T-Team Series — Mt. Sonder

The Waves of Mount Sonder

G’day, Lee-Anne Marie here from Australia. First of all, heartfelt thanks to Mohamad Al Karbi who has offered the opportunity to post the T-Team adventure series for all to enjoy travel in Australia.

In this episode, the T-Team admire the wonder of Mt Sonder in the MacDonnell Ranges; scenery that inspired famous indigenous artists such as Albert Namatjira, and also artists like me. The challenge, to rise early enough to capture the sunrise on Mt. Sonder.

[An extract from Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981]

In the dim blue light of pre-dawn, Dad and I tramped up the slope to catch the first rays of sun on Mt. Sonder. When we reached the crest of the hill, the peaks of the mountain flushed in delicate pink hues. The sky behind Sonder was pastel blue softened by a salmon haze just above the mountain.

EPSON scanner image[Photo 1: Dawn in the Centre, near Glen Helen. Mt Sonder is one of the peaks in the MacDonnell Ranges west of Alice Springs. © L.M. Kling 2013]

After snapping a few shots, Dad packed his camera into his brown bag. ‘The colour won’t be as good as it is in summer.’

I lingered, staring at the delicate pink mountain. I knew the sun had not risen and that the best colour on the rocks occurs as the sun peeps over the horizon. ‘Just a few more minutes, Dad. Please!’

Wave2-ghstation dawn1945c[Photo 2: First flush of dawn on Mt. Sonder; another time another angle. Mt. Sonder is best viewed from a lookout near Glen Helen Station. © S.O. Gross circa 1945]

‘Very well, then. But I think you’re wasting your time. We’ve seen the best of it.’

‘But it’s just so beautiful!’ I sighed and watched in the stillness of the dawn; not a puff of wind or any chirps from birds disturbed the moment. Dad even held his tongue and absorbed the panoramic feast had set before us. A bold pink appeared on Mt. Sonder and crept down its vertical cliffs and flowed onto its slopes as the sun emerged over the horizon.

Wave3-namitjira sonder2013c[Photo 3 (above) & 4 (below) : Sun struck cliffs in 2013, but same effect. Taken on two consecutive days. Note the effect the clouds have on the colour. Photos taken from the lookout near Glen Helen © L.M. Kling 2013]

Wave4-sonder morning lightcc

Dad pulled out his camera and then attached his telescopic lens. ‘Oh, I’m glad we waited. Didn’t I say it would get better?’ He aimed the lens at the deepening crimson and click, click, click.

Wave5-sunrise sweet spot-daca8190c[Photo 5: Sonder in its morning glory © C.D. Trudinger 1981]
Wave6-Mt Sonder dawn Samc[Photo 6: Many waves of Mt. Sonder; the photo that inspired the painting. Photos 5, 6 & 7 taken through the mountain range near Ormiston Gorge © S.O. Gross circa 1945]

‘Well, actually—’ I intended to remind Dad the waiting was my idea.


‘Never mind.’ I decided not to ruin the moment by quibbling. I sighed and snapped a couple of shots. Through my instamatic camera’s viewfinder, Sonder seemed just a jagged blip on the horizon. Dad’s SLR Konica produced superior photos. ‘Can you take a photo of me with my camera?’

Wave7-Mt Sonder and mec[Photo 7: Mt. Sonder “selfie” © C.D. Trudinger 1981]

As the colour began to fade, Dad photographed me to the side of a distant Mt. Sonder. We descended the hill and Mt. Sonder retreated behind the hills in front of us.

[Photos 8 – 12: Many sides to Mt. Sonder 

Wave8-dadca81011                                                      8. Sonder as viewed from the summit of Mt. Giles © C.D. Trudinger 1981
Wave9-From Giles Leec9. Same view of Sonder with Dad T in foreground © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981
Wave10-Memories on top of Sonder Dad CA03710. Special to Dad Sonder; Mum T on the summit of Mt. Sonder in their courting days © C.D. Trudinger circa 1957

EPSON scanner image11. Brekky view of Sonder © L.M. Kling 2013
Wave12-Morning tea-CDT50c12. Morning view of Sonder © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955

Wave13-Sonder afternoon201313. Afternoon view of Sonder © L.M. Kling 2013

Wave14-Glen Helen Station 1945c

14. Way back in the past view of Sonder from Glen Helen Station  © S.O. Gross circa 1945

Extract from Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981 © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019

Painting: “The Waves of Mt. Sonder” © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010 (acrylic on canvas)

Trekking_With_the_T_Cover_for_KindleCatch the Wave of Adventure — Explore Central Australia
With the T-Team

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Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

4 thoughts on “T-Team Series — Mt. Sonder”

  1. So beautiful and magical! I love, love, love the Waves of Mount Sonders! Waves is exactly what it looks like! Thank you for sharing this wonderful adventure.

  2. Thank you. I learnt that many eons ago, Central Australia was covered by an inland sea. I wanted to reflect that in my painting of Mt Sonder and I’m glad you can see the waves in my painting. Wishing you all the best.


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