“Come with me” I said.
“It will be fun.
We will escape Melbourne, the weather looks good
and it is sooo close”
And so she did.
Come with me, that is,
to escape Melbourne and because it is close.
Well to be precise,
I went with her since she has a very flash ‘ute’ –
with heated seats and all.
Off we went on Friday,
two ‘gals’ on an adventure to visit the
Victorian High Country.
We stopped for drinks at Bonnie Doon – seen the movie The Castle?
If not, why not, a great film and if you have, you know why we stopped here.
Mansfield was our next stop.
It is a charming town, gateway from Melbourne to The High Country and always busy; with people –
riders like ourselves,
cyclists with their paraphernalia,
runners proving their worth to themselves, or someone else,
tourists browsing the shops,
locals doing their shopping and
everyone stopping at the many coffee shops.
The hospitality of ‘country folk’ the world over, knows no bounds and so it was here too.
Nelda and Greg opened their absolutely beautiful home to us for the night.
and what a night it was……
Four women from completely different backgrounds
sat round the table and laughed and talked as only women can.
That we finished a bottle and a half of gin probably helped. 🙂 🙂
When we finally trundled off to bed wondering why we had lingered so long
when we had a full day of riding ahead of us –
we were tempted
ride that is, but just linger longer……..
ah the joys of ‘geselsskap’ (English words don’t cut it)
Saturday arrived bright and early, and so did we.
Arrive at Telephone Phone Box Junction to be precise, at 9am –
where we were met by old friends –
I had ridden with Christian and Laura before (
in case you are curious: Hidden Trails…… (click on the link….)
and quite a few ‘strangers’.
It is interesting how the dynamics of a group changes depending on the length of time one is going to be together.
In this case, only one night and so both the guides and guests seemed ‘more insular’ as though the energy required for introductions wasn’t warranted for just 24 hours.
What can I say?
What I CAN say, though ,
is that there is something about growing up in this country,
and even more so if horses have always been your love,
and the story of The Man from Snowy River.
It carries an almost mystical attraction
so that to ride up to Craig’s Hut becomes
for many a sort of pilgrimage, or so it seems to me.
I have now been lucky enough to ride there 4 times,
on on each occasion with different people
and each time I sensed they had a link to the place that I did not feel.
I am sure because I came to this place, horses and the story relatively recently.
For me, it is the ride, the mountains, the trees, the birds, the magnificence of the vistas. Breathtaking.
I was ‘moved up the ladder’ so to speak and my horse this time, ‘Billy’ was ‘more forward’ (for my non horsey friends – quicker, eager, needs more skill!) and allowed to ride with the front group.
A huge step up for this wanna be rider you must understand –
kind of like wearing my ‘big pants’ now.
So off I went with the ‘real riders’ through rivers, up hills and across dales,
(although I think I may have the wrong country – dales? Australia?)
We all know about mountain weather, and how unpredictable it can be.
We also know that is has been over 35’C for weeks and weeks and weeks and the weather forecast showed a narrow band of rain, about 30% showers.
Nothing too alarming, but just to be sure we all strapped a ‘dry as a bone jacket’ onto our saddle and confidently set off for a day of pleasure.
And pleasure it was for the first hour or so,
and then, it would appear,
we rode straight into the tiny blue band we had seen on the weather app –
that small 30% chance of rain?
Well, we found it –
and suddenly the temperature dropped to about 9’C,
the wind arrived
and the rain bucketed down.
There we were, astride our horses, committed and gradually getting colder and colder
and wetter and wetter.
I was fortunate I had gloves, which although so wet I could squeeze handfuls of water from them, they kept my hands protected from the wind.
The others were less fortunate and I noticed hands being clenched in pain against the cold.
Finally we arrived at our lunch spot – the sight of a fire and hot food.
We were more fortunate than our poor horses who were not fed, but rather tied up to weather the storm as best they could.
And of course we had our famous ‘dry as a bone’ jackets, which were in fact not dry at all and most of us were wet to our bones, but who am I to argue with an iconic name?
Finally, the rain eased and we tried to bridle our horses again.
My poor Billy was so cold he could not keep his head still and it was with great difficulty and much coaxing that he was finally all set to go.
I could feel his body shaking with cold as I mounted; it was a really awful feeling. Thankfully he warmed up quite quickly once we started down towards our camp.
And it wasn’t long before everyone felt a little better;
the rain had stopped, the wind felt less brutal and the temperature was
a little higher as we went lower.
We left our horses at Razorback Camp, unsaddled, blanketed and fed.
Some of us meet ‘the locals’, shared their fire and drinks until it was our turn to be taken to our camp, ‘unsaddled’ of our wet gear, blanketed in warm clothes and fed a deliciously hot meal.
And so to Sunday.
Which thankfully started bright and sunny.
Nonetheless I was not going to be caught wrong footed again, so when we were warned that it would be cold and windy ‘on the summit’ and we should dress warmly, I took them at their word and did.
For the first time ever, I wore two pairs of pants, thermals and riding pants, and because it would be cold, I wore TWO thermal tops, yes I know, overkill? But hey, you weren’t with me yesterday !!!!! My cotton shirt, my down vest and again because I knew what Cold meant now, my down puffer jacket And my purple Aldi rain jacket. Not to forget my thermal neck warmer and the ‘dry as a bone’ jacket strapped to my saddle, just in case.
I explained to Billy and asked his forgiveness for having to carry this
because the look he gave me clearly said, “and now?”
Sun and warmth and despite the predictions, not a breathe of wind.
In fact a perfect day.
Unless you are kitted out like a Michelin woman –
which of course I was as you can see by the shape 🙂
For about the first hour or so both Billy and I ‘steamed’ as the sun warmed us.
In Billy’s case the steam was literal and quite funny to watch.
In my case, not quite literal and certainly less comical.
He and the other horses stopped steaming.
I was less fortunate and for the rest of the day remained insulated in my private steam bath, unable to take anything off as there was nowhere to tie anything else on.
I did after all still have my ‘dry as a bone’ jacket, which interestingly was still very wet and heavy from yesterday, strapped to my saddle.
Nonetheless we had a magnificent day of riding to the summit of Mount Stirling, to Craig’s hut and back down to Telephone Box Junction –
A glorious end to an interesting two days of riding.
Thanks for coming for me, Jacqui.
It Was fun.
We Did escape Melbourne
The weather Was good (some of the time)
and it was sooo close……
…… to perfection, we may have to do it again