She is so engaged with the orchestra, with the conductor, with the audience- she takes you along with her
But who is She, that I am raving about?
Anne Sophie Mutter.
Ten years younger than me. I remember the talk about this amazing musician, throughout the years while I was still trying to learn the basic Fur Elize on the piano, she was wowing the world with her artistry and at 13 was invited by Herbert Van Karajan to play with the Berlin Philharmonic !!!!!!
She owns 2 Stradivari’s – I do not know which one she used when I saw her.
Oh and she only wears Galliano outfits when she plays for comfort 🙂
And that, dear friends, was just another Friday morning in my Melbourne.
Now that we had mastered the art of cattle mustering
(in 2 easy lessons you understand 🙂 )
We moved on to ‘greener’ pastures.
In the bus, with horses in tow, we left our beautiful Mount and drove through Gympie, where once again we made a pit stop, this time, not at the bottle shop, but rather at the ‘bandaid’ shop (aka pharmacy) to attend some rather painful nether parts which one of us had acquired which offered as much mirth to the group as it offered pain to that region. 🙂
Task accomplished we stopped at the Best pie shop Ever.
Truely you can take my word for that.
And the chips were not half bad either.
near Widgee was our home for the next few days,
with such cute tents awaiting us and more lovely views.
The team here were Unbelievable
I really need to give a shout out to Rod, Ash, Jake and the rest of the crew.
Here we arrived, greenhorns every one of us, and with their welcome, and patience, we actually understood this camp drafting competition and learnt more or less:
(some of us much less, or perhaps I should one of us, much less – you can guess who that was. The others much more 🙂 )
Our amazing crew
Now for those of you who have no idea what campdrafting is, (I was one of those until a few months’ ago). Allow me to elucidate briefly.
In the days of large scale cattle mustering there was always the banter about who had the best horse, who rode the best, who could ‘tame a beast’ the best etc. And so a sport was created. I believe exclusive to Australia, called campdrafting.
In this, the competitor is in a ‘camp’ with several ‘beasts’ (aka cows) and on his horse he selects one and ‘dominates’ it by isolating it from the others and heading it towards the front end of the camp where there is a gate into a large arena. When the competitor is ready, he calls ‘gate’ and the gate is opened, the cow races out, as does the rider who then attempts to ‘steer’ the ‘beast’ around two pegs in a figure 8 and through another set of pegs (the gate) – all within 45 seconds.
Sounds easy? Well yes, when you see an expert, you hold your breath but they do make it look easy. None of us were experts!!!!!!! So just like us, you now understand what we are to do. I will attach below 2 videos, an expert (our lovely Helen) and a wanna me – yours truely for comparison purposes on condition no one laughs please.
And so our days were spent being taught to chose our ‘beast’; dominate our ‘beast’; turn our horses on a dime; stay in the ‘arc of vision’ of the cow –
not too far behind because all the ‘beast’ will hear is the sound of you chasing and it will go forward – Fast.
not too close or you will clip it and you and/or your horse and ‘the beast’ will go down – Hard.
so a bit like Goldilocks, just right.
Finally we move from the practice runs to the Real Arena – where we had surprise after surprise as our ‘beasts’ roared through the gate and straight across the arena to the opening at the other end, before any of us knew what had happened.
Our horses on the other end knew exactly what to expect and bounded across the arena at fast gallops chasing the cows. Our first rider, who shall remain nameless let out a yell of surprise, you can probably guess and found herself at the other end of the arena before the word was completely out of her mouth such was the speed of her trusty steed!!!!
Thankfully our next attempts were less ‘startling’
Slowly, with the amazing patience and coaching from Jake, Ash & Rod, we all started to improve – of course some did so a lot more than ‘others’ (you can guess who those ‘others’ are – and if in any doubt, refer to the score sheet from our final day competition)
It was all such fun.
Until it wasn’t
Sadly one of the team fell – at the far end of the arena and we watched, helpless, as she bounced and lay still. A sober reminder that this is, still, a risky sport. Thankfully, with a nurse in the team, an ambulance from Gympie and a little bit of luck on her side, her injuries were not life threatening although serious. *
It was a quiet evening for the rest of us – with conversations muted; all aware of how easily it could have been any of us; how quickly things can go from normal to tragic; how fortunate we each were that it wasn’t us (and how awful to think that at the same time)
Then another day dawned
We were back for our last day of campdrafting –
This was a very serious competition
with much shouting and encouragement from the sidelines
as each of us attempted to win the coveted trophy.
Here is a video of our lovely Helen showing “how it is done”.
Here for prosperity is a video of yours truely, showing how a greenhorn does it…. or rather doesn’t
On the day, I am SO pleased to say that our favourite John, won.
Never was a team more pleased for a winner.
and in case you thought it was all chasing beasts, there was also ‘washing them’
And suddenly – it was all over, we rushed back onto the bus for the trip back to airport where we all went our separate ways with Great Memories.
The adverts were amazing, mustering cattle, camp drafting, (suitable for all riding levels, even beginners (that’s still me!!!!)) stunning views – Southern Queensland, mid winter, escape from Melbourne cold, improve my riding skills – who could refuse. So before I knew it, I was a paid up ‘member’ of the June intake of camp draft novices. thanks to globetrotting.com.au
A flight into Queensland, for those who are wondering where I was going (as was I), the attached map will give a rough idea. We all met at Maroochydore airport; Maroochydore is, apparently derived from ‘murukutchi-dha’ in the language of the Brisbane River Aboriginal people, and it literally means ‘the place of the red bills’ (i.e. the black swans).
There were 11 of us, mostly groups although John was a brave solitary traveller, actually doubly brave as he was also the only male – he became our Knight in Shiny Armour on his white steed and I knew Margaret from our ride in Margaret River last year. Introductions duly made, we left in a bus for Gympie. (The name probably derived from an aboriginal word for the local stinging shrub).
That Very Important
Two hours on the bus, including a most important bottle shop stop, saw us arrive at the base of Mount Gomboorian, our home for the next 3 days. After a brief introduction to our horses, how they are trained, which saddles we would use etc. we were loaded into vehicles for the ‘ascent’ up the Mountain. I think these two photos sum up the exhilaration of the angle of ascent ! Some of us felt the need for head protection as we bumped and bounced and tried to hang on!!!!
Words again do not do justice to the views, across to Fraser Island, Noosa and back inland ‘forever’. Perhaps these will help you.
Our tents were more than comfortable …….
and the food always appetising – Sean our trusty chef excelled at every meal.
But it was our horses that really ‘sold’ us.
I had T Rex – small (hence the name) and young with a distinctly ‘mulish’ look about him. Be that as it may, for the first time I could reach the saddle of my horse without standing on a Huge log or rock or mounting block. He was not, at least to a novice eye (i.e. my eye) a good looking horse and I was asked more than once if I was on a donkey!!!! That question though was always from a ‘non horsey person’.
Never, however be fooled by looks – I am sure your mother told you that once. This little hang dog mule of mine had the spunk of a champion camp draft horse and when you asked him to go, he could move like a bullet. So the donkey statement never came from anyone who saw him actually move 🙂
Our first day was spent out riding through countryside, getting to know our horses, their quirks, their likes, and dislikes (more about that later). T Rex likes eating and since his face is level with the bush most of the time, he spent a great deal of time chewing and I spent a great deal of time stopping him. I did, in the end, convince him to stop – win for me.
Where are we?
By now you will know that I am curious about how places get their names and we rode through some Weethefeekaarwe Bush. This Weethefeekaarwe Bush consisted of grass and scrub taller tha us on horseback so that we could hear one another but not always see one another. The name rolled off Andrew’s tongue with such ease and emphasis on odd syllabi it took me a while to work out – he had no idea where we were or what it was called – I will leave you to work out the name for yourself 🙂
Weethefeekaarwe Bush – none of us knew where the . we were 🙂
Lunch at the Silky Oak was a treat.
Made extra special by a drink in the pub like nowhere else in the world!!!
After drinks and food we collected our transport parked outside waiting patiently and ambled home through such lovely countryside.
Night Time Visitor
But it wasn’t all riding, we had a lovely visitor one evening, only 15 years old and by the light of the moon and headlights of a vehicle, she gave us a whip cracking demonstration. For posterity sake, I have included it even though it is not a first class video. The show was. And I had a ‘crack’ at it – It is a lot easier to hit oneself and cry out than it is to hit the ground and make the whip cry!!!!!
There is something very peaceful about ‘mustering’ cattle.
That is, until something goes wrong.
Now you do realise we are all novices, some of us even novice riders, never mind jackaroos. So we were not mustering 2 000 cattle 100 miles; rather about 70 cows, a few miles. Still, it Was mustering. Instructions were given, we were allocated our places and so began the task of gathering them all together so we could get them out of the gate and onto the road.
We ‘plodded’ along with cars patiently waiting behind and in front of us – this is the country after all – or should I say thank goodness as they did not seem to be at all agitated despite having to wait for an awfully long time while we herded the cattle from A to B.
And just when you think all is going well, a cow finds a hole in the fence and runs through, which means all the others follow. And there they are, in a field with another herd of cows. Which means we have to sort the two herds out and then take ours back on the road.
That deserves a whole blog – suffice to say, we did a lot of watching while the experts (being the Rainbow Beach Ride team) did the work of separating the two herds. And the rest of us? Stood and watched and munched on fruit we had brought with us.
Once the herds were separated (thankfully there was an old dip pen we could use to do this; we had to begin again. Herding them into a group to continue to point B. Back on track and thinking again we had this all under control, a dog ran out of an open gate (what farmer leaves a gate open – I ask with tears in my eyes). This was no kelpie used to sheep and cattle, but a mean spirited dog that ran wild amongst the cows – dispersing them again this way and that. And I must tell you, when 70 peaceful cattle suddenly swing around and face little you on your horse and you are not sure what is going to happen, your stomach tightens and you concentrate on your breathing. I heard a few choice words around me and hoped our talk about forming a wall was being adhered to by the others or I would be alone in the melee. To be truthful I cannot remember how we turned the around, but settle them we did. With the young owner of the dog apparently oblivious to the chaos he had just created.
And on we went. Of course there are no photographs – we were far too busy 🙂
There was a lunch at a lovely homestead where we chatted about the happenings of the morning and I have no doubt the horses had their own conversations – if only I could understand their language!!!!!
The cows were sprayed by some while others ‘played’ with their horses and the next day saw us mustering them back to A.
You would think we had this under our belt by now, wouldn’t you – I mean what could go wrong? We knew where the hole in the fence was. We knew where the ugly dog lived.
And then the surprise.
An open gate saw some horses run up to us. No problem, the cows are used to horses so they don’t spook. Shetland ponies, though, are quite a different proposition. Two little ponies followed the horses, proud as punch they looked as they trotted up to us. They could almost pass under some of our horses bellies, but that didn’t matter, Rosie next to me baulked and bolted into the ‘gutter’ which mean my lovely T Rex felt the need to follow. All I remember is ‘hang on with your legs’ – my thighs have never worked so hard, my reins less so, but we all stayed on our feet so to speak and while we recovered, the rest of the team stopped the cows from running all over the place – Again!!!!!!
And that was us mustering……
Done and Dusted – experts, clearly.
So time to move on to greater challenges.
P.S. Photos kindly taken by Rainbow Beach Rides, “Jackaroo team”, myself, and Globetrotting.com.au
For those who don’t ‘have the bug’ this blog may be a bore. I know most of my friends think I am a little crazy and there is no doubt that my father would have something to say about the absurdity of a 60+ woman starting to ride horses when it hasn’t been part of her life up to now.
But then of course, one of the marks of a madman (or woman) is that they march to their own drum and don’t ‘toe the line’. So here I am, riding, more or less efficiently and thoroughly enjoying every moment.
It was AMAZING – so to my non riding friends who think I am crazy, I apologise, but blog I must and to my crazy friends, well you will get the madness 🙂 🙂 🙂
16 of us met up in Mansfield for dinner the evening before our Big Ride. 5 of us ‘were single’ and knew no one prior to that dinner, the others were couples/friends. Again riding brought together people from all corners of our country, our neighbours (New Zealand) and across the Pacific, from the USA. By the end of day 1, we were one big happy family gathered around a huge fire, sharing stories, drinks, laughter, memories, food and the marvel of our surrounds.
For 6 days we traversed the High Country as it is generally known. From Mount Stirling, Craig’s Hut, Lovicks Hut, Mt Mandala, miles and miles and miles.
This country is stunning, the gum trees like ghosts with so many stories to tell, curled and misshapen from heavy snow, miles and miles of rolling hills as far as the eye can see where almost no man has been, reminding me of British Columbia, steep edges with the Howqua river below. The Low Country with forests, koalas, birds, insects, flowers and so many river crossings we lost count.
There is no doubt that It’s all about …. the horse and once again I won the jackpot with Audrey. Yup, as in Hepburn, although she was neither slim, nor elegant but very large and quite heavy. But a lady nonetheless with an appetite that defies description – she tried to eat at every opportunity and for a day or so it was a battle of wills between her and I as to who was going to get their way. We compromised a great deal!!!!
But these horses are remarkable, faithful, strong, willing and so so kind. All of us were constantly grateful for their stamina and sure-footedness as we climbed up and down the MOST awesome hills (some would say mountains!) – and while it is difficult to take photographs and ride at the same time, we do have some and I will let them ‘do the talking’.
We wandered through the terrain used for the film “The Man from Snowy River” based on a poem by Banjo Patterson and relived a moment or two.
With a kiss at the ‘kissing tree’ as we called it, where Craig and Jessie from the movie are believed to have ‘spent time together’.
This kiss marked 44 years of marriage – a celebration worth most definitely a kiss!
And as each day took us up to the top of the world, or down to a beautiful valley, we drew closer through our shared experience and gratitude to the Hidden Trails crew who worked tirelessly to make this one of the most remarkable weeks of our lives.
Whether it was the amazing food, or the incredible work involved in caring for our horses, feeding, shoeing, washing, saddling, unsaddling, corralling, the transferring of our camps, the attention when one of us didn’t feel well, and most importantly, keeping our drinks colds!!!!! It was a trip of a lifetime.
And of course for every up, there is a down – debates constantly about which is more challenging!!!!!
Having been well cared for; fed. watered and doctored.
There were days of glorious views, river crossings, trees so tall I felt I was in a cathedral of some kind, birds calling, skies so blue and fresh, faint sounds of riders behind or front, the glorious silence of riding companionably, along with your thoughts, the creaking of the saddle and sound of their feet on the ground somehow at one with the earth. Old huts, with stories to each, a koala in a tree. Hidden trails indeed.
and in case you have not had enough : some more images and even a stunning video thanks to Rachel Meek of our epic climb to Mt Magdala!!!
And thanks to all my now friends, from this amazing adventure for your wonderful photographs.
This is an amazing city, that on an ordinary Friday I can stroll down Southbank for a quiet coffee and ‘me’ time, then attend a morning concert (Different Perspective)
and immediately thereafter go to the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), recognised as a world class gallery filled with stunning works. To say nothing about the wonderful water wall which is an attraction in itself
On this occasion Jackie and I went to browse the Triennial exhibition.
Which was an adventure into a fantasy land that had us lost and amused and bemused for several hours
until the lure of a late lunch (very late) was too strong to resist.
So we ambled down to the river and sat and munched and marvelled at our
Crazy, Bizarre, Appealing, Enchanting:
Yayoi Kusama – not sure why, but we had fun
Dutch are collective, We Make Carpets
was AMAZING, pool noodles, washing sponges, felt strips
Random, crazy, quirky,
Hahan (I think) Javanese
We loved this giant carpet,
with mirrored ceiling
and people enjoying ‘the countryside’
Alexandra Kehayoglou (Argentina based)
Someone buys them,
Works of art in their own way
Guo Pei (Chinese Born)
Intriguing – Ron Mueck
And one of the best parts:
Everywhere people engaged, absorbed, participating.
I had decided a long time ago that I would never pay to hear/see any of Wagner’s works. I apologise to the aficionados who ‘get him’; I mean no offence. But 15 hours for one work; too long; too loud; too many high notes; too much for me.
So it was with some chagrin and surprise that I found myself at a concert on a Friday morning (yes I have joined the ranks of the ‘seniors’), having bought a ticket to hear my beloved Beethoven, only to discover that before him, I would be listening to Wagner.
You would not have guessed it from the advertisements
So, several firsts for me today:
Real live Wagner performance
Payed for that Wagner performance
Seated alongside the orchestra instead of in front.
And after an amusing introduction by Sir Andrew Davis outlining the opera (which takes some doing!!!) we sort of understood that we would be hearing part of Gotterdammerung: Act 1 – Dawn Music and Siegried’s Rhine Journey – see even the names are long and ‘loud’ and
So it began.
And I was totally mesmerised
By the pattern
By the flow
By the enormity
By the complexity
By the sound of Wagner.
and all too soon it ended.
Admittedly there were no voices, only the large orchestra and I was so close I could read the music of the harpists below me – so it was visually fascinating too.
Just maybe, I will give Wagner another ‘go’ one day.
In the meantime I shall continue to delight in the familiar accessible glorious majestic tones of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto which was the finale.
And NEVER disappoints.
Yes, that’s what I said, saddles. They go onto the backs of horses.
Ever thought about them? Well of course not, nor had I until last week.
Like chicken breasts from the supermarket, saddles, just ‘were’. How many of us think about the size of the chickens that offer us these juicy large breasts – when I did, I baulked at the thought that they may be the size of dogs!!!!!
So why would we think about a saddle? No reason of course since we don’t eat them, and most people don’t go near them in day to day life.
Except I am not not on of the ‘most people’ having decided well into my 60’s that I shall learn to ride. Which means sitting in most instances on (in?) a saddle. Still I gave it (the saddle, not the horse) little thought – it just Was.
Some saddles rubbed me in uncomfortable places, some buckles chaffed and left reminders long after the ride was over, but mostly they just came with the territory.
Until I changed my territory and went on a fabulous trail to the High Country (blog to follow: HiddenTrails,Globetrotting.com.au) where I met a Saddle Maker. Not just ‘a saddle maker’ but Peter Horobin and his daughter Marlee who make saddles which are sent all over the world; these are ‘bespoke’ saddles – think Kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge and her bespoke dresses and you get the idea.
Peter was amazing, teaching us about the muscles and bones around the shoulder of the horse, how saddles impinge or don’t on their movement, how poor mounting (climbing into the saddle for my non riding friends the wrong way) can bend the tree.
Yup, its okay I also didn’t know what he was talking about and heard the voice of a rather dumb naive blonde (that would be me) ask what on earth he meant. Turns out a tree isn’t what we were seeing all around us, but rather part of the saddle, a foundational part in fact.
And of course there was a next step – a visit to his shop/workshop/sanctuary/creative studio which I did today after my third only riding lesson put on the Mornington Peninsula.
And what a wonderland of energy, passion, skill and hospitality. The saddles – there are SO many different types, every one hand made, so many colours, so many uses, so many textures, it was like entering Aladdin’s cave, an abundance of smell, touch, leather, style and confidence.
I wished I had a horse so I could indulge myself with a saddle.
Instead I got to polish the saddle being shipped to Western Australia to Carla – a special new friend, with whom we rode in the High Country.
Envious I am of those that ordered saddles – they are getting works of art
Polishing Carla’s Saddle
And I had NO idea that a saddle could be such a special, wonderful creation – I thought only quilts fell into that category – another lesson learnt.
The oldest desert in the world, so the scientists say, more than 500 million years old in fact. The Namib (open space) is just that – so open it forces your heart to expand and your soul to lift and time to stand still. So at times as we sat and absorbed the expanse, the silence, the colour, the feel, the vastness it felt as though time too, had stopped.
Was this where time began?
Or is these where time has ended?
These rather ordinary videos will give you an idea of the scale of the place
and this is what happens when you don’t time the tide correctly !!!!!
photos courtesy of the Powrie girls and Erika de Jäger