The Bull Saga Continues
[Extract: Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]
I stomped back into camp. The sun had set and Dad clattered around the campfire in the dull grey of post twilight.
‘Where have you been?’ He stirred the pot of soup so hard water splashed out and hissed in the coals.
‘Um, just at the water-hole.’ I rubbed my itchy nose. Didn’t want to mention my near-lost-in-the-wilderness experience, the dip in the water-hole followed by painting.
‘You know I wanted to make tea in the light.’ He snapped the stick he had in half. ‘Instead we had wait for you and then send out a search party.’
‘Well, there was this bull in the bushes…’ I fibbed. ‘I couldn’t get past it.’
‘A likely story,’ Richard, my brother muttered.
‘That’ll toughen you,’ Dad snarled. With a spatula, Dad shovelled scrambled eggs, peas and corn and then flipped the mixture so hard, chunks of egg fell into the fire. ‘Now we have to eat in the dark.’
‘So you should be.’
We commenced our meal of kangaroo-tail soup, and omelette in strained silence. My soup tasted of charcoal and so I left most of it in the cup.
Dad glared at me and asked, ‘What? Don’t you like the soup?’
‘No, not tonight.’ I wiped my mouth. ‘It’s horrible; worse than the egg-soup you made last trip with Mr. B.’ Mr. B who travelled with the T-Team on our 1977 Central Australian safari, still stirs Dad about his culinary disaster, as did I that evening. (You can read my story, Egg-Soup in the Travelling With the T-Team 1977 series).
‘Well, that’s what you get for coming home after dark.’
Dad spooned a serve of omelette into my metal plate. ‘Come on, eat up.’
I took one fork full and sniffed. Pooh! What’s that smell? Each side of me, the lads began to gobble up their dinner like good little home-before-dark “vegemites”. I nibbled a portion of egg-combo. The egg was rotten with that pungent sulphur dioxide odour pervading the whole plate.
I put down the plate. ‘I’m not eating this. The eggs are off.’
‘Well,’ Dad just had to take the opportunity to rub in my misbehaviour again, ‘if you come back late, that’s what you get.’
‘So, a white bull barring my way is no excuse, then.’
‘Er—um.’ Dad spluttered.
My older cousin (C1) sniggered. ‘Inexcusa-bull!’
‘And you don’t care that the boys end up with food poisoning?’
‘You mean the food is unpalata-bull?’ my younger cousin (C2) said, unable to resist pun-sparring with his brother.
‘Now,’ Dad waved his index finger at me, ‘that’s going a bit far—’
Behind him I could see the tell-tale lumps of scrambled eggs melting away in the fire.
‘What about some peach pie?’ C1 offered the creation of canned peaches wrapped and cooked in damper that he and his brother had made. He passed a plate of pie to me. ‘Lee-Anne?’ He passed a plate of pie to Dad. ‘Uncle David?’
We enjoyed my cousins’ peach pie. Dad stopped commenting on my late return. And with our stomachs filled with pie, and our hearts thankful to C1 and C2, we settled down around the fire to chat and laugh.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Photo from slide: Sunset on Talipata Gorge © C.D. Trudinger 1977