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

The T-Team with Mr. B (29)

A Lesson With Mr. C

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The boy looked at his knees and nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Sure,’ Mr. C said.

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

‘Yes. One of them.’

‘Huh?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What?’ I asked.

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

‘Oh, good.’

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

T-Team Next Gen–Return to Hermannsburg (2)

Hermannsburg Here We Come

[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-K Team (my husband and I) return to Hermannsburg and catch up with friends there.]

As we powered along the sealed Larapinta Highway, I mused, what a difference some 60-70 years makes. When Mum T lived in Hermannsburg, back in the 1940’s and 50’s, the trip to Alice Springs was a long arduous half-a-day journey on a dirt track in a truck where one spent several days in Alice Springs stocking up on supplies.

[Photo 1: Travelling in Central Australia in 1950’s required a stop for lunch…]
[Photo 1b: Or for the car to recover… In outback Australia, there were few sealed roads back then © M. E. Trudinger 1956]

As we passed the turn off to Jay creek, I said Anthony, ‘Mum told us the story of her mum (Grandma Gross) who, when the Finke flooded, had to wade through the waters to reach the other side to continue the journey to Alice Springs. She was 8-months pregnant at the time.’

[Photo 2: Community enjoying the Finke in flood © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

‘Hard to imagine the creek flooding,’ Anthony glanced at the dip, a dry riverbed, that signalled the up-coming fork in the road leading the Hermannsburg. ‘But I know from camping in the Flinders Ranges, at the first drops of rain, you don’t hang around, you get out.’

‘Your mum and friend didn’t when they camped at Parachilna,’ I said. ‘They were stuck there on an island with the river all around them for days.’

‘I know, my mum’s friend liked to take risks.’

[Photo 3: K-Team in Parachilna Gorge when not in flood, but very windy © L.M. Kling 2000]

A sign with an image of a cow, and below written, “Beware of wandering stock”, flashed by. Brumbies galloped on the side, as if racing with us. Hawks soared in the cobalt blue sky above. A lone wedge-tail eagle, having gorged on a carcass of roadkill, waddled off the road just in time, avoiding the same fate as its feed.

[Photo 4: Brumbies rounded up in times past, Hermannsburg stock yards © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

This time, when we arrived in Hermannsburg, we made a beeline for the FRM (finke River Mission) store where we located our friend, P. He welcomed us and gave us a tour of the store. So much bigger than in 1981; more like the size of our local IGA store in size and shelves fully stocked. It even stocked fridges and washing machines. P proudly showed us the bakery where fresh bread is made each day and he introduced us to the Indigenous workers at the store.

[Photo 5: In front of the store © L.M. Kling 2013]

After settling into our P and K’s home, we spent the afternoon drinking coffee and storytelling with P and K. Storytelling continued over dinner. Much had changed since the T-team visited in 1981. The population of Hermannsburg has now grown to 600, the Finke River Mission still exists there, and the Christian community is growing. However, there remain challenges for the Indigenous community as there are in communities all over Australia, and the world. ‘It just is,’ as P stated, ‘we’re at the coal-face, being a small, isolated outback community; you see everything…’

[Photo 6: Memories of times past celebrating Kuprilya Day © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

‘Whereas,’ I concluded, ‘in the city it’s hidden by numbers, a larger population and behind the walls of our castles.’ Then I changed the subject. ‘Oh, by the way, this is the house I stayed in when the T-Team visited Hermannsburg in 1981.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Hermannsburg way back when, enjoying a game of friendly footy © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All On a Sunday (3) — Hermannsburg

[Seven years ago, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-Team visit Mum T’s old stamping ground, Hermannsburg where she shares with the T-Team Next Gen memories of her childhood home.]

Mystery in Historic Hermannsburg

We checked out the old school room. Mum reminisced the terrors of teaching the fellow missionary kids who were barely younger than her. They just refused to listen or obey her. Some were constantly daydreaming and never did their lessons. Mum vowed never to teach again. She escaped this teaching fate by getting married…to Dad.

[Photo 1: Mum T and T-Team Next Gen gaze out the school room © L.M. Kling 2013]

Then the church.

‘The only time we wore shoes was for church,’ Mum said. ‘Sundays were for Sunday best.’

[Photo 2: The historic church back in the olden days © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

T-Tummies began to grumble and so, the T-Team Next Gen decided to head for the Precinct Café in what was once the Manse of the Hermannsburg Missionary Supervisor.

As we investigated the old rooms that had been converted into a souvenir shop and tea rooms, Mum said, ‘This is the room Dad and I stayed after we got married.’ I took a photo of Mum in that room which was now filled with souvenir clothes and hats.

[Photo 3: Mum T in her old room © L.M. Kling 2013]

Finally, Mum and I approached the counter and asked the young Arunda lady serving, if we could have a table for our party of ten.

She guided us to some tables on the porch where we could sit. Along the way, Mum mentioned to her that she used to live in the house. From that moment on, this lady could not do enough for us, making sure we had the best slices of apple strudel and helping us with the self-serve tea and coffee.

[Photo 4: The Manse and what was then, what would be, the front porch where we sat © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

When she had left us to serve someone else, Mum whispered to me, ‘I think she is GW’s (an elder) granddaughter.’

Later, as we were leaving to explore more of the village, she who served us ran up to us to continue the conversation with us about the Hermannsburg of old and answer any of our questions about Hermannsburg today.

[Photo 5: Hermannsburg of old—evening play in the compound © circa S.O. Gross circa 1950]
[Photo 6: Hermannsburg in 2013—building in the compound © L.M. Kling 2013]

Then, she had a question for us. ‘Have you seen or sensed any ghosts?’

We shook our collective heads. ‘No, we haven’t.’

‘Apparently, some people have seen a girl in period clothing, circa 1900. And some have seen an old man in this café. The young girl plays with my children,’ the lady who served us said.

[Photo 7: Funeral for a Mission Worker © courtesy S.O. Gross circa 1941]

I tried to think back to my previous visits to Hermannsburg. Can’t recall any ghosts then…just dreams of the olden days, way back when…And the pioneer missionaries and Afghans trekking across the desert on horses and camels.

[Photo 8: Caravan of camels starting out desert trek © S.O. Gross circa 1942]

More exploration of the Historic Precinct where Mum walked us through her childhood. First, her old home and the porch converted into a bedroom in which she slept. Now, the home is “renovated” into an art gallery. Her room fetches up to something like one thousand dollars a night for an authentic experience of yesteryear’s accommodation. To think, I did that for virtually free in the 1970’s…not her room, but…

[Photo 9: T-Team Next Genner inside Mum’s old childhood home (at last!) © L.M. Kling 2013]

Then, the “native” (as they were called back in the early 20th Century) girls’ quarters and the “native” boys’ quarters. Once upon a time, one hundred years ago, they were locked in at night, so they wouldn’t escape and get up to mischief.

[Photo 10: Meanwhile locked out and waiting to go; a re-enactment by the T-Team. Mum said that my grandpa spent “hours” in there, while his daughter, a young Mum T, hopped around the outside waiting her turn © L.M. Kling 2013]

Then the huge shed; a museum of machinery and long-forgotten technology, for butchering cattle, and tanning of kangaroo skins. Outside, my niece sat on an old tractor.

[Photo 11: On the old tractor © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘I wonder what happened to the green Mission truck?’ Mum said.

[Photo 12: Memories of the Green Mission truck. Dad T seen sitting inside © S.O. Gross circa 1955]

While the T-Team Next Gen rested at a picnic table by the morgue, and Anthony filled the water canteens, Mum shared how, as a child, she and her sisters played funerals. ‘We’d dance around the table pinching our noses.’ Apparently, back then, funerals were a regular occurrence. Mum added, ‘The most eerie experience was the wailing by the Arunda when someone died. Sent shivers down my spine.’

[Photo 13: Pastors on a mission © courtesy of S.O. Gross circa 1953]

Meanwhile Anthony battled with the nearby water pump which was situated just behind the Historic church building.

Mum glanced over and remarked, ‘Last time we visited in 2010, we were told about this competition Hermannsburg and another mission were in for who had the holiest water. Someone had drunk the water from this other mission where the water had bubbled up to the surface through the sand and was healed. So, then, Hermannsburg had to out-do this other mission and also make water with healing qualities.’

[Photo 14: Hermannsburg Historic Church © L.M. Kling 2013]

The T-Team laughed.

‘Hey, Anthony, you’re pumping holy water,’ Richard’s wife, Mrs. T called out. ‘Are you allowed to do that?’

‘It’ll be alright,’ Mum said. ‘No one’s looking.’

Anthony took a sip and frowned. ‘It tastes awful!’

‘Too salty?’ I asked.

‘Well, that’s convinced me!’ Anthony put his hands on his hips. ‘We’re going back to Alice Springs for the night.’

So, with our water containers empty, Anthony and I joined the T-Team on the return trek to Alice Springs.

‘I hope we can get a campsite at the Stuart Camping Ground,’ Anthony said.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Hermannsburg Historic church © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T-Team Next Gen–All in a Sunday (2)

Hermannsburg

[Seven years ago, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, the T-Team visit Hermannsburg, Mum T’s old stamping ground.]

Midday, and Mt. Hermannsburg rose up above the desert scrub; just red sand dotted with tee tree bushes, spinifex and the invasive buffel grass. At regular intervals, horse poo appeared in high piles on the roadside.

[Photo 1: Distant view of Hermannsburg from the distant past © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

‘I wonder why the horses do that?’ I remarked while driving Mum’s hire car.

No one in the car could explain.

‘The locals say that the buffel grass is a curse,’ Mum muttered.

‘Do you reckon it’s changed the weather here in Central Australia?’ I asked.

‘Would’ve made the bushfire worse a couple of years back,’ Son 2 said. ‘Now we can’t have a campfire anywhere.’

‘Why did they introduce the buffel grass, Mum?’ I asked.

‘Camels, I think.’

[Photo 2: Horses corralled to be broken in © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

]

I read later that buffel grass was introduced to stablise the desert soil and reduce the risk of bushfire. The problem with this grass is that it is pervasive, compromising the growth of native plant species. PIRSA (Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia) has declared “Buffel Grass under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019”.

A massive animal carcass on the side of the road flitted past.

‘What’s that?’ I pointed, then placed my hand back on the steering wheel. ‘It’s too big to be a roo and too woolly to be a brumby.’

Son 2 piped up. ‘Camel?’

‘Hmmm, hate to think what happened to the vehicle that struck that camel,’ I said.

[Photo 3: Wild Camels © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Not long after the camel carcass, we passed the memorial to Hermannsburg Mission and then a sign welcoming us to Ntaria—Hermannsburg. To our left, a supermarket, a pale brick structure languishing on the edge of a paddock near the road.

‘That’s where our friend, P, from church works,’ I announced. Our friends, P and wife, K had invited us to stay with them in Hermannsburg.

The convoy came to stop on the gravel road edge by the store.

[Photo 4: Mount Hermannsburg (feature photo) © L.M. Kling 2013]

I hopped out of the car and entered the store. Searching for P, I wandered up and down the aisles, filled with the owners of the Land, the Arunda people, but shelves empty of anything to buy. Except for the pie warmer, choc-full of pies, chips and other fast foods.

I approached the check out where an Indigenous lady served a long line of customers, who each held pies, chips, hot dogs, and burgers. I stood in line and waited my turn to purchase an answer to my question.

Finally, my turn. ‘Could you tell me where I can find P?’

The checkout lady stared past me.

‘P? I thought he worked in the supermarket,’ I said.

She nodded. ‘Ah, P?’

‘Yep, P.’ Expecting an instant reply.

‘Just wait while I serve.’

[Photo 5: Way back when regular, whole-roast kangaroo was on the menu © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

I waited about 10 minutes while she served a stream of customers purchasing their pies and other junk food.

So, I left.

‘Perhaps we’ll find an answer or P at the Historic Precinct,’ Mum said.

The T-Team convoy led by Mum’s hire car, then continued through Hermannsburg to the Historic Precinct. We passed a gated community. Yes, you heard right, a gated community. Houses painted in bright pastel green, yellow and pink, could be viewed through the cyclone fence, and their occupants sitting in backyards of red sand.

[Photo 6: Early houses built by the Mission © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

Further on, we rolled past another store. This one painted in pastel blue and decorated with a mural of native bush, mountains, and a kangaroo. Near a broken window, a faded sign, stating its identity as the “Finke River Mission” Store.

Mum waved a hand in the store’s direction. ‘I reckon P works here.’

[Photo 7: Later, me in front of the FRM Store. Artwork by Wendy Schubert (another of my friends from church) © A.N. Kling 2013]

The door appeared locked by a security gate of thick metal bars. Without stopping, or alighting from the car, I said, ‘I think it is closed on Sunday.’

A few metres on, we parked just outside the Historic Precinct. The wooden gate leading to the old buildings swung in the breeze, open. To one side, though, a formidable sign discouraged us with the words in black letters, “Closed”. Despite this sign and its statement, people wandered across the compound and in and out the buildings.

[Photo 8: As it was; aerial view of the Historic Precinct back in my Grandpa’s day © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

After climbing out of our vehicles, the T-Team lingered by the fence.

‘Are you sure it’s open?’ Anthony asked.

‘Well, there’s people there and the buildings are open,’ Mum replied.

‘They’ve just forgotten to take down the sign,’ I said and then led the way through the open gate and into the compound.

[To be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Mt Hermannsburg © L.M. Kling 2013

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

For the price of a cup of coffee (takeaway, these days),

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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