The last two weeks have been very eventful, but the days have been long and tiring for both us and the horses. The last 2 months of frosted grass with little nutrients and nights with minimal feed have started to catch up with them, resulting in some loss of condition and feeling pretty tired. The feed has also impacted us as we are constantly worried about their nutrition and are racking our brains on how to get hard feed into them as we can’t carry it with us. We have had some ideas but more to come on that in a future blog when we put our plans into action!
The first part of our trip started off well until we received a phone call from Brian and Chris the first night telling us their dogs had eaten the dehydrated mince we had left there for a future food drop. Both Preston and I had a heart attack thinking about what the mince would do when it swelled with water, but I’m happy to report both dogs had no ill effects! The loss of our mince meant we had to have an unplanned rest day and Preston went to mackay to pick up more supplies. He left me with 4 happy ponies who had found the muddiest patch in the paddock and rolled so that the mud was caked on. I spent 3 hours getting them clean!
From there, we headed out cross country which gave me a chance to practise my compass skills as we navigated to camp. On arrival, we found dusty had lost a shoe which enabled us to test how hardy the racing plates we are carrying as spares are. Amazingly, the shoe has done over 200km and although worn, is not completely destroyed! I would definitely recommend carrying them as spares as they are 1/3 the weight of normal shoes!
My compass holder!
It was lovely riding through this part of the country as we rode through a beautiful valley with some brilliant cattle country, up onto a little tableland, and down just inland of the ocean, the scenery was varied. The hills up and off the tableland were very steep but Banjo has started to settle into his job as pack horse and managed the hills very well. He still has the odd ‘brainfart’ but they seem to be getting less as he gets used to everything. He still isn’t a big fan of traffic though.
Banjo has some interesting habits!!!
The people in this area have been fantastic and so helpful.
At Marylands, we were lucky enough to have dinner with Des and Von who gave us some great information about the countryside.
After a long day riding along the Bruce highway, we turned up at camp to find no grass and no access to water. We had to make a decision whether to go back 1.5 km or go ahead 500m and ask permission to stay on a property that wasn’t marked on our map. Jenny and Malcom were so kind and gave us their quarters to stay in as it started raining, and also called ahead to two other stations along the way so we could at least stay out of the rain during the night.
We had to navigate some more rough country with overgrown lantana and a bog fed by an underground spring, but when we made it to Noel and Sue’s place, we were fed and showered which lifted our spirits, but the best thing was being able to feed the horses as they picked up feed for us in town. After a long, hard section, we were feeling pretty good.
We rode over the Styx river at ogmore, which we found out is the second fastest tidal river in the world, and made it to Russell and Anita’s place where it poured with rain. Again, we were fed and showered, and the ponies were super lucky and got rugged overnight so were warm as toast with all the rain and wind.
The last day we navigated some slippery blacksoil and boggy mud in the rain to make it to Marlborough. Through the rain popped a rainbow, which started a d finished inside the rodeo grounds where we are staying. I’m taking it as a good omen and hoping that all the rain that Queensland has had brings lots of grass for the farmers and our horses down the trail!
Thank you to all of the people who have been so helpful and generous with their homes and time to help us through this tough section. We honestly would have struggled without you!
We are going to stay in town for a couple of days and give the ponies and ourselves a couple of rest days and feed ourselves up! They all need new shoes as their is not much left of the old ones as you can see in the photo – it fell off and had to be nailed back on for the last days ride.
We are over 100 days on trail now and almost 1500km in the saddle…. I can tell you that your bum never stops being sore!