[Extract from The T-Team with Mr B: Central Australia 1977, a prequel to Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981.
The T-Team with Mr B — In 1977 Dad’s friend Mr Banks and his son, Matt (not their real names), joined Dad, my brother (Rick) and me on this journey of adventure. I guess Dad had some reservations how I would cope… But it soon became clear that the question was, how would Mr B who was used to a life of luxury cope? And would my brother survive?]
On the drive to Ormiston Gorge, our indigenous guides sat opposite us and grinned. I was fascinated by the gap in their teeth with one of their front pegs missing; a sign in their culture that they had been initiated into adulthood. Must be painful, I thought.
In the car-park, tall eucalypt trees spread their blue-green canopy over the clearing and a growing population of four-wheel drive vehicles, cars, buses and tourists. ‘Wow! It’s only 9am and look at all the people!’ I exclaimed.
‘I thought you said this was the best gorge of the lot.’ Mr. B grimaced. ‘What’s all these crowds doing here?’
‘They must know it’s the best gorge,’ my brother, Rick replied.
‘I guess that’s why there’s so many people around.’ Dad shrugged on his pack. ‘There’s some tremendous waterholes to swim in.’
‘Why didn’t you say, mate,’ Mr. B smiled, ‘Just hold on while I fish out my togs. Matt, my boy, be a good lad and get us our togs. Our bags are in the back of the truck.’
I smoothed down my T-shirt and checked my bather-strap. I never miss an opportunity to swim in a Central Australian rock-hole. The cliffs glowing pink through the gum leaves, to me, promised plenty of water for swimming. ‘It’s so warm already.’ I hinted my desire to swim rather than hike.
Dad shifted his weight from one leg to the other and watched Mr. B and son hide behind the Rover door and do a hasty change into bathers. He cleared his throat. ‘Er, um, we’ll hike, before swimming, Lee-Anne.’
‘Naw? But it’s so hot!’
‘You were complaining how cold it was only an hour ago.’
‘You said yourself, it’s the desert and it heats up very quickly.’ I wiped my barely-perspiring brow. ‘And I’m hot. I want to swim.’
‘There’ll be too many tourists at the start, we’ll find a quieter waterhole further down.’
Leaving behind our guides who preferred to rest near the Rover, the T-Team trooped into the gorge. Sure enough, the first waterhole teemed with people. I guess Dad was right. We’d find somewhere more secluded to swim.
On we hiked. The gorge snaked through several bends, the view around each corner, a parade of rugged red cliffs, perfect reflections, the water like glass, and mystery—what next will we see around that corner?
We’d been hiking an hour when we approached a bend in the gorge where the water rested in the cool of the shade. The number of tourists had thinned into non-existence. ‘What about this waterhole?’ I asked. Not the first time I’d seen a promising rock-hole and asked.
‘Nah, nah, not big enough,’ Dad answered. Not the first time he’d answered in the negative. ‘There’s one further on. Won’t be long now.’ Was he stringing me along?
‘You better be right,’ Rick muttered.
We hiked through to the end. The view of Mt. Giles peeking through the jagged walls of the gorge, tantalised our imagination. Dad made a promise. ‘Next time, we will climb Mt. Giles.’
I gazed at Mt. Giles bathed in blue above a sea of golden spinifex. ‘Where’s this waterhole you promised?’
‘Um, well,’ Dad swivelled around, ‘it must be that one back in the gorge just around the corner.’ He took a few steps and then stopped. He then raised his camera and snapped.
‘I say,’ Mr. B just had to say, ‘don’t go wasting all your shots, mate.’
Dad twisted the camera around in his hand. ‘I think Ormiston is worth it, don’t you?’
‘Your favourite, eh?’
‘Yes, my favourite.’
‘Now, my ‘ol friend, let’s find that pool and have a swim. You know, someone could make quite a mint, what with those iron-red cliffs, the waterholes—all they’d need is a kiosk, or motel nearby for the tourists.’
I rolled my eyes. Just the sort of comment Mr. B would make.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Photo: Almost complete painting of Ormiston Gorge, Dad’s Favourite Resting Place © L.M. Kling 2018
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