘Where’s your brother gone, girl?’ Mr B asked.
‘Probably gone to hunt kangaroo for tea,’ I chuckled, ‘he’s had no luck so far.’
‘Better than egg soup, I guess,’ Mr B muttered.
‘Well, aren’t you going to follow him?’
‘Nah, I need to rest before the hike down.’
About twenty minutes later, I detected his head bobbing up and over the rocks and bushes. I watched as he sauntered along the scaly rocks towards us.
Dad frowned. ‘Careful walking over those rocks.’
Rick looked up. ‘What?’ He caught his shoe on a wedge of stone, lost balance and stumbled, crashing on the rocky surface.
‘O-oh!’ Dad scampered over to my brother. I followed while Mr. B and Matt stayed planted on their respective rocks.
Rick pulled up his trouser leg and with our father they inspected the damage.
I peered over Dad’s shoulder. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘I’ve bruised my knee and leg.’ Rick sniffed.
Dad helped Rick hobble to the cairn and then gave him a canteen flask of water to wash over the injury.
‘How are you going to get down the mountain?’ I asked.
‘I mean to say, laddie, you can’t camp up here,’ Mr. B added.
Rick sighed. ‘I’ll be fine. It’s nothing.’
Matt chuckled at my brother’s bravery.
Dad patted Rick on the back. ‘Ah, well, you’ll be right.’
With the T-Team all in one spot, I took advantage of the situation and seized the moment on camera.
Mr. B glared at me. ‘Make it snappy.’
‘Okay,’ I said capturing the less than impressed Dad, Mr. B, Matt and my brother nursing his bruised knee.
After photos, we began to climb down those jagged rocks, carefully avoiding the spinifex. But try as he might to avoid the menacing bushes, more spikes attacked Rick’s tender legs. ‘Definitely going to wear leg guards the next time I come to Central Australia to climb mountains,’ he grumbled.
We reached a rock pool, just a puddle of slime, actually. I pulled off my shoes and emptied grass seeds and sand onto the surface of slate. Then I ripped off my socks. They looked similar to red-dusty porcupines, covered in spinifex needles. My feet itched with the silicone pricks of the spinifex. I dipped my prickle-assaulted feet in the muddy water.
‘You mean, David, old chap,’ Mr. B massaged his feet and turned to Dad, ‘we’re stuck with the prickly critters long after our climbing days are over?’
‘Yes, I’m afraid so,’ Dad replied.
During rest at the poor excuse of a rock pool, nature called, and this time I could no longer resist. I hunted for a suitable spot, but everywhere I looked, ants scrambled about, millions of them. The longer I looked, the more ants congregated and the more desperate I became. But I had to go, ants or no ants. At least the patch was clear of spinifex. I suppose for the ants, my toilet stop might have been the first rain in weeks.
Back at camp, we began our ritual of preparing the bedding. Mr. B stomped around the creek bed until he found the softest sand. Dad grabbed the sleeping bags one by one and tossed them to each of us.
‘Argh!’ Mr. B cried.
‘What?’ Dad asked.
‘Oh, no!’ Rick moaned.
‘What?’ Dad asked.
‘Who’s been piddling on my sleeping bag?’ Rick grizzled.
‘Piddling?’ Dad stomped over to Rick.
‘It’s all wet.’
‘I say, boy, why’s my sleeping bag all wet? Couldn’t you use a bush?’ Mr. B remarked.
Matt turned away. ‘Wasn’t me.’ He unrolled his sleeping bag. ‘Oh, no, mine’s wet too.’
Rick looked at me.
‘Hey, I stopped wetting the bed years ago,’ I snapped. ‘Anyway, mine’s dry.’
‘I wasn’t going to say anything,’ Rick replied.
I raised my voice. ‘You were, you were looking at me like…’
‘There, there, cut it out,’ Dad strode over to Rick and me. He held up a bucket. ‘The washing buckets leaked on the sleeping bags.’
These days, in the days of the “new normal”, as a result of Covid, climbing Mt. Woodroffe may not be possible. I did a little Google research about it. During the times of the “old normal”, permission from the Indigenous Owners of the APY Lands was still necessary, but it seems the Mt. Woodroffe climb was part of an organised tour. To find out more, here are the links below:
[An extract from The T-Team With Mr. B: Central Australian Safari 1977; a yet to be published prequel to my travel memoir, Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981, available on Amazon.
With Covid still hanging around Carol’s place and wearing out its welcome, I have drawn on a past Tuesday with Carol.
A few weeks ago, I revisited the tulip field muse. Carol and I like the Impressionists style. We had lots of fun playing with the blend of colours and keeping our paintings loose.
My past efforts painting these tulips at the Canberra Floriade, in watercolour and acrylic, have been less than impressive. Those paintings have ended up filed away in the drawer of no return or cut up and pieces used for cards.
But I’m happy with this piece. The difference, a bit of artistic license by putting a windmill in the picture and less tulips. It’s all to do with composition.
On a different note, but related, a couple of friends and I have been working on a community project—a publishing collective. We have called this endeavour, Indie Scriptorium. If you would like to find out more, check out our newly formed website and our first post by clicking here.