T-Team Series–Hermannsburg

T-Team with Mr B

Hermannsburg

[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, the T-Team arrive at Hermannsburg.]

Dad held up Hermannsburg as the Holy Grail; some marvellous place that, every time he mentioned it, his eyes misted over, and he’d whisper the name with a sigh. Hermannsburg, the Lutheran Mission, founded in 1877 by those intrepid Lutheran Missionaries, Kempe and Schwartz, from the mission house of the same name in Germany. Hermannsburg saved by the stalwart missionary Carl Strehlow from 1894 to 1922. Hermannsburg, where my grandfather lived for 18 years with his wife and growing family. Hermannsburg where my Dad came to teach in the 1950’s and where he met and married my mum.

[Photo 1: View from a hill of Hermannsburg © S.O. Gross circa 1940’s]
[Photo 2: Dad as teacher at Hermannsburg © S.O. Gross circa 1955]

My father slowed and manoeuvred the Rover along a bumpy road lined with a cluster of buildings. The Rover’s headlights lit up stone walls of the historic church painted white, and then a house near by framed with a pair of date palm trees and a waist-high cyclone fence.

[Photo 3: Where we stayed is now known as “The Historic Precinct”. (All repainted and revamped in 2021.) My dream to see inside Mum’s old home © L.M. Kling 2021

]

‘We’re here,’ Dad said. He stopped the Rover.

A man pushed open the gate, and stepping up to us, he waved, pointing at the house opposite. ‘Ah!’ Dad started up the engine and then parked the Rover in front of that house.

‘Is that where Mummy used to live?’ I asked.

‘Nah, I don’t think so,’ Dad replied.

‘Can I get to see Mummy’s house?’

‘In the morning, it’s a bit dark now.’

‘Is someone living in it?’

‘I don’t know. I’ll ask—Um, Gary Stoll.’ Dad opened the Rover door and jumped out. ‘Come on, don’t just sit there.’

[Photo 4: The dream yet to be fulfilled, me in front of Mum’s old home © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

The rest of the T-Team climbed out of the Rover, and gathered around Dad and Mr. Stoll, the resident missionary. After introductions, greeting and shaking hands with the missionary, he showed us to our accommodation, one of the original Hermannsburg homesteads which was directly opposite my Mum’s old home. This homestead was built many decades ago as the old hospital.

[Photo 5: Misty memories of fun in the old days. Tug-of-war © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Gary’s wife appeared at the door of the cottage. She wiped her hands on her floral apron. ‘Come on, I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping.’

‘Good,’ said Mr. B, ‘I’m looking forward to sleeping in a proper bed. You wouldn’t believe what we’ve had to put up with over the past two weeks.’

Mrs. Stoll chuckled. ‘What? No motels?’ Under her apron, her tummy jiggled up and down. She reminded me of my grandma. Similar sense of humour. Necessary, I guess.

[Photo 6: Mount Hermannsburg is a prominent landmark © L.M. Kling 2021]
[Photo 7: Hermannsburg is near the Finke River. Finke in flood, a rare occasion © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

Mr. B pursed his lips. ‘No, just creeks.’

‘Creeks?’ Mrs. Stoll laughed. ‘Luxury!’

Dad joined in. ‘That’s what I told him. Hey, mate, I thought you liked the one at Palmer River.’

‘Hmm! It was passable…except for the snakes.’ Mr. B scooped up his sleeping bag and sauntered off to his allocated room.

Mrs. Stoll showed me my room. The cold of night seeped into the old stone house. After she left me, I gazed at the limestone walls all lumpy and painted white. I shivered and then dumped my bag on the bed, the mattress looking equally as lumpy under army-grey blankets. Oh, well, it’s a bed. I glanced at the floor, threadbare carpet raked over the stone floor. I took a deep breath of musty air and coughed. I decided to keep my shoes on. I stood still and stared out into the blackness. It’s so quiet; like a ghost town. Was mum’s house like this one?

[Photo 8: Possibly the same accommodation we stayed in. Luxury! From an earlier time, one of the many visitors © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

I dared not look up at the high ceiling before walking to the door, pushing the knob of the old brown Bakelite switch down and checking that the naked globe dangling from the ceiling had gone off.

In the lounge room, I sank into an armchair of an ancient lounge suite, chunky and tan velvet. I leaned forward and pestered Dad. ‘Can you ask if I can see mum’s old home?’

9.
10.
[Photo 9 & 10: Aspects of Hermannsburg Precinct: Brickwork in Mum’s old home (9) and The Machine in the Museum (10) © L.M. Kling 2013]

Dad sighed. ‘I’ll see what I can do.’

The T-Team trooped over to the mission house where we’d been invited for tea. Now, the thing about missionaries was their hospitality. Mrs. Stoll put on a spread. I mean, a banquet; an immaculate display on an antique oval table covered with white linen—Roast beef, well, it was cattle country. Fresh from our host’s garden: roast potatoes, just like my grandma’s all crisp and crunchy on the outside and juice and fluffy on the inside, boiled peas, carrots and cauliflower. Then, dessert, ice-cream, and apple crumble for which I always keep room. Satisfied I rubbed my stomach. Yep, our digs may be crumbling, but the food, the wonderful food, the amazing food. My stomach ached with pleasure from all the delicious food.

[Photo 11: A spread like this © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

‘This is the best meal ever!’ Mr. B said, then he leaned forward to Mr. Stoll, ‘Better than the egg soup we had to endure with my mate here.’ He pointed at Dad.

Dad blushed.

Mrs. Stoll strode through the door, her arms cradling tray of potato kuchen, steam rising above the strudel, and the aroma of cake filling the dining room.

She moved around table offering the cake. I took a piece. But then, while the others devoured theirs and asked for more, I stared at mine, willing a cake-shaped hole to form in my stomach to fit this delicious morsel in.

‘What’s the matter?’ Dad asked.

Richard eyed my cake, his fat fingers in pincer-mode ready to snatch.

‘I want it, but I can’t fit it in.’

‘Eyes too big for your stomach,’ Mr. B said.

I nodded.

Richard pounced. In one fluid movement, the cake vanished, and my brother leaned back, wiped the crumbs from his mouth and patted his tummy.

‘Don’t worry,’ Mrs. Stoll said, ‘we have plenty more cake. I’ll put aside some for you for supper.’

[Photo 12: Classic Hermannsburg sunset © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955]

We had the luxury of staying up until midnight, that night. Dad and Mr. B chatted with the missionary couple, while Richard, Matt and I played cards, and ate cake. I hoped Dad would ask the question: Can I visit my mum’s old house?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2018

Feature Photo: Historic Church Hermannsburg © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013

***

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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,

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T-Team Series–The Olgas, Windy Gorge

 [The last few weeks I have been revisiting our adventures with Mr. B. This time an excursion to the back of the Olgas turned messy in the back of the Rover…]

THE SPILT PEANUTS OF WINDY GORGE

Dad huffed and puffed as he hauled his weary body into the Rover.

‘Windy gorge, I gather the wind must’ve dried up all the waterholes,’ Mr B said with a chuckle.

I interrupted. ‘But, but the views were amazing, weren’t they, Richard?’

My brother nodded.

‘Why, it’s like something out of Lost in Space. All those boulders. And they’re so red. What about that plum pudding one? I hope that one of you and Dad with it in the background turns out.’

*[Photo 1: Plum Pudding, view from the top of Walpa Gorge © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Dad gulped water from his canteen, then when he had finished, he wiped drops from his chin. ‘Ah, well. I was looking forward to a nice swim.’

‘Never mind, old mate, we got some good photos. You must admit, the scenery is spectacular, better than Ayres Rock, I dare say.’ Mr B patted his son on the back. ‘Don’t you agree, ma boy?’

Matt stared at the ground and kicked a stone. ‘But Dad, Mr T promised.’

‘I know, I know. As I was saying at the Rock the other day, the place needs more accommodation for the tourists. A pool, that’s what they need, a pool.’

‘Not on Ayres Rock, though,’ I said.

‘Well, maybe the Olgas needs one,’ Mr B laughed. ‘Your Dad certainly thinks so. Why we’ve just spent a good two hours searching for one.’

*[Photo 2: Windy Gorge: Rick remembers the promise of a waterhole that never was © L.M. Kling 2013]

Dad looked at the scarlet sand, his gaze wandering left and right as if hunting for ants. He cleared his throat. ‘Okay, everyone, in the truck. We’ll go ‘round the Olgas a bit.’

After savouring the water from our canteens, we piled into the Rover, the elders in the front and us young ones in the back. Dad drove us further around the base. As the Rover lumbered along the dirt track, I grazed on my bag of peanuts. Dad hit an almighty bump. Wheels and axle crunched. We bounced up.

*[Photo 3: Tour around the back of the Olgas © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

‘Oops!’ I cried. We crashed down. My bag of peanuts flew all over the back cabin.

Richard looked at me and shook his head. ‘You’ll get in trouble.’

I scuffed the scattered nuts under my shoes. ‘Nah, the back’s a mess, how would Dad know?’

‘He will, trust me.’

The Rover wheezed to a stop.

‘Alright, let’s see if we can find some water here,’ Dad said. The driver’s door creaked open. His boots thudded on the soft sand. Dad pulled open the back cabin door and light flooded into the dark, exposing the messy interior.

Dad’s face turned as red as the Olgas and he roared, ‘What have you done?’

‘It’s just a few nuts,’ I bleated. ‘Sorry.’

‘Right! We can’t go until you cleaned up every last peanut.’

*[Photo 4: Like a Koala–it is a koala and baby in our front yard © L.M. Kling 2011]

I could not get over how much like a koala he appeared; an angry koala. Everyone had to wait while I swept the cabin, purging it of the peanuts. My efforts were not really appreciated as Dad then had to go in and ferret around for more stray peanuts. What was it about those peanuts?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

Photo: Windy Gorge © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013

***

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T-Team Series–Walpa Gorge

The T-Team with Mr B (18)

Without a Certain Person

 [The last few weeks I have been revisiting our adventures with Mr. B. This time without a certain person, the T-Team explore Walpa Gorge…]

At the mouth of Walpa Gorge, Kata Tjuta, we dumped our baggage under a tree, and then advanced up and into the gorge. The heat and flies evaporated as the dank shadows of the gorge’s walls towered over us. I was sure the floor of this gully had never been touched by direct sunlight. We tramped up the narrow path, our voices echoed in the cold air, and our sight adjusted to the blue-grey shade between the boulders.

*[Photo 1: At the entrance to Walpa Gorge © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

We rested where the path vanished into a jumble of rounded rocks, large wrinkled marbles wedged in the narrowing crack of the gully. I gazed back over the plain. The red ochre cliffs of Walpa Gorge framed the pastel strips of pink, blue and lemon-yellow of the land. I snapped a shot.

‘Ah, don’t know if it’ll work out, dear. Too much contrast. You’ll either get the cliffs, or the plain, you won’t get both,’ Dad said.

He was right. When my photos were developed, I’d captured some of the colour on the Walpa Gorge walls, but the land below was invisible, all washed out. One has to be there, in the flesh, and see with one’s own eyes, the true beauty of The Olgas and Walpa Gorge.

*[Photo 2: Walls of Walpa © L.M. Kling 2013]

We negotiated the boulders lodged like marbles in this gully. We struggled up slippery slopes and strained up steep inclines. We paused part way up and admired grandeur of the gorge. The walls glowed a russet red and the golden plains shimmered in the bright midday sun.

‘Come on, not far to go now,’ Dad said. ‘We’ll have lunch when we get there.’

We struggled onwards and upwards. Lichen-covered boulders threatened to thwart our endeavours. But we worked together to over-come the conglomerate of obstacles to finally reach the top-end of the gorge.

[Photo 3: Boulders in the gorge © L.M. Kling 2013]

Over the lip, the view of Kata Tjuta reminded me of an alien landscape as if we’d been transported to another world. Massive boulders and bulbous granite mountains jutted up from the valley. I took photos, but my simple camera could not do justice in reflecting reality of what my eyes could see. We sat on the rocks, and with the breeze cooling our bodies, we savoured the view and a simple lunch of scroggin, a mix of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate.

*[Photo 4: Another alien landscape; view over Windy gorge © L.M. Kling 2013]

After taking several long gulps of water from his canteen, Dad rose, adjusted his pack and said, ‘Okay, time to get back. Mr B will be wondering where we’ve got to.’

Richard, Matt and I stood up and stretched. Then we followed Dad down the narrow, obstacle-ridden gorge.

‘Now, don’t go falling on your bottom, Lee-Anne,’ Dad said.

‘I won’t.’ I was sure I’d be fine; the hike down would surely be easier than hiking up. Not so. A muddy patch greased with moss, caught the heel of my boot. I skidded, slipped and thudded onto my rear.

‘I told you, be careful,’ Dad said.

I stood up and brushed the mud off my bottom. ‘I’m fine.’

Then I trailed after Richard and Matt. No need to have them giggling behind me. I thanked God for small mercies that Mr B wasn’t with us. Imagine what he’d say about my messy backside. I was amazed at how smoothly the whole venture up Walpa Gorge had gone.

*[Photo 5: View from Walpa back over the plain © L.M. Kling 2013]

When we caught up to Dad who was having a rest, Dad whispered to Richard and me, ‘Imagine what Mr B would’ve planned for this gorge.’

‘I’d hate to think,’ I said.

‘Probably some sort of café, I reckon,’ said Richard.

‘Hey, Richard,’ Matt called from a few metres up the side of Walpa’s wall, ‘let’s explore this cave.’ He scrambled up the knobbly side to the cave as if he were a spider.

Richard climbed up to join Matt. They perched at the mouth of the cave and I snapped a shot of them looking out.

‘What’s in there?’ I yelled.

‘Nothing much,’ Richard replied.

‘It’s just a cave,’ Matt said.

‘No art work? No carvings?’

‘Nup.’

‘Must be something,’ I muttered and began mounting the wall to the cave.

‘Careful,’ Dad warned.

The boys edged out of the cave and made their way down back to us on the valley floor.

I continued climbing.

‘You too, Lee-Anne,’ Dad said.

‘Oh, alright!’ I sighed and ambled down to Dad at the base of the gully.

We walked a little further down. I spotted a cave some way up the wall but not as far up as Matt and Richard’s cave. Dad had marched far ahead, so this was my opportunity. Thrusting my camera into Richard’s hands, I crawled up to the cave. The conglomeration of stones melted together allowed me to grasp each foothold and handhold as if the climb were made for me. I then squeezed into the cavity shaped like a slot in a letter box.

*[Photo 6: The Cave © R.M Trudinger 1977]

I examined this small cavity. Richard was right. The recess offered nothing in the way of adventure or excitement. Just another hole in Walpa’s wall. I looked down and spotted a boulder of similar size and shape to the cave. I called out to Richard. ‘Hey, look, there’s the rock that popped out of the cave.’

‘What?’ Richard raised the camera and then clicked one shot. ‘I reckon I got a good one,’ he said. The shot he took featured my legs. My lily-white legs.

With our triumphant return, we entered our base for the day and milled around there. Dad raised his eyes and gazed around the landscape. ‘Hmm, I wonder where Mr B got to?’

Richard shrugged. ‘Beats me.’

‘Ah, well, let’s do some painting, then,’ Dad said.

Dad and Matt set up an impromptu outdoor studio and began painting while waiting for Mr B’s inevitable return. Dad arranged his water-colour paints, secured his paper to a board using masking tape, and then, contemplating the view, the new paper and paints, he folded his hands on his tummy, bowed his head and was soon snoring the flies away from his lips.

 *[Photo 7: Dreaming Mr B’s dream of the future: Wide Road to Walpa © L.M. Kling 2013]

Matt held up his paint brush. ‘What do I do?’

‘I’ll help,’ I said. I picked out a thicker brush, and then most of my afternoon was spent helping Matt paint.

Mr B strolled down the track. He tip-toed up to Dad, head still bent in the art of sleeping.

‘Boo!’ Mr B said.

Dad woke with a start. ‘Who? What? Oh, it’s you.’

‘I found the perfect campsite,’ Mr B announced. ‘No problems with neighbours with this one.’

‘Did you get the flour?’ Dad asked.

Mr B raised his eyes to the sky. ‘Who do you think I am?’

‘Did you?’

‘Of course, ol’ chap. But I dare say, I expect something extraordinary with that flour I went the extra miles, on top of all the travelling I did to find us a better site. Understand?’

‘You haven’t tasted my damper,’ Dad said. ‘And besides, we’ll be feasting on the Bread of Life.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Devotion,’ I piped up. ‘God’s Word.’

‘It is Sunday, after all,’ Dad said.

*[Photo 8: Kata Tjuta sunset © C.D. Trudinger) 1981]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated with photos 2018

*Feature Photo: Water at Walpa © L. M. Kling 2013

***

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

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…

T-Team Series–Tyre Carnage

The T-Team With Mr B (14)

 [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 more carnage to the trailer. This time the tyres take a beating. But there are unexpected rewards for those who wait…]

Tyre Carnage On Way to the Rock

We sailed along on the road to Uluru, the warmth of the sun on our cheeks and breeze in our hair. Sand-hills rolled up and down and then into the distance. Black trunks of ironwood trees flitted past. The Rock made random appearances and disappeared. A wheel flew past and bounced into the bush.

*[Photo 1: Glimpse of Uluru and Kata Tjuta © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

I looked at Richard. ‘What was that?’

‘A tyre.’

‘Where did that come from?’

‘The trailer,’ Richard remarked with a sigh and pointed.

The trailer scudded on its side, red dust billowing all around it.

Richard leaned over the rail and thumped the driver’s window. The Rover eased to a stop and Dad leapt out. ‘What?’

‘The trailer!’ Richard said. ‘Again!’

*[Photo 2: Shredded tyre travails of the T-Team’s travels © L.M. Kling 2013]

The men gathered around the trailer and discussed their options in lowered tones. Dad frowned, he put his hands on his hips and gazed at the ground as Mr. B glared at him.

‘Poor! Very poor for a trailer!’ Mr. B muttered. ‘What are we going to do about it, mate?’

Dad shifted his feet and then with his boot scuffed the stones. ‘I don’t know. What do you reckon, Richard?’

Richard shrugged.

‘I say, laddie, can you find that tyre?’ Mr. B asked.

‘It’s long gone,’ Richard said. ‘But I’ll try.’

‘They’re expensive.’ Dad kicked the one remaining trailer tyre. The men stared at the one-wheeled trailer as though they were visiting a gravesite.

‘Alright,’ Richard muttered, ‘I’ll go and see if I can find it.’

Richard stomped down the road. He placed his hand above his eyes and peered in the direction the tyre had vanished into the scrub.

Matt caught my gaze. ‘Boring!’

‘Let’s go up that hill and see if we can take a photo of Ayers Rock and the Olgas,’ I said. As we were walking, I conveyed the information I had gleaned from Dad about the Olgas. ‘Did you know, Matt, that the people who own this land call this amazing collection of giant boulders, Kata Tjuta which means “many heads”?’

‘How far are the Olgas from Ayers Rock?’ Matt asked.

‘My dad reckons they are 30 miles west of Uluru,’ I replied. ‘he says we’re going to camp outside the national park, just beyond the Olgas.’

‘Olgas, that’s a funny name.’

 ‘Yeah, it’s German, I think. Dad was telling me that in 1872, the pioneer explorer Ernest Giles discovered them and called them “The Olgas”, after Queen Olga of the German Kingdom of Württemberg.’

 ‘Imagine having a few rocks named after you.’ Matt laughed. ‘The Boulders of Lee-Anne.’

‘Matt’s Massif,’ I joked.

Matt tittered. ‘What about, Richard’s Rock?’

‘Hey, I just remembered, back in Ernabella, there’s a Trudinger Hill. How cool is that?’

‘So, every time, people see those funny rocks and boulders in the distance, they will be reminded of some mouldy old German queen.’

‘Now that you put it that way, sounds a bit odd, us Europeans putting our names on the features of this ancient land. I wonder if they’ll eventually change the names back to what the Pitjantjara peoples call it someday.’

*[Photos 3,4, & 5: Views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta © L.M. Kling 2013]

[Photo 3: Uluru under a cloud © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 4: Uluru’s Flank © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 5: Many Heads of Kata Tjuta © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

We mounted the nearby rise and admired the Rock, bathed in the blue of midday.

‘There are certain advantages to trailers breaking up,’ I remarked.

Matt nodded. ‘Yep, sure are.’

‘It’s like an adventure.’

‘Yep, sure is.’

*[Photo 6: Sunset on Uluru © L.M. Kling 2013]

The men decided to leave the trailer on the side of the road and fix it upon our return when we passed that way. By then we hoped to have the parts and equipment required to reattach the rogue wheel that Richard had found and then hidden underneath the trailer.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018; updated 2022

*Feature Photo: Kata Tjuta (Known as The Olgas until 1993 but by 2002, its name has been officially reverted to its indigenous name, Kata Tjuta) © L.M. Kling 2013

***

Want more? Want to know exactly how many tyres the T-Team trashed?

Why not binge on the T-Team Adventures in the Centre?

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And escape in time and space to the 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

***

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 

T-Team Series–Closer to Ernabella

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

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

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

The Obligatory Wave

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

‘Do you need any help?’ one asked.

Dad waved at them. ‘It’s okay.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

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

***

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