I have to apologoise in advance… I have come into town to write this blog, and in doing so have left all of the pictures back at camp, so I will have to upload them another time. Hopefully tomorrow!!!
We had a lovely time in Ebor staying with David and Stephanie. We were so spoilt having a whole house to ourselves, which meant that David and Stephanie didn’t have to deal with our explosion as we organised ourselves for the next section. The boys couldn’t believe their eyes with the amount and sweetness of the grass…. They all exploded in 10 days, putting on so much weight so quickly we had to ask David and Stephanie if we could leave them in the small acre paddock they had and stop rotating them onto the new fresh grass – we weren’t sure that we would be able to ride them as they danced out of town on their new sugar high! As we have slowly come to accept, rest days aren’t really rest days as there are not only a lot of jobs to do, but many new and interesting people to meet everywhere we go! Ebor followed this trend and we spent hours chatting to the locals, catching up with Mushgang – a BNT trekker who has been on the trail for 9 years, meeting Gary – an Englishman who was just about to start on the trail and who by now is well into the first book – and his support team (from Dorrigo) Erica and Graeme, going for cart rides (thanks Christine), seeing and learning about the Guy Fawkes Brumbies and meeting Joy Apps for whom Dan Seymour (the original BNTer) worked after he rode the trail just to name a few.
After we were able to clear some time in our social calendar, we saddled up and rode out towards the Styx River/Point Lookout Camp. I can say for the first time ever on the trail we got lost, on someone’s property. We made the decision to follow a well-used track which headed off somewhat in the wrong direction and between this and the new fences that had been erected on the property, we ended up bush. After having found our way back on track, we arrived to find our camp was a lovely spot, with more clover for the boys, a lovely little stream and some nice caravaners! Jack, the coordinator met us in the afternoon and gave us some great advice about the next section. We endured a chilly night before heading off and being greeted by a looooonnngggg downhill which gave us both sore legs for days. Not the best camp that night, but the next day was a lovely ride along Georges creek before climbing up onto the Armidale Kempsey road. We didn’t reach camp until about 2pm and when we were 200m from camp, it poured down. We were soaked from head to toe (within minutes) so we took a rest day to dry out and wait for the rain to pass before we headed up the Macleay and Kunderang. The campsite was a lovely grassy flat and Neil Booth gave us some great information about riding up the valley – he has been up there more times that he can count, mustering cattle and keeping his stock out of the national park. We managed to keep the inside of the tent dry and get some sleep. We were woken up multiple times during the night to a pesky cow who, despite being chased away with a stock whip, kept trying to get into our gear underneath the tarp. At 3am, I woke to hear the tarp rustle again, so up I got to chase the cow again. As I unzipped the tent, I heard a clang of gear and rustle of the tarp and thought crap, the cow is caught up in the gear, how am I going to fix this? I shone my torch on the cow to find her not tangled up at all, instead, she took one look at me, leant over and picked up one of our riding saddles in her mouth and took off across the flat. My reaction was to yell “f***in cow” and chase her. I am sure I disturbed all of the other campers, but she dropped the saddle and I was able to safely recover all of our gear and shift it to right next door to the tent. I was happy the cow had tried her hardest to no avail, and left us alone for the rest of the night.
After the rain cleared we were able to embark on what, so far, we think is the best bit of the trail. We followed the wide valley of the Macleay river, zig zagging up the river from one side to other of the lovely clear water. We turned off up the Kunderang Brook, and 60 or so crossings later and 2 nights camping in the best huts we have seen (with inside fires) we emerged at Youdales Hut to find that it was a historic hut and we couldn’t camp in it. It had rained all night and was pouring when we arrived at camp. We stopped, unpacked and had lunch, then made the decision to saddle up and keep pushing on to the next camp – the brook had risen over 6 inches in the hour we stopped, and we were a bit concerned about the road out being too slippery as we had to climb 700m in altitude. The boys weren’t happy, but they were brilliant and we hit the next camp at 5pm. A short next day and we were greeted by Louise and Bill at Red Hill and were overwhelmed by their hospitality. We had a great time with them and very much appreciated a warm bed and (short) hot shower as it was still drizzly outside. The boys enjoyed their rest day, watching the cattle being brought in for their drenching and snoozing under the shade of the big tree in their hug paddock. We learnt a lot from Louise and Bill, and I think I could spend years reading all the books that Louise has collected!
The next section we hit the Nundle detour as we can’t head down through the Barrington tops, and end up out at Aberdeen.