[Extract from Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari, available on Amazon.]
Rain, Mud and Lost in the Flinders
Monday July 20, 1981
Fat dollops of rain struck my sleeping bag, waking me.
‘Oh, al-right!’ I mumbled before peeling the sleeping bag from me. I slipped on my shoes and as I was already fully clothed, I shuffled to the campfire.
The rain stopped.
Hours dragged as we struggled to eat our cereal, drink beverages, answer the call of nature, and then pack our bags.
My older cousin, C1 was missing for what seemed an eternity. Younger cousin, C2 commented that his brother liked to read on his “business” ventures.
I laughed, ‘Our toilet is inaccessible for hours when my brother goes. He doesn’t like books, so I don’t know what he does when he goes.’.
‘Well, at least it’s only twice a week,’ my body-building brother said.
Dad’s eyes widened. ‘What? You only go twice a week?’
‘Yeah? How often do you go, Dad?’
‘Two or three times a day,’ he replied.
‘Yeah, that’s normal.’ Dad poked the coals and flames leapt into action. ‘Sure you’re not constipated? I’m not sure your Protein diet is a good idea.’
Richard shook his concoction and examined the plastic Tupperware containing Protein-powder mixture. ‘Nup, it’s fine.’ With a teaspoon, he stirred the raw egg floating on top of the bubbles, and then swallowed his liquid breakfast in three gulps.
C1 returned shovel in hand and a grin spread between his over-night shadow. ‘Ah! That’s better!’
Dad grabbed the shovel and toilet paper and disappeared into the bush. As we waited for each member to do their “nature-walk”, rain plopped into the sand.
We left the Flinders camp mid-morning in the rain, then rattled over corrugations and lumbered through water-washed floodways. An hour into our journey, we stopped at Hawker where the boys selected lollies, and chewing gum to occupy their bored mouths for the hours of travel to come.
C1 and C2 picked out miscellaneous items they’d forgotten to pack. C1 placed his purchases on the weathered bench and reached for his back pocket. He patted it, and his eyes widened. He jammed his fingers into his pocket, patted his side pockets, and pushed his hands into them and pulled out the lining. He glanced around his feet. ‘Oh, oh! I think I left my wallet behind in the creek,’ he said. While he continued to search the floor, and his pockets, we pooled our money to cover C1’s expenses.
Despite C1’s lamentations that his wallet contained his driver’s license, passport, visa, and thirty dollars, a wall of steady rain threatening floods, discouraged us from returning to the camp. Dad was sure it was too late to find it. ‘The floods would’ve washed it away,’ he said.
On the road through the Flinders Ranges, Dad stopped driving for us to photograph the ranges cloaked in mist. On one of our photo stops, the boys discovered the sport of rock-throwing.
Our family friend, TR tracked us with his film camera as we all tried to smash beer bottles with rocks.
Further north, rain pelted our vehicle and lightening flashed. At the bridge near Leigh Creek, we passed a car, bonnet jacked up, and a couple peering at their dead engine.
Richard, came to the rescue and within thirty minutes, resolved their engine issues and sent them on their way. I wish he could have been that efficient with the Rover’s pack-rack!
While Richard was repairing the car, we inspected the railroad track, the bridge of the over-flowing creek, and then watched a Volkswagen splashing through a pool of muddy water.
At Lyndhurst, we filled up with petrol. Twelve miles out from there, we camped by a disused train track. We used some of the sleepers for firewood. Birds gathered in a cluster of She oak and eucalyptus trees. Stratus and high cumulous clouds gave rise to a stunning sunset of gold, orange and flares of red.
‘Wow! What a glorious sunset!’ I said and then turned to C1. ‘Pity about the rain and losing your wallet.’
C1 looked up from his book-reading and sighed, ‘I’ll have to manage without it, I guess.’
‘Perhaps we can look for it on the way back.’
‘Ah, Lee-Anne, always the optimist.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Feature photo: Railway Track Leigh Creek © C.D. Trudinger 1981
How did, I as one eighteen-year old girl with five men, survive camping two months in the outback?
What did the T-Team discover as they boldly explored where few people have gone before?
And, did C1 ever find his wallet?
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