The Four Chambers Crusaders
[1984, and Mr. B, once more, was happily holidaying in luxury resorts. Meanwhile, the younger of the T-Team with roughin’ it on their minds, venture closer to home and into the Flinders Ranges; their sights set on Chambers Gorge…]
Doris sidled up to me and asked, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’
I shrugged. ‘Sort of…maybe…um…not really.’
‘Come on, you can tell me. I bet you have.’
‘Nah, just a lot of bad luck.’
‘Oh, like what?’
‘Nothing…no one,’ I replied. ‘What about you? Are you and Barney…?’
‘Are you kidding? No way!’
That shut down the conversation in romance and we hiked along in silence. Up the gorge. Towards Mount Chambers.
‘Cor!’ Barney exclaimed. ‘What’s all this rubbish? It’s like Chamber-Pot Gorge, not Chambers Gorge.’
‘I wish people would clean up after themselves,’ Doris remarked.
I gazed at my brother, Rick who was racing ahead. He seemed oblivious to the discarded soft drink cans scattered on the dry creek bed, plastic stranded in the sand, and toilet paper fluttering on prickle bushes.
‘Where are all the campers?’ I asked. But for all the litter, there seemed a distinct lack of people that morning as we trekked to Mount Chambers.
Barney sniggered, ‘I guess the rain the previous night had flushed them out of the gorge.’
‘Not literally,’ Doris added.
‘I remember our mate Mel saying how when he and his family camped in the Flinders, at the first sign of rain, they packed up their belongings and were gone.’ Barney clicked his fingers. ‘The rivers in outback Australia can flood, just like that.’
‘Yep, they don’t call it flash-flooding for nothing,’ Doris said.
‘We survived,’ I reminded them. ‘We’re not floating down Chambers Gorge in Rick’s Charger, are we?’
‘We got to higher ground,’ Barney said.
Doris smiled. ‘We were lucky.’
‘Yep, I guess we were,’ I sighed and thought, I wish such luck translated to romance.
More silence as we trudged along the creek bed, the dry creek bed; all the rain from last night had been absorbed into the sand. The gorge had narrowed, and Barney had disappeared; absorbed by the copper brown cliffs and pale yellow shrubs.
‘I heard there’s some rock carvings on Mount Chambers,’ Doris said.
‘That should be interesting,’ I muttered. ‘Just my luck, Rick would’ve left us behind, and we won’t find them.’
Sure enough, as we rounded the bend in the gorge, there Rick and Barney sat, perched on a tree stump.
‘Do you know where we are going?’ I asked.
Rick pointed. ‘It’s that mountain up there.’
The T-Team stuck together as we hiked down the narrowing gorge. The cliffs towered over us, too dangerous to climb.
Rick gazed up at the cliffs. ‘I think we’ll have to go round and climb up the hill.’
The rest of us groaned.
‘If we keep going this way, we’ll get stuck,’ he insisted.
‘Oh, alright,’ I sighed. ‘Don’t want to get stuck.’
‘Okay, everyone,’ Doris gestured to us to line up, ‘Gretchen time.’
I took a photo of Rick and Doris’ Gretchen pose to mark the end of the hike in the creek before we commenced our climb.
So, after back-tracking, the T-Team laboured up the slope. My shins ached from the steep gradient. While Rick sprinted up, my two other companions struggled up the slope. Before Rick would vanish over the lip of the hill, I had to take a photo of this priceless moment. I raised my camera.
Doris turned. ‘No, that’s a boring! Come on everyone, let’s dance.’ She waved and hollered, ‘Rick! Come on, dance-photo time.’
Rick, Doris and Barney took their dance poses and I snapped a couple of shots.
My brother then pointed at some caves. We took the slight detour and well-deserved rest break. Near the caves we ate our scroggin (nuts, dried fruit and chocolate), and admired the Indigenous rock carvings.
Refreshed and energy restored, the T-Team of Chambers crusaders, marched up the hill to the summit of the mountain.
Doris chuckled, ‘Remember Mount Ohlsen Bagge when Mel kept saying to his girlfriend, ‘Just five more minutes’?’
‘Ha-ha, five-minute Mel,’ Barney snorted.
‘Yeah, didn’t help much, his girlfriend gave up halfway up,’ I said.
‘She had asthma,’ Doris said.
‘I know,’ I said, ‘Promising that you have only five minutes to go to the top, doesn’t help much if you can’t breathe.’
Mount Chambers didn’t seem as high as Mount Ohlssen Bagge, and by lunch time, we had reached the cairn of stones that marked the summit. The T-Team gathered around the stones and I took a photo as proof of our achievement.
Then, after a light lunch of more scroggin, we began our descent. Half-way down, I observed Barney hunched over, backpack on his back.
I laughed, ‘Hey Barney, let me get a photo of you; you look like a tortoise.’
‘So do you,’ Barney shot back.
Doris tucked her pack under her T-shirt and Rick did the same.
I set up the camera on my tripod and following Doris’ example, the T-Team became the four misfits of Mount Chambers.
Then, discarding our packs, we transformed into the T-Team Crusaders again.
While trekking down to the plain, Doris spotted a white Holden Kingswood with two strapping young fellas attached to it. Being the bush, and the guys being the only other humans in the vicinity of Mount Chambers, Doris approached them.
We had a good yarn with them. They were from Melbourne on a road trip. We swapped addresses.
Some months later, one of them actually wrote to me. So, on a road trip with my Dad to Melbourne, I caught up with this fellow. But, just my luck, by the end of the meeting, I realised that he was interested in Doris, not me. In hindsight, now, lucky for the future Mr. K., or more appropriately, God’s plan for my life.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Photo: Indigenous Carvings Chambers Gorge © L.M. Kling 1984
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