Wandering Wednesday–Camping Hazards near Mt. Liebig

[I have been preparing The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977 to be ready for publication soon. So, below is an extract from the T-Team’s adventure.

While three of the T-Team faced the perils of climbing Mt. Liebig, a drama of a different, yet equally challenging kind unfolded for Mr. B and his son, Matt as they stayed back at camp.

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

Bull Meets Mr. B

Mr. B and his son, Matt napped under the shade of a bean tree. A southerly breeze ferried through the dry creek bed, spiriting away the father’s snorts. Matt tossed and turned on his inflatable mattress that was exhausted of air resulting from a small, elusive puncture. He imagined the three others of the T-Team, beating a path through the sweltering heat and stinging spinifex in their quest to the summit of Mt. Liebig. Matt chuckled to himself. “Suckers!”

[Photo 1: Mt Liebig at sunrise with bean tree © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

In a nearby tributary, a bull spied the T-Team’s father, son and daughter trekking in the distance, and stamped its massive hooves in the loose dry sand. Once the family had vanished, the bull trotted towards his stamping ground which possessed a gigantic bean tree as a feature in an otherwise dull bed of dust. His quest was to reclaim his territory that the humans had invaded.

“Matt, ma boy, do be careful. Don’t go too far from camp. A bull might get you.” Mr. B squinted in the direction of distant thumping, then rolled over and resumed snoring.

A monstrous brown hulk loomed through a cloud of dust.

[Photo 2: Resident cattle © L.M. Kling 2013]

Matt bolted upright “Dad! Dad! Th-there’s a big- ugly- brown – ugly- big – brown – ugly – b-b-bull!”

“Aw, Matt, stop kidding me.” Mr. B blinked and rubbed his eyes. “That’s enough of the jokes.” A short rumble from behind sent him scrambling to his feet. He flailed his arms while galloping. “Quick! Into the Rover. Now!”

“But Dad!” In the sweltering heat and moment, the boy froze, glued to his air mattress under the bean tree. Terrified, he witnessed his Dad bound over the dirt and fly into the empty Rover parking space and onto a thicket of spinifex. Matt winced. The massif of angry brown trod closer. It paused, pawing the ground, taunting its human prey.

[Photo 3: Cattle Yard © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

After rubbing his punctured behind, Mr. B scrambled for the tarpaulin and rummaged through the baggage. “Er, d-don’t worry Matt. I-I’ll charge this bull before it s-sh-shoots — er — us.”

“But, Dad, the bull doesn’t have a gun.”

“Well, neither do we, we’ll just have to be satisfied with this boomerang and spear, till I find the damn gun.”

The bull stalked, narrowing the gap. The son clambered up the tree and gasped as his father fought with a rucksack that had entangled his legs, while he waved the pathetic weapons above his head.

[Photo 4: Mr. B wishing his nemesis “subdu-a-bull” © S.O. Gross circa 1945]

“But Dad, they’re only souvenirs.”

“Why Matt, how can you say such a thing? Where do you think these genuine Australian artefacts are made?” With all his effort, Mr. B thrust the spear at the beast.

“Yes, Dad, sold in Australia, but made in China.” Matt watched as the menacing bulk of fury stomped the ground, dust billowing into a cloud around it. “Too bad the bull doesn’t know the difference.”

“Don’t be sarcastic at a time of crisis, son.” Mr. B flung the boomerang at the charging bull and ducked behind the tucker box. The projectile bounced off the bull’s hide, provoking it into a tumult of frenzy. Grunting like an eight-cylinder engine, he stormed towards its human attacker, screeching to a halt at the edge of the tarpaulin. As the bull glared down at him, Mr. B could smell its leathery breath.

[Photo 5: Meanwhile, Mt. Liebig in afternoon and more generous ghost gum © S.O. Gross circa 1946]

With a nervous smile fixed on his face, the father edged his way to the bean tree and climbed aboard. The bull stomped and snorted around the sacred bean tree while its victims trembled in the lofty branches amongst the beans.

From this vantage point, Mr. B spotted the rifle leaning up against the tucker box. Unfortunately, the bull sat between him in the tree and the tucker box.

Hours passed.

Father and son sat in the tree.

“Dad my bottom hurts,” Matt whined.

Mr. B sighed, “The others’ll be back soon. They have a rifle.”

“But Dad! I have to go!”

“Hold on,” Mr. B snapped.

The sun edged to the horizon.

Mr. B bit his lip wondering if he’d be stuck up this tree forever.

“Dad! I really have to!”

Mr. B turned to his son who was now rocking.

The distant hum rang through the golden landscape. Mr. B adjusted his grip on the branch.

The hum became louder. An engine.

The bull rose and sauntered out of the campsite, then disappeared into the bush.

“Just wait, Matt,” Mr. B said. He scrambled down the tree and grabbed the rifle.

Matt’s voice floated down. “Dad, it’s too late.”

As the sun disappeared below the horizon, the rest of the T-Team returned to find Mr. B clutching a rifle and pacing the clearing. Matt remained lodged high up in the bean tree.

“As you can see, while you’ve been climbing your mountain, we’ve had a not-so-welcome visitor,” Mr. B remarked.

[Photo 6: Mt. Liebig at sunset © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

“Somehow, I think the B-family will be taking a guided bus tour next time they go for a holiday,” I muttered to Rick.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019; updated 2023

Feature Painting: Mt. Liebig in watercolour © L.M. Kling 2017

***

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Wandering Wednesday–Brachina Gorge, Flinders Ranges

T-Team: Young and Restless in Brachina Gorge

It could’ve been Good Friday; most probably was. One thing was for certain, it was the Easter long weekend, when throngs of city folk in South Australia head for the outback to camp. My brother and I joined our youth group friends on a camping trip to Brachina Gorge, Flinders Ranges. Ah, those were the days!

[Photo 1: Road to Brachina © L.M. Kling 1983]

Another thing was for sure. We had reached Brachina Gorge after a long day of driving and everyone was, let’s just say, less than civil with each other. At least no kangaroos had been slaughtered by car, no copious amounts of beer had been drunk in the car, and thus no unfortunate accidents causing us to escape the car had happened either. Not like some Easter in the future when the T-Team explored Chambers Gorge.

[Photo 2: Approaching Brachina Gorge © L.M. Kling circa 1983]

So, late Good Friday afternoon, we stopped in Brachina Gorge just before the track became too suspension-crunching rough.

B Calm sautéed his dehydrated rice on his personal gas cooker. He wasn’t grumpy.

I peered at the sizzling stubs of rice and deliciously smelling onion. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked.

‘Cooking,’ B Calm replied.

‘Looks good.’ I mused how B Calm could settle down and cook his dinner. The rest of the crew bumbled about the narrow sandy rise above the riverbed, searching for a decent-sized patch to plant their tents.

[Photo 3: In search of a tent site in Brachina Gorge © L.M. Kling 1983]

Storm bowled past B Calm. ‘This place is rubbish! Can’t we move on?’

B Calm ignored Storm and continued frying. The cliffs of the gorge shimmered salmon-pink in the late afternoon sun.

[Photo 4: Brachina Cliffs late afternoon © L.M. Kling 1983]

Storm paced in front of B Calm. He moaned, ‘There’s nowhere to put a tent up! Who chose this place?’

The culprit, my brother, also ignored this feedback. He hovered over the rock pool, searching for his tucker tonight. Yabbies.

[Photo 5: Tributary Creek in Brachina © L.M. Kling 1999

]

‘Any luck?’ B Calm called.

‘Nup,’ Rick replied. ‘But I just caught a tadpole.’ He then tipped back his head, opened wide his mouth and popped the tadpole in.

[Photo 6: Rock Pools in Brachina where yabbies and tadpoles thrive © L.M. Kling 1999]

‘Ew! Yuk!’ the girls, Summer and Autumn screamed. ‘That’s disgusting!’

Triv sniggered.

After a gulp, Rick shuddered. ‘A bit too salty.’

Storm stumbled past. ‘This place stinks!’

‘Find us a better place then,’ Rick replied.

[Photo 7: In search of Camping Paradise © L.M. Kling 1983]

Storm stomped down the road that led further into the gorge and disappeared around the bend. The sun, by this time had slunk below the horizon to light up other parts of the Earth. Twilight lingered, dusting wisps of cloud in shades of crimson.

[Photo 8: Sundown in Brachina © L.M. Kling 1999]

B Calm glanced in the direction of Storm’s venture. ‘He’ll be back.’

Sure enough, as the twisted bushes on the neighbouring ridge turned to ink against the fading sunset, Storm returned. ‘Still reckon this place is a dump,’ he muttered.

[Photo 9: Silhouettes of sunset in Brachina © L.M. Kling 1999]

For the rest of us, the ancient mystery of the Brachina cliffs had convinced us to stay put. Tents lined the banks of the creek. And our small group of friends gathered around the roaring fire, sausages sizzling in frypans and billies boiling for a cup of tea. Brachina, and the campsite Rick had chosen, was more than good enough for us.

[Photo 10: Campfire of content © L.M. Kling 1983]

‘Maybe we’ll move on in the morning,’ Rick promised; more to allay any remaining discontent, than a firm promise.

[Photo 11: Ancient mystery of Brachina Gorge © L.M. Kling 1999]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2020; update 2023

Feature Photo: Sunset on Brachina © L.M. Kling 1999

***

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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

***

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T-Team Series–Stuck in the Finke

The T-Team with Mr B (24)

   [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.

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?

In this episode, the T-Team experience one of the hazards of camping in a creek bed.]

Bogged

The sun peeped over the horizon, its rays causing the river gum leaves to look like they’d burst into flames. The creek was alive with a conference of birds, screeching and chattering over breakfast. I sat up in my sleeping bag and stretched.

*[Photo 1: Another creek bed another time, but the conference of parrots is the same. Conference of parrots, Flinders Ranges © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1983]

 ‘Did you have a good sleep, Lee-Anne?’ Dad asked.

‘Yes, I did. I had a wonderful sleep. It’s just like you say, Dad. The hip hole made all the difference.’

[Photo 2: Speaking from Experience waking up in the Finke River bed © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

During the night, since my air mattress had gone flat, I had dug a hip hole. Dad recommended doing this in place of an air-mattress. He said that the aborigines did this when they slept.

‘That’s good,’ Dad said and then tramped over to the Rover.

When he had disappeared behind the vehicle, I unravelled myself from my bedding, pulled on my boots and shuffled over to the fire joining Richard and Matt, spreading hands over the warmth to continue the process of waking up.

*[Photo 3: Waking up and warming by the fire in Finke Creek Bed © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

 ‘Oh, no!’ Dad cried.

‘What?’ Mr B sat up in his sack. He looked like a red caterpillar with slits for eyes.

‘The Rover’s bogged,’ Dad yelled from behind the Rover.

‘How can you tell?’ Mr B asked.

Dad sighed. ‘Ooh, it doesn’t look good. Told you we shouldn’t’ve camped in a creek bed.’

 ‘Pff!’ Mr B wormed his way out of his sleeping bag and then sauntered over to the Rover, vanishing like Dad behind it.

The men talked in low tones, their voices muffled.

*[Photo 4: Boys will be boys on the Finke © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Richard grabbed his .22 rifle and nodded to Matt who then picked up his. ‘Just going to do some shooting,’ he said and then the two boys walked down the creek. I started to follow them.

‘Lee-Anne!’ Dad called.

I stopped and looked back. ‘What?’

‘Come and help us dig out the Rover’s wheels, would you?’

I put my hands on my hips. ‘Oh, al-right!’

Then I stomped back to the Rover.

Dad huffed and puffed as he shelled out the sand with his bare hands.

*[Photo 5: Our goal, Hermannsburg. Mt Hermannsburg and the Finke. Will we get there?  © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Mr B used the camp shovel. ‘I hope this has been washed and sterilised thoroughly,’ he grunted.

‘Well, um…’

I muttered, ‘Why do the boys get all the fun?’

Both men stopped their shovelling.

Dad glared at me. ‘What did you say?’

‘Er, um, nothing,’ I replied.

‘I don’t want to hear any grumbling, you understand?’ Dad’s voice had an edge to it.

‘No, Daddy.’

‘You should be thankful for the privilege,’ Mr B added.

*[Photo 6: Ah! The privilege of camping on the Finke River © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘Yes, I am.’ Where else would I get the joy of digging the Rover out of a bog of sand? I continued digging.

Mr B stepped away from the Rover. ‘Try the Rover now.’

Dad gathered some green leaves and placed them in the cavities under each of the Rover’s tyres. Then he hopped in the driver’s seat and turned on the ignition. The Rover’s engine puttered to life. Dad sat in the idle Rover while it chugged. Then he engaged first gear with a crunch of the clutch.

He stuck his head out the window. ‘Get behind and push.’

Mr B and I laid hands on each side of the Rover’s back end and as Dad pressed down on the accelerator, we pushed. Four wheels spun. Sand and leaves sprayed us.

‘Push, girl!’ Mr B shouted.

‘I’m pushing!’ Sand smattered my face. ‘It’s no use!’

Dad switched off the engine. He jumped out the Rover and marched to the rear tyres. He then knelt and dug deeper under the tyres. ‘Get some more leaves and small branches!’ he cried.

*[Photo 7: Meanwhile, the boys seemed to have escaped responsibility. But Rick’s day of reckoning will come…© L.M. Kling 2013]

Mr B and I scrambled up the bank and gathered armfuls of fallen branches. When we returned, Dad was smoothing out the holes under the back tyres. He also had placed twigs and small branches under the front tyres. We added our offerings to the holes below the back tyres and Dad patted them down. He’d also deflated the tyres a little.

Dad climbed into the driver’s seat. ‘We’ll try again.’

This time with Mr B and me pushing, the Rover’s tyres spun, then caught and jerked out of the bog. Dad sped up the dry river bed and parked on firmer ground. He then returned. Dusting his hands, he said, ‘Alright, Lee-Anne, after I’ve pumped up the tyres again, we’ll be ready to go. Go get the boys. We’re off to Alice Springs.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; Updated 2018

*Feature Photo: Red Walls and the Finke near Hermannsburg © C.D. Trudinger, circa 1955

***

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 Series–Mustering Conversation

The Parrot of Curtin Springs

  [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?

This time Dad promises Mr. B rabbit stew for dinner.

Rick and I scrambled off the Rover’s roof-rack.

‘Race ya to the birds,’ I yelled and then ran down the side of the Curtin Springs store to the aviary.

Rick and Matt raced past me. ‘Beat ya!’ Rick called back.

The parrot squawked. ‘G’day mate!’

Matt laughed and said, ‘Hey, you got the bird to talk, Rick.’

‘Aren’t I clever,’ my brother said.

‘How did you do that?’ I approached the cage. ‘G’day mate.’

The parrot cocked its head.

In a falsetto voice, I said, ‘Hello cocky.’

The bird bobbed its head.

The boys laughed.

I persisted in a high-pitched tone. ‘Polly wants a cracker?’

The bird ambled over to me and then bit the wire of the cage, its blue tongue thrusting out its beak.

*[Photo 1: White cockatoos abound all over Australia. Here’s some in Sturt Gorge near my home. © L.M. Kling 2018]

‘Hello cocky,’ I sang.

The bird stopped nibbling the wire and then clawed its way along the cage away from me.

‘You just don’t have the touch,’ Rick said.

Matt sniggered.

Dad, his thumbs hooked in the belt loops of his trousers, strode up to us. ‘How about a soft drink? My shout.’

Rick shouted, ‘Soft drink!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ Mr. B who stood behind Dad, clapped. ‘Very funny!’

The parrot screeched. ‘G’day mate!’

*[Photo 2: White cockatoos close-up © L.M. Kling 2018]

I glared at Rick. ‘How did you do that?’

‘I have the touch,’ Rick said.

Dad marched into the store. A few minutes later, he emerged cradling five cans of lemon flavoured soft drink. ‘The petrol’s cheaper here than at Ayres Rock. And so is the steak. It’s from the cattle they have on the station.’

*[Photo 3: Cattle like these but near Gosses Range © L.M. Kling 2013]

The parrot cocked its head and watched us guzzle our drinks.

Rick wiped the sticky drops from his chin and sighed. ‘Ah, a real man’s drink!’

Dad licked his lips and then held up his finger. ‘You wait here. I won’t be long.’

We watched Dad disappear through the store door.

Mr. B raised his hand to his mouth, then after a discreet burp, he muttered. ‘No chance of egg soup tonight, I hope.’

I turned to the parrot. ‘G’day mate.’

The parrot squawked.

‘You just don’t have the touch,’ Rick said.

Matt giggled.

*[Photo 4: The Parrot of Curtin Springs (somewhere in the cage) and me © R.M. Trudinger 1977]

Dad returned, this time carrying a baby-sized packet wrapped in white butcher’s paper. ‘The Rover’s been fed, and we’ll have a feed tonight.’

‘That better not be eggs and soup,’ Mr. B snapped.

Dad pursed his lips as if some bird he’d swallowed was about to burst out. ‘Rabbit. I bought rabbit for stew. There’s lots of rabbits around these parts.’

‘What?’ Mr. B’s face flushed crimson. ‘I thought you were going to buy steak.’

Dad did that kissing motion with his lips and then in a level voice said, ‘Rabbit steak. It’s cheap.’

Rick turned away from Mr. B’s line of sight and wheezed with suppressed giggles.

The parrot flared its crest and screeched. ‘G’day mate.’

‘You did it again!’ I cried.

Rick snorted and laughed.

‘What’s so funny?’ Mr. B asked.

Dad patted Mr. B’s back. ‘It’s steak, mate. Beef steak. The best you’ll get around these parts. Curtin Springs runs a cattle station, you know.’

*[Photo 5 & 6: Rounding up Cattle in Central Australian Cattle Yard © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

‘You had me going there, for a while,’ Mr. B said.

‘Huh?’ I looked from Dad, to Mr. B, and then to Rick. ‘But you said, we’re having rabbit stew.’

‘Dad was joking, but we could shoot some rabbits or birds at Palmer River, if you don’t want steak,’ my brother said.

The parrot glared at Rick. ‘What?’

‘You did it again!’

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

 *Feature Painting: Mustering Cattle © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2014

[Curtin Springs, 100 km east of Uluru, still operates as a cattle station. Its owners, the Severin family, have been running the station since 1956.]

***

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 Series–Uluru Sunset Lost

The T-Team With Mr B (21)

ULURU SUNSET—Lost

 [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.

This time, the customary viewing of an icon of Australia, doesn’t quite go to plan.]

Dad meant what he said; he believed we, as the T-Team were travellers, not tourists. So, when the sun began its journey to the other side of the earth, and edged towards the western horizon, Dad drove further west and far away from the popular tourist haunts for the sunset on the Rock.

‘Don’t go too far,’ Mr. B said as he glanced back at the diminishing size of the Rock. ‘I want a red rock of considerable size.’

‘I know what I’m doing,’ Dad replied.

But every vantage point that we considered photo-worthy, so did clusters of tourists. The ants may have been heading for bed, but the road west of Uluru swarmed with sightseers scrambling over the landscape to capture that momentous event of the sunset on Uluru.

*[Photo 1: Two blokes waiting for Uluru to turn © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

‘I hope we’re not going to miss Uluru turning red, ‘cos that’s what I came here to see,’ Mr. B said.

‘Plenty of time,’ Dad said. ‘Trust me.’

‘I’ll hold you to that promise, mate.’

Dad sighed and then turned into the next available place to park the Rover.

Mr. B glanced at his gold watch. ‘I mean to say, it’s nearly six o’clock. The sun sets at six, doesn’t it?’

We joined the tourists in the small clearing to take the Uluru-at-sunset-photos. There’s one snap I took of two travellers admiring the Rock as it deepened in colour, more a rusty-red, than the scarlet I’d seen on calendars. So, it’s taken with an instamatic camera and the quality is pitiful compared to the chocolate-box number my grandpa took in the 1950’s, but I reckon it captures the atmosphere.

*[Photo 2: Nothing like the Uluru sunset my Grandpa took © S.O. Gross circa 1950]

‘Enough of these tourists,’ Richard grumbled. Clutching his polaroid camera, he stormed up the nearest hill.

‘Wait!’ I called and raced after him.

My brother ignored me and quickened his stride. I tried to catch up but soon tired of his fast pace. I watched him vanish behind some spinifex bushes and decided his quest for tourist-free photos was pointless. I gazed at the Rock squatting behind waves of sand-hills and bushes. The view’s going to be just as good, if not better by the road and the masses, I thought and rushed back to Dad before the sun went down too far and the Rock had lost its lustre.

*[Photo 3: I mean, where’s the colour?? © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Uluru faded from clay-red to a dull grey and the tourist congregation thinned, trickling away in their cars and buses towards the camping ground situated east of the Rock.

‘Is that it?’ I quizzed Dad. The Uluru at sunset in my mind had been spectacular in its failure to deliver. ‘Why didn’t it turn bright red?’

[Photo 4: You mean, like this? Picture perfect, chocolate box in 2013 © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘You need clouds for that. Clouds make all the difference,’ Dad said, his lips forming a beak. ‘Glad my camera’s out of action and I didn’t waste film on it.’

‘You mean, the Rock doesn’t always turn red?’

‘No, it’s the clouds that make the difference.’

‘What on the Rock?’

‘No, to the west, where the sun sets.’

*[Photo 5: Yeah, clouds like the ones we had in 2013 © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘But the photo of a red Ayres Rock taken by Grandpa had clouds around it.’

‘Yeah, well, there would’ve been clouds in the west too,’ Dad explained. ‘See, the sky is clear tonight, so that’s it for the Rock.’

‘Disappointing! A very poor show, ol’ friend.’ Mr. B sauntered past us with Matt tagging behind. ‘Come on, we better get to camp. Don’t want to be cooking in the dark. Don’t want the likes of egg soup again.’

Dad peered into the distant black lumps of hills. ‘Where’s Richard?’

I stared into the thickening darkness. No Richard. ‘Dunno, went into the sand-hills,’ I said with a shrug.

‘Oh, well, I guess he’s gone for a walk,’ Dad said.

*[Photo 6: So different in 2013—All golden © L.M. Kling 2013]

The Rock became a dull silhouette on the horizon. We packed away our cameras and waited. And waited for Richard. Darkness settled on the land. We waited some more. The icy cold of the night air seeped into our bones. We waited but he did not appear.

‘Where could he be?’ Dad said and then stormed into the bush.

Minutes later, Dad tramped back to us waiting at the Rover. His search in the nearby scrub was fruitless.

Each one of us stood silent; silent sentinels around the Rover.

‘I hope he’s alright,’ my comment plopped in the well of silence. A chill coursed down my spine. What if an accident had befallen my lost brother? The dark of night had swallowed my brother up.

Dad grabbed the torch from the glove box in the Rover, and then marched back up the sand-hill.

I paced up and down the road. Mr. B folded his arms across his chest and scrutinised the shadows of bush that had now consumed Dad. Matt gazed up at the emerging mass of the Milky Way.

‘I hope they’re okay. I hope Dad finds Richard.’ My chest hurt with the pain of losing my brother.

Mr. B sighed. ‘Probably just a—’

‘What?’ I asked.

‘There they are,’ Mr. B said. ‘All that worry for nothing. You’ll get grey hairs if you keep worrying like that.’

I pulled at my hair and then raced up to my brother. ‘Where were you?’

‘I went out along the dunes. I kept walking and walking trying to find a good spot,’ Richard said.

Dad chuckled. ‘And when he did, he waited for the Rock to turn red.’

*[Photo 7: More of the “Red” Rock close up © L.M. Kling 2013]

For the night we camped in an aboriginal reserve seven miles out of the Uluru—Kata Tjuta Reserve. In preparation for the trip, Dad had successfully applied for permission to camp there. This time Dad and I had two fires going each side of us as the previous night was so cold that I had little sleep. We hoped that two fires would be better than one to keep the chills away. Mr. B and his son Matt on the other hand, settled for one shared fire and superior fibres of their expensive sleeping bags to keep the cold out.

And Richard, after all his effort to scare us by almost getting lost, buried himself in his rather ordinary cotton sleeping bag, next to his single fire, and was the first one, after our rather simple rice dinner, to be snoring away, lost in the land of nod.

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

*Feature Photo: Sunset on the Rock © Lee-Anne Marie Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977

Find out how, in the previous episode, Mr. B’s urging to climb Mt. Olga went. Click on the link here to my original blog…

***

Get ready for some holiday reading or begin planning your escape to adventure in the centre of Australia.

Click the link below:

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981,

To download your Amazon Kindle copy of the story…

And escape in time and space to Centre of Australia 1981…

T-Team Series–Bush Tucker Mr. T Style

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

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

Egg Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What’s in there?’ I asked.

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

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

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

‘Alright.’

I sipped my soup and stirred the pot.

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

‘Come on, drink up,’ Dad commanded.

The boys dutifully slurped up their soup.

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

‘Oh, no, not at all!’ Dad replied.

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

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

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

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

‘What for?’

‘Don’t ask, just check, would you!’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poor Dad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Read more of Dad’s culinary disasters and successes…

Click here on

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…

T-Team Series–Ernabella

Meandering in the Musgraves

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

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

Deserted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘School holidays, I guess,’ I remarked.

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

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

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

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

‘Except for the gravel,’ Rick mumbled.

Matt sniggered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What do you think it is?’

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

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

‘Yeah, okay.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt sniggered.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

***

Want more?

More than before?

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

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

T-Team Series—Approaching Ernabella

Broken Cars, Broken Trailer

T-Team with Mr. B (6)

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

Here’s how it all began…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Fair enough.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt’s only response, a smirk.

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

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

Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!

‘What’s that noise?’ Mr. B shouted.

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

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

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

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

Rick shrugged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Yes.’

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

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

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

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

‘Yes, most likely,’ Dad replied.

‘Even if we hide it in the bush?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

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

***

Want more?

More than before?

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

Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

T-Team Series–Corrugations Camping, and Indulkana

T-Team with Mr. B (6)

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

Here’s how it all began…]

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

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

Fruitless Foray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘We’ll eat when we get there.’

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

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

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

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

‘I don’t know,’ Dad said.

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

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

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

Rick lowered his gun.

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

Dad sighed. ‘Very well, then.’

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

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

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

‘Okay,’ I replied.

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

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

‘What do I shoot?’ I asked Rick.

‘Rabbits. Kangaroos. Birds.’

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

Rick shrugged.

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

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

The flock of parrots squawked and scattered.

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

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

‘Oh, sorry.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

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

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981