Memories of Mambray Creek
A year ago, almost to the day, Mr. K and I escaped the city to camp in Mambray Creek in the southern Flinders Ranges. Here is the promised sequel to Trekking With the T-K’s 1: Mambray Creek posted many months ago.
A perfect day…for flies
An early morning excursion to the “little house” up the path revealed a mother and baby kangaroo grazing. I gave them the Aussie salute and cursed between pursed lips that I forgot my camera for this moment. A fly still managed to crawl up my nose; my first sniff of protein for breakfast.
By mid-morning, the novelty of a good night’s sleep (after none the previous night: deflated mattress, Mr. K snoring, the pitter-patter of rain and rustling of animals near the tent), had worn off and the war against the invasion of little black flies had taken over.
Any venture out of the sanctuary of the tent required a hat with flynet attached and draped over the face. Mr. K lent me his as mine had become missing in action presumed given to our Swiss cousins back in 2017.
Despite the flies, or should I say, to spite the pests, we efficiently organised breakfast, washed and cleaned up in the tent. Even had a quiet coffee and contemplative read before setting out on our adventure for the afternoon to Sugar Gum lookout, an eight-kilometre hike predicted to be three hours, with the flies as company.
Plodding up the wide path shaded by a forest of eucalypts, we enjoyed the crisp spring air with the scent of eucalyptus, and musical notes of native birds. All the while, flies persisted in many and varied tactics to infiltrate our face-nets of defence.
We stopped and marvelled at a giant fallen red gum that had been chopped up to clear the path.
Then, we inspected a shepherd’s hut at the base of short stiff incline to the lookout.
The reward for the climb that challenged our tender calves was the absence of flies, or very few at least. We found a suitable vantage point under a shady gum tree and ate our fly-free lunch.
‘Are you sure this is the lookout?’ Mr. K asked.
‘You want to go on?’
‘Well, the road does go on, maybe the lookout is further on.’
After finishing our sandwiches, we started down the road that was wide enough for a vehicle, then, after a hundred or so metres, paused. ‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘this road seems to be going on and on.’
Mr. K shrugged. ‘Let’s go back and check out the gorge called Hidden Valley.’
I agreed and we commenced our downward trek. Along the way, met up with some hikers who were also curious about where the road went. A short time later we encountered them again and they confirmed our suspicions that the road just goes on and on…and on.
Meandering up Hidden Valley, I gazed up at the bronze-red cliffs dotted with native pine trees. ‘I’ve been here before,’ I said.
‘Surely not.’ Mr. K was adamant.
‘Yes, I came here with my brother and friends from youth,’ I pointed to the cliffs. ‘I remember these cliffs. I remember this path through this valley. It goes to Alligator Gorge. I’m sure of it.’
‘Pff!’ Mr. K scoffed, then halted. ‘Shh, there’s a yellow-footed rock wallaby.’
Photos of four rock wallabies duly taken, I continued my debate. ‘Yes, I remember this gorge. Took us all day to walk through, and I kept asking, ‘Are we there yet?’’
‘You’re making it up.’
‘I’ve got photos,’ I insisted, ‘One of the girls was so tired by the end of the hike, she fell asleep on a big tree branch. I took a photo of her.’
I hopped from one rock to another in the waterless creek bed. ‘Oh, and towards the end, near Alligator Gorge, the lads were so hot from hiking, they stripped down to their jocks and lay in the stream. I have a photo of that too.’
My hubby rolled his eyes. ‘Yeah, right.’
‘When I get home, I’m going to dig out those photos and see if it’s the same gorge.’
‘Don’t think it is,’ Mr. K sniffed, ‘not the one that goes to Alligator Gorge.’
We had turned around by this stage and were stumping our way back to the junction to the path that lead back to our campsite. Time slowed, my feet ached from the long hike, and it seemed to take hours before we reached the junction where the sign indicated the way to Hidden Valley.
Mr. K studied the actual words on the sign. ‘Oh, Hidden Valley does go to Alligator Gorge.’
‘Told you,’ I snipped, ‘I have been down this track thirty-five years ago.’
As we plodded back to camp, spotted a gecko (also known as a lizard), then a large ant hill.
Finally, my feet released from hiking boot captivity, I took a shower and then prepared lamb chops for tea on the communal fire-pit. For dinner, a party of flies and a thirsty kangaroo joined us. Then, as Mr. K lifted a forkful of lamb to his mouth, a kookaburra swooped. The greedy bird missed, and Mr. K continued to eat his lamb chop. The kangaroo had no qualms with our company and hopped right into the picnic area to lap at the “rinkable water” (obviously water that is actually not drinkable but with a sign that has been defaced) provided in the bowl under the tap used for dishwashing.
I munched on my chop while musing at our assortment of wildlife friends. Then…crunch! I spat out something bony. My tongue felt the rough edge of my front tooth. ‘Oh, no! I chipped my tooth!’ I ran my tongue again over the ragged surface. ‘Oh, well, not bad, that cap lasted over forty years.’
The repair of the tooth was not that bad, either. Dentist saw me the day after we returned to civilisation, and with health insurance, all fixed up for $70.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Photo: Sunset on cliffs, Mambray Creek © L.M. Kling 2018
Want more? More than before? More adventure? More Australia?
Check out my memoir of Central Australian adventure in
Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981
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