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.
[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!’
[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.
[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]
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.
[Photo 5: Sonder in its morning glory © C.D. Trudinger 1981]
[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?’
[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
8. Sonder as viewed from the summit of Mt. Giles © C.D. Trudinger 1981
9. Same view of Sonder with Dad T in foreground © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1981
10. Special to Dad Sonder; Mum T on the summit of Mt. Sonder in their courting days © C.D. Trudinger circa 1957
11. Brekky view of Sonder © L.M. Kling 2013
12. Morning view of Sonder © C.D. Trudinger circa 1955
13. Afternoon view of Sonder © L.M. Kling 2013
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)