TREKKING WITH THE T-TEAM: Central Australian Safari 1981




 Waiting For Lee-Anne


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




I opened up my art pad, squeezed out the primary colours from Mattise acrylic tubes and then dabbed the paint on the paper. A ghost gum, that’s what the lady down my street wanted. I looked around to see if any ghost gums were visible. No, not today. Not in the Ormiston Gorge car-park. I had to paint one from memory.


‘What are you painting?’ asked a middle-aged woman who leant over my shoulder.


‘Um, a ghost gum.’




‘I have to do it from memory.’


‘It looks very good.’ Hard to tell if she meant it. ‘You must be talented.’ She walked off.


‘Ooh! An artist!’ A man with black hair and a moustache hovered over me and ogled at the painting. At this rate, I won’t get anything done.


My face flushed hot and prickly. Too much attention. Failing to get a response from me, the man also walked away.


With no more interruptions, I dibbed and dabbed, splashing reds and yellows for rocky mounds, a dash of burnt sienna for the ground, a wash of cobalt-blue sky, and white outline for the ghost gum. There, all plotted in. The leaves’ll have to wait.


Shadows lengthened, and darkness crept over the landscape, and me. I packed up my paints and then sauntered over to the car-park. The Rover sat under a giant river gum, my brother and older cousin (C1) parked in the front seat.


‘There you are!’ C1 said. ‘We’ve been waiting twenty minutes. What is it? Waiting for Lee-Anne day?’


‘Sorry. Had to wait for the clothes to dry,’ I said. Actually, I got carried away with the painting, but I wasn’t going to admit that. ‘Why didn’t you come looking for me?’


‘We did, but we couldn’t see you anywhere.’


‘I was right—’ I pointed in the direction of the tree where I’d been sitting, ‘there!’


‘No, you weren’t,’ Richard said who obviously didn’t look too hard.


‘Well, I was there. Other people saw me. They commented on my painting.’ I piled my painting equipment into the rear of the Rover.


The guys helped me pick the washing off the line. My brother complained the clothes were still wet. See I told you so! I made a big deal of the clothes’ dampness to justify my paint absorption.


At base camp, I hung up the damp washing on the line strung between two spindly and leaf-challenged bushes. ‘See, they’re still damp,’ I emphasised, throwing a glance in my brother’s direction.


Meanwhile, in the dark, Dad prepared our tea—potatoes, spam patties, soup and for dessert raisin cake with custard.




After a full and triumphant day of a physical work out, followed by a creative work out, and feeling full and clean, I knew sleep would come easy. And it did!




© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017




Painting: Ghost Gum Red Cliffs © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010


[I commenced this painting in 1981 after my return from Central Australia. Then, a few years ago, I discovered it, unfinished, in my cupboard. I “finished” it at Art group, and, not entirely happy with it, it has sat in a temporary frame in our lounge room while I try and work out what else needs to be done to it.

The original, the one I painted at Ormiston, I touched up and gave to our neighbour who’d requested it. She was very happy with the painting and gave me $20 for my effort.]



2 thoughts on “TREKKING WITH THE T-TEAM: Central Australian Safari 1981

  1. Ah as they say men don’t look very well for things when something right in their face.
    Good idea and excuse as couldn’t see why you became engrossed with your painting but with damp clothes is proof you weren’t idle in their eyes.
    Great painting . You improve over time with heaps of practice .
    I can picture myself in your writings , it would be good to visit and see these places in the flesh


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