It was a long list. Angus, who was able to read, was in charge of the list. He called and ticked; his uncle and brother fetched; and his aunt sorted items into piles on the living room floor. I believe the term is logistics: the gophers called it legwork.
“Matches!” The pencil was poised to tick.
Uncle Fixit turned to his wife. “Where do you keep the matches, dear?”
Aunt Mixit considered the question. “With the candles, I think. No, I put the candles in the fridge. Try the top shelf of the little cupboard over the stove hood.”
Matches were found and ticked. The next item was a torch, to which were added spare batteries which were not on the list. The piles grew. The afternoon passed all too quickly. The workers demanded a tea break. Aunt Mixit watched the choc chip cookies disappear and was thankful she had already packed a good supply for the trip.
Alex stopped with a cookie halfway to his mouth. “What are we taking to eat?” His eyes flicked from adult to adult.
Uncle Fixit protested. “What are we taking to eat? Alex, we taking a car not a road train. Look at the piles of stuff on the floor – where are we to find room for food?” He made it sound like an undesirable commodity.
Alex put his half eaten cookie down. His face was frozen in dismay. “We’ll be away a whole week – we have to eat. We’ll die if we don’t eat!”
Angus tossed his two cents worth in to the discussion. “Don’t listen to Uncle Fixit, Alex. He eats just as much as we do, maybe even more.” His eyes measured Uncle Fixit’s waist. “Auntie Mixit is in charge of food. She won’t let us starve. Will you, Auntie?” He turned an enquiring gaze on his aunt.
“No, Angus, we won’t starve, but Uncle Fixit has a point. We have to forage as we go. There won’t be much space to spare in the car, the weather is hot and no room for a car-fridge. So we will need to buy meals or things to make meals each day as we travel.”
Angus nodded, satisfied. Alex immediately responded: “Can we go to Macca’s?”
His aunt smiled. “Definitely not for every meal, Alex. And we don’t know what we will find until we get there. We just have to decide when we get there.”
The car was packed before the family retired, tenting equipment on the left, personal needs on the right. The logistics list, now double checked was stowed in the pocket of the driver’s seat. Everything was ready for an early start.
The birds were still asleep when the family tumbled from their beds and dipped their noses into steaming cups of Milo. Toothbrushes were accounted all present and correct in their respective toilet bags. The team was ready to go. Final inspection. Uncle Fixit patted the boy’s pockets.
“Out they come!” He flicked his thumb toward the table.
“Aw!” It was a double protest.
“I warned you, no Gameboys. The Gameboys stay home. There is no electricity when you camp, no way you can recharge the batteries. Besides, you’ll be too busy most of the time.”
“Don’t you have a car charger?” Alex knew all about the logistics relating to Gameboys.
“The only car charger I have is for the one cell phone we will be taking with us, and that is for emergencies only.”
The Gameboys emerged reluctantly from the pockets and were replaced in the bedroom until the boys returned. The house was locked and the car backed from the garage.
“Have you got your books and pencils? Right, now remember you can start your collection the minute we drive out of the gate. All ready?”
With a spurt of speed the car whipped through the gate, through a complicated jiggle of turns and settled into a steady speed on the highway. Alex had his next question ready.
“When will we have breakfast?”
Aunt Mixit turned in her seat. “Who has the map? Angus? Okay, find Peak Hill. Got it? Now follow the road with your finger until you find Gilgandra. That’s where we will have breakfast.”
“How long will it take to get there?”
“About an hour and a half, I think.”
Alex groaned. “I’ll be dead by then!”
(Alex was six years old then. He is now sixteen years old and is still in no danger of dying of starvation – or boredom!).
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