Friday, August 28, 1981 — In the foothills surrounding Mt. Liebig
[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]
In the cool of the morning we sat around the campfire, making rolls of our pancakes, soaking up the dripped butter and sugar from our plates, and licking our sticky fingers.
The flies had moved on, maybe to pester some nearby cattle that we had heard lowing during the night.
Dad stood up. ‘Well, what’ll we do today?’
My brother (MB) licked his plate and mumbled, ‘Dunno.’
Younger cousin (C2) yawned and stretched. ‘Take it easy.’
‘What? We’re going to do something, after yesterday?’ Older cousin (C1) asked.
‘It’d be boring doing nothing,’ I said. ‘We didn’t come all this way out west, to sit around.’
‘Yes, well, er I thought we could do something.’
‘We could explore that range to the south of Mt. Liebig.’ Our guide (DR) pointed at the range we’d visited two days ago. ‘From the summit, the land formations look quite interesting.’
The three lads looked at their empty plates.
‘You said you found a water-hole, there the other day,’ Dad looked at me. ‘We could all go for a swim.’
C1 smiled. ‘Now you’re talking, Uncle.’
C2 marched to his pack. ‘When do we go?’
[Photo 1: Dreams of a water-hole]
For the first time since I can recall, we all kept together as we hiked. I guided the men on the short walk up the rocky gully and to the water-hole. MB sighted the pool the size of an average bathroom and tore off his tee shirt. The rest of us hung around the edges of bronze and iron coloured stone like pigeons on a wall.
While MB sank into the dark water, Dad twisted his head up the cliff to the sky and down to the pool. ‘You know, I think this water-hole is quite deep.’
‘How can you tell?’ C1 asked.
Dad leaned forward to his son cutting a wake in the water-hole. ‘How deep can you go in there?’
MB bounced up and down in the water. ‘Just under two metres, I reckon.’
C1 began climbing the cliff, tugged off his shirt and then looked down at MB. ‘Do you reckon that’s deep enough to bomb dive?’
MB waded to the water’s edge on the side near C1 and pushed himself out.
C1 stood on a ledge about two metres above and stroked his beard. ‘I don’t know.’
‘As long as you’re careful,’ MB said.
‘I’m not sure.’ C1 sucked air through his front teeth. ‘Could be risky.’
‘I wouldn’t if I were you.’ I backed away from the pool. ‘I don’t want to get soaked.’
C1 asked again, ‘You sure I’d be alright?’
‘I’ve dived in shallower pools, and I’m still here.’ MB hoisted himself to a ledge close to C1. ‘Come on, make up your mind. I want to bomb dive.’
I grabbed my camera from my bag and aimed.
C1 looked down at the black water.
‘You’ll be right.’ MB planted his hand on the wall to balance himself. ‘Go for it.’
‘Okay, here goes.’ C1 rubbed his hands. He bent his knees and pinched his nose.
C2 sniggered. ‘You’ll only break a leg.’
‘Now who said that?’ C1 straightened and put his hands on his hips. ‘You put me off my game.’ He bent his knees again and put his hands together. ‘Now, where was I?’
‘To be—’ I snapped a photo. ‘Or not to be…’
‘Here goes!’ C1 limbered up, shook his arms, pinched his nose, and then jumped.
I focussed the camera at the water and snap! Splash! C1 hit the water and a bath-sized wave rocked and kicked against every side of the pool. C1 bobbed up like a cork in one piece. No bones broken. ‘It’s deeper than we thought,’ he spat out some water, ‘I barely touched the bottom.’
‘Watch out!’ MB sailed through the air and boom! A slug of water drenched me.
[Photo 2: Dive—to be]
Soon we all joined in assaulting the rock-hole with bomb dives, splashing and horsing around. Refreshed we climbed down the gully leaving the pool with more water outside it than in, and less than a metre deep until the next rain.
At the entrance to the gully, Dad turned to C1, ‘Are you sure we couldn’t have climbed the waterfall?’
C1 sniffed and glanced at me. I gritted my teeth. No way I’m going up that cliff again. No way!
C1 replied, ‘Nup, that gorge ended in a dead end.’
‘Hmm.’ Dad raked his comb-over. ‘We’ve got to find the main gully. There must be some way to get inside the range.’
‘We’ll go and have a look at the next two gullies,’ C2 said.
‘Well now, you do a reconnaissance, okay, Uncle?’ C1 said.
[Photo 3: Gully Explored by Dad and C2]
[Photo 4: Ghost Gum discovered]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Feature: Painting: Mt Liebig © L.M.Trudinger 1981
Photos 1, 3 & 4 © C.D. Trudinger, and Photo 2 © L.M.Kling (nee Trudinger)