Trekking Tuesday–MacDonnell Gorges (1)

The T-Team Series — The Gorges of the MacDonnell Ranges

In this episode, the T-Team valiantly explore as many gorges in the MacDonnell Ranges as they can…in one afternoon. The challenge, avoid the crowds of tourists while keeping Mr. B entertained.

Ellery Creek and Serpentine Gorge

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

The T-Team with Mr B — In 1977 Dad’s friend Mr Banks and his son, Matt (not their real names), joined Dad, my brother (Rick) and me on this journey of adventure. I guess Dad had some reservations how I would cope… But it soon became clear that the question was, how would Mr B who was used to a life of luxury cope? And how many times would my brother lose his way in the bush?]

With our two Indigenous guides, Dad drove the Rover along the rough dirt track (probably a “short cut”) to the road that parallels the MacDonnell Ranges, Namatjira Drive. These days, the main roads are sealed, but not back then. Dust billowed into the cabin as we drove on a road that parallels the MacDonnell Ranges.

*[Photo 1: View of MacDonnell Ranges from Namatjira Drive © L.M. Kling 2013]

Nearing the intersection of Namatjira Drive from the unknown track, Dad turned to Mr. B. ‘Ellery Creek? Or Serpentine?’

Mr. B gazed at the mountain range and pointed. ‘Ellery Creek. You did say it’s like the local’s swimming pool.’

‘There’s many interesting gorges and creeks in these hills to explore,’ Dad said. ‘We won’t be staying at any for too long.’

*[Photos 2 & 3: Gorges Dad dreams of visiting again and again: Ormiston (2), Glen Helen (3) © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

2. Ormiston Gorge
3. Glen Helen

Mr. B frowned. ‘Just long enough to take a few snaps like the tourists, I expect.’

‘You sure you don’t want to start at Serpentine to our right? We could hike up while the morning’s still cool.’

‘What morning? It’s already past noon.’ Mr. B flicked his map flat. ‘Ellery Creek, I say, for lunch.’

Dad sighed, ‘Very well, then, Ellery Creek.’

Ellery Creek

After lumbering along the wider but corrugated road, Dad turned into the barely discernable trail that led to Ellery Creek. After entering the clearing for parking, we hunted for a car park. Not an easy feat as the car park was full; even the spaces in between swarmed with tourists.

Dad squeezed the Rover into what seemed the last remaining gap, and the T-Team piled out.

*[Photo 4, & 5 Aspects of Ellery Creek © L.M. Kling 2013]

4. Trees of Ellery Creek

5. Ellery Creek Big Hole

*[Photo 6: Recent visit to Ellery Creek © L.M. Kling 2021]

‘It’s like Glenelg beach,’ I said, ‘it’s stuffed full.’

Richard looked at the offering of water; a disappointing dam at the end of a sandy bank. ‘There’s more sand and water at Glenelg.’

‘As many people, though,’ I replied.

Matt sniggered.

Mr. B stomped past us and with elbows akimbo he stopped at the water’s edge. ‘Is this it?’

Dad joined his friend. ‘I warned you.’

So, with obligatory photos taken while dodging the crowds, we made our way to Serpentine Gorge.

*[Photo 7: Said obligatory photo of T-Team with guides at Ellery Creek © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

As he turned the Rover left so heading east towards Alice Springs, Dad smiled. Mr. B pouted and folded the map. He insisted we have lunch before we start on the hike up the gorge. Dad went one better announcing that, since it was Sunday, we’d have lunch AND a Sunday Service.

Mr. B’s response was to shake his head and mumble something not-so-polite into his red dust-stained handkerchief.

Serpentine Gorge

Less populated, Serpentine Gorge begged to be explored. Our Indigenous guides were not interested in joining us, so we bravely set off on our own adventure. To get to the narrowest part of the gorge, we had to cross a deep pool of water on our air mattresses and then walk along a rocky creek barefoot. We had forgotten to bring our shoes. Not that it concerned the men, they raced ahead leaving me behind hobbling on tender feet over sharp stones.

*[Photo 8: Later lilo exploits © C.D. Trudinger 1986]

Then, disaster. Mud and slime replaced jagged rocks. In the shadows of gorge, I trotted on the path near creek. My heel struck a slippery puddle lurking by a pool of sludge. Next, I skated, feet flew from under me, and I landed bottom-first in the murky depths of the Serpentine Creek.

*[Photo 9: That special part of Serpentine Gorge at that special time of day © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

I pulled myself from the rock-hole, my clothes caked in mud and stinking of slime.

Dad jogged up to me, his barefoot steps slapping, the sound bouncing off the slate walls that lined the gorge.

‘What do you mean special part of the gorge?’ I snapped at Dad. ‘It’s not so special to me. It’s too dark, and I’m just too uncomfortable.’

*[Photo 10: Not so special to me © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

‘Ah, well,’ Dad sighed. ‘We better get back to the Rover. We need to find camp before it’s dark.’

As we hobbled back in the fading light, I mumbled, ‘Sure it’s not dark already?’

Other Gorges for Another Day

Dad endeavoured to distract me from my discomfort with descriptions of the many other gorges in the MacDonnell Ranges and tales of adventures exploring them. His stories whetted my appetite to view these wonders myself one day, on this trip, or perhaps in future journeys to Central Australia.

*[Photo 11 & 12: Other Gorges to look forward to. Redbank (11) Ormiston (12) © C.D. Trudinger circa 1950]

11. Redbank
12. Ormiston

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019; updated 2022

*Feature Photo: Ellery Creek Big Hole © L.M. Kling 2021

***

Dreaming of adventure in Australia’s Centre? Take your mind and imagination on a historic journey with the T-Team…

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

TK-Team Flying Visit–Ellery Creek

Ellery Creek Waterhole

[Join us, the TK-Team, in the holiday up North, we were able to and had to have…]

Rest after mission accomplished

My husband Anthony had a mission. That mission was to buy jocks and socks. He’d been threatening this venture in the days before we embarked on our mini trek to Central Australia. As if there weren’t enough obstacles to overcome to get to Alice Springs. Covid escapees and the lockdowns that ensue when that sneaky little virus escapes the confines of medi-hotels or the eastern states at this present time in Australia.

But, with South Australia free from new locally acquired cases of Covid and the Northern Territory happy to receive us, we took our chance. Not that it wasn’t like Paris post September the 11th at Adelaide Airport when we departed. The federal police paced the concourse of the airport while armed to the teeth and touting semi-automatic rifles. Or when we successfully arrived at Alice Springs airport, we were greeted with what I’d describe as “Checkpoint Charlie” where the disembarking passengers had to line up, and then show “Passports of Declaration” that they had not been to any hotspots in the last 28 days. Took an hour for all of us to get through.

Anthony recorded the aeroplane parking lot which reveals how much the world is not travelling these past eighteen months.

[Photo 1: Plane Park © A.N. Kling 2021]

So, on the morning after our epic journey north by plane, and a sleepless night on a bed of what seemed to be a hard plank, we embarked on our hiking trip of the day. This time through the heart of Alice Springs in search of the Target Store. Google maps seemed to be slightly confused and sent us marching in the opposite direction. I recalled seeing a Target sign. But where?

The township was packed with all sorts: tourists, beggars, shoppers, the sober, and not so sober. Not a mask in sight.

Finally, after twenty minutes of searching, we found the Target Store and Anthony found his socks and jocks to buy.

[Photo 2: That’s where: from Anzac Hill © L.M. Kling 2021]

Mission accomplished, we headed for the Araluen Cultural Centre and to Yaye’s Café, where we were to meet an old friend who I knew from church back in the 1970’s but who has lived in Central Australia now for many years.

Over Argentinian pies, we swapped books and stories all things Hermannsburg, Missions and Central Australia.

After lunch, Anthony and I journeyed out to Ellery Creek Big Waterhole. In all the previous visits to the MacDonnell Ranges, this waterhole was one which we would visit, briefly, to tick off on our to-do list.

1977, the T-Team with Mr. B assembled in front of the hole. Tick. Then onto the more spectacular Ormiston Gorge.

[Photo 3: Been there, done that in 1977 © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

1981, bypassed. For the more intriguing Ormiston.

[Photo 4: Ormiston Gorge © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

2013, a brief visit as it was heading towards sunset and we must get back to Hermannsburg before dark and potential car-carnage by animal.

[Photo 5: Too late for red cliffs © L.M. Kling 2013]

This time, 2021, we would give Ellery Creek a good hour or two to absorb the beauty and atmosphere of the place.

Problem was, we seemed to be driving, driving, driving on Namatjira Drive. Kilometres and kilometres. Noticed a sign that stated that Glen Helen, where we had camped in 2013, was closed.

[Video: Driving, driving along Namatjira Drive © L.M. Kling 2021]

90 km from Alice Springs and finally, the sign to Ellery Creek, Big Hole loomed large to our left. We turned right onto the graded but dirt track. As Anthony drove slowly over the corrugations, he remarked, ‘It’s been proven by the “Mythbusters” television show that driving slow over corrugations minimises damage to your car. It’s driving fast over the corrugations that causes damage.’

We parked in a near-empty carpark, and hiked the short distance to the waterhole. The cliffs glowed golden-red in the late afternoon sun. A sign by the rippled waters warned of currents and to take care if swimming.

[Photo 6: Glowing cliffs of Ellery Creek © L.M. Kling 2021]

Anthony and I decided it was enough to bask under the shaded beauty of the cliffs, and admire brilliant reflections in the pool capturing the images with our cameras. Anthony with his phone and me with my Nikon D7000.

[Photo 7: Reflections in the ripples © L.M. Kling 2021]

We then settled down on the towel I had brought and enjoyed a simple afternoon tea of bananas and water.

[Photo 8: Progress of the hardy ghost gum © L.M. Kling 2021]

While we basked in the stillness of the waterhole, the birds emerged: budgies, ducks, a kingfisher, and finches. Then some of the not-so-native wildlife appeared.

[Photo 9: Kingfisher © L.M. Kling 2021]

A man with a flynet over his head.

‘But there’s hardly any flies,’ Anthony said.

Another man disrobed to his bathers and dipped into the water. He soon scrambled out. ‘Too cold,’ he cried.

As the cliffs of the Big Hole deepened in hues of red, we made our way back to the car.

[Photo 10: Calming waters of red cliff reflections © L.M. Kling 2021]

‘Must get back to Alice Springs before dark,’ Anthony said.

So, in the golden light of late afternoon, we returned to Alice Springs where, at the IGA near the caravan park, we bought lamb chops for dinner. The kangaroo tails offered were tempting, but…

[Photo 11-Kangaroo Tails for tea? © A.N. Kling 2021]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Greetings from Ellery Creek Big Hole © L.M. Kling 2021

***

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]

Story Behind the Painting–Standley Chasm

An Episode from The T-Team With Mr B

[While painting this scene of a group of older men gathering to admire the glowing walls of Standley Chasm, I was reminded of the T-Team’s trek in 1977 with Mr. B. This wealthy man used to comfort and luxury, took on the challenges of roughing it camping with the T-Team. This stunning chasm is about 50km west of Alice Springs and is one of the first of many beautiful sites to visit in the MacDonnell Ranges.]

Standley Chasm — Angkerle Atwatye

Mr. B slowed the Rover and eased it into a park joining the line of cars, land rovers, and buses awaiting their owners’ return. The T-Team piled out of the Rover and in single-file, followed Dad along the narrow track heading towards Standley Chasm. In the twists and turns of the trail that hugged the dry creek bed, I spotted ferns in the shadow of rock mounds the colour of yellow ochre, and ghost gums sprouting out of russet walls of stone. Hikers marched past us returning to the car park.

[1. Photo: Path to Standley Chasm © L.M. Kling © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘G’day,’ they said. ‘Well worth it.’

Dad checked his watch and quickened his pace.

I ran to catch Dad. ‘Have we missed out?’

‘We better hurry,’ Dad snapped.

A leisurely short stroll became a race to the finish as we struggled to keep up with Dad; scrambling over boulders on the track, squeezing past more tourists going to and from the chasm, Dad snapping and cracking the verbal whip, and Mr. B moaning and groaning that “it’s not for a sheep station”.

[2. Photo: Ghost gum and ferns on way to Standley Chasm © L.M. Kling 2013]

The crowd thickened, stranding us in a jam of people, fat bottoms wobbling, parents hauling their whinging kids, and men clutching cameras to their eyes for the perfect shot. Dad checked his watch and then shifted the weight from one foot to the other.

‘Are we there yet?’ I asked.

Wrong question. Especially when asking a grumpy Dad.

‘Not yet!’ Dad barked.

‘I reckon we’re not far away,’ I said. ‘All the tourists have stopped. Must be some reason.’

Dad screwed up his nose. ‘I dunno, it doesn’t look right.’

‘Excuse me! Excuse me!’ Mr. B, one arm stretched out before him, parted the sea of people and strode through.

We followed in Mr. B’s wake and within twenty paces, there it glowed. Standley Chasm. Both walls in hues of gold to ochre. Dozens of people milled around its base.

[3. Photo: No quite the right time but still awesome: Standley Chasm © L.M. Kling 2013]

Dad gazed at the chasm, and then squinted at the position of the sun. ‘It’s not there yet.’

‘How long?’ I wanted to know.

‘Not long, just wait.’ Dad paced towards a white gum that bowed before the grand wonder of the chasm.

‘Wait! I’ll take a photo of you,’ I said.

‘Do you have to?’

‘Why not?’

‘We might miss the walls turning red.’

‘They turn red that quickly?’

Dad leaned up against the tree. ‘I s’pose not.’

I dug out my instamatic camera and photographed my grumpy Dad.

[4. Photo: While we wait, a grumpy Dad before the chasm © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Then we waited. The tourists snapped their shots and then filtered away.

‘When’s it going to turn red?’ I asked for the fourth time.

‘Be patient,’ Dad said.

‘This is boring,’ Matt mumbled.

‘Let’s see what’s the other side.’ Richard tapped Matt on the arm. The two lads scrambled over the rocks and I watched them hop from one boulder to the next over a small waterhole.

[5. Photo: The rocks’ reflection, Stanley Chasm © L.M. Kling 2013]

Dad paced from one wall to the next while Mr. B photographed Standley Chasm from every angle.

I watched mesmerized by the sunlight playing on the walls. They turned from a russet-brown on one side, gold on the other, to both glowing a bright orange. But by then, most of the tourists had left, thinking the Chasm had finished its performance for the day.

[6. Photo: Well worth the wait; Stanley Chasm, just the right time © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

[7. Painting: Dad’s Standley Chasm in watercolour © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

As the other wall turned in hue to sienna, Mr. B packed his camera in his leather case and stood back admiring the view.

‘Get some good shots?’ Dad asked.

‘I reckon I did.’ Mr. B patted his camera bag. ‘You know, once the crowds thinned out, I reckon I got some good ones.’

‘Ah, well, I’ve seen Standley Chasm put on a better show in the past.’ I think Dad was trying to justify not having a functional camera.

‘Well, I enjoyed it,’ I said. ‘This place is amazing!’

[8. Photo: Stanley Chasm mid-afternoon; still the same perfect light 36 years later © L.M. Kling 2013]

Dad patted me on the back. ‘Ah! Lee-Anne, you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait till you see Ormiston Gorge.’

‘By the way, where are tha boys?’ Mr. B asked.

‘Looks like we have to be patient and wait for them now.’

‘I hope your son doesn’t get ma boy lost.’

Dad laughed. ‘No worries. There they are, just the other side of the chasm.’ He waved at the boys.

Richard and Matt scrambled through the chasm to join the T-Team on the hike back to the Rover.

[9. Photo: Actual photo of men admiring Stanley Chasm © L.M. Kling 2013]

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

Feature Painting: Men Admiring Standley Chasm © L.M. Kling 2018

***

Want more? More than before?

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Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

Story Behind the Art–Ormiston, the Other Side

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

Fishies in the Billabong

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

*[Photo 1: Hike through Ormiston Gorge © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

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

*[Photo 2: The Other Side of Ormiston © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

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

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

C1 squinted. ‘Oh, yeah.’

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

*[Photo 3: Waterhole closer © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

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

‘What for?’ Dad asked.

‘The fish.’

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

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

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

*[Photo 4: Mt Giles over pound © C.D. Trudinger 1986]

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

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

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

‘Why not yabbies?’ C1 said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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]

Story Behind the Art–Mt. Giles

Quest to Conquer Mt. Giles

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

Dad sucked on his lemon (a proven refreshment and guard against dehydration). ‘About a-quarter-to-twelve.’ He continued to sit and suck on his lemon as if in no hurry.

‘A-quarter-to-twelve?’ I stood. ‘We’ll never get there. We can’t even see the trig.’

‘Well, um-er, we better get a move on.’ Dad rose and slung his pack over his shoulder. The T-men shuffled up a worn kangaroo track. I took a quick swig of water and bounded after them.

[Painting 1: Mt. Giles—our goal (Acrylic) © L.M. Kling 2010]

We stopped at a three-pronged fork in the trail. Three mountain points stood before us. ‘Now, which way shall we go?’ You’d think Dad would’ve worked the route out before we embarked on this project, using his compass and detailed maps. But apparently, he hadn’t.

C1 (Older Cousin) raised an eyebrow.  MB (My Brother) scratched his chin. C2 (Younger Cousin) shook his head, and I shrugged.

Dad hummed and hawed.

‘We could hike up and down the gully to see,’ MB said.

C2 sighed. ‘That would take too much time.’

‘What about the saddle?’ I asked.

The men looked at me, their eyes narrowed. ‘To which point?’ Dad spoke for them all. For the next few precious minutes, the men bantered about what option to take, cutting me out of the decision making.

‘Ah, well, time’s running out. I guess we can’t expect to reach the top,’ Dad announced with the damning tone of resignation.

I stomped off towards the saddle.

[Photo 1: Mt Giles from the Pound © C.D. Trudinger 1986]

‘Oy! Oy! What do you think you’re doing?’ Dad yelled.

I bolted on southwards and upwards to the spur. Even menacing prickle bushes didn’t stand a chance as I charged through them. Behind me I could hear the Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! as Dad hacked his way in pursuit of me. ‘Come back! You can’t go off on your own!’

Scratched and sore from the fight with the bushes, I stopped. A tight-rope path lay ahead. Not even enough width for my feet on this razor back. I turned and watched the shrubs shake.

Dad emerged brushing seeds and thorns from his arms. He shaded his eyes as he looked up. ‘You’ve taken the correct action.’

‘What?’ I scratched my eye-brows. Dad’s big words confused my exhausted mind.

Wheezing, Dad caught up to me. ‘See?’

He pointed at the nearest mound. ‘See, the trig?’

I squinted towards where the hill met the cobalt blue of the sky. At the highest point, a thin wire shimmered in the heat. ‘Oh, yeah!’

While Dad and I gulped down some water, MB, C2 and C1 galloped past us. ‘Watch your step on the spur!’ Dad warned.

We picked our way along the razor back ridge. I held my breath and resisted the urge to look down past the tight-rope path where I placed each step. Holding my arms out straight either side, I teetered and tottered to the end of my ordeal. When I reached the slope at the other end, an incline with generous girth and no cliff in sight, I collapsed to my knees, then bent over and kissed the sand stone.

[Photo 2: Razor-back Ridges of Giles © C.D. Trudinger 1981

]

However, my rejoicing was short-lived and I rose to my sore feet to push on. After plodding up and down more ridges, more rocky slopes, and more frequent rests to nurse my aching calves, our allotted time to reach the summit by 12:30pm lapsed.

We gathered around Dad.

‘What’s the verdict?’ I asked. A breeze cooled the back of my neck.

Flies gathered on C1’s back. MB slapped between C1’s shoulder blades and clapped the flattened insects from his palms. ‘Twenty.’ He flicked the last of the sticky flies from his palm.

‘Well,’ Dad took a deep breath, ‘We’ve come this far, we might as well go all the way.’

‘We have a full moon, that’ll help,’ C2 said.

C1 waved a pesky fly from his face. ‘Okay!’

‘Let’s go!’ MB slapped his hands together near Phil’s nose and killed that fly too.

‘Alright!’ I said.

Determined to reach the peak, we plunged forward, despite being famished, wrung of perspiration, weary and late. We were so close. Every so often, the trig teased us appearing as we reached a high point, and then vanishing as we dipped into a valley. MB and C1 raced each other.

I climbed over a wall of rock and saw the trig wobbling above the slope in the oily heat. I scrambled upwards. A saddle stretched and rose before me. Damn! Another false top! I struggled over the saddle to face another false top. After staggering over the fifth false top, I saw the trig and blinked. Was it real? Or was it a mirage? I limped up the jagged path, pain shooting down my calf muscles with each step. The trig disappeared behind an outcrop of rocks. We’ll never get there!

[Photo 3: One Ridge After Another © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

I skirted the rocks and saw the trig fifty meters away, bold, rusty, and high. Under the shade of an orange sheet that fluttered like a flag in the wind, MB, C1 and C2 lounged by the stone cairn, packs off their backs, stirring Salvital into their cups of water and then sipping with delight the reward of their labour. The time was one o’clock.

Ten minutes later, Dad dragged himself over the last ridge and limped to the summit. There, he sat on a rock and rubbed his knee. ‘O-o-oh!’ He inspected the damage, red and swollen. ‘I tripped and fell on my knee. I hope I can get down alright.’

‘You better,’ C1 laughed. ‘You can’t exactly camp up here.’

‘You’ll have to get down,’ MB said.

‘Yeah!’ I gazed at the view entranced by the once-ancient ocean bed surrounded by islands of mountain ranges that snaked like the backbone of a prehistoric creature into the haze on the horizon.

[Photo 4: View from the summit—Foreground, the Pound, Ormiston Gorge behind, and in far distance, Mt. Sonder (left) and Mt. Ziel (right) © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981]

‘Hey, look at these!’ C1 excavated some calling cards from a tin can wedged in the monument to the summit. Our predecessors had conquered the mountain one year earlier to the day. The scribe wrote: “The climb was well worth the effort”. They described ascending to the peak by the southern ridge starting from Giles Spring. This tip gave us the idea to descend by the south ridge and traverse west through the pound to the camp.

We celebrated with lunch of scroggin and copious amounts of Milo and strawberry flavoured Quick mixed with powdered milk and water. We took photos of the stunning scenery and each other as evidence of our triumph over adversity.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2021

Feature Painting: Trekking towards Mt Giles challenge (Pastel) © Lee-Anne Marie King 2021

***

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–Tnorala (2)

[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 continue their venture out West of Hermannsburg to explore Tnorala (Gosse Bluff).]

Big Day Out West (2)

Afternoon

After eating a snack, we walked the designated paths, taking care not to stray from the designated paths. Off track, the land was reserved for revegetation, and it certainly had revegetated since 1977. Then, the crater had been a barren wasteland. In 2013, green and full of native bushes and trees.

[Photo 1: Inside Tnorala © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 2: Back in 1977, T-team with Mr B © L.M. King (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Upon completing the various walking tracks in the crater, we trekked back to the Ford, and then trundled out and off the unsealed part of the Mereenie Loop Road continuing north along it towards the road to Glen Helen.

[Photo 3: Aspects of the Walk in Tnorala © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 4: Re-vegetation © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 5: Views on way © L.M. Kling 2013]

But not for long. Roadworks rendered the road unsealed, so, more crawling. Until we reached Tylers Pass Lookout. Hence, in the mellowing sunlight of mid-afternoon, we supped on our cheese and gherkin sandwiches which we had bought from the store while feasting our eyes of the panoramic view of the Gosse Ranges and the MacDonnell Ranges.

[Photo 6: View of Tnorala from the Tylers Pass Lookout © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘Well, time to get going,’ Anthony said. ‘We don’t want to be driving in the dark.’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘Although, just one more photo.’

‘Well, hurry up.’

[Photo 7: View of MacDonnell Ranges from lookout © L.M. Kling 2013]

I snapped a few more photos and climbed into the Ford. Anthony was drumming the steering wheel. After I’d fastened the seatbelt, Anthony turned the ignition.

Nothing.

‘O-oh!’ Anthony muttered and tried the ignition again.

The Ford started, then shook and shuddered.

‘Oh, shoot!’ Anthony snapped.

He turned off the protesting Ford. Extracted himself from the car. And looked under the bonnet. While I sat like the queen in the car, he spent some time “working” and exclaiming at intervals, “We’re stuffed!”

I jumped out and joined him in the under-the-bonnet examinations. By this time Anthony was in the process of attaching the air-filter hose back on the air-filter. ‘We’ll see if that works,’ he said.

[Photo 8: On another memorable occasion of car-fail way out West © S.O. Gross 1941]

We resumed our positions in the Ford, sent up an arrow-prayer, and Anthony turned the ignition. The engine ticked over smoothly, and we breathed out our sighs of thanks to God. Anthony, then climbed out the car again to close the bonnet.

Just at this particular time, a pair of tourists in a ute, drove into the viewing area.  They noticed the bonnet up on our car and called out, ‘You need some help?’

Anthony, with a tone of pride in his voice replied, ‘Nah, we are fine. All good.’

They waved, then drove past us to find a park and take in the view of the Gosses.

Late Afternoon

On our return, we passed a group of stranded owners of the land, kids waving. But Anthony kept driving. I guess, he wasn’t going to push his luck with mechanical prowess too far. In that way he was different from Dad who would’ve stopped and bantered in Aranda with them. And back then, in 1981, we had Richard, our mechanic.

By the time we reached Glen Helen, the fuel needle sank to less than a quarter of a tank, the gas-guzzler that the Ford is. We filled the tank there and then, now that we were on bitumen road, glided along enjoying the golden and purple hues of the MacDonnell Ranges in late afternoon. These I captured on my camera, with frequent stops, some with Anthony’s prompting.

[Photo 9: Namatjira Country © L.M. Kling 2013]

Sundown

Ellery Creek languished in shade when we arrived there. In the cooling shadows, we walked down the path leading to the water’s edge. Just as I remembered, Ellery Creek offered a big pool of water in which to swim. In fact, it’s the go-to place for swimming for the locals. In fact, as we walked the track to the pool, we passed a German tourist clad in bathers and hair wet from a dip.

[Photo 10: Ellery Creek—Go-to place for swimming © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 11: Tree Reflections at Ellery Creek © L.M. Kling 2013]

As we drove westward to Hermannsburg, Anthony squinted at the setting sun glaring through the windscreen, and whined, ‘I can’t see a thing!’

‘Do you want me to drive?’ I asked.

‘No, no, I’ll be right.’

Just then, a kangaroo darted across the road. Anthony slowed and we watched the kangaroo and its joey tagging behind her, skitter over the verge and disappear into the bush.

‘That was close,’ Anthony sighed.

[Photo 12: Approaching dusk, Ellery Creek © L.M. Kling 2013]

We arrived back in Hermannsburg at around 7pm. I rang mum while waiting for tea. After a tasty meal of Chow Mein, we relaxed watching a video, and enjoying fellowship with our friends.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Gosse Bluff at sunset © S.O. Gross 1946

***

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 Generation–All In A Sunday (1)

Sunday Morning: Farewell Glen Helen

[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 farewell Glen Helen, then struggle with the concept of driving in convoy.]

[Photo 1: Dawn breaking , Sunday morning 14-7-13 © L.M. Kling 2013]

The sound of boots scuffling in the boys’ section of the tent woke me. I wormed my way out of the sleeping bag, careful not to wake my husband, Anthony. He still puffed out the sweet dreams while softly snoring as I crept next door to investigate.

Son 1, his face clouded in a frown greeted me. ‘Couldn’t sleep, so went for a walk,’ he snapped.

‘Best time of morning to enjoy the views.’

‘Sure you don’t have sleep apnoea? You kept me awake with your snoring all night.’

‘It’s just the cold desert air,’ I replied, then left for my own walk with views.

[Photo 2: Mt Sonder at sunrise © L.M. Kling 2013]

Captured more of Mt. Sonder at sunrise; this time in blue and mauve hues rising above helicopter landing pad. In 2010, Mum and her sister had splashed out and taken this helicopter ride over the MacDonnell Ranges. In some ways an easier way to have a birds-eye view of the ranges without all the huffing and puffing and effort climbing a mountain.

[Photo 3: Birds-eye/helicopter view of Glen Helen and MacDonnell Ranges © M.E. Trudinger 2010]

Mum had been there and done that in her youth when she climbed Mt. Sonder with my dad and other Hermannsburg friends. Mum shared just recently, that one of the friends was a rather luscious looking fellow. She puzzled why there seemed to be no photos of this chap in Dad’s slide collection of the occasion.

[Photo 4: Victorious and a much younger Mum T on the summit of Mt. Sonder © C.D. Trudinger 1957]

On my return from this venture down memory lane, I collected some firewood from an old campfire.

Anthony narrowed his eyes and growled, ‘We’re not making a fire.’

‘Okay.’

I approached my nephew who squatted by a campfire which he had lit. ‘We’re not making a fire,’ I said and then dumped my wood collection into the fire. ‘We’re not having a fire?’

My nephew laughed. ‘I was just playing with my stick and it broke and went in the fire.’

‘And my pieces of wood just fell into the fire,’ I added.

We watched the flames grow, both chuckling at our insurrection to his Kling-ship’s fire-ban.

After a toilet break, I filled a billy can with water and it made its way onto the coals. The family gathered, enjoying its warmth and relative scarcity of flies and other insects. But for some, like my younger niece, the fire failed to ward off all the flies; especially those tiny little sticky flies that crawl in one’s eyes, nose and mouth. For her, the only solution was to put a re-usable cloth shopping bag over her head.

[Photo 5: One way of keeping the flies at bay © L.M. Kling 2013]

Following breakfast by the fire that my husband said we weren’t going to have, I washed and packed up my bedding and stuff in the tent. Having done as much as I could to pack the Ford, I walked up to the restaurant with Son 2. He wanted an iced coffee. There, while Son 2 drank his iced coffee, I bought a book about Uluru, and then had a coffee with Mum. We talked with the owner and Mum shared that she had visited Ayers Rock (Uluru) in 1953.

‘We were the only ones there,’ Mum said.

‘Was Dad there that time?’ I asked.

‘Yes, but I was much younger, and we weren’t going out then.’ Mum laughed. ‘One of the ladies lost the sole of her shoe when we were climbing, and Dad gallantly lent his shoes to her and walked down the rock barefoot.’

‘Just like Richard did in 1981 with his cousin. Only they did it as a dare.’

‘Must be in the genes,’ Son 2, who had been quietly listening to the conversation, snorted.

[Photo 6: Historic climb of Ayers Rock 1953 © M.E. Trudinger 1953]

By 10.30am, the T-Team convoy had left Glen Helen, its red cliffs, its flies and the doused and covered fire, in a distant mirage and we headed for Ormiston Gorge, again. My sister-in-law wanted to buy a souvenir magnet at the Ormiston Gorge information centre.

We parked at the turn-off, where Mum, Son 2 and I waited in Mum’s hire car for the Ford containing Anthony and Son 1 to arrive, and the T-Team in their white van to appear.

‘What’s taking them so long?’ Son 2 asked.

‘Maybe the Ford won’t start.’ A definite possibility, I thought.

‘Don’t say that,’ Mum said.

‘What about the T’s? They’re late too.’ Son 2 grumbled. ‘We’ve been waiting twenty minutes!’

I sighed. ‘Perhaps the old Ford has broken down and Richard is under the bonnet trying to fix it up.’

‘Should we go back then?’ Mum asked.

‘Yes, I think we should,’ I sighed again while starting up the engine. I rolled the car forward, performed a U-turn and then headed back to Glen Helen.

Just as we reached the road to Glen Helen, the Ford appeared, and sailed past us on its way to Ormiston Gorge.

Down the valley we travelled until we could safely do another U-Turn, at what we had coined the “U-Turn Crossing”. This was the place where a couple of nights ago, Son 1 had collected firewood while I collected photos of Glen Helen’s iron-red cliffs bathed in the golden rays of the setting sun.

[Painting: Wood for fire under red cliffs of Glen Helen (acrylic on canvas) © L.M. Kling 2018]

Then, stepping on the accelerator, we chased the Ford. Upon catching up to the Ford, we beeped the horn and flashed the lights of our rental car.

‘What the…?’ Son 2 pointed at a white van on the opposite side of the road, heading back towards Glen Helen.

‘No,’ Mum said, ‘we’ve missed the turn off to Ormiston.’

More sighs. A brief park by the side of the road, our car with the Ford, and then exchange of information with Anthony and Son 1. Then with my brother who had earlier missed the turn off to Ormiston and had to retrace his tracks back to the Ormiston road. Then, we turned around (in our cars) and following each other, bumped our way down the rough track to the Ormiston where we waited for Mrs T to buy her fridge magnets.

Transactions done, we began our journey to Hermannsburg. This time, the T-Team in their white van, waited for us to catch up before launching into the T-Team’s convoy to Mum T’s childhood home.

[Photo 7: Farewell Glen Helen © L.M. Kling 2013]

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Red cliffs of Glen Helen © 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]