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

***

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 

Or

Get into some outback Science Fiction adventure for free

One day left

To download The Hitch-hiker

Free until Friday 15 April 2022

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

***

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 (5)–Oodnadatta: The Ghan, Telegraph and History

On a Mission to Ernabella

Part 1

[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, as the T-Team reach Oodnadatta, transport up north for the early Australian pioneers is explained…]

Full Steam Ahead North

The first rays of sun peeped over the horizon. Dad attacked the pot of porridge, beating the oats and water into submission. Such a racket woke us. But, when we refused to rise, he stomped around the campsite. There was no choice but to get up and line up for breakfast.

Dad dumped the sloppy oats on our metal plates and then darted around the site as if still charged by hyperactivity from the night before.

*[Photo 1: Trying to wake up © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘With all the effort to rouse us, David, you’ve made the porridge more like oat soup than porridge.’ Mr. B had a sour expression on his face as he sipped his porridge. He finished a mouthful and added, ‘I dare say, ol’ chap, what’s all this running around?’

‘I want us to get to Ernabella today,’ Dad said.

‘Can’t we just take it easy? I’m still adjusting to the inferior sleeping arrangements.’ Mr. B massaged his back as if emphasising the pains that he endured.

‘We only have two and a half weeks and a full schedule,’ Dad replied. ‘We have to keep moving if we want to fit everything in.’

‘I mean to say, when you invited us on this camp, I didn’t think it’d be a boot camp.’

Dad ignored Mr. B’s comment and continued to collect the plates and utensils on the tarpaulin.

With Dad’s urging, we packed up, piled into the Rover and then flew out onto the bumpy road by 7.20am. Back then in 1977, in that part of the outback of South Australia, all roads were unsealed, and just wide ruts in the red sand. Even the main highway, the Stuart Highway, was yet to be bituminised in South Australia.

*[Photo 2: Unsealed roads of the outback © M.E. Trudinger circa 1956]

As we approached Oodnadatta, Dad said, ‘I think we’ll get petrol here. It’s a long way still to Ernabella, and then when we go to Mt. Woodroffe, so we need supplies. We don’t know if we can get petrol at Ernabella or how much it’ll cost.’

We rolled into Oodnadatta, a town where its handful of houses and the hotel lined the main road.

Dad pointed at the trainline running parallel to the road. ‘See that railway track? That’s the Ghan Railway.’

‘Was that the train Mum took to go to college as a boarder in Adelaide?’ I asked.

‘That’s the one, although, there’s no train on it at present.’ Rick always had to correct me.

‘It looks ancient.’ I replied and then added the escape clause to avoid the shame of being wrong. ‘Sort of.’

‘Been there for almost 100 years.’ Dad said with authority. ‘The trains used to only go as far as Oodnadatta until 1929, when they extended the line to Alice Springs.’

*[Photo 3: Mum (3rd from left), her mother and sisters first trip on the Ghan © S.O. Gross 1939]

Matt pointed. ‘What are those stobie poles doing so far out bush?’

‘That’s the telegraph, ma boy,’ Mr. B said. ‘Before they had these poles and wires here, people in Australia could only communicate by post.’

‘When did that happen?’

‘Er, um…’ Dad said. ‘Just over a hundred years ago, I think.’

‘The telegraph started operating in 1972, and the railway track, known then as the Great Northern Railway, was opened in 1878, to be precise.’ Holding open the strip map and guide, Rick sniffed and continued reading. ‘It got called the Ghan later after the Afghan Cameleers who used to trek up north before the trainline was built.’

 ‘Trust Rick to have to be so exact.’ I rolled my eyes. ‘Pity we missed the 100th anniversary of the Ghan, or whatever it was called back then.’

*[Photo 4: Telegraph Station © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

Dad parked the Rover by the petrol pumps, near the hotel, where we climbed out of our vehicle’s comfort zone and into the heat. I blew my nose. Red dirt stained my handkerchief. I stretched my legs that ached from sitting cramped in the rear cabin of the Rover.

Dad pumped petrol into the Rover’s tank, and Jerry Cans. Dad wisely carried extra petrol in Jerry Cans to ensure that we didn’t run out of petrol; such were the long stretches of desolate land where towns and petrol stations are scarce.

*[Photo 5: The Ghan at a distance © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

Rick and I walked across the road. The few people we saw loitered in the shade. An emaciated dog sauntered out of the bushes.

‘I really feel like we’re out in the desert here,’ I said.

‘Yeah, the people look exhausted,’ Rick said.

Dad yelled, ‘We’re ready to go!’

‘Can’t we get a drink?’ Rick asked.

‘It’ll be dear, here,’ Dad said. ‘We have cordial.’

As Dad, Rick and I sipped cordial from our plastic cups, Mr. B and his son stepped out from the hotel. They each clutched a can of soft drink. They slurped their drinks with relish.

‘I finalised the bill,’ Mr. B said.

‘Thank you,’ Dad replied.

*[Photo 6 and Feature: Camel Train © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

© 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 Next Generation–Drive to Woomera

Woomera

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

Over the past year, I have taken you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.

This time, with the trip coming to a close, the T-K Team continue their return to Adelaide heading for Woomera in the rain.]

Part 1

Cheeky Campers

So, out of toilet parole we escaped Coober Pedy, destination Woomera. I drove.

‘We’re running late,’ Anthony grumbled.

‘Ah, we’ll only arrive after dark,’ I replied. ‘Let’s get a cabin in the caravan park if we can.’

‘And, if we can’t?’

‘I don’t fancy camping in this weather. I guess we’ll sleep in the Ford, if we can’t.’

‘Hmmm. I doubt we’ll be able to get a cabin; we haven’t booked.’

‘We’ll take our chances.’

Drops of rain splattered our windscreen.

[Photo 1: Desert in the rain © L.M. Kling 2013]
[Photo 2: Approaching rain clouds © L.M. Kling 2013]

A large lake loomed to the left of the highway.

‘What lake is that?’ I asked.

Anthony read the sign. ‘Lake Hart.’

We pulled into the rest area come viewpoint to have a break and take some photos. The sun had neared the horizon casting the salty waters of Lake Hart in hues of pink and lemon.

[Photo 3: Lake Hart and some rain in the distance © L.M. Kling 2013]

Some free campers had built fires beside their campervans. One couple had pitched their tent underneath the canopy of the Information Kiosk.

Anthony glanced at the tent and then muttered, ‘Not sure if you’re allowed to do that.’

‘Perhaps a ranger will come along and tell them off.’

‘Nah, probably not.’

‘I guess we’ll never know. We better get a move on to Woomera to try our luck.’ I adjusted my hold of the camera. ‘After I take a few more shots while there’s a break in the clouds.’

[Photos 4&5: Sunset on Lake Hart © L.M. Kling 2013]

By the time we reached Woomera, the town was shrouded in darkness and rain fell steadily. Light still shone from the Caravan Park manager’s cabin. We entered through the unlocked sliding door and rang the bell. The manager appeared with a smile on their face.

No trouble getting a cabin. They explained that normally cabins were filled with workers from the nearby Roxby mine. But this night there were a few vacant cabins. We were fortunate.

Ah! Luxury! After all, we needed some TLC after no sleep the night before. The simple one room cabin with queen-sized bed, kitchen facilities, an en suite bathroom and toilet to the side, and television would do just fine.

I cooked pasta with canned spaghetti sauce, corn and chopped up spam. For dessert, canned pears and custard.

Anthony was in his element as he propped himself up on the bed and watched the football.

[Photo 6: Aussie rules footy © L.M. Kling 1986]

10pm, I woke with a start. Beside me Anthony, head bowed snored while the football commentators bantered. ‘You’re snoring!’ I mumbled. Anthony smacked his lips and sank down into the bedding.

I switched off the TV and snuggled into the warmth of the quilt and Anthony. With the sound of rain pattering on the roof, once more, we fell into a deep and satisfying sleep.

[Continued, last chapter next week…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022

Feature photo: Last rays of the sun on Lake Hart © L.M. Kling 2013

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T-Team Series–Climbing Mt. Conner

Picnic on the Plateau

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

At midday Dad, my two cousins (C1 and C2), and I set off to conquer Mt. Conner. My brother stayed back at camp to nurse his sore feet and our family friend, TR to recover from his Uluru climb. All that hype from Dad about a perilous and impossible ascent to the plateau was highly exaggerated. We followed a euro (rock wallaby) track, although rocky, had no loose rocks and the spinifex was sparse.

*[Photo 1: The prospect of climbing Mt. Conner © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

We reached the plateau in ninety minutes. After hiking through the bush for ten minutes, we found a clearing. Dad lit a small fire. We cooked damper and boiled water for tea. So, for lunch we enjoyed sardines, peanut butter and jam on our damper, and washed down the whole fare with billy tea. I reckon Dad had to reassert his glory as chief cook after I’d provided porridge for breakfast while Dad went rabbit hunting—unsuccessful rabbit hunting.

Our stomachs settled, we wandered towards the cliffs.

‘Oh, we’ll be hiking for quite a while,’ Dad said erring on the side of pessimism. ‘The cliffs are five miles away.’

‘Well, what’s this then?’ C1’s voice floated back through a thick wad of tee tree.

We stepped through the wall of scrub. My older cousin lay flat on his stomach peering down a 500-metre drop, his bare back hanging over the edge.

*[Photo 2: Careful, cousin © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

‘Ah, well.’ Dad tiptoed toward the precipice and looked down. ‘You be careful.’

‘I know what I’m doing Uncle.’ C1 inched further over the ledge and snapped a few shots with his camera.

I held my breath as C1’s body edged over the cliff side. I took a photo of his dare-devil act. For most of the time C2 loitered way back by the bushes with his uncle, reluctant to venture too close to the edge. However, I do have a photo of my cousins on a rocky outcrop near the cliff.

*[Photo 3: The drop © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Mid-afternoon, we commenced our return to camp T-Team. Wanting to locate the highest point of Mt. Conner, I made a little detour. Everyone followed.

We stopped in the middle of non-descript scrubland where Dad muttered, ‘We’ve wasted half-an-hour.’

‘Alright then, not much of a summit anyway,’ I said. ‘It’s like Mt. Remarkable in the Southern Flinders; most unremarkable. And no view.’

We trudged down the stony euro path to the plains below.

*[Photo 4: View from the plains © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Our descent took an hour and, as the sun hovered just above the horizon, we arrived back at camp triumphant and exhausted. A box kite constructed out of brown paper hovered above the mulga trees. At the other end of the rough string, in a small sandy patch, Richard tugged at his lofty creation.

The sun squeezed golden rays through high clouds near the horizon. A photo opportunity arose. Soon it’ll be over, I thought, and plucked up Dad’s chunky camera bag and darted towards the bush.

‘Hoy!’ Dad yelled.

I cringed. Just my luck he’ll make me peel those petrol-tainted spuds. ‘What?’ I yelled.

‘Where’re you off to?’

‘I just want to take a photo of the sunset on Mt. Conner with your camera.’

‘Oh, I don’t know about that.’

‘Oh, please!’ I placed the bag on the ground and then clasped my hands together. ‘I’ll be careful.’

‘But…’

‘I won’t go far.’

Dad took two paces towards me. ‘But—um—er—’

‘I’ll be back to help with tea in a minute. I won’t be long.’

‘Oh, alright! Go on then.’ He flung his hand around his face as if shooing a fly. Then he locked eyes with me and shook his index finger at me. ‘But don’t go off the road, do you understand?’

‘Yes, Dad.’

I picked up the bag and skipped through the scrub.

I did have to go off the road in search of a vantage point. All the good high ground happened to be off track. The forest of mulga trees obscured the view of Mt. Conner. I climbed a tree. Dad never said anything about climbing trees. Perched on a branch, I watched the sienna tones on Conner’s cliffs deepen. Then I grew bored and moved to a higher tree.

The sun sank through the clouds and into the horizon. The cliffs turned orange, then soft crimson, and finally, blood red. I snapped each stage with the best shot just after the sun had set, bathing the mesa in crimson.

*[Photo 5: Mount Conner at sunset © L.M. Kling 1981]

Pleased with my photographic efforts, I commenced my descent down the rough branches of the mulga tree. Snap. My foothold broke and crumbled. My lower half scudded a few inches catching on the splintery trunk, while I caught and hung onto the brittle branch above. Dad’s heavy camera dangled like a lead weight compromising my equilibrium, causing me to teeter. I rotated my body, shifted the camera to my side, then, hugging the tree trunk, began climbing down bear-style. The strap got in the way and as I used my elbow to slide it and the camera to my back, I lost my balance and plummeted to the ground.

I picked myself up and checked the camera. The body and lens appeared whole and unscathed. My shirt sleeve was not so fortunate, having been torn by the trauma of the fall. Ah, well, I’ll sew it up some time. I dusted the spinifex needles from the seat of my pants and marched back to camp, arriving just before nightfall. I rolled up my shirt-sleeve hiding my brush with personal catastrophe.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016

Photo: Mt. Conner Sunset © Lee-Anne Marie Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981

***

Want more but still unable travel down under?

Why not take a virtual journey with the T-Team Adventures in Australia?

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

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…

T-Team Series–Mt. Conner

Broken Springs

Have been reviewing The T-Team with Mr. B, the prequel to my first travel memoir, Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981. The updated manuscript has been resting long enough for me to revisit Mr. B and his intrepid adventures with the T-Team. Ready to publish…Maybe in the new year.

The sun sparkled through the gold-green leaves of the river gums, and a flock of white cockatoos chattered in the branches. The air hinted warmth and enticed me out of my sleeping bag to explore. Dad had mentioned we’d be probably camping near Curtain Springs on our journey to Ayers Rock (now called Uluru). But this morning I wanted to check out a spring closer to camp.

[Photo 1: Flock of Parrots © L.M. Kling 1984]

I ambled down the soft sands of the creek bed, past Mr. B wrapped up in his sleeping bag of superior fibres for warmth. He smacked his lips and snored as I trod to the side of him. Matt and Richard stood like the risen dead warming the cold blood in their veins by the fire, offering no help to Dad who stirred the porridge.

‘You sure that’s porridge?’ I asked Dad.

‘Of course it is!’ Dad snapped and then peered into the billy to be sure.

‘Can never be too sure, after egg soup last night,’ I said and kept on walking.

Richard and Matt laughed. First sign of actual life from the boys I’d seen that morning.

Dad called after me. ‘Er, Lee-Anne, where are you going?’

‘For a nature walk.’

‘Oh, don’t be too long, breakfast is almost ready.’

I patted my camera bag. ‘Yes, Dad.’ Just after I’ve checked out the spring to see if the scene was worthy to be photographed. No need to tell Dad that information. He’d just try to persuade me to have breakfast first and then I’d miss the not so early morning photo opportunity.

The creek narrowed, and I scrambled over rocks, pushed through reeds to the spring. Anticipating a pretty pond, with waterlilies, ducks and a kangaroo or two drinking the fresh clear water, I was disappointed. The spring, if you could call it a spring was little more than a pit of slime. A puddle at the end of our driveway at home was more photogenic than this hole filled with muddy water.

After a glance at the so-called spring, I tramped back to camp and ate cold porridge for breakfast.

 [Photo 2: The pond of disappointment © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

After our “business trip” to civilisation, Ernabella, where we collected the trailer, had a shower, filled up with petrol, water and replenished our supplies from the store, we began our travels to Uluru.

On the way a large flat-topped mountain emerged through the red sand dunes.

[Photo 3: Mt Conner © L.M. Kling 2013]

‘Is that Uluru?’ I asked Dad.

‘It’s Mt. Conner. Remember we saw it from Mt. Woodroffe?’

‘How come it’s higher than the land around it?’

‘In Central Australia’s prehistoric past,’ Dad explained, ‘this piece of land kept its integrity while the surrounding area had eroded away. It’s called a mesa.’

I was fascinated by this monolithic plateau. ‘Can we stop and get a photo of it?’

‘When I find a good place to stop,’ Dad said.

He kept on driving up and down the red waves of sand hills, winding left and right, the mesa appearing and disappearing, never quite the perfect view or park for our Rover. We rolled onto the plain and in the distance, Mt. Conner rose above the dunes. Dad parked the Rover at the side of the road and we jumped out. I hiked further up the road. The flat-topped mountain looked so small in the viewer of my instamatic camera.

[Photo 4: Mt Conner, Dad and Rick © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1977]

Dad groaned.

‘What?’ Mr. B asked.

‘The trailer’s cracked up again.’

‘Not again!’ Richard muttered.

‘I’m afraid so,’ Dad said. ‘Can you fix it, Richard?’

The men gathered around the trailer, once again sinking into the ochre sand and leaning on its side.

‘It’s the springs.’ Dad circled it like a shark. ‘Can’t take the rough track.’

‘Hmmm,’ Mr. B grunted, his hands on hips and elbows akimbo.

Richard lay down on the ground and peered up into the trailer’s underside.

Dad sighed. ‘We better unload the trailer, I suppose.’

While the men relieved the ailing trailer of its load and bound up the fissure with some rope, I scaled a small rise and took several shots of Mt. Conner. Then as the males in the T-Team stuffed most of the luggage into the back of the Rover and then with the light left-overs, reloaded the trailer, I gazed at the mesa, this top-sliced mountain in an expanse of yellow grass and sienna dunes. Boring! My photos needed a human figure to add interest. Richard and Matt, having completed their trailer-duties, wandered up the road.

I ran down the hill and chased after Richard. ‘Take a photo of me.’

Richard gazed up at the cobalt blue sky. ‘Oh, alright.’

Positioning myself on the side of the road, I looked at Richard. ‘Come on, I’m ready.’

‘Just wait, move to the right,’ Richard said.

I did and then noticed Richard’s finger hovering over the camera lens. ‘Move your finger.’

He shifted it, but as he snapped the photo, I thought his digit remained too close for comfort to the lens.

To ensure I acquired at least one good shot, I photographed Matt, then Dad and Richard as my humans in the foreground of my mesa muse.

[Photo 5: Mt Conner and me © R.M. Trudinger 1977]

‘Careful you don’t waste your film,’ Dad warned.

‘I won’t,’ I replied without telling him I’d already “wasted” several frames on the wonder of Mt. Conner. How could I resist?

I climbed in the Rover and asked Dad, ‘Can we visit Mt. Conner?’

‘Er, um, not this time.’ Dad had places to be and trailers to properly fix. So the next vital destination on his agenda was Curtain Springs.

To be continued…

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; new and improved 2018; updated 2021

Photo: Mt. Conner by Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013

***

[Cover photo]

Want more but too impossible to travel down under?

Take a virtual trip with the T-Team and their adventures in Australia’s Centre.

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

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

T-Team the Younger Series–Rain in Chambers Gorge

Rain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I have to find the ants.’

‘You want me to get to higher ground?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Ha! Ha! Very funny,’ I said.

‘I’m serious,’ Barney said.

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019; update 2021

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

***

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

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

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…

T-Team (the younger) Series–Chambers Gorge

The Road-Trip of No Destination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doris and I kept on sleeping.

Then…Bang! The car skidded to a halt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Okay.’

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

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

[Photo 6: Campfire © L.M. Kling 1986]

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Oh.’

Barney called, ‘Roo’s ready.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

[to be continued…]

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

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

***

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

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

And escape in time and space to Central Australia 1981…

T-Team Series–Taxed (2)

Tuesday, September 8, 1981

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

Car hunt all sorted with a Toyota Corolla named Levin, the T-K Team Next Gen turn their attention to sorting out the annual tax return. So, keeping the theme of the attack of the tacks which the T-Team endured on the unsealed highway back to Adelaide almost 40 years ago to the day…]

Once more we all dismounted from the Rover and once more Richard shook his head at the pathetic sight of an airless tyre, this time, the Rover’s, squashed flat on the corrugated sand. Once more we stood guard while Richard jacked up the Rover, removed the flattened lump of rubber, soaked it in a bowl of water, found the leak and commenced the ritual of repairs. And once more he swore as he ripped off the first, then the second, then the third patch in the set that wouldn’t take. Finally, he hurled the remaining patches and glue into the spinifex.

*[Photo 1: Spinifex, can’t live with it, can’t live without it in the desert. Some enterprising Indigenous use the spinifex bush in times of the inevitable flat tyre. But not the T-Team. © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Dad gazed to the horizon and the sun fast sinking toward it. ‘What did you do that for?’

‘They’re a bunch of duds.’ Richard hunted through the tool kit for another packet of tyre patches. ‘How long did you have that set?’

‘Oh, er, um,’ Dad rubbed his moustache, and mumbled, ‘only a few years.’

‘Well, the glue was cactus.’ Richard pulled out a patch from a newer looking box, and then lighting a match, exposed the patch to the flame. After roughening the tube at the damage site, he sealed the patch over the puncture. He stuffed the tube back in the tyre. ‘Now, let’s see what we can do about the pump.’

After returning to the toolbox for some more tools, he fiddled with an electric pump, and then attached it to the Rover’s battery.

We all cheered as the pump chugged into action and filled the tyre with its much-needed air. Mission accomplished, we once again climbed back in the Rover and then raced towards Oodnadatta.

*[Photo 2: A road most tack-filled near the NT-SA border © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

***

Weariness from the constant stopping and starting, and tyre-changing meant that not much conversation happened between younger cousin (C2) and me. The current corrugations that filled the cabin with a sound like heavy machinery didn’t help. I knew Dad wanted to drive through the night to reach Adelaide. No stopping now. We’d suffered enough delays, and Dad intimated he just wanted to get home, or if not home, at least to the comforts of a creek bed filled with soft sand, like Algebuckina.

*[Photo 3: Dreams of soft sand and luxury in a creek bed near Ernabella © C.D. Trudinger 1992]

However, Dad’s dream of sleeping in cushioned comfort stalled. Ninety kilometres north of Oodnadatta, another trailer tyre blow-out brought us to a complete halt. By this time night had fallen and the diagnosis was grim. We had run out of spares for the trailer.

The men stood at the scene of the tyre carnage. Richard combed the area and shining light from a torch he gathered up shreds of evidence. Dad and his nephews stared with mouths downturned at the remains of the victim, the rim with a few bits of rubber hanging off it.

‘It made quite a few sparks,’ I said. ‘Better than fireworks.’

*[Photo 4: New Year’s Eve sparklers on the beach © L.M. Kling 2007]

‘This is not the time to be funny.’ Dad gazed at the gravel road languishing in darkness. ‘We’re in a lot of trouble and I’d appreciate if you could take this seriously.’ He clasped his hands and cleared his throat. I was sure he’d burst into prayer at any moment.

‘Sorry.’

Richard shone the torch in the direction of the Rover. I turned to look. The Rover listed to one side. Surely that can’t be the dip at the edge of the road.

‘Richard,’ I said walking over to the back-passenger side of the Rover. ‘What’s going on with the Rover?’

The torchlight landed on me. ‘Look, we’re—’ Dad began. The light fell on the tyre, a very flat-to-the-rim tyre. ‘Oh.’

I pointed at the tyre imitating a pancake. ‘See, I told you.’ I put my hands on my hips and sighed. ‘Just not our day. Four flat tyres in half a day. How can that be?’

*[Photo 5: Kings Canyon cliffs Reminding me of pancakes in happier times © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

Richard stood staring at the latest casualty. ‘Someone must’ve put tacks on the road.’

‘Does that mean we’re going to camp here tonight?’ my older cousin (C1) asked.

‘Looks like we’ll have to,’ Dad said. ‘And it won’t be very comfortable, it’s all stony.’

*[Photo 6: Our campground for the night © L.M. Kling 2013]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2021

*Feature Photo: It could be worse… © S.O. Gross circa 1942

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T-Team Series–Outback Road Hazards

TAXED

Tuesday, September 8, 1981

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

As our personal car hunt takes a positive turn, Mum’s car, the one we are borrowing, suffers a devastating blow to its tyre—staked by a bolt. And so, I am reminded of the attack of the tacks as the T-Team drove the unsealed highway back to Adelaide almost 40 years ago…]

So for the first time in the entire two months of the Safari, Dad permitted my older cousin (C1) to drive. After reaching the South Australian border and the degradation of the road to dirt, he drove at a steady fifty-five kilometres per hour. Bull dust billowed on each side of the vehicle, and we kept the windows sealed.

[Photo 1: Red Centre from the sky © L.M. Kling 2021]

Richard sat in the middle and I sat on the passenger side nearest the window. My feet ached. Feeling faint with the heat magnified in the confined unventilated area, I peeled off my shoes and socks.

‘Pooh!’ Rich fanned his nose. ‘Do you have to?’

‘But it’s hot.’ I massaged my foot. ‘I can’t smell any foot odour.’

A smile grew between C1’s beard and moustache, then the cabin filled with fumes of sulphur dioxide.

‘Ugh!’ I exclaimed and then reached for the handle to wind down the window.

‘You can talk.’ C1 put a handkerchief to his nose. ‘When was the last time you washed your socks?’

‘Point taken,’ I gasped, and then picked up a book fanning the air to the back of the Rover causing my younger cousin (C2) to protest and Dad to cough.

[Photo 2: The Unsealed Road © M.E. Trudinger (nee Gross) circa 1956]

Ker-chunk! Ker-chunk! C1 eased the Rover to a shuddering stop.

I looked at the odometer. We’d travelled 180km from Alice Springs. ‘Oh, no! And we’ve only just left.’ I opened the door and dropped from the Rover.

Richard edged his way out and then paced around the vehicle. He bent down to inspect a back tyre. ‘We have a puncture.’

Dad and cousins piled out. Richard commenced his jacking up the Rover, and removing the tyre. He lifted the spare off the rear door of the Rover. He bounced it towards the axle, and then stopped.

He frowned and said, ‘The spare’s flat.’

While my brother repaired the puncture, we lingered by the roadside. Dad kicked the mound of graded dirt. C1 pulled out another book from his satchel and read. C2 stared at the long stretch of road, counting the cars that passed. I sat in a ditch and picked my nails. An hour passed. Richard continued working. He’d already used up two dud patches on the tube. The repairs seemed to be taking forever.

[Photo 3: The timeless hazards of outback roads © M.E. Trudinger (nee Gross) 1956]

‘Why don’t we have lunch?’ I said.

Dad, his hands in his pockets, shuffled over to Richard. ‘How long do you think you’ll be?’

Richard peeled off the third patch that didn’t take. ‘Oh, another half an hour.”

Half an hour times three. In real-time, one-and-a-half-hours.

Dad stroked his beard. ‘Yes, I think we’ll have lunch then.’

We gathered a few sticks together for a fire to boil the billy. With my cup of tea and cake, I deserted the group to sit under a shady mulga tree. Another half-hour dragged in the heat.

[Photo 4: Man’s solution to outback breakdown when there is no auto Assistance anywhere in sight © S.O. Gross circa 1942]

I returned to the men. They stood like statues in a semi-circle around Richard who now battled with a pump. No matter how hard or long he pumped, the tyre didn’t seem to be doing much.

Richard wiped drops of sweat from his temple and grunted. ‘Come on, you idiot, work!’ He resumed pushing the lever up and down, faster and faster. He stopped and checked the gauge. ‘Damn thing hasn’t moved.’ He kicked the pump. ‘Work!’

‘I don’t think that’ll help,’ Dad said.

‘The pump’s broken. The gauge hasn’t moved off twenty k-p-a.’

Dad kicked the tyre. ‘Is that enough?’

‘I s’pose it’ll have to do.’

Richard shook his head. He placed the half-inflated tyre on the Rover’s back axle, and then tightened the nuts.

[Photo 5: A more reliable mode of transport??? © S.O. Gross circa 1942]

C1 resumed his driver’s position with Richard and C2 in the front. I put up with Dad and the dust in the back cabin. My father decided to manicure his nails with his teeth. Drove me insane! Every few seconds, he puffed out a bitten nail onto the floor, the luggage, and the dirty laundry pile. I looked away as his nibbled his nail stumps, but the spitting sound grated on my senses setting my teeth on edge. I placed a pillow over my ears and rested my head on a soft bag. I began to doze.

Thudda! Thudda! Thudda!

The Rover rocked and jerked to a juddering halt. Again we piled out. This time a trailer tyre had been ripped to shreds. Bits of the tyre left a sorry trail down the highway.

[Photo 6: History repeats itself © L.M. Kling 2013]

Dad poked his toe at a fragment of rubber. ‘How did that happen?’

‘The rocks,’ Richard replied. Then removing the spare trailer tyre, he bounced it into position.

Again, we stood around and watched Richard change the tyre. Again, we piled back in the Rover and continued our journey. And yet again I had to sit in the rear of the Rover with Dad.

This time, Dad nodded off to sleep and snored. Richard who was driving, had barely driven ten minutes before Dad had fallen asleep. I watched Dad’s head loll from side to side, and with a snort, he’d jerk his head up, and then his head flopped followed by a deep rumble. Again, I covered my ears with a pillow and rested on my soft bag.

The rumbles penetrated my pillow. They grew louder and louder, sounding like an earthquake. I sat up and looked around. Dad wide-eyed and awake stared at me. The rumbling turned into a loud roar.

[Photo 7: The perils of the gibber plain © L.M. King 2013]

‘So, it wasn’t you snoring,’ Dad said.

‘I thought it was you.’ My voice vibrated with the jack-hammer effect. ‘Is it the corrugations?’

‘I don’t think so.’ Dad sounded like a Dalek. He leaned through the window connected to the front. ‘Richard, I think you better stop.’

‘Not again,’ I groaned.

[to be continued…]

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2021

Feature Photo: Car-nage © L.M. Kling 2013

***

Virtual Travel Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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