Story Behind the Painting–Northern Flinders

Skint at Arkaroola

[This time, some of the T-K Team step back in time into the Mt. Painter Sanctuary, Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia; a land offering a glimpse of prehistory…]

Late 1980’s, and my husband and I planned a honeymoon stay in Arkaroola, the town within the Mt. Painter sanctuary, Northern Flinders Ranges. When we arrived, we rolled up to the motel and presented our VISA card for payment.

[Photo 1: Approaching Mt. Painter Sanctuary, Northern Flinders Ranges © L.M. Kling 1987]

‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ said the manager, ‘we don’t take VISA. Only MasterCard.’

‘What?’ But we were counting on our VISA to cover the costs.

We scraped together the cash amount for the three-nights of accommodation and emptied our wallets of all but a few notes. Romantic dinners in the restaurant, off our menu. The longed-for Ridge-Top Tour, off our track. Then cold hard panic struck, how were we to pay for petrol when we returned to Adelaide? The amount in our tank, Dad’s four-wheel-drive vehicle that he loaned us for the holiday, may not last the journey back to Hawker. All because the town in which we chose to spend our honeymoon, was so remote, they did not deal in VISA.

[Photo 2: Cornflakes for breakfast © L.M. Kling 1987]

We sat on our motel bed and counted our measly amount of cash. What were we going to do? It’s not like I hadn’t gone without before—on the T-Team with my Dad. Being like-minded and frugal, we dealt with the disappointment, and decided we’d cook our own meals using the barbecue facilities and not venture too far from the town. Besides, there were plenty of places to which we could hike.

[Photo 3: Hiking up Radium Creek searching for titanite © L.M. Kling 1987]

I took a deep breath and picked up the book our pastor had given us as a wedding gift. Inside the front cover I discovered an envelope. ‘I wonder what this says,’ I said to my husband.

I took out the card and opened it. An orange-coloured note fluttered onto the floor. I picked it up. ‘Hey, look! Twenty dollars.’ I waved the note in my husband’s face. ‘Twenty dollars! Pastor must’ve known we’d need the money.’

‘I think God did,’ my husband said. ‘Twenty dollars makes all the difference.’

‘Can we do the Ridge-Top Tour?’

‘Um, perhaps not that much difference.’

‘Dinner at the restaurant?’

‘Maybe, but we still need to watch our spending.’

I sighed. ‘I know.’

[Photo 4: Dinnertime Hill © L.M. Kling 1987]
[Photo 5: Towards sunset on Mt Painter Sanctuary mountains © L.M. Kling 1987]

In the restaurant, and eating the cheapest meal offered, I spied a photo adorning the wall behind my beloved. A waterhole with red cliffs on one side and cool but majestic eucalypt trees on the other side. ‘Echo Camp,’ I read. ‘I want to go there.’

‘Hmm, not sure, if we have to drive far.’

‘Oh, please.’

‘We’ll see.’

[Photo 6: Radium Creek © L.M. Kling 1987]
[Photo 7: Nooldoonooldoona © L.M. Kling 1987]

A couple of days passed, and we’d exhausted all the nearby scenic sites to which we could hike. We decided to drive up the road, but not too far.

I spotted a sign to Echo Camp, and not-too-many kilometres off the “main” road. My husband noted that the track was only for “authorised” vehicles.

‘That’s not fair,’ I said. ‘They shouldn’t tempt us with scenic places like that in the restaurant and then deny us because we’re not “authorised”.’

[Painting 1: Track to Echo Camp © L.M. Kling 1987]

He who was driving, turned into the track. ‘You’re quite right. Ready for some adventure?’

‘Okay, well, it says Echo Camp’s only a few kilometres down the track.’

My husband drove up and down the track. It soon became obvious why the track was meant for “authorised” vehicles. But we were committed, and the track became so narrow, with one side rocky cliffs and the other sheer drops, we had no choice but to lurch forward, upward, downward, sideways and every-which-way. While I clutched the bar on the dashboard, my husband had fun, relishing the roller-coaster ride to Echo Camp.

We reached a relatively flat area where we parked our four-wheel drive vehicle. The Painter Sanctuary mountains rose and dipped like waves before us. A feast for the eyes with shades of sienna, blue and mauve. I captured this beauty with my Nikon film camera.

[Painting 2: Vista of the Sanctuary © L.M. Kling 2019]

‘By the way, where’s Echo Camp from here?’ I asked.

‘Just around the corner, I think.’

‘How many kilometres have we travelled?’

‘More than the sign said, but it can’t be far.’

‘I get the feeling we missed it on the way here.’

My husband nodded. ‘I think we did. There was a fork back there, but I wasn’t sure. And the angle was too sharp to turn down.’

‘Better check out that track.’

[Photo 8: Sun fast sinking on secret sanctuary © L.M. Kling 1987]

We back tracked and found the way leading to Echo Camp. By this time, the sun hung low in the sky, so our time savouring Echo Camp was limited to no more than half an hour, wandering near the rock pool, taking photos, and enjoying the peace and silence of this land untouched by civilisation, and reserved for the “authorised” apparently.

Aspects of Echo Camp

[Photo 9: Our trusty Daihatsu Four-wheel drive © L.M. Kling 1987]
[Photo 10: Reflections in the billabong © L.M. Kling 1987]
[Photo 11: Echo Camp © L.M. Kling 1987]

Then, after braving the roller-coaster road again, we crept out from the contraband track, and back into town.

[Painting 3: Echo Camp © L.M. Kling 1990]

***

My most recent painting of Arkaroola landscape, Dinnertime Northern Flinders is for sale at the Marion Art Group exhibition at Brighton Central. You can also check out my work on the Gallery 247 website.

Marion Art Group’s exhibition (first in three years) is to be held from Monday October 17 to Sunday October 30, Brighton Central, 525 Brighton Road, Brighton, South Australia.

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

Feature Painting: Dinnertime Northern Flinders Ranges © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018

***

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…

Story Behind the Art–Cockling at Goolwa

[After a three-year hiatus between exhibitions, Marion Art Group will hold an exhibition at Brighton central shopping Centre (Brighton Road, South Brighton) from October 17-30, 2022.  One of my artworks to be displayed, Cockling at Goolwa in Pastel revisits the K-Team’s journey down “memory” highway, 100-kilometres south of Adelaide to Goolwa Beach on the far-flung edges of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Remembering our time with friends 20-years ago searching for cockle shells in the sand.]

Cockling at Goolwa

A picture, they say, tells a thousand words. So, what is Cockling at Goolwa’s story? How can the simple heel-toe dance of “cocklers” (people who dig for cockle shells), their feet sinking in soggy sand of the in-coming tide, in the flux of early summer warmth, on a remote beach south of Adelaide tell us? What story worth a thousand words? What was it about this scene that attracted me to capture it? First in photo and then several years later, on canvas in acrylic, and recently in pastel.

*[Photo 1: Cockling at Goolwa © L.M. Kling 2002]

I think the water reflecting the sky, all silver, the people on the wet sand, a mirror, swaying and twisting for cockles captured my attention. I’d been there, on the glassy surface, watching for bubbles, grinding my heel into the bog, feeling for the sharp edges of shell and plucking out the cockles that snapped shut when exposed to air.

*[Photo 2: Dad Digging for the cockle © L.M. Kling 2002]

I was there, but then I watched. Mothers, fathers, and children lost in the moment of twisting and hunting and collecting cockles.

*[Photo 3: Lost in the moment © L.M. Kling 2002]

‘What will you do with all those cockles?’ I asked.

‘They’re for fishing,’ one of our friends said. ‘Bait for fish.’

‘Hopefully, we’ll catch a few fish and have them for dinner tonight,’ another said.

I imagined fish, fresh from the sea, thrown on the barbeque and the cockle bait inside them buried once again in our stomachs. We continued digging for cockles…family and friends, one with the ancient, outside time—nothing else matters but the cockles.

*[Photo 4: Goolwa beach Lost in time © L.M. Kling 2002

]

Goolwa, if I remember, has mounds of spent shells in the sand hills, monuments to generations upon generations of Indigenous Australians, their open-air kitchens and meals. Did they perform the same ritual, on the same patch of wet sand, delving for cockles to fry on their fires? A quick perusal of Google reveals they used nets to collect cockles and catch fish. They then cooked the cockles on a campfire.

*[Photo 5: Goolwa beach sunset © L.M. Kling 2002]

We are here, they are gone, but their spirit of history lingers, reminding us, though we seem different, we are the same. We are digging, dancing and delving for our dinner. We are still, in the moment, alone in our thoughts in a forgotten corner of the world, unknown by the world, yet one with this country’s past. And God knows each one of us—each part of us, even the unknown parts of ourselves and our secrets.

*[Photo 6: Divine painting of sky and sea © L.M. Kling 2002]

What if I shared a little secret—an artist’s secret? Okay, I’ll tell you. I painted this picture in less than two hours. Now, that I’ve told you, would the painting be worth less to you? Must time be equated with worth? Sometimes I do take hours upon hours, layers upon layers, and more hours planning to get the work right. But not Cockling at Goolwa.

*[Photo 7: The natural child © L.M. Kling 2002]

I love the beginning of a painting; laying the foundation, engaging my inner-natural child, the paint flowing from a thick brush on a damp canvas, colours blending, mixing as I go. One side of the brush crimson, the other blue and a dab of white. Sienna somewhere there in the foreground shadowing the sand. Mid-yellow added incrementally to shroud the distance in light grey for perspective. Then just a hint of heads of land jutting out halfway across the horizon with a suggestion of ultramarine in the grey. So simple, and sometimes, like with Cockling at Goolwa, the scene emerged before my eyes. In the world of artists, I believe the term “magic brush” or “magic hand” has been used. Um, trade secret, so don’t go spreading it around.

So, there you have it, in less than an hour, surf, sand, sky and tones in all the right places.

*[Photo 8: Boogie-board Surfing at Goolwa beach © L.M. Kling 2002]

Now for the people, the twisting, turning people, their feet in the boggy sand. How do I paint them? I had a break and drank a cup of tea. I remember not all the children hunted for cockles. Some kids body-surfed in the shallows, some played cricket and one little boy with a wish to be hunted, or to be warm, buried all his body except his head in the sand. I found him and he broke out of his sand-grave, the sand zombie.

*[Photo 9: Sand-zombie © L.M. Kling 2002]

‘Don’t go tracking your sandy footprints into the shack,’ I said.

He washed himself off in the surf, then sat wrapped in a towel and shivering in the sun while watching the cockle hunt.

All the while the “cocklers” cockled for cockle shells. Soon the boy joined the hunt for cockles.

Then when the paint was dry, I plotted the people in with pencil and then painted them in with a finer brush.

‘I like that painting,’ a fellow member of the art group said. ‘Don’t do another thing to it. Don’t even frame it. I’ll buy it as it is. How much do you want for it?’

Paint barely dry, I took the work home, signed it and then the next week at our Christmas lunch, I delivered Cockling at Goolwa to them. The buyer showed the work to others at their table and all admired it.

[Photo 10: Watching the cocklers © L.M. Kling 2002]
 

What made another person connect with Cockling at Goolwa? For this person, their son and family spent many summer holidays at Goolwa, doing just that, cockling. Time out, out of time, unwinding, relaxing, happy times, happy memories, captured on canvas…in less than two hours. And I must admit, the story is slightly less than one thousand words.

But, perhaps as you look at the copy of Cockling at Goolwa, you may have a story of your own about the painting. Maybe a painting’s story is not just one person’s story, but stories from many people, one thousand words, or more…

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

*Feature Painting: Cockling at Goolwa in Pastel © L.M. Kling 2022

***

Longing for more travel adventures?

Dreaming of exploring Australia?

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

Trekking the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

T-Team Series–Mt. Woodroffe

[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.

In this episode, the T-Team with Mr. B scale the heights of the highest mountain in South Australia, Mt. Woodroffe. Even back in 1977, Mt. Woodroffe being on land owned by the Indigenous people, we needed permission and a guide. Don’t know what happened to the guide back then, but we had permission. The situation has changed in the 44 years since we climbed…more about that later.]

The Top of SA — Mt. Woodroffe

The sun climbed over the horizon, its rays touching the clouds in hues of red and Mount Woodroffe in pink.

*[Photo 1 and feature: Mt. Woodroffe, our goal © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

In the golden light, packs on our backs we filed up the gully. The narrow creek in the hill-face gave way to the slopes leading to the summit. With no defined track except for euro (small kangaroo) ruts, we picked our way through the spinifex. Rick carried his .22 rifle in the hope of game for dinner.

 ‘You’ve got to watch that spinifex,’ Dad said. ‘If you get pricked by it, the needle stays inside your body for years.’

‘Years?’ I asked. ‘What does it do there?’

‘It works its way through your body and eventually it comes out through your hands or feet or somewhere.’

‘Yuck!’

‘Ouch!’ Rick screamed. ‘The spinifex just stung me.’ My brother stopped and pulled up his trouser leg to inspect the damage and then muttered, ‘Next time I’m making shin-guards.’

‘I guess one should be careful when one answers the call of nature out here,’ Mr. B said.

Matt sniggered.

I gazed at the acres of spikey bushes and decided to resist the call of nature.

*[Photo 2: The sting of Spinifex © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

After about two hours of weaving our way through spinifex, climbing over rocks, scaling waves of ridges, we reached the summit.

We gathered around the cairn and surveyed the mountain range that spread like ripples of water in shades of mauve below us.

Dad pointed to the north. ‘Can you see? Ayers Rock, The Olgas and Mt Conner.’

*[Photo 3: View of the North from the summit © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

I studied the three odd-shaped purple monoliths popping up from the plain. After the strenuous hike to the top of South Australia, I gazed at the ranges resembling waves rising and falling in the sea of the desert was filled with euphoria.

 ‘Wow!’ I gushed. ‘Apart from spinifex, the climb was a walk in the park—a most worthwhile journey.’

Mr. B folded his arms and grunted.

Still on a high, I ran around the stone pile, snapping photos from every direction with my instamatic film camera. Then I gathered the T-Team. ‘Come on, get around the cairn. We must record this momentous occasion for posterity.’

The men followed my orders like a group of cats and refused to arrange themselves. Mr. B hung at the back of the group and snapped, ‘Hurry up! We need to eat.’

Lunch of corned beef and relish sandwiches at the top of South Australia was Dad’s reward to us for persevering. We rested for an hour on the summit taking in the warmth of the sun, the blue skies dotted with fluffy clouds and the stunning views of the Musgrave Ranges and desert.

*[Photo 4: Musgrave Ranges view from the summit © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

My adventurous brother climbed on his own down the slope and out of sight.

‘Where’s your brother gone, girl?’ Mr B asked.

‘Probably gone to hunt kangaroo for tea,’ I chuckled, ‘he’s had no luck so far.’

‘Better than egg soup, I guess,’ Mr B muttered.

‘Well, aren’t you going to follow him?’

‘Nah, I need to rest before the hike down.’

About twenty minutes later, I detected his head bobbing up and over the rocks and bushes. I watched as he sauntered along the scaly rocks towards us.

Dad frowned. ‘Careful walking over those rocks.’

Rick looked up. ‘What?’ He caught his shoe on a wedge of stone, lost balance and stumbled, crashing on the rocky surface.

‘O-oh!’ Dad scampered over to my brother. I followed while Mr. B and Matt stayed planted on their respective rocks.

*[Photo 5: More Musgrave Ranges view from the summit © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

Rick pulled up his trouser leg and with our father they inspected the damage.

I peered over Dad’s shoulder. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘I’ve bruised my knee and leg.’ Rick sniffed.

Dad helped Rick hobble to the cairn and then gave him a canteen flask of water to wash over the injury.

‘How are you going to get down the mountain?’ I asked.

‘I mean to say, laddie, you can’t camp up here,’ Mr. B added.

Rick sighed. ‘I’ll be fine. It’s nothing.’

Matt chuckled at my brother’s bravery.

Dad patted Rick on the back. ‘Ah, well, you’ll be right.’

With the T-Team all in one spot, I took advantage of the situation and seized the moment on camera.

Mr. B glared at me. ‘Make it snappy.’

‘Okay,’ I said capturing the less than impressed Dad, Mr. B, Matt and my brother nursing his bruised knee.

*[Photo 6: T-Team at the summit © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

After photos, we began to climb down those jagged rocks, carefully avoiding the spinifex. But try as he might to avoid the menacing bushes, more spikes attacked Rick’s tender legs. ‘Definitely going to wear leg guards the next time I come to Central Australia to climb mountains,’ he grumbled.

We reached a rock pool, just a puddle of slime, actually. I pulled off my shoes and emptied grass seeds and sand onto the surface of slate. Then I ripped off my socks. They looked similar to red-dusty porcupines, covered in spinifex needles. My feet itched with the silicone pricks of the spinifex. I dipped my prickle-assaulted feet in the muddy water.

‘You mean, David, old chap,’ Mr. B massaged his feet and turned to Dad, ‘we’re stuck with the prickly critters long after our climbing days are over?’

‘Yes, I’m afraid so,’ Dad replied.

*[Photo 7: Rock pool of rest © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

During rest at the poor excuse of a rock pool, nature called, and this time I could no longer resist. I hunted for a suitable spot, but everywhere I looked, ants scrambled about, millions of them. The longer I looked, the more ants congregated and the more desperate I became. But I had to go, ants or no ants. At least the patch was clear of spinifex. I suppose for the ants, my toilet stop might have been the first rain in weeks.

*[Photo 8: Honey Ant; not the same at I encountered, but a sweet delicacy according to the Indigenous © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

Back at camp, we began our ritual of preparing the bedding. Mr. B stomped around the creek bed until he found the softest sand. Dad grabbed the sleeping bags one by one and tossed them to each of us.

‘Argh!’ Mr. B cried.

‘What?’ Dad asked.

‘Oh, no!’ Rick moaned.

‘What?’ Dad asked.

‘Who’s been piddling on my sleeping bag?’ Rick grizzled.

‘Piddling?’ Dad stomped over to Rick.

‘It’s all wet.’

‘I say, boy, why’s my sleeping bag all wet? Couldn’t you use a bush?’ Mr. B remarked.

Matt turned away. ‘Wasn’t me.’ He unrolled his sleeping bag. ‘Oh, no, mine’s wet too.’

Rick looked at me.

‘Hey, I stopped wetting the bed years ago,’ I snapped. ‘Anyway, mine’s dry.’

‘I wasn’t going to say anything,’ Rick replied.

I raised my voice. ‘You were, you were looking at me like…’

‘There, there, cut it out,’ Dad strode over to Rick and me. He held up a bucket. ‘The washing buckets leaked on the sleeping bags.’

*[Photo 9: Desert Sunset © S.O Gross circa 1950]

***

These days, in the days of the “new normal”, as a result of Covid, climbing Mt. Woodroffe may not be possible. I did a little Google research about it. During the times of the “old normal”, permission from the Indigenous Owners of the APY Lands was still necessary, but it seems the Mt. Woodroffe climb was part of an organised tour. To find out more, here are the links below:

https://www.diversetravel.com.au/aboriginal-tours/nt-mt-woodroffe-climb

Mt Woodroffe – Aussie Bushwalking

Best summit hikes in South Australia | Walking SA

[An extract from The T-Team With Mr. B: Central Australian Safari 1977; a yet to be published prequel to my travel memoir, Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981, available on Amazon.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019; updated 2021; 2022

Feature Photo: The Goal, Mt. Woodroffe © C.D. Trudinger 1981

***

Free from May 7—11, 2022

Dreaming of Adventure in Australia?

 In the Centre of Australia?

Check out my memoir and travel back in time and space as you trek with the T-Team.

Just click on the link below:

Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

T-Team Series–Bush Tucker Mr. T Style

[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.

In this episode, my dad (Mr. T) brews up an unusual “stew” by accident…]

Egg Soup

The sun lingered above the horizon as we returned from a hike to our campsite at the base of Mount Woodroffe.

‘Ah, an early tea,’ Dad said. ‘It’s always best to cook while there’s daylight. We can make an early start.’

*[Photo 1: The dream of a Waterhole; not to be in 1977 © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

‘Well, after that disappointing jaunt to find that damned waterhole you went on about David, I’m pooped. I’m going to have a lie down,’ Dad’s friend, Mr. B said as he slumped onto a nearby log. ‘I hope you’ve found us some nice soft sand to sleep on. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep yet on this trip.’

*[Photo 2: Up the Creek at base of Mt Woodroffe © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

‘Yes, well, um,’ Dad called after him, ‘I need some help stirring the pots.’

‘Get your daughter,’ Mr. B replied, ‘I dare say, she’s a girl, that’s what she ought to be doing—cooking, I mean.’

I stopped blowing up my mattress. Uh-oh, now I have to cook and miss out on all the fun, I thought as air slowly wheezed out of the mattress.

Dad coughed. ‘Er, um, actually, I’ve asked Lee-Anne to sort out the bedding and to pump up the mattresses. And the boys, Richard and your son, Matthew, have gone out shooting, getting us some roo to cook. I have it all organised. So I would like you to stir the pot, please.’

I breathed out and then started blowing up the mattress again. Phew! Dodged that bullet.

‘Oh, very well, then,’ Mr. B said as he negotiated his path through an obstacle course of billy cans, tucker boxes and tarpaulin back to the campfire.

I thought, there is always a danger being too early and organised. So it was this evening when Dad, who prided himself as “chef-extraordinaire”, prepared scrambled eggs and soup for dinner.

I hopped over to Dad. ‘Do you need some help with dinner?’

Dad patted his pockets and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. ‘No, I have Mr. B helping me. You go and pump up the mattresses.’

‘But my jaws are sore from all the blowing,’ I said. ‘I need a break.’

‘No, I have it all covered. It’s about time Mr. B does his fair share.’

I could see from Dad’s expression, the pursing of his lips, keeping the chuckle from bursting out, Dad thought he was being really clever asking Mr. B to help stir the soup pot.

As I shuffled around the campsite sorting out my bedding, I distinctly heard Mr. B mutter, ‘My goodness this soup is awfully thick.’

 [Photo 3: Gone hunting at the base of Mt Woodroffe © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Being the only female in the crew, Dad appointed me to call in the troops. I tramped through the scrub in search of the boys. My brother Richard and Matt loved to shoot with their .22 rifles. But neither were good at it. I could hear the rifles popping, but in the dimming light I failed to locate the lads. So I returned to camp.

There the men were, all of them (minus the roo for dinner), their spoons dipping in and out of their cups.

Mr. B grimaced as he put another spoonful of soup to his lips. ‘Ugh! This is awful! This is the worst feed yet!’

‘It’s alright,’ Dad said as he bustled around the campfire. His cup wobbled on a rock as he handed my portion to me. He gave the other billy a maddening stir.

‘What’s in there?’ I asked.

‘Egg, egg scramble,’ Dad said and handed me the ladle. ‘Go on, you can stir it.’

I peered in at the watery mist. ‘It’s awfully thin, are you sure?’

‘Just stir will you?’ Dad snapped. ‘I’ve got other things to do.’

‘Alright.’

I sipped my soup and stirred the pot.

Richard and Matt stood by the fire and stared at their metal mugs.

‘Come on, drink up,’ Dad commanded.

The boys dutifully slurped up their soup.

Mr. B raised his voice. ‘So what sort of soup do you call this? You know, it tastes awfully like egg. You’re sure that you didn’t mix up the billies?’

‘Oh, no, not at all!’ Dad replied.

I took another sip. The soup tasted nice. I quite liked it. Then again, anything tastes good when you are a starving teenager.

*[Photo 4: Dinner Time camping in the creek © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

As Dad settled himself by the fire, Mr. B slavishly gulped down the remainder of his soup. ‘Well, that is the worst soup, I’ve ever had in my life. Oh, for some decent food! And a decent night’s sleep. I didn’t sleep a wink last night and my back’s aching!’ He spied his son playing with his soup. ‘Eat up, boy! Look! Tha girl’s eating hers.’

Dad began to take a spoonful of soup. ‘Hang on. This’s not right.’ He pointed at a billy sitting on the ground to the side of the fire. ‘Lee-Anne, can you just check the other billy?’

‘What for?’

‘Don’t ask, just check, would you!’

‘Okay!’ I grumbled and hobbled over to the billy sitting in the cold, the contents supposedly waiting for the frypan. I lifted the brew onto the wooden spoon. In the fading twilight, I spied water, peas, carrots and corn, but not an ounce of egg. ‘Looks like soup to me.’

Dad pushed me out the way. He had to check for himself. ‘O-oh!’

‘So we did have egg soup!’ Mr. B said, ‘I knew it.’ Even after less than a week with this pompous friend of Dad’s, I suspected this fellow would never let Dad hear the end of it. I imagined, from now on, till the end of Mr. B’s days, Dad’s culinary skills would amount to egg soup.

‘I’m so sorry,’ Dad said. ‘My mistake.’

‘I knew we were just too well organised,’ I said.

‘I won’t forget this occasion,’ Mr. B said. ‘Egg soup, what next?’

Poor Dad.

Dad boiled the correct soup and dolled it out in the dark.

We drank our portions void of conversation until an awkward “Oops!” cut through the icy air. Matt had spilt soup all over the tarpaulin.

‘Oh, Matt, did you have to?’ Mr. B said. ‘Now, clean it up and be more careful next time.’

As Mr. B harangued his son to clean up, drink up and for-heaven’s-sake be careful, and where-on-earth did you put the cup, son, we don’t want another accident, Dad sighed and ushered my brother and me to retreat to our sleeping quarters and away from Mr. B’s ire.

In the sanctuary of space away from Mr. B and son, we washed our clothes and prepared for the climb up Mt. Woodroffe the next day.

‘We need to make an early start,’ Dad said.

I reckon Dad did not want to add any more disasters to his list.

 *[Photo 5 and feature: Sunset © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

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

***

Read more of Dad’s culinary disasters and successes…

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–Ernabella

Meandering in the Musgraves

[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.

In this episode, the T-Team reaches Ernabella…]

Deserted

We stopped in at Fregon, another Indigenous settlement much like Mimili; a row of tin sheds and deserted. Then at about 2.30pm we arrived at Ernabella.

A teacher friend of Dad’s invited us into his home for refreshments and each of us had a hot shower. I enjoyed the warm cascade of water on me. My treat for the week. Below rivers of red mud spun into the drain hole of the bath. I scrubbed my hair with shampoo. The soap refused to lather. I scrubbed and scrubbed.

*[Photo 1: Dad’s fond memories of childhood holidays spent in Ernabella © M.E. Trudinger circa 1954]

‘Lee-Anne!’ Dad called. ‘Don’t take all day, the boys need a wash too.’

‘Oh, alright.’ I turned off the tap. I guess the boys did need to wash, probably more than me. They were getting quite ripe at close quarters in the Rover. After all, it had almost been a week since we had a proper wash.

All showered and smelling sweet again with soap and deodorant, we trailed after Dad who gave us a tour of the settlement, including the school. Ernabella lies at the foot of the Musgrave Ranges, south of the South Australian and Northern Territory border. The land belongs to the Pitjantjara people. The mostly prefabricated buildings were neatly arranged around a random collection of unsealed roads.

*[Photo 2: Ernabella School students, way back in the 1950’s. © M.E. Trudinger (nee Gross) circa 1954]

Dad guided us through the school grounds which appeared empty. We followed him circling the white building. ‘Must be closed,’ Dad said.

‘School holidays, I guess,’ I remarked.

Dad scanned the transportable blocks and then screwed up his nose. ‘We need to find someone to fix up the trailer.’

We walked across the settlement. The white buildings stood sentinel to the roads void of human activity and traffic. The crunching of stones under our feet was magnified by a town suffering from a bad case of abandonment.

‘Where are all the people?’ Mr. B asked.

‘Wow! The place is tidy and look how clean the streets, are,’ I said.

‘Except for the gravel,’ Rick mumbled.

Matt sniggered.

We wandered after Dad who was having a hard time finding someone to fix our trailer. Anyone…No one seemed to be around. I wondered if Ernabella was a ghost town.

*[Photo 3: Building in Ernabella © C.D. Trudinger circa 1992]

Mr. B suggested we wait by the store that seemed closed and suffering a severe case of neglect. This we did.

‘The reason the settlement is so tidy,’ Dad explained, ‘is because everybody, I mean the aborigines, have a job to do here. They don’t get their welfare payment unless they do their job. They probably have someone cleaning the streets of rubbish and all sorts of other jobs.’

‘Not the store, apparently,’ Mr. B said.

‘Ah, well, they have to get the stock from down south, from Adelaide. Perhaps they’ve run out.’ Dad coughed.

An Indigenous man, dressed in dusty loose-fitting trousers and shirt, sauntered up to us.

Dad strode to meet the man and he guided him to the trailer still perched on top of the Rover. He then led us to the “service station” (a lean-to hut with one petrol bowser out the front) and someone whose job it was as mechanic. Even so, I figured Rick with his practical mind and way with cars, and trailers, would be helping with repairs.

While the trailer was being operated upon, I climbed a hill. After all, in my estimation of all things mechanical, the trailer would take ages to be fixed, so I had time to sun bake. Such was my desire for a tan. Treading up the hill, I noticed Matt running after me.

*[Photo 4: On Trudinger Hill with the corrobboree stick © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

I stood and sighed. Great! Just when I wanted space to myself.

Matt held up a stick. ‘Look what I found!’

I examined the carved piece of wood. ‘Oh, yeah?’

‘What do you think it is?’

‘I dunno, a corroboree stick, I suppose.’

‘Oh, cool! Can you take a photo of me with it?’

‘Yeah, okay.’

I photographed Matt proudly holding a corroboree stick. The Musgrave Ranges behind were cast in hues of gold from the rays of the late afternoon sun. When we had descended the hill and found Dad, he told us that the “mountain” we had climbed was named “Mount Trudinger” after his brother who had been a teacher in Ernabella.

Near evening, we visited an Indigenous pastor. As the Musgrave Ranges is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara People, Dad and the pastor discussed the possibility of getting a couple of guides to be our companions as we climbed Mt. Woodroffe. From my fourteen-year-old perspective, I understood Dad to mean that the “sacred land” was an area that the Pitjantjatjara people owned much like we own our quarter acre block back in Adelaide.

‘It’s only fair to have our Indigenous hosts give permission and a guide while we explore their land,’ Dad said after his meeting with the pastor.

We all, including Mr. B, nodded in agreement.

*[Photo 5 and feature: Picnic in the creek near Ernabella with Dad’s brother Ron © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

For the night we camped in Two Mile Creek which is not far from Ernabella. Dad conceded to camp not alongside, but right in the dry creek bed on the soft sand. This arrangement made Mr. B very happy. ‘For once I get to sleep on soft sand,’ he said.

‘Just remember, if we have even a hint of rain, we pack up and go to higher ground,’ Dad answered.

Mr. B chuckled. ‘No chance of that, the weather’s been as dry as the bones of that deceased camel we saw on the side of the road.’

‘The water comes rushing down if there’s a storm,’ Dad said.

‘Oh, of course, Captain.’ Mr. B then turned over and snored.

Rick muttered, ‘The only storm will be if Mr. B doesn’t get a good night’s sleep.’

Matt sniggered.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

***

Want more?

More than before?

Join the adventure with the T-Team, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

T-Team Series–Closer to Ernabella

T-Team with Mr. B (8) —Closer to Ernabella

[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.

In this episode, the T-Team encounters an outback custom on the roads…]

The Obligatory Wave

As we prepared to jump in the Rover, a battered old utility car (we Aussies call it a “ute”) roared up to us. The ute stopped, and two Indigenous men stepped out.

‘Do you need any help?’ one asked.

Dad waved at them. ‘It’s okay.’

The men jumped back in their ute and then waved at us. They drove away with dirt and dust from the road billowing behind their vehicle.

[Photo 1: Dad adjusts load on Rover © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

After loading ourselves into the over-loaded Rover, we thundered down the road. A Holden sedan approached from the opposite direction. Dad slowed down as we prepared to pass on this narrow road, and we positioned our hands for the obligatory wave. The thing about the outback, as the drivers of the cars passed each other, was the slow raising of the hand to the windscreen; a ritual greeting for the rare fellow traveller.

*[Photo 2: Road in the Musgrave Ranges © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

The car neared, and we lifted our right hands up and down. The Indigenous owner of the sedan did the same. Dad tracked the car as it passed us. Then he looked back.

‘Felix! (Not his real name),’ Dad said. ‘It’s Felix, I would recognize him anywhere.’ He stopped the Rover in the middle of the road.

‘Oh, why are we stopping?’ Mr B whined. ‘We’re already late as it is.’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ I replied. ‘More time to admire the scenery. Look, a flowering gum.’

*[Photo 3: Wild hops in the Musgrave Ranges © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Felix had also parked mid-track. The two old men from their respective vehicles jumped out and paced to each other. They shook hands, laughed and babbled away.

‘Dad really can speak their language,’ I remarked to Rick.

We all climbed out and Dad introduced us to Felix who shook our hands. Dad continued to banter in Pitjantjatjara. I reckon he was showing off his linguistic skills for Mr. B’s benefit.

Some delicate yellow flowers caught my gaze. I shifted to them, and bending down, plucked a couple. I’ll preserve them in my bible, I thought.

*[Photo 4: Flowering gum © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

Mr B peered at the desert rose I had as my souvenir. ‘That’s a pretty ordinary looking flower, if you ask me. I say, where’s the Sturt Desert Pea when you want them? I thought we’d see them everywhere being in the desert and all.’

I shrugged. Dad and his Indigenous friend continued their banter, so couldn’t ask them.

*[Photo 5: Desert Wildflowers © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

After some time chatting in Indigenous tongue to his friend, Dad shook Felix’s hand once more and then the men patted each other on the back before bidding each other goodbye. Then we jumped back into our respective vehicles and continued our journeys; the T-Team to Ernabella and Felix away from Ernabella. 

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

*Feature Photo: Desert rose © S.O. Gross circa 1950

***

Want more?

More than before?

Join the adventure with the T-Team, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

Or

Get into some outback Science Fiction adventure for free

One day left

To download The Hitch-hiker

Free until Friday 15 April 2022

T-Team Series—Approaching Ernabella

Broken Cars, Broken Trailer

T-Team with Mr. B (6)

[The last few months I have revisited The T-Team with Mr. B: Central Australian Safari 1977 which is a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981. In preparation for its release later this year, I will be sharing posts of this adventure.

Here’s how it all began…]

 1977, August, mid-winter and I was excited. Dad had never taken me camping. Then, when I turned 14, he decided to take the risk and allowed me to join the T-Team on a Central Australian safari. Dad’s friend Mr. Banks and his son, Matt (not their real names), joined Dad, my brother (Rick) and me on this journey of adventure. I had gathered from Dad’s reluctance to invite me on previous adventures out bush, that he had some reservations how I would cope…

In this episode, Dad shares his childhood adventures in the Musgrave Ranges and the trailer, tired of desert travel, has a tantrum …]

Dad pointed at the expanse of red sand dotted with spinifex. ‘This land belongs to the Pitjantjatjara people.’

I sat in the front seat while he negotiated the corrugations, bumps and lumps of the poor excuse for a graded road. Abandoned cars, just shells really, languished in the scrub each side of the road.

*[Photo 1: Abandoned Car local to area, Marla © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘They—’ Dad waved at the wrecks that were planted in crimson fields of wild hops. I knew he meant the owners of this land. ‘—run their cars to the ground. Anyway, normally you need a special permit to go onto their land.’

‘Then how did you get to go here?’ I asked.

Dad chuckled. ‘Well, I wrote a letter to their council of elders asking permission. I put at the end that if I didn’t hear from them, that meant they gave their approval. I didn’t hear from them.’

‘Fair enough.’

‘I have friends at Ernabella as well,’ Dad adjusted his grip on the steering wheel. ‘I used to come up to Ernabella when my older brother was teaching there. When I was ‘round your age.’

Dad went onto explain how he made good friends with the Pitjantjatjara lads about the same age as him and how they explored the Musgrave Ranges. ‘I even learnt the language,’ he boasted.

‘How long ago was that, Dad?’ I asked.

‘Oh, something like thirty-five years ago.’ 

‘And you were ma son’s age,’ Mr. B called out from the back seat.

*[Photo 2: Dad and brother Paul with Pitjantjatjara friends at Ernabella © Ron Trudinger circa 1940]

I glanced to the back of the Rover. Matt blushed and looked away. I’d been impressed by his silence on this trip. I was sure I hadn’t heard him utter more than a few words the four days we’d been travelling. He seemed an obedient little chap, especially in his father’s presence. I wondered what Dad was like when he was Matt’s age. I imagined Dad as more talkative, after all, he could speak the language of the Pitjantjatjara people.

‘I reckon, you must’ve been more adventurous than Matt to go camping in the Musgrave Ranges, Dad,’ I said, hoping to get a squeak of protest out of Matt.  ‘Anything could’ve happened to you.’

‘There was this one time,’ Dad said, ‘when I went exploring with my friends in the middle of summer. We forgot to take any water and it was hot. We got lost and had to search for a waterhole. I was so thirsty, I thought I was going to die. We found the waterhole just in time. But I learnt a valuable lesson to always take water and salt tablets.’

Matt’s only response, a smirk.

While his father said, ‘Who, in their right mind would go out into the desert without water? I ask you.’

*[Photo 3: “Just in time” waterhole in Musgrave Ranges © C.D. Trudinger circa 1986]

Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!

‘What’s that noise?’ Mr. B shouted.

‘Oh, no!’ Rick peered out the back window. ‘One of the trailer bars is broken.’

Dad sighed. ‘And we’ve only just started today.’

We stopped, jumped out of the Rover and then formed a circle around the trailer that leaned on its side.

‘Now what are we going to do?’ Mr. B asked.

Rick shrugged.

Dad bent down and examined the damage. ‘A part is missing.’

‘I’ll go look for it,’ Rick broke away from the circle and sauntered down the track.

The rest of us stood mesmerized by the leaning tower of trailer that seemed to be sinking in the sand.

*[Photo 4: Desert Travel takes its toll. Rugged terrain near Hermannsburg © S.O. Gross circa 1941]

A few minutes later, Rick returned. ‘It’s gone, I can’t seem to see it anywhere.’

‘So, what are we going to do?’ Mr. B asked again.

Dad kicked a tyre. ‘There’s only one thing we can do. We have to pile everything on top of the Land Rover.’

‘What? You are kidding, aren’t you?’ Mr. B laughed.

‘No, I’m serious. We have to get parts to fix the trailer, and we can’t leave it here,’ Dad said.

‘You—you mean the trailer too?’ Mr. B asked.

‘Yes.’

‘The trailer? How’s the Rover going to cope with that?’

‘It’ll just have to,’ Dad said. ‘I wouldn’t risk leaving it here in the bush.’

‘Yeah, not by the looks of those car wrecks,’ Rick muttered.

Mr. B scratched his head. ‘You mean to say, if we leave the trailer, someone will come along in this desert and take things?’

‘Yes, most likely,’ Dad replied.

‘Even if we hide it in the bush?’

‘Have you seen where the other car wrecks are, Mr. B?’ Rick asked. ‘They’re not exactly on the road.’

Mr. B put his hands on his hips and frowned.

*[Photo 5: Some people, like my grandpa, will do what it takes to move the immovable in the desert. Towing their broken-down truck by donkeys © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

‘Look,’ Dad said, ‘we’re not far from Ernabella. We can get the trailer fixed there. I’m sure we’ll be alright for a few miles.’

Mr. B grunted and then pointed at his son. ‘Well, come on boy, don’t just stand there, help us unload the trailer.’

We all helped pile the contents of the trailer and then the trailer on top of the Rover. While Rick tightened the last of the ropes over the trailer stack on the Rover’s roof, I stood back and said, ‘Now the Rover really does look overloaded.’

[Photo 6 : Comic Car Crush © from RAA magazine circa 1977]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo : Sunset on a rock, near Musgrave Ranges © C.D. Trudinger circa 1986]

***

Want more?

More than before?

Join the adventure with the T-Team, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

T-Team Series–Corrugations Camping, and Indulkana

T-Team with Mr. B (6)

[The last few months I have revisited The T-Team with Mr. B: Central Australian Safari 1977 which is a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981. In preparation for its release later this year, I will be sharing posts of this adventure.

Here’s how it all began…]

 1977, August, mid-winter and I was excited. Dad had never taken me camping. Then, when I turned 14, he decided to take the risk and allowed me to join the T-Team on a Central Australian safari. Dad’s friend Mr. Banks and his son, Matt (not their real names), joined Dad, my brother (Rick) and me on this journey of adventure. I had gathered from Dad’s reluctance to invite me on previous adventures out bush, that he had some reservations how I would cope…

In this episode, Mr. B and Dad have a disagreement about lunch…]

Fruitless Foray

Again, we raced at 50 miles per hour along the highway boldly going where too many trucks had gone before. The graded road was a sea of corrugations. As we travelled along the road at high speed, our Land Rover juddered over the sand waves. Dad was on a mission to reach Ernabella and not even corrugations on the unsurfaced road were going to get in his way.

[Photo 1: Road Train at dawn © L.M. Kling 2013]

We paused at Indulkana, an Indigenous settlement, where we topped up the tank with petrol from one of the Gerry cans.

‘Only fifty miles or so to go to Ernabella,’ replied Dad with a sniff. He could smell his Holy Grail, and he was bent on reaching his destination. ‘Pity, there’s a school here I’d’ve liked to visit. Ah, well!’

Mr. B spread out the map on the bonnet of the Rover. He adjusted his glasses on his nose and then pointed at Indulkana. ‘Are you sure it’s only fifty miles, David?’

Dad cleared his throat and then glanced at the map. ‘Er, um, I think so.’

‘It looks a damn lot further to me. Are you sure we’ll get there? I mean to say, it’s past one o’clock and we still have to have lunch.’

‘We’ll eat when we get there.’

‘Really?’ Mr. B gazed at the fibro houses scattered like abandoned blocks in the red landscape. ‘Damn! No place to shop in this shanty town.’

I gazed at the mirage shimmering, reflecting the khaki bushes on the horizon of ochre. This tiny Indigenous settlement seemed more heat-affected and miserable than Oodnadatta. A dingo skulked across the road in search of shade. The town seemed empty—except for the flies.

[Photo 2: A future (to 1977) visit to the school at Indulkana © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981]

I swished several of the pests from my eyes and searched for a toilet block. We had stopped, so I considered it timely to make a comfort stop. ‘Where’s the loo?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know,’ Dad said.

As far as we could see, public toilets didn’t exist in Indulkana.

A kangaroo hopped through the spinifex. Rick grabbed his rifle and aimed.

‘Hoy!’ Dad said. ‘Stop! You can’t be shooting so close to the town.’

Rick lowered his gun.

‘I say,’ Mr. B said. ‘Why don’t we go down the road a bit. We can find a few accommodating bushes for our business and the boys can do a spot of shooting. Besides, we need a break and some lunch.’

Dad sighed. ‘Very well, then.’

We piled back into the Rover and trundled several miles down the road where some trees and bushes were clumped close to the road. We all made use of the improvised “bush” facilities. Then Dad pulled out the tucker box and made a simple lunch of peanut butter sandwiches.

[Photo 3: Tucking into some lunch. Rick always did like his food. © C.D. Trudinger circa 1986]

‘Do you want to have a go shooting?’ Rick asked me.

‘Okay,’ I replied.

My brother handed me the .22 rifle and we walked into the scrub.

Dad called after us. ‘Shoot away from the Rover, we don’t want anyone getting hurt.’

‘What do I shoot?’ I asked Rick.

‘Rabbits. Kangaroos. Birds.’

I looked at the lemon-coloured grasses dotting the red sands. ‘Where are they?’

Rick shrugged.

Matt aimed his rifle at a stump of a mulga tree. A galah had settled there. But not for long. Matt pulled the trigger and at the sound of the bullet hitting the sand, the bird fluttered into the air.

Some white cockatoos decorated the skeleton of a dead tree. I aimed and pulled the trigger. ‘Bang!’ The butt hit my shoulder and knocked me to the ground. ‘Ouch!’ I cried.

The flock of parrots squawked and scattered.

‘I wasn’t expecting that to happen,’ I said rubbing my bottom.

Rick grabbed the rifle off me. ‘Watch where you point that thing.’

‘Oh, sorry.’

Rick and Matt stalked further into the scrub in search of more prey. I was glad my hunting time was over as it was not as much fun as I thought it would be. At least no one was hurt.

[Photo 4: The Central Australian terrain. But where’s the game? © C.D. Trudinger circa 1986]

The break and the lads’ fruitless hunting foray caused the night to catch up with us. After a couple more hours of driving, we camped near Mimili. A hill close by served as adventure for us young ones in this otherwise flat desert. I climbed the small rise and explored, while the boys went shooting as usual. The hill was little more than an outcrop of rocks and I imagined, something of a smaller version of Uluru. From the top, I scanned the terrain. The setting sun’s rays caused the grasses in the plain to sparkle like gold glitter and a cool breeze hinted at the freezing night ahead. I climbed down from my vantage point and ambled back to camp. As darkness descended upon us and stars flooded the night sky, the boys returned empty-handed, except for their rifles.

While Dad stirred a billy can of stew, Mr. B warmed his idle hands by the fire, his mouth busy whining at the prospect of sleeping on a bed of stones.

Dad tapped the wooden spoon on the edge of the billy can and said, ‘We are camping in the desert, aboriginal style. What we do is make up one fire for cooking, and then have our individual fires.’

[Photo 5: Camping near mini-Uluru © C.D. Trudinger circa 1986]

So, we did in the nights to follow. Although we all had blow-up mattresses and cotton sleeping bags, we still hunted for the softer ground, and prepared it for the bedding by clearing the area of rocks. Each of us would scout around for sticks and logs in preparation for our personal fires. By bedtime, our fires were crackling away, and we only woke from our slumber to poke the coals to keep the small flame going. Still, I slept fully clothed, as the clear nights were freezing.

[Photo 6: Dreams of sleeping in the warmth and comfort on the river bed under kangaroo skin blankets © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

But did this arrangement satisfy Mr. B? Apparently not. Every night he complained of his unsatisfactory sleeping arrangements. And his back, oh, the pain in his back. Oh, for a decent bed and a warm night’s sleep. And oh, the pain, oh, the discomfort! And then, just as he sank into a deep slumber, dawn broke with Dad clattering around the campsite preparing breakfast once again.

‘Why do we have to get up so early?’ Mr. B would ask each morning.

‘It’s my mission to get…somewhere,’ Dad would reply.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Mini “Uluru” at sunset © C.D. Trudinger circa 1986

***

Want more?

More than before?

Join the adventure with the T-Team, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

T-Team Series (5)–Oodnadatta: The Ghan, Telegraph and History

On a Mission to Ernabella

Part 1

[The last few months I have revisited The T-Team with Mr. B: Central Australian Safari 1977 which is a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981. In preparation for its release later this year, I will be sharing posts of this adventure.

Here’s how it all began…]

 1977, August, mid-winter and I was excited. Dad had never taken me camping. Then, when I turned 14, he decided to take the risk and allowed me to join the T-Team on a Central Australian safari. Dad’s friend Mr. Banks and his son, Matt (not their real names), joined Dad, my brother (Rick) and me on this journey of adventure. I had gathered from Dad’s reluctance to invite me on previous adventures out bush, that he had some reservations how I would cope…

In this episode, as the T-Team reach Oodnadatta, transport up north for the early Australian pioneers is explained…]

Full Steam Ahead North

The first rays of sun peeped over the horizon. Dad attacked the pot of porridge, beating the oats and water into submission. Such a racket woke us. But, when we refused to rise, he stomped around the campsite. There was no choice but to get up and line up for breakfast.

Dad dumped the sloppy oats on our metal plates and then darted around the site as if still charged by hyperactivity from the night before.

*[Photo 1: Trying to wake up © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘With all the effort to rouse us, David, you’ve made the porridge more like oat soup than porridge.’ Mr. B had a sour expression on his face as he sipped his porridge. He finished a mouthful and added, ‘I dare say, ol’ chap, what’s all this running around?’

‘I want us to get to Ernabella today,’ Dad said.

‘Can’t we just take it easy? I’m still adjusting to the inferior sleeping arrangements.’ Mr. B massaged his back as if emphasising the pains that he endured.

‘We only have two and a half weeks and a full schedule,’ Dad replied. ‘We have to keep moving if we want to fit everything in.’

‘I mean to say, when you invited us on this camp, I didn’t think it’d be a boot camp.’

Dad ignored Mr. B’s comment and continued to collect the plates and utensils on the tarpaulin.

With Dad’s urging, we packed up, piled into the Rover and then flew out onto the bumpy road by 7.20am. Back then in 1977, in that part of the outback of South Australia, all roads were unsealed, and just wide ruts in the red sand. Even the main highway, the Stuart Highway, was yet to be bituminised in South Australia.

*[Photo 2: Unsealed roads of the outback © M.E. Trudinger circa 1956]

As we approached Oodnadatta, Dad said, ‘I think we’ll get petrol here. It’s a long way still to Ernabella, and then when we go to Mt. Woodroffe, so we need supplies. We don’t know if we can get petrol at Ernabella or how much it’ll cost.’

We rolled into Oodnadatta, a town where its handful of houses and the hotel lined the main road.

Dad pointed at the trainline running parallel to the road. ‘See that railway track? That’s the Ghan Railway.’

‘Was that the train Mum took to go to college as a boarder in Adelaide?’ I asked.

‘That’s the one, although, there’s no train on it at present.’ Rick always had to correct me.

‘It looks ancient.’ I replied and then added the escape clause to avoid the shame of being wrong. ‘Sort of.’

‘Been there for almost 100 years.’ Dad said with authority. ‘The trains used to only go as far as Oodnadatta until 1929, when they extended the line to Alice Springs.’

*[Photo 3: Mum (3rd from left), her mother and sisters first trip on the Ghan © S.O. Gross 1939]

Matt pointed. ‘What are those stobie poles doing so far out bush?’

‘That’s the telegraph, ma boy,’ Mr. B said. ‘Before they had these poles and wires here, people in Australia could only communicate by post.’

‘When did that happen?’

‘Er, um…’ Dad said. ‘Just over a hundred years ago, I think.’

‘The telegraph started operating in 1972, and the railway track, known then as the Great Northern Railway, was opened in 1878, to be precise.’ Holding open the strip map and guide, Rick sniffed and continued reading. ‘It got called the Ghan later after the Afghan Cameleers who used to trek up north before the trainline was built.’

 ‘Trust Rick to have to be so exact.’ I rolled my eyes. ‘Pity we missed the 100th anniversary of the Ghan, or whatever it was called back then.’

*[Photo 4: Telegraph Station © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

Dad parked the Rover by the petrol pumps, near the hotel, where we climbed out of our vehicle’s comfort zone and into the heat. I blew my nose. Red dirt stained my handkerchief. I stretched my legs that ached from sitting cramped in the rear cabin of the Rover.

Dad pumped petrol into the Rover’s tank, and Jerry Cans. Dad wisely carried extra petrol in Jerry Cans to ensure that we didn’t run out of petrol; such were the long stretches of desolate land where towns and petrol stations are scarce.

*[Photo 5: The Ghan at a distance © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

Rick and I walked across the road. The few people we saw loitered in the shade. An emaciated dog sauntered out of the bushes.

‘I really feel like we’re out in the desert here,’ I said.

‘Yeah, the people look exhausted,’ Rick said.

Dad yelled, ‘We’re ready to go!’

‘Can’t we get a drink?’ Rick asked.

‘It’ll be dear, here,’ Dad said. ‘We have cordial.’

As Dad, Rick and I sipped cordial from our plastic cups, Mr. B and his son stepped out from the hotel. They each clutched a can of soft drink. They slurped their drinks with relish.

‘I finalised the bill,’ Mr. B said.

‘Thank you,’ Dad replied.

*[Photo 6 and Feature: Camel Train © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

***

Want more?

More than before?

Join the adventure with the T-Team, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

T-Team Series–Gibber Plains

T-Team With Mr. B (4)

The Challenges

Part 2

[The last few months I have revisited The T-Team with Mr. B: Central Australian Safari 1977 which is a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981. In preparation for its release later this year, I will be sharing posts of this adventure.

Here’s how it all began…]

 1977, August, mid-winter and I was excited. Dad had never taken me camping. Then, when I turned 14, he decided to take the risk and allowed me to join the T-Team on a Central Australian safari. Dad’s friend Mr. Banks and his son, Matt (not their real names), joined Dad, my brother (Rick) and me on this journey of adventure. I had gathered from Dad’s reluctance to invite me on previous adventures out bush, that he had some reservations how I would cope…

In this episode, the stony plains of the desert, called Gibber Plains, posed their own problems from finding a comfort station (toilet) to comfortable sleeping arrangements…

Challenge Number 3: Where do you go when you have to go?

We travelled constantly for most of the day, stopping to stretch our cramped legs or go to the loo. The road was hot and dusty, and it was hell to sit in the back. I must add that dunnies were scarce in the desert and mostly a bush in the distance had to do. On such occasions, when a toilet stop was necessary, the boys took advantage of the opportunity to stretch their legs and do some shooting. The general rule was that shooting must be done in the opposite direction to avoid any rude shocks during someone’s quiet contemplation.

[Photo 1: Return from the bush loo © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

William Creek—Challenge Number 4: Finding a Campsite

Having taken the Oodnadatta Track, we rolled through William Creek with one and a half hours remaining until sunset.

‘It’ll be getting dark soon,’ Dad said, ‘we have to find a campsite.’

No easy task, I soon realized. Our heads swung left and right as we scanned the gibber plains for a clear patch of ground for camping. The land was barren except for stones; dots of umber that spanned in every direction to the horizon.

[Photo 2: Gibber Plains © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

‘We’ll camp near a creek,’ Dad said. ‘So that we have firewood.’

‘Surely we can camp in the creek,’ Mr. B said. ‘The sand is soft in the creek. I want a decent night’s sleep. I mean, the sky is clear, so I doubt we’ll get flooded out.’

‘The rain and floods could be hundreds of miles away and then come on us without warning.’

‘I doubt it,’ Mr. B said. ‘I think we can take the risk.’

‘Where are these creeks?’ I asked.

‘You’ll see,’ Dad said. ‘The highway is crisscrossed with dry creeks. You see a row of trees, that’s where the creeks are.’

Sure enough, I saw them in the distance. ‘Hey, there’s a creek, we can camp there.’

Dad slowed the Rover down as we crossed the dry creek—as dry and rocky as the gibber plains surrounding it.

‘Not this one,’ Dad said. ‘Maybe the next one.’

For the next half an hour we passed a parade of promising treelines, only to be disappointed when we passed them. Some had a few stagnant puddles, but mostly these riverbeds were filled with rocks and not much sand. Dad explained that the water was underground, and the roots of the gum trees drank from a subterranean supply.

[Photo 3: Tree lines of promise as seen from above © L.M. Kling 2021]

The sun sank like an orange squashed at the edge of the world.

‘I guess we’ll just have to take what we can find,’ Dad mumbled as we approached a thick row of gum trees.

Dad drove the rover parallel to the trees, and when far enough from the highway, parked. We hopped out and all helped to clear the area of stones.

As the light faded, Dad raced around the site as if hyped up with coffee, lighting the fire, ordering me to chop the vegetables, getting Matt to fill billy cans with water, and then boiling the water. Dad then stirred the pot with much huffing and puffing as he cooked up the stew.

While Rick organized the bedding for the night, Mr. B scrambled down to the creek-bed to set up his own bedding. Half an hour later, a disappointed Mr. B reappeared complaining. ‘It’s too stony. How can a man get a good night’s sleep around here?’

‘Oh, no!’ my brother moaned. ‘A puncture!’

Matt with his rifle, hopped over to Rick. ‘You ready to go shooting?’

‘In a minute,’ Rick replied. ‘I’ll just fix the puncture while there’s still some light.’

[Photo 4 and feature: Desert sunset © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

By the time my brother had repaired the blow-up mattress, the land of stones was shrouded in dusk. However, nightfall did not stop Rick, Matt, and Mr. B from venturing out for some shooting again. I guess they had plenty of rocks to aim at.

I stood up to follow the shooting party.

Dad called out. ‘Lee-Anne, you stay here and stir the custard.’

‘Oh, but…’

‘Be thankful,’ Dad said. ‘This is the day the Lord made.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature Photo: Desert Sunset © S.O. Gross circa 1950

***

Want more?

More than before?

Join the adventure with the T-Team, click on the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981