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…

T-Team Series–T-Team With Mr. B (2)

The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australian Safari 1977

The Beginning

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…

But, in this episode, by the time we reached our first campsite, it became clear, I was not the one that Dad should be concerned about.

On Our Way 

We travelled past the Flinders Ranges and reached Lyndhurst. The hired Land Rover so far served us well. Dad and Mr. B enjoyed the luxury of the front cabin, while we younger members of the T-Team in the rear suffered the fate of sardines. Despite the cramped conditions, I managed to have a game of chess with Matt and won.

*[Photo 1: 30 years later…Road through Flinders Ranges © L.M. Kling 2007]

We camped in the scrub near Lyndhurst where we collected firewood and then Mr. B insisted on helping Dad light the fire.

‘I’m an expert fire-maker.’ Mr B lit a match and held the flame to the grass. ‘Small things first.’

We watched as a puff of wind extinguished the feeble flame.

Mr. B lit another match and held it to the grass, then dropped it and shook his singed fingers. Then he bent down and blew at the sparks.

‘You might need some newspaper,’ Dad said.

‘No, no, that would be cheating,’ Mr. B snapped.

‘Yeah, well, we don’t want to be eating at midnight.’ Dad lit a wad of newspaper and chucked it into the nest of grass.

Then the two elders stooped to their knees and blew, encouraging the flame to take hold and prosper.

*[Photo 2: 28 years later my hubby had the knack of starting a campfire—even in the rain. Melrose © L.M. Kling 2005]

As the fire consumed the grass, then twigs and the small logs, Mr. B said, ‘I hope you don’t consider fuelling the fire with petrol.’

‘No, never,’ my dad replied. ‘Slow and steady, and just enough to cook. There’s no need to have a big bon fire.’

‘Oh? You mean, my friend we’re not going to have a big fire when we sleep? How may I ask are we going to keep warm?’

‘Like the Indigenous. They have their individual fires which they keep burning all night. Fires also keep the wild animals away.’

*[Photo 3: 41 years later, my hubby by the campfire in the Flinders Ranges, Mambray Creek. These days campfires must be contained in these metal half-barrels to prevent bushfires © L.M. Kling 2018]

‘Oh, I don’t know about that, David, sounds like a lot of bother,’ Mr. B remarked to Dad. ‘I don’t mind sleeping under the stars, but having to tend my own fire? I think my sleeping bag will keep me warm.’ He looked around at the ground covered in iron pebbles. ‘By the way, where are my sleeping quarters?’

Dad waved a hand at a small clearing a few metres from the cooking area. ‘Take your pick.’

Mr. B frowned. ‘But it’s all stony. I need some nice soft sand. This will not do.’

‘You’ll be on a tarpaulin and a blow-up mattress. You won’t feel the stones,’ Dad said.

‘I hope you’re right,’ Mr. B muttered. Then he called to Matt, ‘Boy? Go blow up ma mattress. Make ya-self useful.’

*[Photo 4: Gibber Plains still the same 36 years later © L.M. Kling 2013]

So, while Matt, Rick and I sorted out the bedding, Dad cooked for us chops and sausages on the fire. We ate the sausages with bread and lashings of butter.

Night, and with it a chill. One by one we pulled on our jumpers and warmed our frozen hands by the fire. Dad shared his plans: Ernabella and the Musgrave Ranges where we’d climb Mount Woodroffe, then Uluru and Kata Tjuta, then Alice Springs, MacDonnell Ranges, Hermannsburg, and an adventure way out West to climb Mount Liebig.

Dad rubbed his hands together and grinned. ‘That’s a total of 2374 miles.’

‘And you expect us to do all that in less than three weeks?’ Mr. B said.

‘Oh, yes, but we need to get to bed and have a good night’s sleep, so we can make an early start,’ Dad replied, then pursed his lips.

Mr. B grunted and then gave some good advice which has stuck with me. ‘Whenever we travelled, wherever we stayed, our hotel rooms, you see, when we packed up, we’d go back into the room and check it over including getting on our hands and knees and look under the bed for anything left behind.’

The B’s must be rich if they can stay in hotels and motels whenever they go on holiday, I thought.

I gazed up at the blanket of stars dipped in the froth of the Milky Way that covered the sky and shivered in my cotton sleeping bag. My feet froze—even with woolly socks on. I did as Dad advised and like the Indigenous owners of this country, I made a small personal fire. One side of me warmed while the other side remained icy cold. And my toes ached with cold. On that cold and frozen-toe night, sleep eluded me.

Mr. B groaned. ‘I dare say, David, I can feel the stones. I can feel the stones right through my mattress. I thought you said I wouldn’t old chap.’

Dad sighed.

Rick grunted.

Matt buried himself in his sleeping bag and wriggled like a worm.

‘I say, David. David?’

Too frozen in our bags to respond, we ignored Mr. B who challenged our endeavours to sleep.

‘David? Damned how one is meant to sleep on this infernal rocky ground,’ Mr. B muttered one last time before he tossed and turned on the mattress making it squeak and produce other rude noises as it consorted with the tarpaulin beneath.

My first night camping…

***

*[Photo 5 and Feature: Sunset in the Flinders Ranges © L.M. Kling 2001]

I recalled the motto I’d written in my travel diary: Jesus is with me always. And I pondered on the sixth member of T-Team who would protect and guide us on our journey into perhaps one of the most isolated parts of the world. Watching my personal fire spark and crackle, I remembered Jesus’ promise: ‘…and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world.’ Matthew 28:20b

© 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 the Younger–Chambers Crusaders

Flinders Trekking with the T-Team (4)

The Four Chambers Crusaders

[Last few days filled with cold weather and rain. But today the sun has come out just as in 1984, after the rain in the Flinders Ranges the sun emerged offering a beautiful day for the T-Team The Younger to explore Chambers Gorge…]

Doris sidled up to me and asked, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’

I shrugged. ‘Sort of…maybe…um…not really.’

‘Come on, you can tell me. I bet you have.’

‘Nah, just a lot of bad luck.’

‘Oh, like what?’

‘Nothing…no one,’ I replied. ‘What about you? Are you and Barney…?’

‘Are you kidding? No way!’

That shut down the conversation in romance and we hiked along in silence. Up the gorge. Towards Mount Chambers.

[Photo 1: Hiking up Chambers Gorge © L.M. Kling 1984]

‘Cor!’ Barney exclaimed. ‘What’s all this rubbish? It’s like Chamber-Pot Gorge, not Chambers Gorge.’

‘I wish people would clean up after themselves,’ Doris remarked.

I gazed at my brother, Rick who was racing ahead. He seemed oblivious to the discarded soft drink cans scattered on the dry creek bed, plastic stranded in the sand, and toilet paper fluttering on prickle bushes.

‘Where are all the campers?’ I asked. But for all the litter, there seemed a distinct lack of people that morning as we trekked to Mount Chambers.

Barney sniggered, ‘I guess the rain the previous night had flushed them out of the gorge.’

‘Not literally,’ Doris added.

‘I remember our mate Mel saying how when he and his family camped in the Flinders, at the first sign of rain, they packed up their belongings and were gone.’ Barney clicked his fingers. ‘The rivers in outback Australia can flood, just like that.’

[Photo 2: Flooding of the Finke River, NT © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

‘Yep, they don’t call it flash-flooding for nothing,’ Doris said.

‘We survived,’ I reminded them. ‘We’re not floating down Chambers Gorge in Rick’s Charger, are we?’

‘We got to higher ground,’ Barney said.

Doris smiled. ‘We were lucky.’

‘Yep, I guess we were,’ I sighed and thought, I wish such luck translated to romance.

More silence as we trudged along the creek bed, the dry creek bed; all the rain from last night had been absorbed into the sand. The gorge had narrowed, and Barney had disappeared; absorbed by the copper brown cliffs and pale yellow shrubs.

‘I heard there’s some rock carvings on Mount Chambers,’ Doris said.

‘That should be interesting,’ I muttered. ‘Just my luck, Rick would’ve left us behind, and we won’t find them.’

‘He won’t.’

Sure enough, as we rounded the bend in the gorge, there Rick and Barney sat, perched on a tree stump.

[Photo 3: Stumped © L.M. Kling 1984]

‘Do you know where we are going?’ I asked.

Rick pointed. ‘It’s that mountain up there.’

The T-Team stuck together as we hiked down the narrowing gorge. The cliffs towered over us, too dangerous to climb.

Rick gazed up at the cliffs. ‘I think we’ll have to go round and climb up the hill.’

The rest of us groaned.

‘If we keep going this way, we’ll get stuck,’ he insisted.

‘Oh, alright,’ I sighed. ‘Don’t want to get stuck.’

‘Okay, everyone,’ Doris gestured to us to line up, ‘Gretchen time.’

I took a photo of Rick and Doris’ Gretchen pose to mark the end of the hike in the creek before we commenced our climb.

[Photo 4: Gretchen © L.M. Kling 1984]

So, after back-tracking, the T-Team laboured up the slope. My shins ached from the steep gradient. While Rick sprinted up, my two other companions struggled up the slope. Before Rick would vanish over the lip of the hill, I had to take a photo of this priceless moment. I raised my camera.

Doris turned. ‘No, that’s a boring! Come on everyone, let’s dance.’ She waved and hollered, ‘Rick! Come on, dance-photo time.’

Rick, Doris and Barney took their dance poses and I snapped a couple of shots.

[Photo 5: Let’s Dance © L.M. Kling 1984]

My brother then pointed at some caves. We took the slight detour and well-deserved rest break. Near the caves we ate our scroggin (nuts, dried fruit and chocolate), and admired the Indigenous rock carvings.

[Photo 6: Rock carvings © L.M. Kling 1984]
[Photo 7: View from the cave © L.M. Kling 1984]

Refreshed and energy restored, the T-Team of Chambers crusaders, marched up the hill to the summit of the mountain.

Doris chuckled, ‘Remember Mount Ohlsen Bagge when Mel kept saying to his girlfriend, ‘Just five more minutes’?’

‘Ha-ha, five-minute Mel,’ Barney snorted.

‘Yeah, didn’t help much, his girlfriend gave up halfway up,’ I said.

‘She had asthma,’ Doris said.

‘I know,’ I said, ‘Promising that you have only five minutes to go to the top, doesn’t help much if you can’t breathe.’

[Photo 8: Future memories of Mt. Ohlssen Bagge with the K-Team: L.M. Kling 2007]

Mount Chambers didn’t seem as high as Mount Ohlssen Bagge, and by lunch time, we had reached the cairn of stones that marked the summit. The T-Team gathered around the stones and I took a photo as proof of our achievement.

[Photo 9: T-Team triumph over Mt. Chambers © L.M. Kling 1984]

Then, after a light lunch of more scroggin, we began our descent. Half-way down, I observed Barney hunched over, backpack on his back.

I laughed, ‘Hey Barney, let me get a photo of you; you look like a tortoise.’

‘So do you,’ Barney shot back.

Doris tucked her pack under her T-shirt and Rick did the same.

I set up the camera on my tripod and following Doris’ example, the T-Team became the four hunchbacks of Mount Chambers.

[Photo 10: The hunchbacks of Mt. Chambers © L.M. Kling 1984]

Then, discarding our packs, we transformed into the T-Team Crusaders again.

[Photo 11: The Four Crusaders of Mt. Chambers © L.M. Kling 1984]

While trekking down to the plain, Doris spotted a white Holden Kingswood with two strapping young fellas attached to it. Being the bush, and the guys being the only other humans in the vicinity of Mount Chambers, Doris approached them.

I followed.

We had a good yarn with them. They were from Melbourne on a road trip. We swapped addresses.

Some months later, one of them actually wrote to me. So, on a road trip with my Dad to Melbourne, I caught up with this fellow. But, just my luck, by the end of the meeting, I realised that he was interested in Doris, not me. In hindsight, now, lucky for the future Mr. K., or more appropriately, God’s plan for my life.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019

Feature Photo: Indigenous Carvings Chambers Gorge © L.M. Kling 1984

***

Want more but unable 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…

T-Team the Younger Series–Rain in Chambers Gorge

Rain

[Unusually cold and rainy for November here in Adelaide. Reminds me of the younger of the T-Team with roughin’ it on their minds, exploring the Flinders Ranges; their sights set on Chambers Gorge…]

The rain followed the ants and began pelting down on the car roof.

‘Get to higher ground.’ Barney thumped his thighs. ‘Argh! An ant!’

‘Remember our friends from church?’ I said. ‘They got caught in a flood in the Flinders.’

[Photo 1: Just not Cricket…or even threatening rain in Parachilna Gorge © L.M. Kling 2000]

Barney nodded and nudged my brother. ‘Yeah, remember?’

‘It’s like raining cats and dogs—and all those ants. We’ll be caught in the flood if you don’t do something.’ Doris slapped her arm. ‘Yuk! Another one! They’ve invaded the car. Get a torch!’

Barney handed Doris a torch. My brother fired up the engine.

‘Where are they?’ Doris cried. Beams of light from the torch bounced around the cabin.

‘Get that light off!’ my brother said. ‘I’m trying to drive.’

‘I have to find the ants.’

‘You want me to get to higher ground?’

[Photo 2: You mean high like this? Mt Ohlsen Bagge © L.M. Kling 2007]

‘Oh, al-right!’ Doris snapped and extinguished the torch light.

My brother manoeuvred the car around and then retraced the track to the previous campsite which had been on higher ground.

As my brother leapt from the car, Doris said, ‘I hope there’s no ants.’

My brother took the torch from Doris. ‘I’ll see, then.’

‘You reckoned this site had ants,’ Doris said. ‘You reckoned we had to move because of ants. I’m not getting out if there’s ants.’

Using both the torch and the car’s head lights, my brother inspected the ground. ‘Nup, no ants.’

Rain hammered the roof and my brother’s image blurred with the rain.

[Photo 3: There are several reasons to refuse to get out of the car when it is raining; one being you get wet. Melrose Campsite © L.M. Kling 2005]

‘Don’t believe you,’ Doris murmured. ‘Anyway, it’s raining, I’m staying in the car.’

‘Are we high enough? Barney asked. ‘I don’t want us getting flushed down Chambers Gorge.’

‘Ha! Ha! Very funny,’ I said.

‘I’m serious,’ Barney said.

‘Yep, we went up a bit,’ my brother said. ‘We’re above the creek, now.’

‘Don’t trust you, get higher,’ Doris said. ‘I don’t want to be washed away.’

My brother mumbled, ‘Like that’ll happen.’ Then he sighed, ‘Oh, alright, if you insist.’ He revved up the car and mounted another small slope and then settled on a hill.

No one dared move from the car as the rain steadily fell and the fear of inch-ants crawling up and over our sleeping bodies. Plus, the bother of putting up the tent in the rain, kept us locked in the car all night. We made the best of sleeping sitting upright for another night.

***

[Photo 4: Rain-filled creek in Chambers Gorge © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1984]

Morning, we woke to blue skies and the creek transformed into a luxurious chain of ponds. Birds, big black ones called “butcher birds”, galahs, and parrots, converged on the edges of marsh. They searched for fish, poking around the lily pads scattered like floating pebbles on the water’s surface. White cockatoos congregated and chattered in the gum trees with leaves glistening in the early morning sun, washed clean by the rain.

[Photo 5: Taking a dip in Chambers Gorge creek © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1984]

Doris and I took the opportunity to take a dip in a nearby pool. I marvelled how this rain made reeds spring up overnight. ‘They weren’t there yesterday, I’m sure,’ I said.

‘Wow! All that rain, and we didn’t get washed away,’ Doris said.

‘No, we didn’t,’ I replied. ‘No, we didn’t.’

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019; update 2021

Feature Photo: After Rain in the Flinders Ranges © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 2005

***

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…

T-Team the Younger Series–Ants

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…

T-Team (the younger) Series–Chambers Gorge

The Road-Trip of No Destination

[Watched the first two of the Mad Max series, lately. Memories of the younger of the T-Team (my brother and me with a couple of friends) surfaced. We piled into my brother’s Chrysler Charger or whatever, and with roughin’ it on our minds, we travel up north of Adelaide to the Flinders Ranges; our sights set on Chambers Gorge…]

Back in the mid-1980’s my brother rarely used a map, not a map I could see. The Adelaide Street Directory, all faded and lying on the back seat under the stiff-from-salt-beach towels, doesn’t cover way-out country areas such as the Flinders Ranges.

[Photo 1: A street directory much like this one, courtesy of L.M. Kling]

Every Easter, commencing Maundy Thursday, we’d pile into my brother’s latest Chrysler charger or whatever, and roll along to the car stereo-cassette player blasting out local South Australian band Red Gum. Up Port Wakefield Road we’d go, and if we were fortunate enough not the break down there, as one tends to do on Port Wakefield Road, we’d sally on forth to the Flinders Ranges, about four hundred kilometres north of Adelaide.

[Photo 2: Classic view of the Flinders Ranges from the highway © L.M. Kling 1999]

We’d start our journey late, usually after nine at night, as some of my brother’s friends had work and had to eat dinner, then finally pack before they were ready to leave.

[Photo 3: We probably took the trip in my brother’s red Chrysler Charger © courtesy of L.M. Kling]

One time, my brother and I took friends Barney and Doris (not their real names) on a planned trip to Chambers Gorge, situated in the north-eastern part of the Flinders Ranges. We must’ve left closer to midnight, and my brother and Barney shared the driving through the night. Dirt roads at that time, caused the driving to slow and by the time we neared our destination in the Flinders, the watery blue sky of dawn crept over low hills in the east. In the back seat, Doris and I rested our heads on our bags and slept, while my brother willed himself to keep awake rocking to British band, Dire Straits. There was a short stop as he then, too weary, swapped with Barney.

[Photo 4: Sunrise in the Flinders Ranges © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Doris and I kept on sleeping.

Then…Bang! The car skidded to a halt.

We spilled out of the car. I rubbed my eyes and looked around. The sun peeped over the horizon of flat desert plains, mountains to the west, jutted like pimples on the edge, still dark, untouched by the sun.

My brother checked the front of the car. ‘It’s all right, no damage. The bull bar took the brunt.’

Barney sauntered down the road, and then returned to us. ‘We hit a roo,’ he said.

‘So, we’ll have roo for breakfast?’ I asked, half-joking.

‘Why not? I’m hungry,’ Barney replied.

‘You can cook it, then,’ my brother said.

‘Okay.’

[Photo 5: Kangaroos in Onkaparinga Gorge; the descendants of ones that avoided having unhappy encounters with cars © L.M. Kling 2019]

So as the sun rose over the distant mountains capping the peaks in pink, we roasted the skinned roo-roadkill over the campfire. While we waited for the meat to cook, Barney swilled his breakfast beverage of choice—beer. My brother, a teetotaller and body builder, drank his concoction of protein powder mixed with water and raw egg. Doris and I boiled a billy of water and then brewed ourselves a cup of instant coffee and condensed milk.

[Photo 6: Campfire © L.M. Kling 1986]

Doris clutched her metal mug, then sipped her coffee and said, ‘Not sure about the kangaroo for breakfast.’

‘It’ll be alright,’ I said. ‘I’ve had kangaroo—not so bad. Although, not sure about eating after the way Barney’s cooked it. We fried it once like that on our Central Australian trip, and I had a terrible tummy ache and bad gas. Smelt like rotten eggs. My brother and his cousin had competitions rating the potency of their gas. They thought it was hilarious, but the stink was awful.’

Doris grimaced and put down her coffee mug. ‘I don’t want to know.’

‘You won’t have any choice when we’re stuck in the car driving to Chambers Gorge.’

‘Speaking of Chambers Gorge, where is it from here?’

‘Haven’t a clue. I guess my brother will just keep on driving until we see a sign to Chambers Gorge.’

‘Oh.’

Barney called, ‘Roo’s ready.’

Doris and I trooped over to the campfire and inspected Barney’s efforts. Barney waved away the smoke to reveal bone and sinew reduced to charcoal.

Doris screwed up her nose and said, ‘I’ll pass.’

‘Me too.’ I grimaced. ‘I don’t fancy the after-effects from that.’

‘Aw, bit over-cooked, but charcoal’s good for you,’ Barney said. He took a few bites and then frowned as he forced the hardened lumps of gristle down.

Barney then took the remnants of the roo behind a bush and gave the poor animal a good Christian burial in a shallow grave.

[Photo 7: Then onto Chambers Gorge © L.M. Kling 1985]

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019; 2021

Photo: Lee-Anne on a Limb, Flinders Ranges © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 1984

***

Want more but too expensive or unable to travel down under? Why not take a virtual journey with the T-Team Adventures in Australia?

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

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…