Travelling Thursday– Road Trip in the Charger (6)

Road Trip to Sydney in the Charger (final)

[Based on real events but some names have been changed. And some details of events may differ. After all, it was over 40-years ago.

Finally…the intrepid road trip travellers reach Sydney.]

Feature Photo: Sydney Harbour from Ferry © L.M. Kling 2002

The conference and Rick’s never had a girlfriend

As far as conferences went, not a bad one. Lots of singing, worshipping God, that is, lectures, Bible Study, eating, and meeting new friends and old friends too. Our accommodation was down Anzac Parade, about five kilometres, halfway to the beach. I shared a small apartment with Rick and Dad. Dad drove me back and forth from the conference centre at Randwick. Not sure what Cordelia did, but I think she connected with other members of her family who attended the conference and stayed with them. Rick, I think ferried Mitch and Jack to and from the conference centre.

This arrangement becomes relevant later in the week of the conference.

One session that stands out, was the one on relationships.

Rick and I sat side by side, in the front row.

This will be interesting, I thought. Maybe I’ll get some tips on how to get a boyfriend and be popular like Cordelia.

‘So,’ the speaker said, ‘How many of you have had a boyfriend or girlfriend?’

Everyone including me, raised their hands. Everyone, that is, except my brother Rick.

‘What? You’ve never had a girlfriend, Laddie?’


The speaker pointed at me. ‘What about that lovely girl next to you?’

‘She’s my sister.’


[Photo 1: A lone tall ship in Sydney Harbour © L.M. Kling 2002]

Abandoned at the hostel and trek up Anzac Parade

Towards the end of the conference, one more event stood out.

Dad told me to wait for him at the hostel apartment where we were staying. After lunch we had an afternoon of free time before the final worship session.

I returned to the apartment lunch with my brother and friends eager to catch up on some rest and losing myself in a book. Maybe some journal writing which had been neglected in all the activity and excitement of the conference.

However upon my return to the dreary grey corridors of the hostel, my door was locked. Oh, well, Dad said he won’t be long.

I had nothing with me. All my supplies of entertainment and comfort were locked away in the apartment.

So I sat.

For hours.

After two hours, I began to sniff.

Then snivel.

Then finally, cry.

A lady poked her head out of a nearby door. ‘Are you all right?’

I wiped my eyes. ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’

She retreated into her apartment.

I looked at my watch. Five o’clock! Almost three hours I’d been waiting for Dad.

Convinced that he’s forgotten me and I’d be waiting further five hours with that lady sticking her nose in my business every so often, I stood up. Stiffening my lip in grim determination, I marched out the hostel and strode up Anzac Parade.

I prayed that God would protect me.

[Photo 2: Yachts in Sydney Harbour © L.M. Kling 2002]

Along the cracked pavement. Past long neglected houses. And cared-for ones. Over busy roads at the lights. Narrowly escaping any impact with red-light running cars. In the humidity. Under light rain. Taking a wide berth around the many hotels. And leering drunks who spilled out onto the footpath. In the ever-fading light that faded into dusk.

Five kilometres and forty minutes later, I entered the conference centre. The session where all had gathered, was concluding with prayers. All in a circle holding hands. I slipped in the circle. 

The boy next to me squeezed my hand.

Oh, he’s just being kind to poor little old me, I thought. After all, if even my father forgets me

After, over tea and biscuits, my miffed Dad asked, ‘Where were you?’

‘What do you mean? I waited three hours,’ I retorted.

‘Couldn’t you be patient?’

‘Not when I couldn’t get into the room,’ I said. There was a limit to my patience.

‘I went to pick you up and you weren’t there,’ Dad said. ‘I told you to wait.’

‘And, what time was that?’

‘Oh, er, um, about…’ Dad’s voice faded, ‘about five.’

‘Well, I was there at five, and I didn’t see you.’ I sniffed. ‘So, I walked.’

‘But don’t you know how dangerous that was to walk here?’ Dad showing so much concern, after forgetting me for the whole afternoon.

‘I’m here, aren’t I?’ I replied. ‘I prayed and God protected me.’

‘He did. Praise the Lord,’ Dad said and then wagged a finger at me. ‘But don’t you ever do that again.’

‘Yes, Dad.’ As long as you don’t forget me again.

Passing through the Blue Mountains

[Photo 3: A view of the Blue Mountains from actual trip © L.M. Kling 1979]

Our return to the less crowded and more sedate city of Adelaide, was serene and uneventful as the fair city itself. Especially at the time in 1979.

A few highlights. Mostly, in fact, all associated with the Blue Mountains. We had missed the beauty and wonder of the mountains on our journey to Sydney, so, Rick endeavoured for us to see these mountains in daytime on our trek home.

At the lookout to the Three Sisters, we lunched and admired the majesty of God’s creation. Even Rick using his polaroid camera, took photos of us admiring the scene. He was taken with the layers of misty blues and subtle greens cascading down into the depths, while the cliff tomes forming the Three Sisters presided over the valley.

I burst out in song and Cordelia joined in.

After a chorus, Cordelia said, ‘You should try out for the worship band.’


‘You have such a sweet voice, although it does need to be stronger.’

On the drive home I considered the prospect of trying out for the band. Perhaps singing in front of the church would make me more popular with the boys. Like Cordelia. But in the end, I decided against it. Too hard. Too much of a challenge for plain old me. After all, the worship band was a highly coveted affair, where lead singers jealously guarded their position. I’d never have a chance. Sweet voice, but not strong voice would never cut it.

Back at school, I continued my enjoyment of music singing in the choir. But I’d always secretly envy the solos with their stand-out song voices. The stars with their melodic strong notes, the audience’s focus on them alone.

Instead, that new year of 1979, my passion turned to art…and writing. These were the gifts God had given me.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2023

Feature Photo: Sydney Harbour from Ferry © L.M. Kling 2002


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Friday Frolics–Road Trip to Sydney in the Charger (5)

Cordelia makes a brief visit to the hospital.

Jack woke and rubbed his eyes. ‘What’s happening?’

‘What are you doing?’ Mitch asked.

‘What do ya think?’ Rick said as he slowed to the 60 km/h speed limit of the town.

Mitch pointed the other way, out of town. ‘Couldn’t we just…’

‘No,’ Rick said.

‘Cordelia’s going to be sick,’ I chimed in.

Rick slammed on the brakes and skidded on the rubble on the side of the road.

‘Not yet,’ Cordelia said in a soft voice. ‘But I need a hospital.’

None of us asked the reason we needed a hospital for Cordelia. Under the light of the newly functioning headlights, I studied the strip map for the district hospital. Not much joy there. The map only showed the strip of road or highway from town A to town B, no diversions. However, we did find a 24-hour service station where Mitch asked the way to the hospital.

Upon arriving, Cordelia insisted on entering the premises on her own while the rest of us waited in the carpark. Making the most of the opportunity not to be cramped up in the car, we sat or paced around the car in the balmy night.

*[Photo 1: Missed—the Blue Mountains © S.O. Gross circa 1960]

An hour or so later, Cordelia emerged feeling better. No explanation.

And once more we piled in the car and headed for Sydney.

‘If we drive through the night, we’ll reach Sydney by morning,’ Mitch said. ‘Plenty of time for the conference.’

Rick adjusted his grip on the steering wheel and grunted. ‘As long as nothing else happens.’

I squeezed myself against the back passenger door. I had lost my place in the front with Rick to Cordelia. I had been relegated to the back seat with Mitch and Jack.

The gentle rocking of the drive lulled me to sleep.

Lost in Sydney

I yawned and stretched.

‘Hey, watch it!’ Mitch said and pushed my hand away.

‘Sorry.’ I covered my mouth and yawned again.

The Charger crawled along following bumper to bumper traffic. High rise buildings towered over the narrow road and every side street garnered either a black and white “One Way” sign, or red and white “No Entry” sign. A bridge looking like a giant coat hanger peeped through a gap in the buildings.

*[Photo 2: Sydney Harbour Bridge before there was an Opera House © S.O. Gross circa 1960]

‘Where are we?’ I asked.

‘Isn’t it obvious?’ Rick said.

‘Oh, Sydney,’ I said. ‘How come we’re not at the conference?’

‘You tell me,’ Rick muttered.

‘We’re having trouble…’ Mitch began.

‘It’s all these one-way streets,’ Rick said. ‘Who ever designed Sydney must’ve had rocks in their head.’

Jack suggested we head for Bondi Beach for a swim as it’s so bleeping hot, reasoning, that if we hadn’t had the car trouble, we’d have had a day to take in the sights and go for a swim.

‘Aren’t we late for the conference?’ I said.

Rick rolled his eyes. ‘Rate we’re going, we’ll never get there.’

‘But, if we go to Bondi,’ Mitch said, ‘perhaps we can find a park and work out where we are and how to get to the conference.’

‘But how do we do that?’ Rick asked. He moved the car at the speed of a tortoise along the road chock-full with near stationary vehicles.

I pointed at a sign which read, “Bondi”. Head east, follow that sign. I’d given up on attending the conference, and believing we’d be stuck in Sydney city traffic forever, resolved to content myself with the promise of the beach sometime in the next week. Not sure how Dad would feel about us not turning up, though. He’d made it his mission to persuade our little tribe to come. And, here we were, lost in the city traffic, wandering in circles around one-way streets.

*[Photo 3: Speaking of circles, Aquarium at Circular Quay, Sydney © L.M. Kling 2002]

I imagined Dad pacing the floor of the conference centre, wearing a groove in the carpet, glancing at his watch and peering out the window. ‘Where are those children,’ he’d be saying, ‘they should be here by now.’

‘Where, exactly is the conference?’ I asked. ‘Is it near Bondi?’

‘Have you got rocks in your head?’ Rick said. His face was flushed with beads of perspiration dripping from his temples. ‘Of course it’s not. And at this rate, no matter where it is, we won’t get there. We’re stuck.’

‘Um,’ Jack interrupted Rick’s rant, ‘I think it’s at Randwick Racecourse.’

‘And where’s that?’ I said.

‘Perhaps, if we go to Bondi, find a park, then we can study the map, and work out where to go,’ Mitch said.

‘Or we could lob into a corner shop and ask someone directions,’ I suggested.

The guys ignored my idea, as guys do. All this time Cordelia remained silent, contributing nothing to the discussion. Perhaps to be more popular with the boys as Cordelia certainly was, I considered I should remain silent. But, me, being me, I just could help myself. Being one of the “lads” and voicing my opinion, that is.

We reached Bondi. Early afternoon.

I remember the weather. Warm, cloudy and humid. Specks of rain assaulted the windscreen. Despite the inclement weather by my Adelaide standards, the streets around this beachside suburb were cluttered with more cars, and even more people. It seemed to me that Bondi was crowded with the entire rest of the population of Sydney; the ones who were not still stuck in traffic in the city centre.

As a result, no parks. Nowhere. Not a thin strip anywhere to put the Charger.

Rick sighed and drove through the park-less and crowded Bondi, along some coastal road and then up a road heading east again.

*[Photo 4 and Feature: What else, but the Opera House with the Sydney Harbour Bridge © A.N. Kling 2016]

Jack, who had been studying a simple map of Sydney that the RAA strip map provided, pointed at a road on the map. ‘I’m pretty sure if we turn down Anzac Parade and follow it all the way down, we will reach our destination.’

Rick followed Jack’s directions and we arrived at the conference just in time for afternoon tea. And, I might add, a roasting from Dad who could not understand how we could get lost in Sydney.

Mitch, though was philosophical. ‘It could’ve been worse, but I was praying the whole time, and God got us here safe and sound.’

Dad sniffed and tapped his trouser pocket. ‘Hmm, yes, you are right Mitch. Ah, well, praise the Lord.’

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2023


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