Dad’s Promise Delivered with a Splash
[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?]
Following Dad, we marched through the twists and turns, over silky sand and rocks. An hour drifted by and the sun hovered overhead radiating heat onto our weary limbs. My brother, Rick had stripped to his tank-top. My T-shirt, damp with perspiration, was a party-attraction for the flies. However, some sticky little pests gathered for a conference in my eyes and up my nose. My mouth though, grew dry and parched.
I strode up to Dad. ‘We need to swim, now!’
‘All good things come to those who wait,’ Dad replied. ‘I reckon it’s just around the next corner.’
We dragged our feet around the next bend and there, the waterhole glistened, beckoning us to swim. Mr. B and son Matt peeled off their shirts and jeans and waded in. Dad raised his camera to his eye and snapped Mr. B lily-white in his togs next to his boy, Matt. Rick leapt in and carved his way to a rock. Bomb dive must bomb dive. I paddled into the pool and then with the water up to my waist I submerged with a shiver, relishing the cool after the heat. Refreshed, I glided out of the waterhole, and finding a warm sun-soaked patch of sand, I lay down and sun-baked.
After a quick dip, Dad sat near me and munched on some chocolate and nuts.
Mr. B lumbered up to us. ‘When are we having lunch, mate? It’s way past midday. We need to eat.’
‘We’ll have some lunch when we get back to the Rover, okay?’ Dad replied.
‘Well, then hurry, I’ll perish from starvation if we don’t go soon,’ Mr. B snapped.
We pulled on our clothes and hiked back to the gorge’s entrance. While Dad prepared sandwiches, Rick, Matt and I splashed around in the pool nearby. The horde of tourists had moved on to other gorges and we had the waterhole to ourselves.
On the sandy bank, with the view of the cliffs dusky mauve in afternoon shade framed by river-gums, we ate our sandwich-lunch.
‘That swim was better than the previous one,’ I said.
‘We were hotter—it’s been getting hotter all day,’ Rick explained.
‘And we got hot from all that hiking,’ Matt added.
‘You know them pools have snakes in them,’ H chuckled.
‘And crocodiles, you lucky crocodile don’t get you,’ S laughed.
‘Crocodiles?’ Mr. B gulped. ‘Mr. T! You didn’t tell me we were swimming with crocodiles?’
‘Crocodiles?’ Dad snorted. ‘Oh, yes, Mr. B, I forgot to tell you about the crocodiles.’
My brother and I exchanged glances. I noticed Dad purse his lips in that well-known cat-with-canary-in-his-mouth expression.
Mr. B wagged a finger at Matt. ‘Now, my boy, don’t go in the water. There’s crocodiles.’
Behind Mr. B, H and S bent over, slapped their knees and wheezed, supressing their laughter.
Matt caught their eye and then smiled. ‘No, Dad.’
‘Oh, well,’ I giggled, ‘all that swimming and we survived.’
Pouting, Mr. B grabbed another sandwich and climbed up some rocks further from the waterhole. ‘You can never be too sure,’ he beckoned to Matt, ‘come on, son, get away from the shore.’
Dad gestured. ‘It’s okay, Mr. B, crocodiles don’t live this far south. I’ve never seen them at Ormiston. H and B are pulling your leg.’
Mr. B jutted out his lower lip. ‘But what about the snakes? I tell you, what about the snakes?’
‘He won’t be making it a tourist-resort any time soon,’ Rick muttered with a snort.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017; updated 2019
Feature Photo: Dad’s Favourite Resting Place © L.M. Kling 2013
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