[The last few weeks I have been revisiting our Central Australian adventures with Mr. B. This time the relationship between my father and Mr. B turns frosty…]
T-Team with Mr. B (17)
In a Hurry
The next morning Dad woke us stumping around the campsite. Mr. B sat up in his sleeping bag. He ground his teeth and glared at him. ‘What’s all this noise about? I just got to sleep after an awful night.’
‘Ah, well, we better get a move on,’ Dad replied while gathering up the cooking utensils and tossing them in the tucker box.
‘I’ll drive us to the Olgas,’ Mr. B snapped.
‘Are you sure that’s a good idea, if you’re tired and had no sleep?’ Dad asked as he chucked a bag of peanuts in the back of the Rover.
‘I’ll be fine.’ Mr. B dismissed Dad with a flick of his wrist. ‘You go and enjoy yourselves.’
Dad sucked the icy air between the gap in his front teeth. ‘Very well, then.’
After a quick breakfast of sloppy porridge, Mr. B eased his weary body into the driver’s seat and Dad climbed into the passenger seat at the front. Us young ones scrounged for what was left of sitting space in the back cabin.
As the Rover’s engine chugged under Mr. B’s control, Dad said, ‘I’ll show you the way to Walpa Gorge. Then you can take the Rover to find, er, um, another camping spot. Oh, er and don’t forget the flour.’
Mr. B grunted, pressed his foot down on the accelerator and scooted over the road edge, rapping the wheels as they met the gravel on the graded road. Dad stiffened and clutched the dashboard while Mr. B raced along the dirt highway and grinned. In the back cabin, we bounced as the Rover hit each corrugation with speed.
‘Careful!’ Dad cried through the judder.
‘You need to tackle those humps by going fast,’ Mr. B assured him. ‘The ride is better if you go fast over the bumps. Didn’t you say that?’
‘Er, I’m not sure, about that.’
‘Believe me, I know. I’ve had plenty of experience, ol’ man. I know what I’m doing.’
‘It is a hire vehicle, though. We want to return it to the company in one piece.’
I reckon I saw the dollar signs and calculations going off in a bubble above Mr. B’s head. His jaw tightened, and he slowed down the vehicle and muttered, ‘Fine then.’
Glimpses of the boulders of Kata Tjuta (the Olga’s), flirted with the dunes. Tantalised by these clumps of rocks that appeared as if some giant alien force had dumped them in the middle of Australia, I leaned forward and peered through the gap between the front seat to gaze through the windscreen.
‘Dad,’ I asked, ‘How did the Olgas form?’
‘The Olgas are made of conglomerate rocks,’ Dad said. ‘They are different from the singular formation of Ayers Rock.’
‘Were they from outer space?’
‘No, more likely that in ages past, an inland sea helped form the various types of rocks to fuse together. You can actually find seashells and seashell fossils in the rocks in Central Australia.’
‘You’re an expert, are you?’ Mr. B chimed in.
‘I’m not sure about The Olgas, but, um I’ve found shells in the dry bed of the Finke River, when I was here in the 1950’s,’ Dad explained. ‘I’ve done some reading. And well, you can see it, the way the land and the mountains are. Had to be an inland sea.’
Mr. B rolled his eyes. ‘If you say so.’
Dad pointed at a wooden signpost. ‘Walpa Gorge. Turn down here.’
The Rover lumbered down the narrow track until we reached a clearing. To our right, a river gum towered above us.
‘This’ll do,’ Dad said. ‘Nice place to set up our paints when we’re finished hiking, I reckon.’
The russet boulders that had looked like folds of skin from the highway, now appeared split into a gully begging to be explored.
‘How far are we from the gorge?’ I asked.
‘Oh, about half a mile,’ Dad replied.
‘I’ll leave you then,’ Mr. B said. He marched back to the Rover, jumped in and rapping the wheels again, sped down the track. We watched while the plume of dust Mr. B had left behind settled down to the red earth.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022
Feature Photo: T-Team Next Gen at Walpa Gorge entrance © L.M. Kling 2013