Back on the trail… Withcott to Thornton

In late January we went to visit friends who live down on the new England highway and while we were down in the area, we decided to do a quick reccy of the trail. We both came to the same conclusion – we would be silly not to leave asap and risk missing all the lovely grass we saw along the way. So we went into prep mode again… We told bosses we were leaving, packed up gear, fixed/altered gear, shod horses and spent what quality time with family and friends we could before heading off. We were stopped for 2 1/2 months, but it went so quickly… I wish we had more time to catch up with everyone we wanted to! We had a lovely time staying with our “upstairs neighbours” and can’t express our appreciation enough for what they did for us.

On the 3rd of Feb, we were lucky enough to have the help of family, Julie and Amanda and their floats. We loaded the 5 boys onto the floats and drove out to Withcott where we camped at the back of the pub. The boys were a bit unsettled and were overwhelmed with the amount of traffic and noise that was around, but they soon settled down after Bundi took out his frustration by “lunging” banjo around and around in circles. After watching this and seeing him back mater up by taking his tail in his mouth and walking backwards, we think he may have been watching too many natural horsemanship DVDs 😛

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Ready for life on the trail again

After a beautiful meal at the pub, which is highly recommended for anyone passing by, we got a very broken nights sleep – whether we were excited or nervous who knows! We woke up and began to pack up… A bit out of practise it took us and hour and 45 mins. The cleaning lady at the pub must have felt sorry for us and delivered  two coffees which were much appreciated by me! Finally we were ready to leave, and it just happened to be peak hour. The trail crosses the warrego highway immediately outside the pub, so we stood for 15 mins waiting for a gap in the traffic so we could cross. The boys were brilliant and handled it like old hands and happily trotted across the road as we jogged beside them. About an hour down the  road we decided to jump on and ride, and in this period, bundi and banjo managed to get  loose and decided to scope out the road ahead of us. Many thanks to them as they decided it was ok and settled down to eat grass in someones driveway .I managed to catch them while Preston went back to look for my sunnies which he found. On our way again, we then ran into some cattle that had escaped, so we blocked them  while we witnessed a lady honk her horn, sending the cattle flying, and then proceed to tear shreds off the poor guy who was trying to get the cattle back into his paddock. We waited for this little episode to play out in front of us before we once again headed off. We made it to camp by 11 despite the events of the day and found a lovely big area for the horses with grass, even though it was short. Many thanks to bob and Rachel for the campsite!

Day 2 back on the trail and we were up early, trying to get on the road by 630. This was not meant to be as we made some pack repairs after one of the horses decided he really didn’t want to carry it that day. Cest la vie! Off we headed and even though the trail was mainly bitumen roads, it was beautiful and cool on top of the ridge near Preston ( the town not the person ). We  dropped down into the valley below in rockmount where we camped with Shayne and Rachel who were lovely and gave the boys a paddock with grass higher than their bellies. Their eyes almost popped out of their heads.

Again, we got up early to hit the road and beat the heat when we discovered dusty had pulled a shoe so that slowed us down. That fixed, we had another lovely days ride up and over another ridge. After having to push through lantana in an overgrown part of the trail we found Laurie had pulled a shoe. We limped him into camp so it could be nailed back on. Another camp with an abundance of grass…. If this keeps up it will make us all very happy!

We decided to take advantage of the grass and had a rest day at ‘Matildas place’… The boys were a bit itchy from all the bugs but after being sprayed they were very happy with full bellies. We had some company arrive and Emma, Terri, Al, Pepper and Ash spoiled us with dinner, wine, and the best scroggin I have ever eaten!!!

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Up early (and after nailing another shoe on) we all set off on a brilliant ride up and over a ridge with gorgeous views and to make the day even more special we were surrounded by hundreds on blue and black butterflies. Great scenery, great ponies and great company!!!! We really enjoyed having Emma, Terri and Al along for the ride and were happy the trail delivered such a good day for them.

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We set off for the left hand branch road campsite and were greeted with 15 km of roadworks… All in all everyone was great and we only had one freakout at the cement agitator. Banjo decided It was pretty scary and might eat him! We had a lovely afternoon at Trevor and Dels immaculate property and got a quick lesson in fodder production!

The next morning we climbed laidleys gap and the views were spectacular. We moseyed down the hill and into Thornton where we will have a day off. We had an afternoon of organisation as we finally have phone reception and the  a suprise visit from Sue who took me into town for a visit to the Bnt museum in Gatton which was very interesting. It was great to see the people who have gone before us and learn some more history of the trail. Poor Preston had to stay behind and babysit the horses but I took lots of photos to show him.

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Rock formations coming down laidleys gap

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The view from laidleys gap

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Sue and I at the Bnt museum

Both the horses and us have lost our trail hardness over the break so we have been poking along, getting our fitness up and enjoying the conditions! In about another week we should be feeling a bit more fit and ready to tackle longer days 🙂  watch out border and book 7, here we come!