It has been about 2 weeks since we have written a blog, and I can tell you that it has been a very eventful time. One of the biggest things that we have learnt on the BNT is that you should plan for your plans to change, and that lesson definitely applied to the last 2 weeks. The trail teaches you to be resilient and resourceful, and we have had to put those skills to the test….
The original plan was to finished shoeing the horses in Biggenden, have 2 days rest and then head off again into book 5. The day before we had planned to continue, Laurie cut his leg on a barbed wire fence and this was the catalyst that started our change of plans. We would have to wait at least 3 weeks for him to heal before we got back on the trail. Talking to many people in the Biggenden area and further down into SE Queensland and northern NSW, the story was all the same – this is the worst year for feed they have had in years…. Some even say the worst in 80 years!!! After a lot of thought and running through all the possible scenarios, we decided that we would try and find somewhere to pull up for a couple of months, and hopefully somewhere with some grass. We have been through some pretty tough conditions and want to give our horses the best possible trip – stopping and waiting for rain and grass to grow is the best way we know how. We have also found it pretty stressful with the lack of feed and water, so by stopping we are hoping to make the trail a bit less stressful and more enjoyable for all involved.
We are extremely lucky and have found a place not too far off the trail, halfway through book 6…. We will be eternally grateful to Glen and Amanda for their kindness and generosity, for a place for both us and our horses to stay, and for the beautiful GRASS!!!!
So, a place to stay had been found but we still had to make a decision about how and when we were going to cover the distance between Biggenden and our new, temporary home! Because it was only about 500km, we planned to take 3 horses with us on the trail, one pack, one riding and one spare and one of us would walk. Bundi (whose back could do with a spell due to a soft tissue injury) and Laurie would be shipped to their new paddock where we would meet them. But as I said before, you must plan for your plans to change….. 3 days after Laurie hurt himself, Mater managed to scrape himself down his side so he can no longer have a saddle on him until it hairs over again. We were now down to 2 horses.
We were pretty disappointed and even threw around the words ‘Whats the point?’. Much thinking and discussion ensued, we decided on a new plan. I would fly up to Mareeba, drive the float and car down with some gear, we would ferry all the horses down to their temporary home, then we would walk the trail to make sure we hadn’t missed any of it. Donald picked me up at 6:30 on Friday morning and gave me a lift to the airport ( thank you thank you thank you!) which was the start of many km’s of travel for me over the next couple of days. While I was waiting for the plane in Brisbane, Preston called me and asked – “how would you feel about biking the next section of the trail?”. So the plan changed again (and still remains the same ). It was lovely to catch up with family and friends quickly in between packing a car and a float for the drive back to Biggenden.
As it currently stands, we have moved all of the horses to their temporary home (which I am sure they think is their new permanent home) and have been organising bikes, gear and supplies to ride the 500km from Biggenden, south.
The next update will come from the saddle of a bike not a horse…. Although it isn’t how we planned (here I go again with the plans!) to do the trail, we are both excited about biking a section and seeing the trail from a different perspective. We both had the goal of becoming part of the 5000km club (for riding a horse 5000km on a continuous trail) which is no longer possible…. But to us, our horses well-being is more important than a piece of paper, and in the end, we are getting an experience that not many people have had – riding both horses and bikes on the trail. Who knows, we may even pick a section to hike to round out the main modes of transport used on the trail!