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