Thursday Thoughts–Open Crowd

[With life returning to some semblance of normality, a post from the pre-pandemic past…]

The Kingdom of God is Like…

A dilemma many of us have faced, maybe it’s a wedding, or a party — we want to invite all our friends and family, but can we? Is it possible to have an open invitation without the situation getting out of hand?

I remember as a young teenager being upset because my older brother received invitations to parties and not me. I remember standing at the kitchen counter, invitation to my brother in hand and complaining, ‘It’s not fair. I’m friends with them too. Why wasn’t I invited?’

‘Stop complaining,’ my mum would say, ‘your time will come.’

Didn’t help that our youth group friends had a saying: ‘You can’t have a party without my brother.’

Hey, I’m the sociable extrovert here! My brother’s the shy awkward type who prefers staying in his room making telescopes and short-wave radios.

*[Photo 1: You Can’t have a party without Rick © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger circa 1985]

So, I lived with these multiple rejections as I believed them to be…

…Until one day, I collected the mail from the letterbox. What’s this? A letter for me? I tore it open and read:

‘Dear Lee-Anne,

                                    You’re invited to ***’s birthday party…’

Huh? I re-read the invitation. Must be a mistake. Where’s my brother’s name? Invitations always had my brother’s name attached, and occasionally my name included, especially where the youth group friends were concerned. Her invite made my teenage decade, for once, she invited me and not my brother.

But…what if there were parties or celebrations without restrictions on who’s in and who’s out? What if all who want to be invited could be invited? Are we inviting trouble if we make an event open to all?

I want to celebrate my late-Grandmother who demonstrated this openness and was successful. She looked outward at those in need of friendship and love. Her table was never too small and somehow, no matter the number of guests she had for Sunday lunch, she always made the food stretch. Something of the loaves and fishes plus Jesus’ effect. (Read in the Bible how Jesus feeds the 5000. Matthew 14:13 – 21)

*[Photo 2: Grandma’s table © L.M. Kling 2019]

So that’s all very well and good opening our homes and sharing dinner with others. But back to the party or community event idea. Is it possible to have a party without restrictions on who and how many come without fear of it getting out of control?

I believe it is possible—when we look beyond our limitations and look to God and others to enable us to achieve success; a piece of God’s Kingdom where all people are welcome, all people are valued and seen. And where those running such an event demonstrate the values of justice, mercy and compassion. With the right training, this type of event can provide a safe and caring environment.

Over the years I have participated in open-crowd events, often taking place in parks. There’s usually a variety of fun activities such as puzzles, stilts, giant snakes and ladders game, and a group game for all ages. People may join in if they want to, or just watch if they prefer. No one’s forced to join in. Even so, people from the event team connect with the on-lookers, getting to know them and by the end of the afternoon, they will be smiling and chatting with team members.

*[Photo 3: Mr. K Clown at a community Festival © L.M. Kling 2010]

One time, two of my friends whom I’d brought along joined, for the first time, in the group game of water-balloon volleyball. They had so much fun, their faces were glowing.

‘I’m so glad I joined in,’ one said. ‘If I’d sat and watched, I would’ve regretted it. It was so much fun.’

My other friend said, ‘We enjoyed the event so much and before we knew it, the time had come to pack up and go.’

*[Photo 4: Water-balloon volleyball © L.M. Kling 2010]

This welcoming experience, I think gives a glimpse of God’s Kingdom—it’s free and available to all who want to join in and engage with others in the community. Did I say it’s free? There is a cost—a change in our world view—a change from an inward-looking one where we are the centre of our universe, to an outward-looking one where we see others and value others and see that with others (and God) our perceived weaknesses become our strength.

*[Photo 5: Tug-of-War © L.M. Kling 2012]

We have a choice. We could stay safe in our “castle” reinforcing the walls to guard against fear and failure, and so leave others to stay isolated in their “castles”. Or we can look outwards, break out of our “castles”, reach out and connect with others making our communities better places to live.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019; Updated 2022

Feature Photo: Keep the ball in the air — Willunga Almond Blossom Festival © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010

***

Want more? More than before? More adventure? More Australia?

Check out my memoir of Central Australian adventure

Available in Amazon and on Kindle.

Click on the link:

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

Or…

Escape into some space or alternate universe adventure,

Catch up on the exploits of Boris the over-grown alien cockroach, and Minna and her team’s attempt to subdue him.

Click on the links below…

The Lost World of the Wends

The Hitch-hiker

Mission of the Unwilling

***

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T-Team with Mr. B–School in the Centre

The T-Team with Mr. B (29)

A Lesson With Mr. C

[Extract from The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977, a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.]

This week a lesson on teaching in the bush. While Mr T, in the 1950’s, taught the Arunda students in a classroom, Mrs T learned by School of the Air, and in the 1970’s Mr C taught the Arunda children in their camps out bush…And Mr B slept in and missed out.

Mr. C greeted us. He stood on the dusty verge out the front of the old hospital. He grinned and waved at us. Still the Year Eight Maths teacher I remembered from last year at College. Just more tanned, making his blonde hair blonder, and he sported a trim moustache and beard. That year he’d taken up a position as teacher to the Aranda people, owners of the land around Hermannsburg.

*[Photos 1 & 2: Dad remembered how school in Hermannsburg was in the 1950’s © S.O. Gross circa 1955 (1), & C.D. Trudinger (2)]

Dad looked at his watch. ‘Oh, eight-thirty. I hope we aren’t too late.’

‘Pff!’ Mr. C laughed. ‘Don’t worry about it. The people ‘round here don’t fuss about time.’

Dad checked his watch and after tapping his pocket, pulled out the keys for the Rover. ‘So, we’ll follow you?’

‘You can do that,’ Mr. C replied. He turned to Richard and me. ‘Do you want a ride on the “Dune Buggy”?’

*[Photo 3: With mist in his eye, Dad remembered the common mode of transport for this rough terrain (horse or donkey) for his Arunda students in the 1950’s, and the clay model one of his students had made © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

My brother and I looked at each other, then at Mr. C who smiled at us and we nodded.

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to ride in a Dune Buggy.’ I imagined an all-terrain vehicle like I’d seen in Lost in Space.

Dad drove us away from the settlement and out into the bush where Mr. C had parked his “Dune Buggy”.

‘What is it?’ I asked as I approached this vehicle with no roof and four huge tyres. ‘Is this a mini-moke?’

‘Not exactly,’ Mr. C said. ‘But it sure goes over everything. Nothing stops my “Dune Buggy”.’

Richard and I climbed on board. I sat in the front and Richard in the back. Within seconds Mr. C had his “Dune Buggy” flying over humps and bumps of the dunes and lumps of spinifex. What an adventure that was! After sailing through the desert in the easy-riding Dune Buggy, I wanted one too. Way behind, Dad followed in the cumbersome Land Rover.

*[Photo 4: Many years later in Coles Bay, Tasmania Mrs T and I rode a quadbike, perhaps a descendant of the “dune-buggy” © S. Jaeschke 2011]

Mr. C stopped. A boy emerged from the shade of a Mulga tree and climbed on board the “Dune Buggy”. He sat next to Richard and he clutched the side of the buggy.

Mr. C turned and glanced at him. ‘You ready?’

The boy looked at his knees and nodded.

The teacher revved the engine and again the “Dune Buggy” skipped over the terrain.

I enjoyed the wind in my face and the scenery of grey-green salt bushes, lemon-tinted spinifex, and patches of sienna-coloured sand flit past.

*[Photo 5: Arunda Country from Gosse Range lookout © L.M. Kling 2013]

Mr. C slowed and then with the Buggy chugging, parked near a collection of structures made of wooden poles with corrugated iron leaning up against them. The Rover trundled up a nearby track and halted behind the “Dune Buggy”. Dad climbed out and strode up to us.

‘Where are we?’ I asked. The place looked deserted.

‘This is an elder’s camp,’ Mr. C said. He spoke to Dad. ‘Do you remember N?’

‘Of course,’ Dad replied. ‘He was one of my best students.’

A man emerged from one of the humpies and walked up to Dad and Mr. C. Dad grinned and shifted his weight from one leg to the other. He rubbed his hands together.

N raised his arms and exclaimed, ‘Ah, Dabid!’

Dad and N hugged and then patted each other on the back. After Dad introduced us to N with handshakes all round, Mr. C showed us his “classroom”.

Richard and I hung back and stared. Kids darted in and around a shelter; a metal frame with a tin roof for shade. There were a few laminated desks and plastic chairs, but no student sat on the chairs or at the tables. Junk—papers, bottles, pencils and toys—littered the floor of desert sand. Mr. C called a few of the children together to teach, but I figured to round up all of them would be a challenge. What a contrast to my Maths teacher’s previous appointment at College!

[Photo 6: School for the Arunda 1977 © C.D. Trudinger 1977] 

‘May I take a photo?’ Dad asked. At last, he finds something photo-worthy?

‘Sure,’ Mr. C said.

‘Is this—school?’ I almost choked on the word, “school”.

‘Yes. One of them.’

‘Huh?’

‘Yes, I go to all the different camps and teach the kids in the camps. It’s impossible to get them all to come to Hermannsburg. So, I go out to them.’

Dad wandered around the camp, snapping shots of the lean-to classroom, the kids sitting on chairs at their desks—briefly, and Mr. C “teaching” a couple of kids who hung around him. And I wondered how much learning was taking place.

‘It’s hard,’ Mr. C said as Dad packed away his camera. ‘But they weren’t coming to one central place. Not like I guess it was in the old days when you were there.’

‘Nah, those were the good ol’ days,’ Dad said.

‘The government has given funding for teachers like us to go to the camps. Even then, it’s hard. The kids, if they’re out hunting with their family, don’t turn up.’ He nodded at the rabble. ‘Good turn up today. Sometimes, I’ll go to a camp, and there’s no one there.’

*[Photo 7: Like a Namatjira Painting © L.M. Kling 2013]

Another Aranda man, tall, and solid, somewhere in his forties, strolled up to us. Dad and this man conversed in the Aranda language. Dad turned to us, his mouth spread in a broad smile.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘This is SV,’ Dad said. ‘He wants to be our guide when we go out West to Mt. Liebig.’

‘Oh, good.’

‘Yes, we need a guide. We can’t go into their country unless we have a guide. N’s going to join us too. However, we’ll have to delay going to Haast Bluff and Mt. Liebig for a day or two. He’s going to Palmer River and won’t be back for when we originally planned to go. We have to be flexible.’

*[Photo 8: MacDonnell Ranges © L.M. Kling 2013]

I nodded. Yep, in this land of the Centre, one had to be flexible; the people of the desert’s interpretation of time and schedules differs from my view, so I’ve learnt.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2019; 2022

Feature Photo: Land Around Hermannsburg © L.M. Kling 2021

***

Read more of the adventures of the T-Team in my memoir, Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 available on Amazon and Kindle. Check it out, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

T-Team Series–Hermannsburg Back in Time

The T-Team With Mr B (28)

[Extract from The T-Team with Mr. B: Central Australia 1977, a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.

The T-Team with Mr B — In 1977 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 guess Dad had some reservations how I would cope… But it soon became clear that the question was, how would Mr B who was used to a life of luxury cope?

And our accommodation in Hermannsburg had sent us on a tour back in time…]

 Living in History

I lay in bed and gazed up at the ceiling. Wish I hadn’t. A hessian sheet hung above me, pinned to the four corners of the room and sagging in the middle. It appeared the sand from the Central desert had worked its way into the sheet, threatening to burst all over me. How long before the sheet would no longer be able to contain its weight? I sat up and swung my feet to the floor. A cockroach scuttled under the wardrobe made of oak. I shuddered. Better sand fall on me than cockroaches.

I grabbed my towel and toiletry bag, then padded out my room and down the dark hallway to the bathroom. There I gazed around the small room, sealed with green and white tiles, some broken. In the 1950’s wash basin, waist-high and looking like an enamel pastel-green pulpit, a line of rust coursed from the faucet to the drain. The matching bath suffered a permanent rusty-brown ring, a reminder of how full to fill the tub. I scanned around the room and above the bath. No shower—not even a rusty one.

[Photo 1: T-Team Next Generation waiting for the outside dunny © L.M. Kling 2013]

I heard a knock at the door. ‘Lee-Anne, are you in there?’

‘Yes, Dad,’ I replied. ‘Where’s the shower?’

Dad opened the door and poked his head through. He screwed up his nose and swivelled his head left, right, up and down. ‘Oh, no shower. I guess you’ll have to have a bath.’

‘Oh, al-right.’

‘Hurry, though, we’re off to see Mr. C and his school.’

‘Oh.’ Last year Mr. C was my mathematics teacher. Then, in 1977, he’d taken up a position teaching the Arunta children in their camps near Hermannsburg.

I turned on the tap. Water dribbled into the bath, brown and making the pipes groan. I gazed at the tea-coloured brew pooling at the base of the tub. I like baths, normally. Not sure about this one.

‘Don’t fill it too full,’ Dad said.

‘No, Dad.’ No danger of that happening. The bath looked like it’d take an eternity to cover even to the depth of an inch.

‘Don’t take too long,’ Dad added.

‘No, Dad.’

I reached in and tested the water. Cold. I then placed my fingers under the dribble from the tap. Cold. Great! Not much water and it’s cold. Yep, I’ll have a quick wash.

I stopped the dismal flow and rushed through the motions of washing. After raking dry shampoo through my limp strands of hair, I bunched them into pig-tails and returned to my room to change.

Then I walked into the kitchen. Light through the louvers reflected dust motes drifting through the air.

[Photo 2: School Room © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Dad looked up from his bowl of porridge. ‘Oh, you’re finished already?’

‘Yep.’

I helped myself to the saucepan of porridge on the ancient stove. The cooker squatted there in the corner, brass fittings attached to afford gas to the rings on top. And lime green. I could see Hermannsburg had a theme going—shades of green. Except the table, washed with the thin coat of white paint. Perhaps it was green once, at the turn of the century.

[Photo 3: Green the Theme outside the school © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

As if taking advantage of my abbreviated bathroom visit, Dad took his sweet time. So, while we waited, Richard and I played cards, on the kitchen table.

‘Mr. B and Matt are taking their time,’ I said gathering up the cards.

‘They’re sleeping in,’ Richard laughed. ‘I think Mr. B’s exhausted.’

‘He didn’t know what he was getting himself into coming on this trip.’

Richard snorted. ‘Bet he’s never been camping in his life.’

‘No, all motels and luxury for him, I reckon.’

[Photo 4: Certainly not the Chiefly Motel Alice Springs © L.M. Kling 2013]

Dad stood behind us and coughed. ‘What are you talking about?’

We turned and widening our eyes to feign innocence, my brother and I chorused, ‘Nothing.’

‘I hope so.’ Dad cleared his throat again. ‘Now, come on, Mr. C’ll be here soon.’

‘Can I see Mummy’s house? Did we get permission?’

‘Er, um, later. Mr. C’s waiting. We’re late,’ Dad said and then strode out the door; the green door.

*[Photo 5: Tantalisingly close…but so far, Mum’s (Mrs T’s) old home © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

Richard and I followed.

‘We know whose fault it is we’re late,’ Richard muttered as we followed Dad out the historic hospital to meet Mr. C.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019; 2022

Photo: Spruced up Mission home, Hermannsburg Precinct © L.M. Kling 2021

***

Get ready for some holiday reading or begin planning your escape to adventure in the centre of Australia.

Click the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981,

And escape in time and space to Centre of Australia 1981…

Remembering Dad–Picnic at Brownhill Creek

[Remembering my Dad, 10 years since he passed from this world to be with his heavenly father. Wonderful loving father, beautiful memories, amazing adventures…]

Happy Hunting Ground

[Picnics on special days have been a “thing” for years. Not sure when this experience happened, but it was a picnic all the same.]

Dad leaned on his shovel and with a wrinkled handkerchief patted sweat from his head displacing the few strands of hair masquerading as a “comb-over”. Then with grunts sounding as if he were puffing billy, he attacked the garden bed. With each load of soil, he groaned, puffed and wheezed, demonstrating how hard he was working. A closed cardboard box sat near the cauliflower patch, a counterbalance to the growing pile of dirt the other side of the hole Dad created.

[Photo 1: Dad digging in the garden © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger 1977]

‘Daddy, what are you doing?’ I asked strolling across the lawn to Dad.

Dad grunted some more and then flung a heap of soil into the mound behind him.

‘Daddy, why are you digging this deep hole?’

Dad stopped digging. ‘Huh?’

‘Daddy, what’s this hole for?’

‘Never you mind, Lee-Anne.’ Dad must think at six years old, I’m too young to know.

‘But Daddy, I just want to know.’

Dad tapped the box with his boot. ‘I’m sending puss to her happy hunting ground.’

‘Wilma?’ I asked. ‘But Daddy, why are you digging a hole, Daddy? Are you digging your way to Wilma’s happy hunting ground?’ I had visions of my cat chasing mice in China.

Dad glanced at the box and cleared his throat. ‘Oh, er, no, not really. Just a bit of gardening, dear. Now, run along and get ready for the picnic.’

[Photo 2: Dad resting after his hard day at work in the garden © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Ah! A spring picnic at Brown Hill Creek. I loved picnics with Mummy, Daddy and Richard, my eleven year old brother. Brown Hill Creek in the Adelaide foothills had paths lined with eucalyptus trees, and a creek filled with yabbies and tadpoles for Richard and me to hunt. I imagined Brown Hill Creek as the perfect “happy hunting ground” for cats.

‘Is Brown Hill Creek Wilma’s happy hunting ground?’ I asked.

Mum, her mousy curls covered with a scarf, poked her head out the door and called from the porch, ‘Hurry up, David!’

[Photo 3: Mum hanging up the washing before we go out © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1971]

‘Yes, dear,’ Dad said and with huffing and puffing, dug with increased speed.

I jumped up and down and flapped my arms. ‘Hooray! We’re going to Wilma’s happy hunting ground!’ Then I ran back to Mum standing in the back porch. ‘We’re going to Wilma’s happy hunting ground.’

‘Yes, well, I suppose,’ Mum said her blue eyes averting mine.

***

All the way to Brown Hill Creek, I filled the stale air in Bathsheba, our Holden car with my constant babble. As the only blonde in the family, it was my calling to be the family entertainment.

[Photo 4: Bathsheba, our trusty Holden car in the background © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1969]

‘I bet Wilma loves it at Brown Hill Creek. There’s so many birds…Mummy, do all the cats go to our picnic park when they go to their happy hunting ground?’

‘Mmmm,’ Mum replied.

I took that response as a “yes”. ‘Mummy, why did Wilma go to her happy hunting ground? Why didn’t she want to stay with us?’

Mum sighed. ‘Wilma wanted to go. It was her time.’

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Are dogs there too?’

‘Wouldn’t be a happy hunting ground for cats, if dogs were there too,’ Dad said.

‘Maybe dogs go somewhere else.’ I tried to think where dogs would go. ‘Like where there’s more trees, I guess.’

Richard shook his square head topped with brown curls. ‘Why do you always talk so much, Lee-Anne?’

I shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’

‘Anyway,’ Richard said, ‘Wilma is—’

‘Shh!’ Mum glared at my brother and narrowed her eyes.

‘Gee, Brown Hill Creek must be full of cats,’ Richard muttered.

‘Oh, goody, when we get there, the first thing I’m going to do, I’m going to find them all,’ I said.

Richard rolled his eyes and shook his head.

***

Clouds shrouded the sky casting Brown Hill Creek reserve in a pall of grey. Dad manoeuvred Bathsheba into the gravel carpark. Richard and I then scrambled out. While Richard checked the water-levels of the creek, I gazed up at the lofty branches of the gum trees. Was Wilma up there? The leaves rustled in the breeze.

Mum found an even patch of ground near the creek and spread the rug. Dad lugged the wicker basket loaded with cheese and gherkin sandwiches and a thermos.

‘Richard, would you help carry this?’ Dad asked as he held a bag containing a spare set of my clothes. A picnic was never complete unless I fell into the creek at least once.

I raced along the path and began calling, ‘Wilma! Wilma!’

As the distance between my family and me widened, Dad yelled, ‘Don’t go wandering off—we don’t want you getting lost—again.’

‘I’ll go with her,’ Mum said.

‘Wilma! Wilma!’ I sang.

Birds twittered in those lofty branches. I looked up and called, ‘Wilma! Wilma! Here puss, puss, puss!’

A kookaburra cackled.

[Photo 5: Kookaburra © L.M. Kling 2016]

Mum pointed up at a bunch of blue-green leaves high in a tree. ‘Hey, look!’

‘Wilma?’

‘No, look!’ Mum said, ‘A koala.’

‘What’s a koala doing here? I thought this was the cat’s happy hunting ground.’

[Painting: Koala and baby© L.M. Kling 2013]

Mum took a breath and began. ‘Wilma’s in a better place than this, she’s—’

‘Hiding?’ I peered in the scrub. I parted the stubbles of grass by the side of the path. I looked behind tree trunks and logs. ‘Wilma! Come Wilma!’

My brother strode up the path and stood next to Mum. ‘You have to tell her, Mum.’

‘What?’ I asked.

‘You won’t find Wilma here,’ Richard said.

‘Wilma’s gone dear,’ Mum said.

‘Dead, Lee-Anne,’ announced Richard.

‘No! Richard, you’re wrong. Dad said Wilma went to her “happy hunting ground”, I said straining my voice.

‘Richard’s right,’ Mum said. ‘Wilma’s happy hunting ground is in heaven, not Brown Hill Creek.’

***

We ate our cheese and gherkin sandwiches in silence. If I wasn’t talking our little family usually ate in silence. Mum sat me on her lap and wrapped her arms around me as I forced small bites of sandwich past the lump in my throat. I looked at the creek frothing and bubbling from good spring rains. The yabbies and tadpoles were safe from my jar and net that day. I was in no mood to hunt them. My spare set of clothes would stay a spare set for another picnic. I decided to break the silence.

[Photo 6 and feature: Happier times at Brownhill Creek © C.D. Trudinger 1964]

‘Will I never see Wilma again?’ I asked.

‘I’m afraid not,’ Mum said. ‘But you have Barney, Wilma’s brother, to be your special cat to look after.’

‘Why does Lee-Anne get a special cat?’ Richard asked.

‘Well, you’ve got Timothy, Wilma’s other brother, he’s your special cat,’ Mum replied.

‘Oh, yeah.’

‘So Wilma’s in her happy hunting ground in heaven,’ I said.

‘Yes,’ Dad said. ‘Wilma’s in heaven.’

[Photo 7: Wilma and Me © C.D. Trudinger 1968]

And I imagined Wilma stalking through a hole from our world and into the next; her happy hunting ground in heaven.

***

[Photo 8: Holly 2000-2016© L.M. Kling 2011]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2020; 2022

Feature Photo: Picnic at Brownhill Creek. Photo taken by David Trudinger 1964

***

Want more, but too impossible to travel down under?

Why not take a virtual journey with the T-Team Adventures in Australia?

Click here on Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981…

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…

T-Team Series–Stuck in the Finke

The T-Team with Mr B (24)

   [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.

The T-Team with Mr B In 1977 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 guess Dad had some reservations how I would cope… But it soon became clear that the question was, how would Mr B who was used to a life of luxury cope?

In this episode, the T-Team experience one of the hazards of camping in a creek bed.]

Bogged

The sun peeped over the horizon, its rays causing the river gum leaves to look like they’d burst into flames. The creek was alive with a conference of birds, screeching and chattering over breakfast. I sat up in my sleeping bag and stretched.

*[Photo 1: Another creek bed another time, but the conference of parrots is the same. Conference of parrots, Flinders Ranges © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1983]

 ‘Did you have a good sleep, Lee-Anne?’ Dad asked.

‘Yes, I did. I had a wonderful sleep. It’s just like you say, Dad. The hip hole made all the difference.’

[Photo 2: Speaking from Experience waking up in the Finke River bed © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

During the night, since my air mattress had gone flat, I had dug a hip hole. Dad recommended doing this in place of an air-mattress. He said that the aborigines did this when they slept.

‘That’s good,’ Dad said and then tramped over to the Rover.

When he had disappeared behind the vehicle, I unravelled myself from my bedding, pulled on my boots and shuffled over to the fire joining Richard and Matt, spreading hands over the warmth to continue the process of waking up.

*[Photo 3: Waking up and warming by the fire in Finke Creek Bed © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 ‘Oh, no!’ Dad cried.

‘What?’ Mr B sat up in his sack. He looked like a red caterpillar with slits for eyes.

‘The Rover’s bogged,’ Dad yelled from behind the Rover.

‘How can you tell?’ Mr B asked.

Dad sighed. ‘Ooh, it doesn’t look good. Told you we shouldn’t’ve camped in a creek bed.’

 ‘Pff!’ Mr B wormed his way out of his sleeping bag and then sauntered over to the Rover, vanishing like Dad behind it.

The men talked in low tones, their voices muffled.

*[Photo 4: Boys will be boys on the Finke © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Richard grabbed his .22 rifle and nodded to Matt who then picked up his. ‘Just going to do some shooting,’ he said and then the two boys walked down the creek. I started to follow them.

‘Lee-Anne!’ Dad called.

I stopped and looked back. ‘What?’

‘Come and help us dig out the Rover’s wheels, would you?’

I put my hands on my hips. ‘Oh, al-right!’

Then I stomped back to the Rover.

Dad huffed and puffed as he shelled out the sand with his bare hands.

*[Photo 5: Our goal, Hermannsburg. Mt Hermannsburg and the Finke. Will we get there?  © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Mr B used the camp shovel. ‘I hope this has been washed and sterilised thoroughly,’ he grunted.

‘Well, um…’

I muttered, ‘Why do the boys get all the fun?’

Both men stopped their shovelling.

Dad glared at me. ‘What did you say?’

‘Er, um, nothing,’ I replied.

‘I don’t want to hear any grumbling, you understand?’ Dad’s voice had an edge to it.

‘No, Daddy.’

‘You should be thankful for the privilege,’ Mr B added.

*[Photo 6: Ah! The privilege of camping on the Finke River © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘Yes, I am.’ Where else would I get the joy of digging the Rover out of a bog of sand? I continued digging.

Mr B stepped away from the Rover. ‘Try the Rover now.’

Dad gathered some green leaves and placed them in the cavities under each of the Rover’s tyres. Then he hopped in the driver’s seat and turned on the ignition. The Rover’s engine puttered to life. Dad sat in the idle Rover while it chugged. Then he engaged first gear with a crunch of the clutch.

He stuck his head out the window. ‘Get behind and push.’

Mr B and I laid hands on each side of the Rover’s back end and as Dad pressed down on the accelerator, we pushed. Four wheels spun. Sand and leaves sprayed us.

‘Push, girl!’ Mr B shouted.

‘I’m pushing!’ Sand smattered my face. ‘It’s no use!’

Dad switched off the engine. He jumped out the Rover and marched to the rear tyres. He then knelt and dug deeper under the tyres. ‘Get some more leaves and small branches!’ he cried.

*[Photo 7: Meanwhile, the boys seemed to have escaped responsibility. But Rick’s day of reckoning will come…© L.M. Kling 2013]

Mr B and I scrambled up the bank and gathered armfuls of fallen branches. When we returned, Dad was smoothing out the holes under the back tyres. He also had placed twigs and small branches under the front tyres. We added our offerings to the holes below the back tyres and Dad patted them down. He’d also deflated the tyres a little.

Dad climbed into the driver’s seat. ‘We’ll try again.’

This time with Mr B and me pushing, the Rover’s tyres spun, then caught and jerked out of the bog. Dad sped up the dry river bed and parked on firmer ground. He then returned. Dusting his hands, he said, ‘Alright, Lee-Anne, after I’ve pumped up the tyres again, we’ll be ready to go. Go get the boys. We’re off to Alice Springs.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; Updated 2018

*Feature Photo: Red Walls and the Finke near Hermannsburg © C.D. Trudinger, circa 1955

***

Read more of the adventures of the T-Team in my memoir, Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 available on Amazon and Kindle.

Check it out, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

T-Team Series–Snake

T-Team with Mr. B (23)

  [Extract from The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977, a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.]

The T-Team with Mr B — In 1977 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 guess Dad had some reservations how I would cope… But it soon became clear that the question was, how would Mr B who was used to a life of luxury cope?

This time the T-Team encounter a snake…

SNAKE OF PALMER RIVER

We sailed onwards from Curtin Springs. On this stretch of road, Matt and I were the Captain and Skipper of the good ship Land Rover. We rode up and over waves of copper-coloured sand dunes, juddered along stormy corrugations, and crept through stony creek beds.

*[Photo 1: Riding on the Rover © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

As the sun hovered above a line of gum trees in the distance, a sign to Palmer River rose out of the mirage. Crossing the dry creek bed lined with eucalypt trees, their trunks white and thick and branches covered with lush green leaves, Dad slowed the vehicle to a crawl. He then turned into the creek and drove the Rover along a track of soft sand. After travelling some distance down the dry riverbed, he stopped. The men stepped out from the Rover.

*[Photo 2: Finke River with Mt. Hermannsburg © S.O. Gross circa 1955]

‘I think we’ll camp here tonight,’ Dad said.

‘You’ve got no argument with me,’ Mr. B replied. He gazed around at the cream-coloured sand and shady gum trees. ‘Now why didn’t you find somewhere like this before?’

Dad shrugged.

Mr. B rubbed his hands together. ‘Right time to get the BBQ together and fire it up.’

*[Photo 3: Camping in the Finke © S.O. Gross circa 1955]

While the older men cooked the meat, the lads ventured out to shoot some meat of their own. I followed at a safe distance. Walking over to a track that crossed the riverbed, I spotted a dark long object.

‘Hey, look at this,’ I yelled to the boys.

They stopped and turned.

‘Careful,’ Richard said.

‘Is that a snake?’ Matt asked. He raised his rifle.

I tip-toed up to the long dark creature and peered at it. A brown snake, two metres in length, lay across the track.

‘It’s a snake,’ I said.

*[Photo 4: Snake (not a Brown) © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

‘Get out the way,’ Richard said. He raised his rifle and squinted lining up the target with his “iron sight” (the bit at the end of the rifle’s nozzle that helps with the shooter’s aim).

I trod a couple of steps closer. ‘It’s not moving.’

‘What are you doing? It might strike,’ Richard shouted.

‘They’re poisonous, you know,’ Matt added.

‘It’s alright.’ I walked up to it. In two places the snake appeared to be flattened. ‘There’s tyre marks across its body. It’s dead. Very dead.’

Richard crouched down beside the effigy and then picked it up. ‘Yep, it’s dead.’

‘And some car’s the culprit,’ Matt said.

As the sun sank into the horizon, casting its tangerine magic on the trunks of the river gums, the T-Team gathered around the BBQ.

‘Well, ma boys,’ Mr B flipped a steak in the pan, ‘you got anything to add?’

Richard and Matt glanced at each other and then gazed at the pink and grey waves of sand of Palmer River.

*[Photo 5: Memories of dinner on the campfire past © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

I giggled. ‘They wanted to, but their shooting venture was fruitless.’

‘That’s a shame,’ Dad said. ‘Ah, well.’

‘We could have the snake,’ I said.

‘I don’t think so,’ Dad cleared his throat, ‘we’re not that desperate.’

So, while parrots chattered in the gum trees celebrating another brilliant day in the Centre of Australia, having escaped the boys’ efforts to shoot them, we savoured our juicy steak from Curtin Springs Station.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2018; 2022

Feature Photo: Snake © S.O. Gross circa 1950

[Palmer River is a tributary of the Finke River. Some of the photos above remind me of our Palmer River campsite.]

***

Read more of the adventures of the T-Team in my memoir, Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 available on Amazon and Kindle. Check it out, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

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T-Team Series–Mustering Conversation

The Parrot of Curtin Springs

  [Extract from The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977, a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.]

The T-Team with Mr B In 1977 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 guess Dad had some reservations how I would cope… But it soon became clear that the question was, how would Mr B who was used to a life of luxury cope?

This time Dad promises Mr. B rabbit stew for dinner.

Rick and I scrambled off the Rover’s roof-rack.

‘Race ya to the birds,’ I yelled and then ran down the side of the Curtin Springs store to the aviary.

Rick and Matt raced past me. ‘Beat ya!’ Rick called back.

The parrot squawked. ‘G’day mate!’

Matt laughed and said, ‘Hey, you got the bird to talk, Rick.’

‘Aren’t I clever,’ my brother said.

‘How did you do that?’ I approached the cage. ‘G’day mate.’

The parrot cocked its head.

In a falsetto voice, I said, ‘Hello cocky.’

The bird bobbed its head.

The boys laughed.

I persisted in a high-pitched tone. ‘Polly wants a cracker?’

The bird ambled over to me and then bit the wire of the cage, its blue tongue thrusting out its beak.

*[Photo 1: White cockatoos abound all over Australia. Here’s some in Sturt Gorge near my home. © L.M. Kling 2018]

‘Hello cocky,’ I sang.

The bird stopped nibbling the wire and then clawed its way along the cage away from me.

‘You just don’t have the touch,’ Rick said.

Matt sniggered.

Dad, his thumbs hooked in the belt loops of his trousers, strode up to us. ‘How about a soft drink? My shout.’

Rick shouted, ‘Soft drink!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ Mr. B who stood behind Dad, clapped. ‘Very funny!’

The parrot screeched. ‘G’day mate!’

*[Photo 2: White cockatoos close-up © L.M. Kling 2018]

I glared at Rick. ‘How did you do that?’

‘I have the touch,’ Rick said.

Dad marched into the store. A few minutes later, he emerged cradling five cans of lemon flavoured soft drink. ‘The petrol’s cheaper here than at Ayres Rock. And so is the steak. It’s from the cattle they have on the station.’

*[Photo 3: Cattle like these but near Gosses Range © L.M. Kling 2013]

The parrot cocked its head and watched us guzzle our drinks.

Rick wiped the sticky drops from his chin and sighed. ‘Ah, a real man’s drink!’

Dad licked his lips and then held up his finger. ‘You wait here. I won’t be long.’

We watched Dad disappear through the store door.

Mr. B raised his hand to his mouth, then after a discreet burp, he muttered. ‘No chance of egg soup tonight, I hope.’

I turned to the parrot. ‘G’day mate.’

The parrot squawked.

‘You just don’t have the touch,’ Rick said.

Matt giggled.

*[Photo 4: The Parrot of Curtin Springs (somewhere in the cage) and me © R.M. Trudinger 1977]

Dad returned, this time carrying a baby-sized packet wrapped in white butcher’s paper. ‘The Rover’s been fed, and we’ll have a feed tonight.’

‘That better not be eggs and soup,’ Mr. B snapped.

Dad pursed his lips as if some bird he’d swallowed was about to burst out. ‘Rabbit. I bought rabbit for stew. There’s lots of rabbits around these parts.’

‘What?’ Mr. B’s face flushed crimson. ‘I thought you were going to buy steak.’

Dad did that kissing motion with his lips and then in a level voice said, ‘Rabbit steak. It’s cheap.’

Rick turned away from Mr. B’s line of sight and wheezed with suppressed giggles.

The parrot flared its crest and screeched. ‘G’day mate.’

‘You did it again!’ I cried.

Rick snorted and laughed.

‘What’s so funny?’ Mr. B asked.

Dad patted Mr. B’s back. ‘It’s steak, mate. Beef steak. The best you’ll get around these parts. Curtin Springs runs a cattle station, you know.’

*[Photo 5 & 6: Rounding up Cattle in Central Australian Cattle Yard © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

‘You had me going there, for a while,’ Mr. B said.

‘Huh?’ I looked from Dad, to Mr. B, and then to Rick. ‘But you said, we’re having rabbit stew.’

‘Dad was joking, but we could shoot some rabbits or birds at Palmer River, if you don’t want steak,’ my brother said.

The parrot glared at Rick. ‘What?’

‘You did it again!’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2018; 2022

 *Feature Painting: Mustering Cattle © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2014

[Curtin Springs, 100 km east of Uluru, still operates as a cattle station. Its owners, the Severin family, have been running the station since 1956.]

***

Read more of the adventures of the T-Team in my memoir, Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 available on Amazon and Kindle.

Check it out, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

Monday Musing–Be Still

BE STILL

I go to the shops as I do every second day. At the checkout, the girl asks, ‘And how has your day been?’

‘Busy,’ I say.

‘That’s good,’ the girl says with a sage nod as if involved in some conspiracy to keep me on the hamster wheel of busyness.

In the Twenty-first century world “busyness” is good. Not being busy, then, is undesirable. Our Western Protestant work ethic touts, ‘Idleness is the devil’s workshop’. The state of “idleness” is to be avoided at all costs. These days, we equate idleness with boredom.

‘I’m bored,’ say your children (so did mine, when they were children many years ago, back in the good ol’ 1990’s), and terror strikes at the heart of each mother when they hear these words. Bored? We can’t have our children bored—idle—just imagine what devils will come to play if we allow boredom to fester. First, the grizzling, then, the niggling at each other, and before long, World War Three amongst the siblings and the house ends up looking like the Apocalypse.

*[Photo 1: The computer, the answer to all who cry, “I’m bored!” © L.M. Kling 2007]

No, we can’t have boredom.

So, in my quieter times now, I reminisce the days as a young mother, structuring each day, every hour—especially during the holidays, to avoid boredom—any strategy to avoid my tribe from becoming restless.

‘What’s wrong with a bit of boredom,’ my mother would say. ‘They need to learn to entertain themselves, you know, use their imagination. Nothing wrong with being still for a while, I say.’

Mum should know, she grew up in the Centre of Australia on a mission in the 1940’s and ‘50’s. Those were the really good ol’ days with no shopping centres, no electronic games, nor television. They did have radio, but her minister father only allowed the news to be heard from it. Heaven forbid they listen to modern music. During the War, even the radio was confiscated by the allies. So all my mum as a girl had to entertain herself were books. Even so, the Protestant work ethic was a major value in mum’s family as her mother, when she found her daughter reading would say, ‘Isn’t there some housework you should be doing?’

*[Photo 2: In the good ol’ days, being productive. Making kangaroo-skin rugs © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

As expected, then, I grow up in a world that values industry, productivity and filling each day to the full. The schools I attend are hot on producing good grades, projects and students who go on to university and become wealth-producing citizens.

Then, at sixteen, I have a revelation. We sing a chorus at church, “Be Still and know I am God”.

Being still…forget the homework…forget the housework…put aside my racing head of worries…centre my thoughts on God and his greatness. Pause for a moment and remember, God is God and He’s in control.

So at sixteen, I do just as the chorus bids. I hop on my deadly treadly (bike), and pedal down to the beach. I figure that’s the best place to be still; the waves lapping the sand, the sun on my back as I comb the shore for shells. Or on a sunny afternoon, I lie in the backyard and sunbake, think and ponder.

*[Photo 3: Entertainment of Seal, Glenelg South © L.M. Kling 2022]

The result? Wow! Those mountains? School and pedantic teachers going on about uniform—my socks, my hair? Boyfriends or lack of them? Life and my future? …All my concerns become molehills.

December 1979, I write a poem “Be Still”. Perhaps not the greatest work of literature, but the values stick with me…until I embark on university, work, and then a family. The poem hides in a book of my teenage missives. Ten years ago, I pull it out for a devotion. I preach being still, but I fail to apply the principles. I must keep busy. If I stop, even for a few minutes, what will others think? There’s just too much to do. Everyone’s depending on me as wife, mother, bible study leader, committee member …to produce the goods. I can’t let them down.

The culture to keep moving is ingrained. Go to meet people for the first time and they ask, ‘What do you do?’ The doing has to have a dollar sign attached to it. Not enough to do all the above as a mother. Must produce money to have status in the group. Without status, I am not heard. Ironic how the under-valued creative arts of writing and painting, though, afford status. I am creating. I am producing.

*[Painting 1: Life after Lock-down, Port Willunga © L.M. Kling 2020]

Even so, in this creative phase of my life, if I stand still, I feel guilty. Now, there are novels to write and art to produce. My “work”. I’m on the hamster wheel, but I can’t get off.

However, in all the busyness expected of me, the cogs of my life are unravelling. I drive to a cafe to meet a friend. She’s not there. I’d forgotten my mobile phone. I drive the thirty-minute return home and check my phone and then ring her. I’d gone to the wrong place. A misunderstanding. If I had taken the time to listen and ask the right questions…

The voice of my sixteen-year-old self still convicts me. ‘Be Still’.

For over forty years, I’d not been following my own advice. After the misunderstanding of the other day, I give myself permission to have time each day to rest…Time to be still…time to know God.

*[Painting 2: Sleeping Beauty on Huon, Tasmania © L.M. Kling]

So in the voice of my sixteen-year-old self, the poem:

Be Still

Exhausted, yet restless to advance

Ever onward in a trance,

A weary traveller

Refused to look around

So lost the intimate beauties which could be found.

Be still,

And know God the eternal creator.

Furtive, frustrated, fraught we flee,

When confusion bears down on thee,

A weary traveller.

Failure looms, chaos glooms,

In life, this lonely room.

Be still,

And wing your eyes

To soar above the clutter.

Marvel at the vastness of creation

Where God lies.

If what we infinitely fear

Will produce a lonely tear,

Of a weary traveller,

We blind ourselves with sorrows

Clinging to illusions of good morrows.

Be still,

Capture destiny in your heart,

For God said, “Let it be”.

See the beauty of it’s part.

Learn from what it has to offer

Ignore the scoffer.

A weary traveller did relent,

When Jesus was sent.

Be still,

While He,

Our hungry souls will fill.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling (nee Trudinger) 1979

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

*Feature Photo: Cradle Mountain, Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2009

***

If you’d like to polish your writing skills or find out more about our new project, a self-publishing collective, click on the link to Indie Scriptorium

Or…

Catch up on the exploits of Boris the over-grown alien cockroach, and Minna and her team’s attempt to subdue him.

For good holiday reading click on the links below…

The Lost World of the Wends

The Hitch-hiker

Mission of the Unwilling

Or…

Join the Journey, click on the link below:

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari

100-Word Challenge–Worked

…Into a Corner

All afternoon, our backyard echoed with the hum of the cement-mixer, and intermittent scraping. Dad, armed with a trowel, smoothed the cement over an area pegged to become the back patio.

Metre by metre, he pasted his way back.

Mum stood on the porch, and with hands on her hips, remarked, ‘And how are you going to get out of this one?’

In an ocean of soft cement, Dad looked around him, lost. ‘Er…um…I’ll work it out.’

Tracks back to the lawn-edge smoothed, Dad stood and admired his DIY job.

Next morning, paw-prints made their way to the rainwater tank.

© L.M. Kling 2019

Feature Photo: Dad Concreting back Patio © M.E. Trudinger circa 1978

***

It’s Holiday time.

Time to read more on the adventures of the war against the fiend you love to hate, an overgrown alien cockroach, Boris.

Click on the links below:

The Lost World of the Wends

The Hitch-hiker

Mission of the Unwilling

 Or

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Read the T-Team’s Aussie adventures, click on the link below:

Trekking the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

T-Team Series–The Olgas, Windy Gorge

 [The last few weeks I have been revisiting our adventures with Mr. B. This time an excursion to the back of the Olgas turned messy in the back of the Rover…]

THE SPILT PEANUTS OF WINDY GORGE

Dad huffed and puffed as he hauled his weary body into the Rover.

‘Windy gorge, I gather the wind must’ve dried up all the waterholes,’ Mr B said with a chuckle.

I interrupted. ‘But, but the views were amazing, weren’t they, Richard?’

My brother nodded.

‘Why, it’s like something out of Lost in Space. All those boulders. And they’re so red. What about that plum pudding one? I hope that one of you and Dad with it in the background turns out.’

*[Photo 1: Plum Pudding, view from the top of Walpa Gorge © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Dad gulped water from his canteen, then when he had finished, he wiped drops from his chin. ‘Ah, well. I was looking forward to a nice swim.’

‘Never mind, old mate, we got some good photos. You must admit, the scenery is spectacular, better than Ayres Rock, I dare say.’ Mr B patted his son on the back. ‘Don’t you agree, ma boy?’

Matt stared at the ground and kicked a stone. ‘But Dad, Mr T promised.’

‘I know, I know. As I was saying at the Rock the other day, the place needs more accommodation for the tourists. A pool, that’s what they need, a pool.’

‘Not on Ayres Rock, though,’ I said.

‘Well, maybe the Olgas needs one,’ Mr B laughed. ‘Your Dad certainly thinks so. Why we’ve just spent a good two hours searching for one.’

*[Photo 2: Windy Gorge: Rick remembers the promise of a waterhole that never was © L.M. Kling 2013]

Dad looked at the scarlet sand, his gaze wandering left and right as if hunting for ants. He cleared his throat. ‘Okay, everyone, in the truck. We’ll go ‘round the Olgas a bit.’

After savouring the water from our canteens, we piled into the Rover, the elders in the front and us young ones in the back. Dad drove us further around the base. As the Rover lumbered along the dirt track, I grazed on my bag of peanuts. Dad hit an almighty bump. Wheels and axle crunched. We bounced up.

*[Photo 3: Tour around the back of the Olgas © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

‘Oops!’ I cried. We crashed down. My bag of peanuts flew all over the back cabin.

Richard looked at me and shook his head. ‘You’ll get in trouble.’

I scuffed the scattered nuts under my shoes. ‘Nah, the back’s a mess, how would Dad know?’

‘He will, trust me.’

The Rover wheezed to a stop.

‘Alright, let’s see if we can find some water here,’ Dad said. The driver’s door creaked open. His boots thudded on the soft sand. Dad pulled open the back cabin door and light flooded into the dark, exposing the messy interior.

Dad’s face turned as red as the Olgas and he roared, ‘What have you done?’

‘It’s just a few nuts,’ I bleated. ‘Sorry.’

‘Right! We can’t go until you cleaned up every last peanut.’

*[Photo 4: Like a Koala–it is a koala and baby in our front yard © L.M. Kling 2011]

I could not get over how much like a koala he appeared; an angry koala. Everyone had to wait while I swept the cabin, purging it of the peanuts. My efforts were not really appreciated as Dad then had to go in and ferret around for more stray peanuts. What was it about those peanuts?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

Photo: Windy Gorge © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013

***

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…