We had a week off in Omeo at the lovely caravan park. We re-shod ponies, went to the Omeo show which happened to be on, were looked after by Sandi and Lou and the rest of the campers at the caravan park! A special thank you to the lions club from Trafalgar who looked after us so well, and even invited us over for a coffee on our way through to Melbourne to do some jobs! They were brilliant and we really enjoyed chatting and learning from them. We had Mal and Shirley and some family arrive and it was nice to have some backup and company for a while!
With full bellies and resupplied we set off into book 11. We meandered through the youak valley with green grass and fat stock, then headed up lone pine trail, our first real hill and just a tease of what’s to come! Half way up the hill, we entered Kosciusko national park…. finally! We have heard so much about it and feel like we have been waiting forever to get here! It was interesting to see the scrubby undergrowth that was obviously a relic of the fires that had gone through. It was beautiful riding and the day seemed to go quickly. We encountered or first brumbies about 800m from camp at old camp site. They had a young foal worth them and took off pretty quickly. The boys were on their toes at the sight of them, but settled soon after. Camp was a set of yards with 2 toilets, and there were already some ponies in the yards. It turned out that the section coordinator was running a tour group from there and they invited us to camp with them and spend a rest day with them. We were spoiled by jen and Peter with beautiful food and great company. The girls on the ride were hilarious and we had some good laughs even if we got rained out! On our rest day, jen took us to see the old currango homestead and the plains where the highest concentration of brumbies are in knp.
Our next stop was meant to be circuits hut, but on peters advice we headed to Schofields where there was more water. During the ride, laurie became sore which was a bit upsetting. We gave him some painkillers and decided to wait to see how he was the next day. It poured all night and the boys weren’t very settled. ..we slept with one ear open being in brumby country without yards. A wet a windy day where we followed PowerLines down to lake eucumbene for a lovely camp at denison. Great grass and water with tables and toilets. We were being spoiled with the creature comforts! Laurie walked well so we decided to take 2 days of for him to heal and see how get went after that. We chatted to the fly fisher men, some of who didnt eat fish so we had a lovely brown trout for tea one night. I grabbed a ride into adaminaby fire a shower at the pub and to grab some more real food! !!!
The ponies slept and ate green grass, and had 3 escapes from the fence. .. we think the wallabies may have been knocking it down. The boys thought it was great and had a midnight adventure into everyone else’s camps!
Over the next 2 days laurie would look good for 95% of the time and a bit sore intermittently. When we got to bradleys hut we decided to find him a paddock and leave him to heal. Thanks to Peter and Bec who drove out to pick him up and took him back to their place. I had a bit of a tear after he left, but know it was the right decision for him. .
It was freezing up at bradleys hut with winds of 80kph and weatherzone told us it’felt like’ -7. In the morning, our 4l water bags were slush with ice! We had some his company that night from phil, a guy passing through using the shelter overnight. It was nice to chat to him and we appreciated the chocolate and milk power he shared with us! While on our rest day at bradleys, preston was mistaken for one of the fugitives on the run and we received a visit from the national parks gut who was ready to press the emergency button! He was relieved to find it was just 2 crazy people and 4 horses camped in the hut.
The other 4 ponies weren’t perturbed by lauries disappearance and they took off without a backwards glance. A big downhill to a lovely camp at jagumba, then uphill to yellow bog (the book says it’s flat. ..its not) where there wasn’t alot of feed. We then followed the power lines into khancoban where we erred greeted with enthusiasm by the new owners and made very welcome. The boys helped with the mowing which was a win win situation. We stayed in a cabin (luxury) as it promised to rain and rain over the next 2 days. We stayed out and again were touched by the generosity of strangers lending us a car to do some shopping in corryong for our days off. We met Charlie the coordinator (and unofficial mayor of khancoban) and Ken, of Ken and Sharon, who completed the trail in 1989. It was amazing to trade stories and compare how the trail had changed in the last 25 years. They had 12 horses and drove them through, leading not 1 the whole way.
Rested and recouped from a real bed and hot showers, we said goodbye to the caravan park and headed off to Victoria. 2 days of fairly easy going with yards each night and we were camped across the Murray from Victoria. The new boardmans run was much nicer than the bitumen alternative. Thanks so much to jenny who brought our food drop down to tom groggin. We had lovely meal with jenny and her riding friends on ton groggin station and then took our last rest day in NSW. The ponies must be fit, as they were into everything. We made a rookie error and went to sit in the shade without fencing off our gear. We came back to find a hole in the tent 1.2m long, copra all over the ground, and someone had tried to eat a roll of toilet paper as it was mangled, wet and green! We patched the tent as black cloud rolled in, but we didn’t get any rain to test or handiwork.
Here we come victoria! I declared as we crossed he Murray and headed up the Davies plain track. We had heard so many stories about vic… mostly bad /tough, but some good and it was time to find out what was true !
We climbed up to 1750m before dropping into the hut. .. it was cloudy and miserable so we were glad for shelter. The poor ponies had to weather the cold. .. i don’t think they know whether it’s summer or winter! We were suprised to see a group of 13 boys hike in and set up camp. .. there were 16 groups of them all across the mountains on their 21 day grade 10 camp. We camped with them at Davies plains and down at Charlies creek where they took their brumby watch very seriously and all followed as preston cracked the whip and chased them away. They all stood back and applauded! In not sure they were so impressed with the bells they got to listen to all night. .. but we might have done their leaders a favour and stopped them from asking a million questions a minute
The trail then descends deeply into limestone creek where you follow and old jeep track to stay off the 4wd track. It was slow going as we had to cut or way through, doing 1km in an hour, but across the creeks it opened up and we followed brumby pads out to camp. Camp was lovely big flats but plenty of signs of brumbies. Bundi was on patrol for us and let us know what was going on. We then headed for a place called brumby hill which was probably the worst camp we have had so far. Boggy and little feed. It lived up to its name and at about 2 pm we heard a rumble as 2 of them galloped towards our boys who were hobbled out in an attempt to get some feed into them. Preston yelled ” brumbies” and i ran, flat chat towards them. Well i probably would have been frightened if i saw that sight too, they left 3m skid marks as they hit the breaks and took off into the bush again . We were glad to leave that camp.
The next day was a big day which brought us to bindi station. It was rocky, and hilly. 1500m down to 800m, back up to 1200m to undulating then drop to 400. Big day. We were happy to see feed at bindi. … in fact it was clover up to my knees high. Amazing. We put the boys in the “chewed out” paddock and they were happy as pigs in mud. We were shown the shearer s quarters and had a hot shower. Thanks so much to penny and Fraser for their hospitality. We were chatting to them and found out the they never send anyone the way we came in as is to hard. .. there is a much nicer ride. And the same with the next day to omeo.
With our alternative route in hand we headed towards omeo and the end of book 11. A 40km day and we were shagged, but happy to see the rolling green hills of omeo and the prospect of a good rest.
We set up camp at the caravan park after being welcomed by Lou and Sandy and had a great meal at the pub. A week here to shoe and do some other jobs, and we will head into our Last book. It’s getting close !!!!
So far it has been tough but no where near as bad as what we had been told, although i hear the worst is to come in book 12! Healsville here we come!
Bundi at the highest point on the trail
Overnight at Bradleys Hut
Checking out the cows
The ripped tents
Some Brumbies Nutella Pony
Charlies Creek and our fellow campes
Brumby in the mist
Brumby hill – our pick was Craig and Shirley for the horse shoes????
The hills never look as big in photos
BNT and Alpine walking tracks
Dennison and sleeping ponies
Our break in Gundaroo.
After finding a paddock, jobs and a little Barn to rent, we settled in to Gundaroo and have had the best time living here. It is close to the city if you need it, but far enough away that you are out in the bush on the weekends! You have the best of both worlds!
The locals are so friendly and we have made some great friends here – nice town and great company… how much better can it get!
Since we have been here, we have done a heap of things, but there is definitely more to do! I went to a horsemanship course in Sydney which I thoroughly enjoyed, we went up to the snow, down to Batemans Bay, camping at Wee Jasper and visited some friends in Sydney, just to name a few.
We had a lot of BNT reminiscing with Sue, Bill and Bob when we went down for a visit, and with Craig and Shirley who stopped in Gundaroo to do their book launch.
I was lucky enough to find a job that I have really enjoyed, and the girls at work have been so lovely.
One of the highlights of the rest stop was definitely on September 4, when Preston presented me with an engagement ring, which I have to brag that he designed and made himself (well with a bit of help from his sneaky offsider Cheryl!! ). I am happy to say that my answer was yes, and we are happily engaged. This BNT trip has definitely been a life changer for the both of us!!! I also had my 30th birthday here and I was lucky enough to have Mum fly down for the weekend. We have had a lot of big life events in this little, unsuspecting town!
The boys have also enjoyed their break, putting on so much weight that we had to get our saddle re-fitted …. They not only have been gutsing the brilliant grass, but having fun chasing the sheep around the paddock and galloping from grass patch to grass patch. They have not only fattened, but muscled up through their toplines thanks to the flat work and ground work we have been doing with them. They should be plenty fit enough when we get on the road again.
We have to say thank you to all the people we have met and loved spending time with… Phil, Jo, Hamish, Lachie, Col, Tanner, Lamby, Matt, Lyndal, Billy, Marsie, Libbie, George, Alarna, Dan and last but definitely not least of all, Kylie and Jimmy. Words cannot express how grateful we are to all of you who took us in and made us feel at home almost instantly. We look forward to seeing you all soon J
We are looking forward to this section of the trail as we have heard many great things about it – we have also heard how tough it can be and have been prepping ourselves for the steep hills as well! We have bought 2 ½ months of food to get us through, sorted it and sent it forward to different points on the trail. We prepped our gear, made new panels for our pack saddle as it had worn enough for us to replace it so it would make the end, ordered replacements for any broken or worn out gear and set out a rough timeline for the next couple of months. We are prepped and ready (we think!) for the next 1000km to go…..
On our way to Gundaroo, we had the idea of heading back up to Cairns for a couple of reasons. Our idea was to hike/bike the section of the BNT that we had missed up there while we were still fit and before we found jobs and started to pay rent! Our plans came into fruition, and we left the boys in a 60 acre paddock with sheep for company – we would know whether they could handle the cold temperatures by the time we got back and whether they would need constant rugging or not.
We took all the gear we might need for our hike with us, and in between catching up with family and friends, we prepped ourselves and borrowed some bikes. Gav, Rob and Indy drove us up to Ayton where we had made the decision to float around to Mossman as the rivers were too high to cross after Cyclone Ita. After smoko, we got on our bikes and rode to the start of the creb track. Rob and Gav then picked up our bikes with the plan of meeting us on the other side of the daintree river in a couple of days time.
On our own again, we were greeted by a steady uphill but at the top were the most magnificent views over the rainforest, the river and the ocean. We continued walking along a dirt road and ran into lots of cars travelling in and out – some locals, some visiting the roaring meg waterfalls. We were surprised by the number of people that we saw! We stopped for some lunch which was a novelty for us – normally we continue to camp so that the horses are carrying load for less time, and so they get more time to eat. Shoes back on and the first couple of steps were a bit wincy with some new blisters starting, but we made it to camp in good time, and found a lovely little spot next to a creek. We could see evidence of Carol and the boys, and Jackie and Gibbo, both who had camped with their horses on their journeys north and south respectively. We spent the afternoon with our feet in the river which was lovely and cool, until we looked at the sky which was threatening rain. We set up camp before the light sprinkle started and managed to keep everything nice and dry.
Shoes on (with tape over those newly formed blisters) and we were packed up in 20 minutes after breaky and on our way to complete our 25km day. The night before we had been trying to send a message from our sat phone to let Gav know we were travelling well, but found out our credit had expired. All we could do was keep going and hope we would run on time and Gav would show up at the other end like we had discussed! We wandered along as the track deteriorated and ended up in washouts and step ups and downs – there were signs informing 4WDs that they were not allowed in and in case of a vehicle getting stuck, there would be no rescue attempt. if found, there would be a on the spot $2000 fine. Despite the closure, we saw multiple vehicles heading through the track which was pretty slippery from the recent rain. Wandering along the track, we were talking about gav and the Sat phone – no joke, we walked around a corner to find a free to landline telephone sitting by the side of the track. Wondering if it was an illusion, we picked up the phone, dialled Gav who picked up – we couldn’t stop laughing in amazement! We had one hill which took about 20 minutes to climb and 30 to descend, but it was pretty smooth sailing. We hit camp by 3 o’clock and decided to park about 5m above the river which was only ankle deep at the crossing. I peeled off my shoes to find some pretty nice blisters – the one on my R little toe was actually the size of my little toe. I decided to burst it and tape it the next day which was alot more pleasant than trying to fit my foot back into my shoe.
Overnight it rained. And rained. At one point I wondered whether I was getting wet, but decided there was nothing I could do about it so I just went back to sleep. Morning came and we peeked out the tent to find the creek lapping the bottom of the tent, and underneath my sleeping mat was a stream of water. We packed up all the wet gear, took our shoes off and walked across the swollen creek – it was now up to my belly button and we had to try and lift our backpacks and keep them out of the water! The track was extremely slippery and we were both glad we brought out hiking poles… despite this, I still ended up on my bum, sliding down 2 of the red clay hills, laughing my head off! The last challenge of the creb track was to cross the daintree river, which is well known for its huge crocodiles. We scanned the crossing quickly, decided the water was too shallow, clear and moving too quickly for the crocs and proceeded to cross the knee deep crossing no worries at all.
From there we switched to bikes for the 45km ride into Mossman. Despite the headwind, rain and flat tire I got 4 km out of Mossman (it was a hard slog from there) we made it. Itis a pretty good feeling knowing that the BNT is now complete up to Gundaroo… 4300km done and dusted!
At the start of the Creb track
One of the many creeks along the way
Random phone in the middle of the bush
The river before it rose
It was pretty slippery!
The daintree crossing
Indy dog lending a helping hand
Beginning of Book 9 to Gundaroo
We had 4 rest days with the McCourts, the section coordinators around Shooters Hill. We spent hours chatting everything from family to the obvious – horses and the trail. The horses had a much needed rest and filled up on hay and water whilst the temperatures rose slightly. We are so grateful to Hazel and Martin, and are sure that we will remain great friends.
A highlight of our rest days was our little treasure hunt. We got a message from Di and Judy (the walkers we met in the Wang) which told us they had skipped ahead to Canberra because of the cold weather. They also said that we were more than welcome to their food drop, and gave instructions on where to find it. So all 4 of us set out to find this package. We hunted high and low in pine forests with LOTS of tree stumps… we finally stumbled along the correct one and with a cry of “Found It” we loaded it into the car. I couldn’t wait to open it and explore the contents – even though it was dehydrated food, it was different, and it was exciting.
While on our rest days, we decided that as the temperatures had dropped and the weather was on and off rainy, we were going to try and carry rainsheets/winter rugs for the boys to help them out through the next section. To do this, one of us had to be off walking at all times, and the 2nd riding horse now became a pack horse, carrying the extra weight on his saddle. We also knew that we wouldn’t be on the road for much longer as we had to find somewhere to stop, live and work while winter passed and we waited for the snow to melt on the Snowy mountains.
Hazel rode out with us for an hour or so, then left us with the promise of dropping out to see us while we were still in their section. The next day as we headed off, the rain started… and continued all the way to camp. It was a wet, soggy walk and we were happy to be greeted by a hut. It even had an undercover parking space for the ponies so our gear stayed relatively dry while we unpacked. It was cold, rainy, and there wasn’t a lot of feed, so we were so grateful when we saw a car pull up – it was Hazel bearing Hay and horse feed. If the boys are happy, so are we.
As luck would have it, it was sunny the next morning so we packed up and headed towards Taralga. Again, we are so grateful to the people along the way as the boys were offered a big paddock over night, outside which we found our first BNT granite marker for the whole trip! We hit Taralga the weekend of the Working Dog show, which was great for some entertainment on our day off. We had a visit from Di and Judy who had finished their walk, and were heading up to do another walk on their way home. Our rest day was rainy and wet, but as we headed off towards Crookwell, the sun popped out for us. Half way into the day we made the decision to push all the way through to Crookwell in one day, which made it a 42 Km day. Half way through the day, the horses all got swapped over. After the halfway point, it was like Dusty knew that he had to pull the rest of us and the boys to camp. He put his head down and did not slow up from his 6.3km an hour walk for the whole 21 km. It was amazing to watch him and just gives me goosebumps thinking about how much effort and work that horse has put into our trip. He is the ever reliable one, and seems to know when he has to dig deep and pull everyone else along. He is one amazing horse. We arrived at crookwell and were put up in the bull shed – nice and dry. It also happened to be the weekend of the Brew and Bake Festival and there were hundreds of caravans there, so we headed over for all you can eat camp oven dinner and the biggest camp fire you have ever seen – we were pretty happy. We just happened to be sitting next to Chris, Nigel, Ingrid and Mark who were from Canberra and have relations in Gundaroo. Talk about a small world! They were a great help to us when arriving in Gundaroo organising ourselves, and we greatly appreciate everything they have done for us – they are such kind people!
After a rest and our coldest nights yet at -5 degrees, we woke up to a frost and decided to let that melt before we packed up and head towards Canberra. It was a fairly flat section of trail that travelled past a lot of windmills. We were quite surprised at how far away from them you could hear them… one night we felt like we were camped close to the highways, but after 5 km ride the next morning, we realised it was the windmills making all of the noise.
This part of Australia has so much history – we were riding past buildings that we hundreds of years old! It’s a pretty special part of Australia with lots of fertile pockets of land. No wonder our forefathers decided to grow sheep and potatoes here!
2 nights out of Gundaroo we arrived at camp to find it dry. The boys had had a good drink about 3 kms earlier and the temps were quite cool, and we were promised water 2km down the road in the morning by the guidebook. So we camped dry. As luck would have it, a lovely lady we met by the side of the road text her friends who decided to come out for a visit – with hay, and a tank full of water of the back of their ute! Talk about trail angels. The horses were happy with the drink they got, and it turned out well as the water promised by the guidebook had been fenced off onto someone’s land. Steve and Tracey stayed for a while for a chat, and came up with lots of offers of short term agistment while we found somewhere for our horses to live, which we are so grateful for.
Riding into Gundaroo we kept thinking about what we were going to do for the winter. We knew we had to get our car down here, so that was our first priority. We turned up in Gundaroo, settled the horses in, then headed up to the Gundaroo Pub – If you need to know anything in town, the local pub is where you will find it! We found our there was no public transport into Canberra, and couldn’t manage to find someone heading into town the next morning, But Chris and Nigel and Alarna came to our rescue! We met Lamby, a local, who proceeded to call Craig and Shirley (2 BNTers who had obviously made an impression on the locals and were still in touch with many of them) and we chatted to them for an hour or so. Lamby then introduced us to Kylie and Jimmy who offered a paddock and a horse truck for us to camp in, which we happily accepted while we sorted our lives out. We still cannot believe the generosity of people.
So it looks like we are in Gundaroo for the winter, and now just need to find somewhere to live and work…..
4150km down ….
Undercover Horse parking!
Welcome to the Blue mountains
leaving Shooters Hill
Almost at Gundaroo
Dusty Checking out the view
Lots of Windmills
Almost at Taralga
Our first BNT granite marker
Wandering along the road
Ready to head off!