‘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.’
Then. Thump! Thump! Thump!
I bolted upright.
Dad scrambled out of his cocoon like a scalded cat. ‘What’s that?’
He waved a torch in every direction.
Clang! Clang! Clang! ‘Wake up! Wake up!’ Dad yelled.
I dragged myself out of the tangle of grey army blankets and shuffled to the door. The thin worn lino stung cold on my bare feet.
Dad marched past hammering a saucepan with a wooden spoon. ‘Get up! We have to get an early start!’
Mr. B stumbled to the bathroom and grumbled, ‘It’s too early, surely we could’ve had an hour’s more sleep.’
‘No, we must get going! We have a lot of ground to cover.’
‘Hey, Rick, look!’ I pointed. ‘The Gosse Range, it’s just like the painting Grandma’s got in her lounge room.’
From the front of the Rover Mr B asked, ‘Did you say, David that you met the famous Albert Namatjira when you lived up in Hermannsburg?’
‘Oh, of course. My father-in-law was a great supporter of Albert’s art.’
‘How did the Gosse Range come about?’ I asked my audience from the back of the Rover.
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.’
‘You need time to appreciate these places,’ Dad explained.
‘Bit rough if we only have two weeks for school holidays.’ Mr. B’s voice sounded like the robot from Lost in Space.
We continued to bump over the rocks and sand where two-wheel drive vehicles fear to tread. Dad recalled his days travelling by donkey along this same track when he explored Palm Valley with his Arunda students.
‘O-oh!’ Dad uttered as the Rover’s underside scraped over some boulders.