Travelling Thursday–Risky Road Trip to Brisbane

2023 and it seems road safety has become a thing of the past…Or has it. the road toll, so the news states, is the worst it’s been in 10-years. I’ve noticed other drivers taking more risks, and becoming impatient with little old me who tries so hard to keep to the speed limit. After all, I don’t want to upset “Karen” our Toyota Corolla’s GPS guide. She’s constantly reminding my hubby of what the speed limit is.

Anyway, in light of the danger ever-present on our roads and the desire to be safe, I am reminded how close I came to disaster on a road trip to Queensland in 1989. The following piece is part 1 of a 3-part series of that trip.

When Angels Jump Off

I considered my new leadership role a breeze, but I had yet to encounter mutiny in the Toyota.

Part 1

Up the Creek and Behind Time

My boss, called me into his office. “I want you to lead the group traveling with you in the van.” He glanced at me, wise hazel eyes over silver-rimmed spectacles. “Are you okay with that?”

“Sure.” As a former secondary school teacher, I imagined a straight-forward venture; an uneventful hike up the Highway to the Conference on Queensland’s Gold Coast. All that the leadership required of me was a slight detour into the countryside of Wagga Wagga to collect Bill.

“Who else will I be taking?” I asked confident to handle anyone in the Toyota Van with me.

“You’ll have Rob,” my manager said. I pictured tall, scruffy Rob, in his early twenties as the quiet observer. My boss cleared his throat. “And three youth.” Their ages and quantities of either gender remained fuzzy around the edges until I met them. “I’d advise that you don’t let them drive.”

“I won’t.”


 [Photo 1: Our unit front with Dad © L.M. Kling 1990]

On the morning of my maiden journey to the Conference, Rob, with Karen (17), Tania (16) and Tom (18), stood gazing out the window of the unit my husband and I recently bought. I mentioned the tall eucalyptus trees out the front of our home would have to be chopped down. My young visitors condemned the soon-to-be slaughter of trees. The group seemed harmless enough, if they loved nature.

[Photo 2: On our way—Yarra Ranges © L.M. Kling 1996]

By the afternoon we bounced along in the trusty Toyota van, through the magical high country, a blur of misty mountains, crisp green pine trees and miles of white line on the grey bitumen. We powered northwards through Bright, wending through Wodonga, and over the river through to Albury. As we approached Wagga Wagga, the sun cast dusky orange over the fields and rolls of hay.

[Photo 3 & Feature: High country, Myrtleford North-Eastern Victoria © L.M. Kling circa 1988]

“Where are we meant to turn?” Tania, the chubby brunette of the youth-trio asked. A melted puddle of red in the west was all that remained of our natural source of light. I turned on the head-lights.

“Should be soon. What does the map say?” At the helm, I flicked the switch to high beam and peered through the insect-splattered screen hunting the sign.

Karen leaned her bird-like frame through the gap in the front seat, her blonde fuzz tickling my cheek. She asked, “What map?”

Behind me paper rustled and chip packets crackled.

I pointed behind me. “It’s there somewhere.”

The lanky Tom rolled his blue eyes. I dared not admit that the road map had become the latest casualty in the rush to depart. Left behind! “Anyway, don’t worry. I’ve been to Bill’s farm before.” The turn-off must be around here somewhere. A sign shrouded in darkness flitted past. Too late! On I go.

[Photo 4: Wagga Wagga © L.M. Kling 1989]

Rob stared out the window at the fading shades of blue sky.

We charged along the highway, in and out of Wagga Wagga, I was sure that the turn-off was the other side of the town. “Not too far,” I said.

“What road did you say?” Karen asked.

“I’ll recognise it when I see it.” I hoped I would. In the dark. Strange how the road I want always has the sign missing. I sped onwards, white posts every tenth of a kilometre, their red reflectors winking at me.

But none of the road names seemed right. With Wagga half-an-hour behind us, each kilometre of searching for this elusive road ate into our time. “Are you sure you know where you are going?” Rob’s question annoyed me.

“It’s just up ahead.” I wasn’t about to admit that I had no clue. I’m good at navigation. I follow my nose.

“l think we should turn back.” Tom’s deep voice boomed from the rear seat. “We should call them and get directions.”

“It’ll be a waste of time, but if you insist,” I said and turned the van around and tracked back to Wagga Wagga. These were the days before mobile phones, so we hunted down a working telephone box. I climbed from the driver’s seat and into the crisp September night. While the others waited in the van, I phoned Bill and received directions. With the precious piece of paper detailing the road to Junee and subsequent route to Bill’s block, I marched to the driver’s side of the van, hopped in and turned on the ignition.

“Stop! We have to wait for Tania and Tom!” Karen yelled.

We waited. And waited. Half an hour later, the pair strolled up the Main, cradling fish’n chips in newspaper and nibbling at steaming Chiko rolls.

[Photo 5: Wagga Wagga Council Chambers © L.M. Kling 1988]

As they climbed into the cabin, I said, “We could’ve been there by now, Bill’s waiting.” However, Bill had some more patience to exercise. His directions were not straight forward and an hour dragged by as we meandered through the farm blocks, one false turn after another on our tour to Junee in the dark. Tom, the young man of Aryan features, sat between the sniggering Tania and Karen. They doted on him and while sipping Coca-Cola, he lapped up all the attention slathered on him. After occupying their mouths with greasy food, the smell of which lingered, the youth tribe grew bored and simmered with repressed rage.

Acid comments spat and floated around the cabin. “Aren’t we there yet?”

“Sure you know where you’re going?…We’re two hours behind schedule…This rate, we’ll never get to Brisbane.” Under pressure, my fine skills of navigation evaporated.

In the mist, a pin-point of light appeared on the side of the road to Junee. As we approached, a white ute emerged from the fog. Beside the truck, we saw a man waving a torch. It was Bill.

With Bill and his gear bundled into the van, we sailed onto Orange.

Some three hours late, Tom was not happy. “We’ll never get there in time.”

The girls cuddled each side of him and chorused their support. “Yeah, if our leader didn’t get us lost!”

[to be continued next week, same time, same website…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2023


Want more Australian Adventure, but too expensive to travel down under?

Why not take a virtual travel 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…

Sunday Story–Bonfire

Bonfire on the Beach

Part 1

[I first wrote this story over thirty years ago in response to a newspaper murder mystery competition. Upon completing the story, I never submitted it for scrutiny. Since then, the tale has endured several edits and reworkings, the latest being just last week.

The story is pure fantasy but is based on real life events from my youth. Over the last 30 years the characters have evolved to become on the whole, fictional.

Note, bonfires are no longer permitted on beaches near Adelaide. However, cars are still allowed to drive on the sands of some beaches south of Adelaide, such as Sellicks Beach.]

The Uninvited

The five friends huddled in the firelight, reflecting on the ritual burning of Lillie’s matriculation Modern History textbooks and the year past. The Doors boomed in the background.

A sand-splattered blood-red Ford Falcon XB and a bright orange Kombi-van, guarded Geoffrey Fox and Lillie Hughson, Lillie’s older brother Sven and her best friend Fifi Edwards and Fifi’s brother Jimmy from any unwanted intruders.

An old man on the cliff top waved an angry fist, his threats carried away by the sharp November breeze. Sven returned the gesture shaking his fist with menace at the old man.

‘Sven!’ Lillie slapped Sven’s arm. ‘Behave yourself! You might be a brickie, but you don’t need to act like one.’

‘Nothing wrong with brickies, Lillie. Anyway, that old man, he’s probably calling for Wally,’ Fifi said while rubbing her nose. The sea air icy and stung with salt. She had moulded into Sven’s embrace. ‘Hey, Sven, you’re so cool, yet so hot.’

A burst of laughter. The tape came to a climactic end and petered out.

‘Hey, hey, have you heard this?’ Fifi wet her lips. ‘Six o’clock. The whole street was quiet, not a sound was heard. Except the occasional croak of a cricket as night fell.’ Mesmerized by the lapping waves and rhythm of Fifi’s voice, the others listened. ‘All was calm, then out of the darkness, a cry pierced the air.’

Jimmy, Fifi’s older brother shovelled a handful of salt and vinegar chips into his mouth and crunched. Lillie glared at him. He paused, chipmunk cheeked, and glued his attention to his sister Fifi.

“Wally! Wal-Wal-Waaalee! Dinner’s ready!”

The five young people roared. Jimmy’s potato chips sprayed out and fuelled the coals. Fifi pouted mimicking Wally’s mother, Mrs. Katz. Lillie joined her. Jerking her legs as if in a Monty Python sketch, Fifi broke free of Sven’s hold and walked a Wally walk, while Lillie jumped from Geoffrey Fox’s embrace and flailed her arms and danced a Wally dance.

Sounds of puttering filled the cove. ‘Who could that be?’ Lillie craned her neck over Sven’s leather clad shoulder to see bulk roaring wheels.

The girls froze, and in unison uttered, ‘Oh, no! Wally!’

More chips spluttered from Jimmy’s mouth and fuelled the coals. Sven rolled up his sleeves. Admiring his wiry yet powerful form, Fifi preened her blonde perm and sighed. ‘Just when we’re having a good time!’

Sand plopped in the flames and their faces. With a grunt his Kawasaki bike scudded, throwing Wally towards a rocky outcrop.

Wally picked himself up and dusted grains from his blubber. He advanced towards the group laughing, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’.

With his thumbs inserted in his tight pockets, Sven stepped towards the Wally. ‘Who invited you?’

‘Gate crasher! Gate crasher!’ Lillie and Fifi cried, hurling abuse and wads of sand.

Sven pitched his cider bottle. ‘Go home to your mummy, Wally!’

Wally dodged Sven’s missile. ‘Hey, I just wanna good time.’

‘You are not welcome here. Go away.’ Sven plucked up a rock. ‘Move it!’

‘Why not? I have every right to be here.’

‘Are you thick or something?’ Sven shook his stone-wrapped fist.

‘Did you call me thick? Did you call me thick?’

‘Yes, you moron! Now, go home!’ Sven spat and then hurled the stone, crashing it into Wally’s helmet.

‘Hey! That’s my head you hit!’ Wally raised his fists and leered at Sven. ‘You wanna fight?’

‘Be my guest, fool!’ Sven jabbed Wally’s rounded shoulder with his right fist.

‘Oh, cut it out boys!’ Fifi marched to the stoushing males, splitting the two cocks sparring in the shadows.

Uneasy truce, Wally one side of the fire, in the smoke, Sven and the rest of the group crowded on the other side. Waves crashed, the sea’s beat interrupted by the rare plop and thud of dead conversation.

Fifi nudged Lillie. ‘This is boring!’

Lillie rubbed her hands over the glowing coals. ‘Mmm. Why doesn’t Wally take the hint?’

Jimmy munched through his third bagful of chips. Chicken, this time.

Wally coughed. Wally spluttered. Wally blew his nose into a grimy handkerchief and inspected the contents. Wally sidled out of the smoke, closer to the group.

‘Oh, no you don’t!’ Sven poked the embers emitting brief flames. ‘Too crowded over here with you, Wally.’

‘Why not! I’m choking over here,’ Wally said and then cupped the rag over his mouth and insisted edging to the smokeless side.

‘Are you dense?’ Sven lunged at Wally, forcing his boot into the glowing coals. ‘Go home, Wally.’

Wrestling, the rooster and the sumo teetered at the rim of fire, toppled onto the sand crushing beer cans, steam-rolled one on top of the other singeing leather pants and denim jacket, rising from the ashes in a slow dance of boxing and fists and cuffs, and culminating in Sven’s $50 Reflecto Polaroid sunglasses flying into the fire. They melted on impact.

‘My shades! You’ve destroyed my shades!’ Sven clutched Wally’s throat. ‘Get outa here before I kill you!’

Fox who had been hanging back and watching the action, stepped up to Wally. ‘You better go Wally. Nothing personal. But you better take the hint and go.’

Fifi patted Sven on the back, ‘Come on mate, that’s enough fighting for one night. It’s only sunglasses.’

Sven loosened his grip and sauntered towards the boulders, silhouetted by the cliff-face. Wally skulked back to his bike and with a departing roar, pelted sand over the dying coals.

[continued on Tru-Kling Creations…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Sellicks Beach, one afternoon in September © L.M. Kling 2015


In the mid-nineteenth century, a village of Wends, on their way to Australia, mysteriously disappeared…

Who was responsible? How did they vanish?

Want to know more about the trials and tribulations of these missing people from Nineteenth Century Eastern Europe?

Click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends   

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


Dreaming of Adventure?

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.

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

T-Team the Younger Series–Ants


[A mild spring with some happy warm days interspersed with bouts of thunderstorms and heavy rain. And the ants making me hop and dance when out in the garden. A reminder of the younger of the T-Team with roughin’ it on their minds, venture closer to home and into the Flinders Ranges; their sights set on Chambers Gorge…But never in their wildest dreams did they expect these little, or not so little, crawly things, ants, to spoil their first night camping in the Flinders Ranges…]

By mid-morning, and a half-a-dozen or so beers later for Barney, my brother chauffeured us on the rough road to Chambers Gorge.

‘Are you sure you know where we’re going?’ Doris asked.

‘Sure I do,’ my brother said. ‘I’ve been there before.’

We bounced over the gravel road and its abundant potholes. Then came the roller-coaster—up and down, almost flying and then stomachs thudding to the floor in the dips.

[Photo 1: Rolling Roads in the Flinders Ranges…and less rough © L.M. Kling 2007]

‘Stop!’ Barney groaned. ‘I’m going to be sick.’

‘Oh, no!’ Doris and I cried.

‘Stop the—’ Barney gurgled, and he leaned forward, his hand cupped over his mouth.

My brother slammed on the brakes and stopped the car in the middle of the road. Too late! Liquid breakfast splattered every corner of the car’s interior.

We spent the next half an hour using dampened beach towels to flush out the worst of the mess, and then the next few hours driving to Chambers Gorge, doing our best to ignore the smell—windows open, nostrils filling with bull dust in preference to the smell.

‘I feel sick,’ Doris said.

My brother stopped the car and we all jumped out.

Doris leaned over a salt bush and then stood up. ‘Nah, it’s okay.’

‘Better safe than sorry,’ my brother said. ‘We don’t want another accident.’

[Photo 2: Emus along the way © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1984]

So without a map, my brother found Chambers Gorge. We lumbered along the rugged road that followed the dry creek bed.

‘Where’s the water?’ Doris asked.

‘All underground, unless it rains,’ my brother said.

We glanced left and right, sighting tents and camper vans. Four o’clock and already all the best campsites had been taken. We ventured further into the gorge crawling along the creek bed of boulders. The rocky slopes of the low hills that defined Chambers Gorge were shrouded in grey tones of an over-cast sky.

I pointed to a clearing. ‘What about here?’

‘Too small,’ my brother said.

Doris indicated a site near a clump of twisted gum trees. ‘Hey, what about one over there?’

‘Nup, where would we park?’

‘There’s a spot,’ Barney said.

‘And how am I going to get up there?’

‘We have to camp somewhere, or we’ll be cooking tea in the dark,’ I said.

‘I don’t feel so well,’ Barney said. ‘I have a headache.’

‘You shouldn’t’ve had so many beers for breakfast,’ Doris snapped.

My brother stopped the car. ‘Here will do.’

We climbed out of the car and inspected the mound of gravel no larger than a small bedroom.

‘Bit small,’ Barney said.

‘You reckon you can find somewhere better?’ my brother answered.

‘Nah, I guess it’ll be alright.’

[Photo 3: Camping © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1984]

My brother and Barney unpacked the car and then set up Barney’s tent. Then my brother pumped up his blow-up mattress—no tent for him, he preferred to sleep under the stars. So did I. A billion-star accommodation for me. I persuaded Doris to also sleep under the stars. One problem, clouds covered our star-studded view.

Doris and I searched for firewood.

‘Seems like Chambers Gorge is well picked over,’ Doris remarked.

‘It’s like Rundle Mall,’ I replied. ‘Won’t be coming here again. Too many people.’

We found a few sticks, just enough for a fire to cook our canned spaghetti for tea. For dessert, we ate fruit cake.

[Photo 4: Stories behind the Campfire © L.M. Kling 2015]

As our thoughts drifted to bed and enjoying sleep under clouds as it seemed tonight, my brother said, ‘Oh, er, I did a bit of exploring. Found a better camping spot. Bigger, near a waterhole.’

‘Really?’ Doris sighed.

‘Can’t we just stay here?’ Barney asked.

My brother stroked the red mound upon which we sat. ‘Could be an ant hill.’

So again, we followed my brother’s leading, packed up and piled into the car. Once again, we crawled to my brother’s El Dorado of campsites.

There, in the dark, we set up our bedding. Barney abandoned the idea of a tent and settled down, content with the cloudy canopy to cover him like the rest of us.

[Photo 5: We dreamed of the next day dancing in the bush © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1984]

As I began pumping up my mattress—Plop! I looked up. Another plop.

‘O-oh, rain,’ I said.

‘Nah, probably amount to nothing.’ My brother shrugged and continued to blow up his mattress.

Doris sat on a small mound and watched us. Rick promised to pump up all our mattresses.

‘Ugh!’ Doris cried and then slapped her thigh.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘An ant!’

‘What do you mean, an ant?’

‘An ant bit me.’

‘What? Through jeans?’

‘Yeah, it was a big one—ugh! There’s another one,’ Doris jumped up, ‘and another.’

Doris danced and slapped herself.

Rick shone a torch where Doris did her “River Dance”.

‘Holy crud!’ Barney said, his eyes wide. ‘The place is full of them.’

[Photo 6: A honey ant; best I could find © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

Ants, two and a half centimetres long and called “Inch Ants”, swarmed the ground, their pincers snapping. They streamed from a hole on the mound where Doris had been sitting, ants multiplying and invading our clearing.

We scrambled to the car and threw ourselves in. Doris and I sat in the back, Barney and my brother in the front.

‘Looks like we’ll be camping in the car tonight,’ I grumbled.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019

Feature Photo: White Ant Hills © S.O. Gross circa 1946


Want more but too expensive to travel down under? Why not take a virtual travel 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…

Verboten in Hermannsburg

[Last week safety in South Australia was threatened by that all too familiar nemesis Co-vid, and again restrictions were put in place. Many activities were “verboten”, including singing. Having weathered the latest threat, I recalled forty years ago in the remote centre of Australia where trespassing on the “verboten” could spell disaster…]

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

The Consequences of Changing One’s Mind

Back at in Hermannsburg, Mrs. R presided over the kitchen bench.

‘How did the ice-cream-making go?’ I asked.

She flitted to the fridge and opened the freezer section. ‘C1 and that nice girl, J have both gone, but not together.’ She sounded far-away in the land of the fairies.

As if I wanted to know what my older cousin, C1 was up to. ‘Did it work out,’ I asked.

‘Hmm, maybe.’ She remained distant, still in fantasy land. ‘Possibly, give it time.’

‘I mean, the ice-cream, are we going to have fried ice-cream for dessert?’ I rose, walked over to the fridge and peered over her shoulder. ‘Is there fried ice-cream in there?’

‘Oh, no,’ she spoke with a dead-pan expression. ‘We ate all that. Just ice-cream for you folks, I’m afraid.’

[1. Photo: Ice cream also all eaten in Paris by my two boys © L.M. Kling 1998]

I believed her and assumed we’d have plain old ice-cream for dessert. J returned unannounced. ‘Oh!’ She put her hand to her mouth. ‘Just stay there, don’t go away.’ She vanished out the door.

Lamenting the loss of the fried ice-cream experience, I comforted myself with a cup of tea. Dad buzzed around the kitchen, chopping vegetables, boiling rice, deep frying shrimp crackers and splattering oil all over the walls. I knew I should help but I just sat, sipping tea and wishing I had stayed behind. Now I’ll never have fried ice-cream. Anyway, Indonesian fried rice is Dad’s domain, his glory, and heaven help anyone who offers to help. Our job was to taste its wonders and compliment him. I could do that.

J reappeared with a small postcard-sized paper in hand. ‘It’s a photo of you.’ She handed me the image of me looking shocked by the camera flash at the sing-sing. ‘I think it’s a rather nice one of you. Don’t you think?’

[2. Photo: Camera shock at sing-sing. Where’s my beau? © Courtesy of L.M. Kling 1981]

Not particularly. I accepted the picture of me appearing ghost-like on a bad-hair day. Never did like pictures of me. The camera picks out all my faults. ‘Yes, thank you.’ I rose and then headed for the room holding my luggage. ‘I’ll put it in my diary straight away.’

While Mrs. R departed for business with J, and Dad slaved over a hot stove of many fry pans and saucepans creating his Indonesian meal, I wrote my diary and then retreated into the world of Wuthering Heights.

‘Dinner is ready!’ Dad rang the brass hand-held bell. ‘Come and get it.’

I left my Heathcliff to brood on the moors, and drifted into the kitchen-dining area for the auspicious Indonesian meal. Seven o’clock and three young ladies, two pretty blondes and a stunning brunette, accompanied C1 and C2 to the round white table decorated with knives, forks and plates. The atmosphere bubbled with excited chatter and introductions. In one corner, the fellers, my brother, C2 and C1 fidgeted and grinned, and the girls giggled and squealed as they stood in the other corner and checked out the talent. I sat in the middle like the referee at the table. I clutched my knife and fork upright in each hand and glared at Dad bustling at the sink.

[3. Photo: Not a tradition to take photos of meals for the T-Team, so here’s a spread for the Hermannsburg male choir © courtesy C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

‘Okay, I’m here.’ I glanced from one corner to the other. ‘Where’s the dinner?’

‘Don’t be so impatient.’ Mrs. R hurried past me carrying a tray of glasses. ‘Go and talk to the girls.’

I pointed from the boy group to the girl group. ‘You couldn’t find a partner for me, could you?’

‘Lee-Anne!’ Mrs. R said. ‘This is Hermannsburg, not Alice Springs!’

‘No stockman or lonely explorer, then?’

‘No, this is as good as it gets.’ She placed the glasses on the table. Besides, the blokes up here, I don’t think they’d be your type.’

Then I’m destined to be an old maid then. I sighed.

[4. Photo: Maids waiting on the Hermannsburg Mission Truck © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

The young people gathered and selected seats at the table. Dad presented his massive bowl of Indonesian fried rice to a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. The girls’ eyes widened at the sheer enormity of the rice project. The boys licked their lips and breathed in the aroma of cumin, cardamom, turmeric and chilli. Dad had excelled himself. He puffed up his chest, and strutted around the kitchen.

C1 charmed the ladies with his dry humour and subtle flirting. Stuck in their own shyness, MB and C2 remained spectators, while C1 did all the entertaining with the girls. I sat back in my chair observing the interactions, piling my plate full of rice, and shovelling the stuff down like I hadn’t eaten in weeks. The ladies opposite me, picked at miniscule portions of the fair. So what! I can make a pig of myself! No one for me to impress. Not like I had to diet. Someone’s got to show Dad his food is good, not just tell him with platitudes. Besides, got to make the most of it, only boring old ice-cream for dessert. The young lassies each passed up offerings of seconds while I was on my thirds. I bet they were full from eating all the fried ice-cream. Well, serves them right. Polishing off the plate, I felt full and bloated. There was a lull in the conversation. C1 had run out of things to joke about.

[5. Photo: Plain old boring ice cream, but for some, a special treat. Especially, South Australia’s own Golden North ice cream. © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Mrs. R moved to the fridge. ‘Dessert, anyone?’

All at the table put up their hands except me.

‘Lee-Anne?’ Mrs. R pulled the ice-cream container from the freezer. ‘Sure you don’t want any?’

‘Nup, I’m full.’ Boy, they are a sad lot wanting plain boring vanilla ice-cream.

‘You’re quite sure?’

‘Yep.’ Why is she making such a big deal about it?

Mrs. R opened the lid and spooned out frittered balls of ice-cream into bowls.

Hey, just wait a minute. I raised my hand. I’ve changed my mind.

‘Changing your mind is verboten,’ Mrs. R announced.

‘Oh, but—she, Mrs. R lied.’

‘Now, Lee-Anne, stop grizzling,’ Dad hammered his index finger at me, ‘you said you didn’t want dessert, those are the rules.’

Everyone at the table looked at me. Heat, burning more than curry rose to my face. ‘Mrs. R said there was none.’

[6. Photo: Walls of Glen Helen, and probably a much younger Dad in the window © courtesy C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

The boys joined Dad in dumping brick-tonnes of scalding and jesting at my expense. C1 played the condescending parent and elicited a laugh from the girls. ‘Now, there’s no need to make a drama out of it.’

‘You should see her when she plays games like ‘Chook-Chook’, almost breaks down the house with door-slamming,’ my brother chuckled, followed by more roars of laughter.

‘She did nothing the whole trip, just eats all the food in the camp,’ C2 snorted. More roars of mirth. As if on a roll, he added, ‘And she’s always changing her mind.’

‘A woman’s prerogative,’ I muttered.

‘Not in this household,’ Mrs. R pointed at me. ‘My three-year-old behaves better than her.’

[7. Photo: Escape to Salzburg, Austria © L.M. Kling 2014]

As they all scored points at my expense, I went off in my mind to Austria and The Sound of Music and the trouble with Maria. Perhaps one day I’ll go off into the Alps with my Count von Trapp. For the moment I was trapped, demonised by the perpetuation of false perception of my image. I felt like no one knew who I really was. Glad there weren’t any eligible males for me to witness my humiliation. I held my tongue and my position at the table. Anything I said would be held and used against me.

Mrs. R served up the fried ice-cream. A bowl appeared before me.

‘Thank you,’ I whispered. I kept my head down and eyes fixed on the ball of fritter. I waited for further remarks and comments about how undeserving I was of this peace-offering, but they had moved on.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2021
Photo: Mt. Hermannsburg © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013


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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

T-Team Series–Ormiston Gorge

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

Fishies in the Billabong

After relishing the sweet crunch of cornflakes for breakfast, the T-Team drove back to Ormiston Gorge. We hiked through the gorge admiring the red cliffs, ghost gums and mirror reflections in the waterholes, and took less than an hour to reach the end with the view of Mt. Giles, lumpy and sapphire blue.

[Photo 1: Hike through Ormiston Gorge © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Settling near a waterhole framed by reeds, Dad built up a fire on the coarse sand while our family friend, TR rolled up his trousers and dipped his toes in the pool. ‘Hey!’ He pointed and did a little dance. ‘A fish! I see a fish!’

[Photo 2: The Other Side of Ormiston © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Our cousins, C1 and C2 raced over to TR. ‘Where?’ They peered into the pond. I trailed after them, hunting for fish through the plumes of muddied water near TR’s white calves.

‘There!’ TR waved his finger at the middle of the waterhole.

C1 squinted. ‘Oh, yeah.’

C2 waded into the water and peered. ‘I don’t see anything.’

[Photo 3: Waterhole closer © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Richard hunted and fossicked through the cooking equipment Dad had scattered around the campfire. ‘You got a sieve? A net? Anything?’

‘What for?’ Dad asked.

‘The fish.’

‘Ah, you know, those fish can lay dormant in the dry creek bed for years and when the rain comes, they spawn.’ Dad just had to tell us.

‘Well, this little fishy is going to be our lunch.’ Richard snapped his fat fingers together like crab claws. ‘I’ll catch it with my hands if I have to.’ He strode into the pool with such force the waters parted like the Red Sea. ‘Now where’s that fish?’ He said as he sank up to his waist.

‘There it is!’ TR gestured. ‘To your right.’

[Photo 4: Mt Giles over pound © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Richard glanced, his smile faded. ‘Oh, is that all? It’s just a piddley little thing. Not enough for lunch.’ He was neck deep in the water and prepared to swim. He shot up. ‘Ouch! Something bit me!’

‘Better watch out, might be Jaws,’ I said.

‘You didn’t tell me there were yabbies.’ Richard bobbed up and down, then reached down to catch his feet. ‘Ouch! It bit me again!’

‘Why not yabbies?’ C1 said.

‘Now that’s an idea.’ Richard replied.

‘Ah! Shrimp!’ C2 waded towards his cousin. ‘I love the taste of shrimp.’

‘Hmm, yabbies,’ Richard said. ‘We used to catch yabbies all the time when we were young.’ With an explosive splash, he submerged in search of the yabby that had bitten him.

Dad, TR and I waited for the damper scones to cook and watched Richard and C1 turn bottoms up like ducks in the water in their quest for yabbies. C2 waded in the shallows of the pond, a roughly sharpened stick in hand ready to skewer any hapless water-creature.

[Photo 5: Eating lunch © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

Soon we breathed in the sweet aroma of baked scones. Dad flipped the foil wrapped balls out of the coals. ‘Lunch is ready!’ He clustered the silver spheres together using a small branch as if they were balls on a snooker table. Empty-handed the lads dragged their soaked bodies from the waterhole and schlepped to the fire place to collect their consolation prize of damper scone.

Richard held his stubby index finger and thumb in the form of the letter “C”. ‘I was this close to getting a yabby.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; Updated 2018; 2021

*Feature Painting: The Other Side of Ormiston © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016


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Click on the link and download your kindle copy of my travel memoir,

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (United States)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (UK)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (Germany]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [France]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari (India)

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Canada]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Mexico]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Italy]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Brazil]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Spain]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Japan]

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari [Netherlands]

Trekking With the T-Team–Kings Canyon

Central Australia has land formations that go way beyond one’s imagination. One of these wonders, the highlight of our adventures in the Centre, is Watarra (better known as Kings Canyon), which is approximately 320 km from Uluru.

[Excerpt from my travel memoir:

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.

Available on Amazon and Kindle.]

Forget About the Men

Friday August 7, 1981

I had to find the men, but the chasm’s majesty awed me. Forget about the men. The cliffs each side of the gorge glowed golden and striped with black. The cliffs’ texture was Violet Crumble, smooth and pockmarked with crisp inverted bubbles of caves. One side had sheets of rock sloped over the valley, the angle tipped, threatening to collapse on top of us. The other side possessed shorter more stunted sheets placed in layers, like pastry. A barrier of a third cliff plugged the end the gorge acting like a wall in a room joining with the other two cliffs. Behind a collection of boulders piled on the top of this rear wall the map promised a waterhole. I imagined it to be a slimy mud puddle as the creek in this current section of gorge offered nothing in the way of clean running water. Still I was curious.

[Photos 1 & 2: Walls of Kings Canyon © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

I caught up to the fellers who lingered at the base of these three adjoining cliffs near a small rock-hole. We marvelled at the chasm, and the steady stream of tourists like ants trailing along the edge of the cliffs above.

[Photo 3: Conga-line of tourists © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘Where’re they going?’ I asked Dad.

Dad shrugged.

C2 (my younger cousin) gazed up at the walls, his camera almost glued to his eye, fired another round of shots to capture the scenic wonder.

‘How many rolls is that, bro?’ C1 (older cousin) asked.

‘I don’t know, at least a couple.’ C2 snapped away with his trigger-happy finger. ‘This is magnificent!’

[Photos 4: Magnificent view of Kings Canyon © C.D. Trudinger 1981]
[Photo 5: The ripple effect © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Keen to explore, Dad scrambled up the side of the gully and rock-climbed up a ledge. There he splayed himself like a huntsman spider flattened to the vertical surface, his bald head switching every which way for the next hand or foot hold. ‘If we could just get over this cliff,’ he yelled.

TR (family friend) basked in the sun on a boulder and yawned. ‘This’s far enough, I’m happy.’ He smacked his pink lips and closed his eyes.

[Photo 6: Dreams fulfilled to do as TR on the other side near a bigger waterhole © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘Ah, well, where there’s a will there’s a way.’ Dad inched down the jagged rise, rock-hopping to the tiny rock-hole. ‘Mmm! I wonder what the water’s like.’ He cupped the liquid in his hand, after staring at it for a moment, sipped it. ‘It’s fresh.’ Wiping his whiskers, he rose and then unscrewed the lid of his water bottle. ‘Come on everyone, fill up.’

We emptied our canteens and dipped them into this fresh water.

‘I remember now.’ My brother, Rick pointed at the army of tourists filing along the cliff above us. ‘I think there’s a track that leads to the back of the gorge.’

[Photo 7: Dreams of Swimming in the big waterhole back of the gorge © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘Oh, I don’t know.’ Dad screwed up his nose and peered at the people. ‘Could be just going to a look out.’

‘No, I remember, the track goes behind. There’s a bigger waterhole there.’

‘No harm in trying.’ C1 slung his canteen over his shoulder. ‘Let’s go.’

‘I’m not going anywhere.’ TR reclined up against his backpack, his Bible on his chest.

So, leaving our family friend behind to read his Bible, the rest of us scrambled down the valley. The lads leapt like mountain goats from rock to rock. Dad hunted for the route that would lead us up and over the gorge. I followed the men up the south side of the valley, walking along the ridge until a mountain of rocks blocked our way.

[Photo 8: Dead-end—The lone ghost gum © C.D. Trudinger 1981]
[Photo 9: The boys fight for supremacy © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981]

Rick stood at the base of these impassable boulders and shook his head. ‘Nah, it’s not this way, must be the other side.’

‘Oh, but, oh, but—’ Dad traced his hand over the wall of stones.

‘There must be a reason why everyone’s going on the other side.’ I gazed at the people trooping along the far ridge. I really didn’t want to follow the trend of tourists, but in this situation, I conceded that they may be on the right track.

‘Oh, alright, then,’ Dad said.

‘No harm in trying, Uncle,’ C2 said.

Down we climbed. I struggled, slipping on loose stones. Stranded, I froze to the spot, afraid of riding out of control and falling over the cliff. Rick returned to where I stood and guided me to the safety of the gully.

We stopped at the Rover to watch the sheer volume of tourists trailing up the hillside to the left of us.

‘Guess you’re right, son,’ Dad said. ‘I think I’ll join them. Should give us a good view from the top anyway.’ He strode along the thin path towards the people. My brother and C2 darted after Dad.

[Photo 10: Welcome Lost City © C.D. Trudinger 1981]
[Photo 11: Lost city discovery © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

C1 shrugged. ‘Might as well see where it leads.’

I followed C1.

[Photo 12: Venture into Lost City © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

We stuck to the worn trail. People returning along the same track nodded at us and remarked the hike was well worth the effort. Young ladies in high heels negotiated the rough spots in the gravel path, and a guide helped weaker women over the bridge.

I pitied them.

At that same narrow bridge, did I ask for anyone’s help? No, I did not. What’s the big deal? It’s just a bridge. I stepped over the bridge in seconds.

[Photo 13: We’ve been to Kings Canyon, Rick and C1 on lookout © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981]

The path led through a gap to a waterhole behind the gorge, a paradise. Beehive mounds of rock surrounded the pool, and a dry waterfall rose into a maze of grooves through a sandstone canyon lush with trees, shrubs and cycads. From this natural room, we spied an adjoining valley. Behind us the tourists crowded through the rocky corridor. They also gathered in droves on a lookout above us.

[Photo 14: Sunset View from Lookout © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

While the rest of the T-Team waited for the stream of tourists to clear, I discovered a narrow passage in the northern section of the valley and slipped through the crack to explore where it led.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; Updated 2018

Feature Photo: Kings Canyon Crumble © C.D. Trudinger 1981


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Storm Over Musgrave Ranges

Our first 40-plus degrees Celsius day, and our hills of Adelaide are menaced by bushfire. Although our home was not threatened, the fire raged on roads familiar to us; roads that we take on the “scenic route” to Hahndorf, and people we know live in those particular towns that were in danger. Fortunately, the threat of fire has been eased by drenching rain—just in time.

Such is the plight of living in the driest state in the driest continent…

So, today, as the smell of smoke filled the air and a pall of brown smoke covered the city, I recalled a time when a storm and fire threatened the T-Team.

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


Monday 27 – Tuesday 28, July 1981

‘Oh! I give up!’ I hauled myself out of the sleeping bag, bundled up my bedding and parka, and blundered my way to the back of the Rover. I glanced at the men comatose in sleep and oblivious to the mini cyclone engulfing them. Our central campfire blazed, flames sweeping over the clearing. The smell of burnt plastic hit my nostrils. At my feet lay the remains of a little blue bowl, my bowl. I washed my face in that basin every morning. Now what was I to do?

[Photo 1: Ominous Sunset over Musgraves © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

I knew this wind meant business, dangerous business. I rushed to Dad and told him the whole story—the wind, the sparks, the wild fire, and my little blue bowl.

‘What campfire?’ Dad smacked his lips, yawned and turned over.

‘But Dad! The fires have to go out!’ I shook my father. ‘We’ll burn to death.’

‘Oh, all right!’ Dad squirmed his way out of his layers of blankets and bedding. ‘I don’t know why you have to disturb me. I was just getting to sleep.’ He picked up the shovel and tramped over to my fire. The coals had sprung to life and tongues of flame licked at my rumpled groundsheet.

Dad shovelled several heaps of dirt over my fire. I picked up a bucket and fought my way to the creek through a wall of wind. My bucket full of water, I marched back to camp. I tossed water on the coals and with the light of my torch watched them sizzle and steam. I put rocks in the bowls and buckets as insurance against being blown away in these gale-force conditions.

[Photo 2: The fog warning over Musgraves © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

I returned to my sleeping quarters with bucket half-full of water and found Dad disposing of the menacing flames of my fire. A few rebellious coals glowed with fresh gusts. So, I chucked water on these reheated stubs, quenching any urge for the embers to flare up.

Dad stepped forward and made a grab for my bucket. ‘Hey! What are you doing?’

‘All in the aid to save us from a bushfire,’ I replied.

On my trek back to the Rover, I checked the campfire. Coals glowed angry red, and blue-yellowy-green flames wobbled over the molten surface. I drowned the recalcitrant coals with water, killing any ability to resurrect with the wind once and for all, I hoped.

I carried the gas lantern with me and walking towards the Rover battled the surging torrents of wind. Dad called out, ‘Take care, Lee-Anne!’

‘Yes, Dad!’ I called back, my words getting sucked away in the storm. I put the lantern on the tucker box while sorting stuff to place under the protective weight of rocks. A fresh gust of wind whipped and roared. It cut right through me. Crash! The lantern smashed to the ground, slivers of glass smattered all over the ground. Woops! There goes the light for tonight.

[Photo 3: Dad in his ski mask should’ve known…© L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981]

I tramped back to Dad’s bed. ‘Um, Dad, I have some bad news.’

Dad sounded muffled through layers of blanket and his ski mask. ‘What now?’

‘I broke the lantern.’

‘Oh! Lee-Anne!’ Dad groaned in that tone of voice that made me feel ashamed for being so stupid as to put the lantern on a tucker box in the middle of a wild storm.

On my way back to the Rover, book bag slung over my shoulder and everyday bag in hand, I saw the flames reignite and spread their hot fingers over the tinder-dry site. I attacked the offending piece of wood, this time with a rock. The flames splayed under and around the stone with a blast of wind. Down the creek I ran, and returned with a bucket of water. I drowned the smouldering lump in a deep puddle.

Dusting my hands of residual ash, I returned to the Rover in which I’d set up my bed. Wind howled around the cabin, rocking the whole vehicle as I huddled in my layers of bedding. I looked out the window. Dad’s light from his undying campfire flickered and sent violent flames and sparks flying over his tarpaulin. I leapt out of the Rover and raced over to save Dad. There he lay, wrapped in comfort in a wad of blankets, fast asleep and unharmed. I smothered the glowing coals with a few heaps of sand.

[Photo 4: Better times sleeping around the campfire © C. D. Trudinger 1981]

I set my face against the wind and battled my way back to the Rover. Once more I settled into my nest of sleeping bag, blankets and parka on the narrow bench seat. I shut my eyes and tried to block out the howling winds and the Rover rocking from side to side.

Then that feeling began. I tried to ignore it. I have to pee. I crossed my legs and pretended it didn’t exist. I have to pee. The wind moaned. I’m not going out there, not in that weather. I’ve got to pee. I’ve done my dash; nature will just have to wait. This is urgent. I rocked with the Rover and tried to think of other things. I must pee, I’m busting! Once more I unwrapped myself out of mummification, forced open the Rover door against the wind and stumbled to the nearest bush down wind. I hoped I didn’t splatter my pants.

Relieved, I pushed my way back to the Rover. A faint alarm bell bleeped somewhere in the campsite. I stopped before getting into the Rover and watched Dad jerk up and out of his sleeping bag. He staggered towards Tony’s quarters. ‘Wake up!’ he yelled, his words getting sucked up by the wind.

[Photo 5: The morning after and hunting for TR’s missing socks © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

The pile of bedding remained lifeless and unresponsive.

‘Hoy!’ Dad shouted.

No answer.

Dad knelt, with his mouth close to the hood of the sleeping bag, he shouted, ‘What’s the time?’

His friend stuck his head out the sleeping bag. ‘What?’

‘Oh, never mind,’ Dad snapped and then stomped off to bed.

Safe from the atomic explosions of wind and chill, my head burrowed deep within my sleeping bag, I prayed. I was reminded that though the world may lash us with rage and storms, God keeps his children safe. God had kept us safe.

Finally, I dozed into the welcome peace of sleep.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018; updated 2021

Feature Photo: Calm before the storm, Musgrave Ranges, South Australia © C.D. Trudinger 1981


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