Fortune: A matter of Perspective and Choice
[Fortune—it’s in the eyes of the beholder, and one person’s dream can be another’s nightmare. We all make choices, and our choices affect ourselves and others’ “fortune”.
The following extract from Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981, documents the fortunes of each of the team from one afternoon of individual choices. Preceding these events are my posts, “Folly” and then, “Lush” as the T-Team explore the far-Western MacDonnell Ranges, in Central Australia.
[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]
After a satisfying lunch of damper, Dad asked each one of us how we would spend the rest of our day. My brother and cousins planned to hunt kangaroo. Dad intended to fix the pipeline. And I anticipated traversing to the neighbouring gorge to the east in the hope of a water-hole and a swim.
I set off to Talipata’s next door neighbour where I discovered a large deep water-hole, much larger than Talipata Spring. The water in this pool flowed from a short waterfall surrounded by cliffs on two sides. I pulled off my boots, peeled off my jeans and tee shirt. Underneath I wore bathers prepared for this moment. At last, a swim in a decent sized water-hole. Midday, and though the day had warmed since the cold morning, a stiff southerly breeze kept temperatures in check. I dipped my toe in the water. Freezing. I edged into the water. Goosebumps rose on every exposed part, my arms, legs, and chest. I sank to shoulder depth. Brrr! I swam the across the water-hole. The crisp unpolluted water washed over me. Then I surfaced onto a rock slab in a sheltered part of the cove to sunbake. After sunbaking, I dipped in again to enjoy the invigorating swim. What a fortunate life!
I gazed around at the idyllic oasis of ferns, russet cliff-face and waterfall, the mirror reflections, and ghost gums gracing the sides of the pool. I walked out of the pool, dried myself off with a towel, and then settled down to paint.
As I began dipping brush in the dobs of paint on the ice cream container lid, the southerly wind strengthened, turning the mildly warm day to biting cold in a matter of minutes. I dug around in my pack for a windcheater. Where’s my windcheater? The sun ducked behind some nasty looking rain clouds. I shivered. The freezing wind cut right through me. The bright colourful scene of reds and greens dulled with the cloud-cover. I packed up my paints and took the thirty-minute hike back to camp. Not so fortunate, after-all.
Upon my return, I noticed Dad tinkering with the pipeline. Good fortune for the cattle, I suppose.
‘Hey, Dad!’ I announced. ‘I found this fantastic water-hole.’
The boys returned.
‘Hey,’ I shouted, ‘Guess what I found!’
C1 galloped ahead and into camp, a grin spread across his bearded face. He ignored my announcement of good fortune. ‘Look what we’ve got?’
My brother and C2 strolled over the hill, a kangaroo slung hog tied between them. ‘We have roo for tea.’ And for many dinners to come.
Dad cooked the kangaroo as the indigenous people do. He dug a pit, one metre by one and a half metres wide, and about sixty centimetres deep, and filled it with the carcass. He spread glowing red coals over the top. He said the secret to good kangaroo meat was to cook it whole in its hide and its juices. The animal took two and a half hours to roast. The legs and the paws stuck out of the coals growing black and curled; a most peculiar sight.
Dad carved up the “roast roo”, and with a sense of anticipation reminiscent of Christmas as we waited for our serve. We lined up, and held out our plates. C1 stood first in line.
Dad cut up slices of game and dumped them on C1’s plate.
C1 looked at his lonely pieces of meat. ‘Where’s the vegetables?’
‘Oh, well, I forgot about them,’ Dad said while looking down at the ground from left to right.
‘What? No vegetables?’ my older cousin asked.
‘You should’ve reminded me,’ Dad said, and then sliced up two bits for C2.
‘But we were too busy hunting,’ C2 said. He picked up a slice and then nibbled it.
‘And I was too busy cooking the roo.’ Dad glanced at me. ‘What were you doing, Lee-Anne?’
I looked over my shoulder trying to find someone or something else to blame. Without an excuse, I turned back to Dad. ‘Why does it always fall on the woman to remember the vegetables? I was too busy watching how you cooked the roo to think about vegetables.’
‘That you were,’ my brother said. ‘That you were.’
With no vegetables to accompany our feast, our stomachs handled no more than two pieces of meat. Dad left the rest of the roast in the coals to cool down over night. In the morning, he planned to wrap the meat in empty Hessian flour sacks and keep it cool in the water running into the cattle trough.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Feature Photo (1): In Search of Talipata Spring © C.D. Trudinger 1981
Photo (2): My Water-hole © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981
Photo (3) Roasting Roo Indig Style © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955