Duracks, pastoralists, the Kimberley’s and me

Anyone pick up books at Op shops?

I do, and so it was that I was introduced to ‘the Duracks’ for all of $2.

I had never heard of this family.   I had heard of the Kimberley’s, Kakadu and Arnheim land and had a vague idea that they were all ‘far up there’.

With the Sons in the Saddle, the Duracks and that land ‘far up there’ were brought together.

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I read about  hours and hours in the saddle, the mustering of cattle from almost one end of the continent to the other.

I read about their sleeping rough, eating even rougher, breaking bones, dying cattle, injured horses.  I read about them having to swim rivers and through it all, cope with the extremes of climate with a wet wet season filled with mosquitoes and fevers.

the day they got into the paddock it rained sixteen inches at Ascot.  Parry’s Creek became a torrent, flooding the plains to a depth of about five feet and all the rivers were swims…..  Next evening we were attacked by myriads of flying ants which crawl all over you and leave their wings behind.  Anywhere there is a light is soon about two inches deep in wings.   This is not exaggeration.  It’s a fact..”  (Sons of Durack, Roy Phillips letter to his mother 21 Jan 1912)

I read about the dry dry season when the grass would burn if you looked at it ‘the wrong way’

1904  “terrible bush fires devastated hundreds of square miles of country destroyed fences and yards and had all hands out fighting the flames for several weeks.”

I read such stories – they are fascinating and endless.

Constable Henry Parker disappeared suddenly.   “last seen strolling down the Wyndham jetty to visit a friend on the S.S. New Guinea.”   This was solved a few weeks later when Jacob Kuhl made the following deposition:

“Yesterday I caught an alligator in a trap I had set up on the gulf.  I shot him and took him down to the jetty and skinned him.  Then I opened him up and found some clothing like portions of a uniform…. and some human bones.   I put them all into a bucket and took them to the Police Station……”     

Poor Constable Parker.

And to clear the record, that alligator Must have been a crocodile as alligators are not, nor ever were found in Australia.   They, the 4 legged swimming ones,  and the Alligator Rivers were so named by Phillip Parker King, the first English navigator to enter the Gulf of Carpentaria.  He had previously travelled in S America, knew the alligator and assumed these were them (doubt he even knew there was a crocodile) and in his wisdom he named the rivers the Alligator Rivers (South, East and West Alligator Rivers).

Well give him a break – can You spot the difference?

 

Despite the length and small print of this book, I have persevered precisely because the stories are to interesting.

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And then suddenly I found myself ‘up there’ looking at a local map with all the names that had become familiar in the book.

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I was going to ride through the very plains they had ridden through so long ago.

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I do, however feel the need to acknowledge some minor, okay, perhaps not so minor,  but rather fundamental differences between me and them.   I knew where I was going.   Correction.

Like them, I had no idea where I was going, but unlike them, my  guides did know what lay ahead.   Poor MP and his ‘mob’ – look what they missed out on.  No roads, no phones, no google maps, no back up vehicles; just their wits and physical strength.

Regardless of these advantages, this was an adventure which was greatly enhanced by having read about those who went before me. (photos: Sons in the Saddle, Mary Durack)

It was also enhanced by all that I learnt on the tour to Kakadu and Arnhem land.    So much gained in such a short time that I would love to share with you, but that feels almost like a different story there was so much.

Kakadu, crocodiles, mines, protests and ageless lands

The concept of justice, punishment and restoration, the knowledge of genetics thousands of years before we had even thought of it, and so it goes on.

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history both modern and
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an idea of that ancient
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and ancient
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trees that tell a thousand tales
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and the ‘new’ art
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ageless
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Cockburn Range

Not really that surprising when you think I was in a land with rock faces 1.8 BILLION years old and a people who had lived, the same way, (until we arrived) for about 65 000 years.

But as usual, I digress.

Here we were in Kununurra the night before our ride.   Some of us had met at Darwin airport hopping onto the only flight into Kununurra so by the time we landed, needless to say we were old friends.

 

Alcohol rules are strict in this part of the world so our first stop was at the bottle shop, driver’s licence in hand.   This, it would appear was more important than money, because without it, money is useless as you could buy not even one can of beer.

Mind you,  with it, you could buy only a few more cans than one; there is a strict limit on the volume of alcohol allowed per driver’s licence per day!

But gleefully, as you can see from the video, we had our ‘stash’ and

Mission accomplished.

 

Kununurra

A pretty little town, growing in leaps and bounds, situated in the middle of nowhere.

 Well actually that is  not true, it is on the Ord River which means there is heaps of water – and accounts for its growing agriculture development and tourist industry.

 

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We explored that water, with a Fabulous dinner cruise on Lake Kununurra.

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hard to
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decide which
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view was more
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breath-taking
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but regardless
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the food and
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company was no less
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wonderful

And then it was all over,  our cruise came to an end and we were delivered back to our respective hotels, all weary and ready for bed.    That is, until we looked at our watches, it was 6.45pm and Pitch Dark!!!!!   There was some debate about how can we possibly go to bed so early  versus, it is very dark and we are very tired.   A very strange feeling.

But bed won over in the knowledge that an early start awaited us.

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That early start as we awaited ‘them’

When we were collected by Laura and Chris of Hidden Trails ,

and driven to the start of our ride – Doon Doon Station.

The names of all these places intrigue me –

they conjure up images of another era and I love them.

Wished I could remember the names of our horses and perhaps more importantly the names of the riders on those horses.

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This, you understand is particularly important since they would be my companions for the 6 days, and knowing what to call them, or more accurately, what they call themselves would be most helpful.

I practiced things like, green shirt, Jen, (she better not change her shirt); 2 girl friends, Deb and Naomi (hope they don’t have a fall out and separate); couple Paul & Fiona, ah, but there were 2 couples, so that complicates things….. you get what I mean.

I am proud to say that by day 6 I was pretty certain I had the correct name attached to the correct person.   Not so with the horses.

Truth be told, I didn’t take my brain that far and didn’t even try.

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Meeting our transport
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through this amazing terrain

I have been on trails where, even after 5 days I have had to ask someone which horse was mine.

They kind of all look similar, or at least to my novice eye.

Usually dark; generally with 4 legs, a head at one end, tail at the other, and of course two ears which tell one so much about where they are at right at that moment and the eyes.   Those melt your soul eyes, but which can also blaze with a look that has kept me well away from them, waiting for someone better equiped than I to approach them.

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My tiny Tinker…..

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always easy to locate

I had a tiny horse, the smallest by far of the group, so easy to see if I looked between the legs of the rest of the mob.

A Brumby, the real deal.

Or perhaps not, because I have just researched the Brumby and it is described as “a free-roaming feral horse in Australia.” (wikipedia) but there was nothing feral about My Brumby.

Tinker – easy to remember thankfully,  (from Tinkerbell I am guessing as she belongs to 6 year old Maddie who kindly let me ride her) was not feral at all but very well behaved.

Well mostly, but more about that later.

And so before we knew it we were in the saddle, and distracted from names by what was around us.

Breathtaking.

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Grass so gold, so patterned, so extravagant…..
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Sky bluer than blue….
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Cockburn ranges defining the space 

The scenery varies, the people change,

but the rhythm of a trail ride is essentially the same.

Hours in the saddle, exploring the landscape.

Sometimes single file, walking.

Sometimes alongside, talking.

Often in silent contemplation.

The sound of the horses and the creak of the saddle somehow perfect company.

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A special light…
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A lost young bull tagging alongside for kilometres
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Silent contemplation
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and sharing the joy

We pause along the way,

to marvel at a view,

learn some history,

look at the intricacies of nature.

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The Cockburn Ranges – amazing and sooooo old
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A Boab and a history lesson
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As we decipher the names and dates well into the 1800’s
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So beautiful …..
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Wherever the sun is…….
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A Bower bird’s ‘Bower’

And we stop,  in this case, to sleep out in the open.

In ‘swags’ (rolled up canvas beds).

Just the most comfy mobile home ever.

Find yourself a spot, unroll your swag and Bingo.

Home sweet Home.

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An organised Home Sweet Home

My less organised Home Sweet Home

My socks and swag

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Good morning
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Must I? Just a little longer…..

And that trail riding rhythm includes caring for the horses.

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Love is, a girl and her Tinker

There’s unsaddling, brushing, washing, checking over, feeding and

of course, loving.

Without the latter, none of the former would every happen.

These horses are SO loved.

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There’s ‘stuff’
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and patience
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and so much work as the feed is prepared
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Chewing the cud
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Chewing the chick peas
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The non stop work and love goes into the caring of theses horses
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who seem to respond in kind.

Don’t think it is only the horses that are cared for.

Oh no, on these trail rides our food is delivered with equal care and love.

Whether it is lunch on the road, being met by the truck with a delicious meal, drinks, and smiles, or sumptuous dinners round the fire :   we do not go hungry 🙂

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a lunch stop
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with table flowers and all …..
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and always more than we could eat – although we tried our best
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as we told tales, shared laughs and learnt heaps
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There were nights around the fire
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and skies to take your breathe away.

There was ‘girl’s time”

 

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serious
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and not
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always smiling

There was ‘boy’s time’

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with the talking
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and the thinking (or was it the drinking?)
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A Moment Captured

We had time too, to soak our bodies.

In a wonderful billabong, minus the crocodiles, right beside our camp.

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tranquil
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inviting

 

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whether by our winged companions
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our our bathing young beauties
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the cold was refreshing
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ah, that smile……
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and the sun invited us to stay….
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and drink …..
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…. the special moment.

There was private time, each in their own heads, with their own thoughts.

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we will
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never know their
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thoughts – as is appropriate
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But clearly these are good ones
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Mine was awe
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Jen was concentrating
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and perhaps they were just thinking about the climb ahead….
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That private time
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that is so peculiar to trail rides
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where we are together but apart
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and alone
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or not.

There were fun times,

crazy as only people who have camped out together can be….

comfortable with one another

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whatever
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we did
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it made us smile
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We rode through
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an old branding yard
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where we found a ‘witch’
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riding a broom left there for her !

There is so much to see, from memorials to those gone before us,

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To that which will be here long after we have gone.

Saddleback Ridge

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a long and windy road….
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a climb I preferred to do with four legs than four wheels!

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the tall and the short – but really the view…..
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No reason, except I love this photo
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Amazing views – the Pentecost Valley
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Oh and another amazing view – sunshades!
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ever patient friends

And endless other adventures.

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Friends and
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breakfast
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Rope tying, rein plaiting
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drinking
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riding
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fishing
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smiling…..

 

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and then the madness and excitement of swimming with my Tinker – and being the first to get into the ‘croc infested river’ 🙂 🙂
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But I was safe….
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I had my personal body guards
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and so
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Tinker and I plunged
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in and swam in a big
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circle with Marnie
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close by to help us
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feel strong
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SUCH JOY
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And I was not
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alone in having fun!!!!

Goodness me, we did So much.

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There were rivers to cross

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Some where straight forward
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some such fun
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some took some negoitating
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with an occasional dip
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with or without a rider. In my case, it was with me on her back, without any warning!!!! So one learns

And of course the ‘serious’ river crossings- no photos. Too busy keeping dry (I had a tiny horse remember) and staying on!

There were gorges to climb.  In this case Emma Gorge65951824_661225077683706_703666551055712256_n

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There were springs to swim in.

And suddenly, a helicopter ride and it ‘was all over’

No photographs or words can even closely match the wonderful memories of this amazing part of our country.   The sights, the friends, the horses, all are such that

I want to go and do it all again.

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Thanks Chris and Laura for such an amazing time.

Tassie Tigers…..

It would appear I begin every riding blog

with the imaginative but repetitive statement

there are no words

Which is odd,

for as anyone who knows me knows,

words ‘are my thing’ 🙄

I love the sound of them

(don’t we know! I hear you say )

although I will point out that loving the sound of them is different from loving the sound of my own voice using them 😂

I love how you can play with them;

saying one thing while meaning something completely different 🙃

I love the the way they dance, black and white, across a page

the way they ‘mean’ something – as if they were musical notes.

And yet, there are times when there

Really Are No Words.

When your heart is filled to bursting,

When your eyes are mesmerised by the beauty around you

When your body is filled with such a sense of well being and energy

When your soul is at peace

(and for a short time you can imagine

‘all is well with the world’)

Our Tassie Tiger Trail was just such a time.

Across the Ditch…..


A time when eight strangers came together to the most beautiful Tasmania.

All trusting that our faith would not be misplaced,

our money not wasted;

our souls fed with the joy of riding great horses;

our bellies fed with the best of the Apple Isle and

our minds filled with joyful memories.

It goes without saying that our faith was not at all misplaced.

This was a Wonderful adventure.

Day One: New Friends……
Learning to communicate……..
…..and trust one another

It may be worth clarifying how we ‘find our horse for the week.’ Well the truth is we don’t, they kind of find us. When you go on a trail you are ‘matched’ with a horse based on –

not sure what; 😉 weight, height and temperament.


And so my horse Basheer and the ‘blurb’ in his profile?

“Every family has a gifted child. Basheer is ours.

Suffering small horse syndrome this little steed is both insecure and courageous, bold and embarrassed.

His antics are mind boggling.

He is in your face, in your space and eager to be part of everything that is going on”

Jen & Jeremy our hosts for the week had never met me, but there were some smiles about whose profile they had captured 🙄

And so to ‘what was going on’

as we set out on our 5 day adventure.

to explore the hills

 

Melaleuca everywhere

A time to reflect

There were views to absorb, canters to enjoy, laughter to share.

words? really?
patience – always……
and faithful togetherness
The “crew” day 2
no longer strangers
with a little
help from
our friends 🙂

There was wildlife to see, snakes, eagles, sugar glider, wallabies, echidnas, platypus, black cockatoos.

New friends
Still a little prickly
and old friends who had worked out the prickly bits 🙂

And there was food – home made biscuits for morning tea,

delicious salmon at the salmon farm,

fresh raspberries at the raspberry farm,

roast lamb and all the veges at our B&B

and dinners out.

 

with a laugh whether …..

At the Raspberry farm…..

Or the Salmon Farm
One of many lovely words of advice from Theresa –


Our hostess at Bonney’s Inn

Served us
such great food
and fun
with ‘heaven on earth’ offered

in her lovely home….

(as well as her philosophy 😊)
This was Them: Roland & Theresa making Bonney’s Inn beautiful
Friendships created….

And for a week, we were suspended in time;

neither wives, nor women,

nor mothers, grandmothers,

fathers or husbands,

but friends

with no agendas, no concerns, no judgements.

Open to the sun, the sky, the feel of the horses and each other.

joy

Vulnerable and Invincible at the same time.

 

The tall and short of it……
The smile …..
The exhilaration
The conversation
which didn’t always need words
down time…..
even for Daisy
The colours ……
of the sky…..
as we meandered down
along the Meander River

We laughed till we cried.

And we cried till we could laugh again.

We encouraged and learnt from each other.

We talked into the night,

we shared;

thoughts, ideas, experiences

and even clothes

as for a time I felt like I was on school camp again

but this time able to enjoy it – secure in my age (and of course no rules!!!)

Me and my other friend
did I say we were crazy? No, we were just happy.
As was Sage
Learning….
to trust….

And just when we thought it could get no better,

A day on the beach.

And honestly, truely, believe me, unless you have done this,

you will not understand

THERE ARE NO WORDS……




 

Going nowhere…..

As anyone who knows me knows, I am learning to ride.

A horse, that is.

A bicycle in my youth was challenging but a horse in my ‘mature’ years is altogether a different kettle of fish .

Okay, so metaphors are mixed – apologies to my English teacher.

After a few trails, I am starting to feel like a rider and full of confidence I joyfully accepted an invitation to ride with J, (whom I met on a ride in New Zealand) this weekend.  She and I shared much on that trip – a tent, mulled wine (All grown up? Really?), much cider and even more laughter.   We also shared hours in the saddle as we rode through Glenorchy back country (Glenorchy Back Country ; No Words.

 

 

Flattered and looking forward to our time together I set off to Tooradin to ride and ‘catch up’ with my amazing, funny, strong friend.   She just also happens to be an excellent rider and knows horses inside out so to speak.

And there they were, all saddled up and waiting for us,

Beautiful Banjo, J’s horse with a saddle that stepped straight out of the movies

(mind you, he looked as though he did too)

and Ruby, my horse for the morning, with an equally impressive saddle.

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My Ruby and her rather showy saddle

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Banjo – just look at that saddle

It was a Glorious day, full of spring blossoms, sunshine and fields of beautiful grasses designed to give one itchy eyes and runny noses 🙂 🙂 🙂

Ruby’s lovely, I am told.

She will look after you.

She is very easy – her ‘buttons’ are good.

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Banjo and Ruby

So full confidence I mounted, and followed J on her stunning Banjo.

Needless to say, I did not check on any of these idiosyncrasies before I set off, (after all I am a rider now, so I would work it out 🙂 🙂 🙂 )

(For my non riding friends, horses have a strict ‘hierarchy’ with for whatever reason, some horse deciding they are the ‘Lord of the Manor’ and need to lead, or for equally unfathomable reasons, they have their favourite ‘friend’ and ‘foe’   Furthermore, in a lessons scenario you are in an arena with a ‘teacher’ and a school horse who knows his job is to ‘go round and round’    On a trail you are with a group of horses who always do this and follow each other faithfully. )

You ‘get’ the picture.

 

And so I was blissfully unaware of the fact that my Ruby didn’t like ‘any horses’ or that her buttons, while good, were carefully coded and not at all ‘obvious’  as I set off with my excellent riding partner J.

 Ruby set off at a gentle walk without too much coaxing.   In fact we even broke into a sprightly trot without too much trouble.   Her ears were always back and she wasn’t as happy as I was on the lovely old race track we were using.   She wanted nothing to do with Banjo which made for a trail kind of ride, me in front J behind 🙂 🙂

But we had fun, trotting neatly round the track, once, then twice and then…. at the furtherest end of the track Ruby stopped.

Just stopped.

 As if the battery cable had been cut.

Just stood there.

 Ears back, motionless.

Squeeze, I heard from behind me,

as J instructed me,

your calves,

squeeze, release, squeeze release.

And so I did, squeezed, released, squeezed released,

till I was covered in sweat and my squeezed and released calves

had no more squeeze in them.

Still Ruby stood impassive.

I tried everything, standing up, sitting down, pulling forward, squeezing backwards, talking, coaxing, yelling – all to no avail.

We were going nowhere.

Did I say I was a rider?

I think I did – but perhaps I am not.

And it would have been so funny, and actually was,

except that Banjo wanted to pass and my dearest patient J did too.

Instead she stayed faithfully with me, reminding me to “squeeze, release”

It was hot, I was sweaty and just as I thought, “well I better dismount and start walking home”-

Ruby starting trotting as if butter wouldn’t melt……….

with no explanation at all.

And back to the stables we went.

Which was when I was told the tricks to find her ‘buttons’   to get her to go somewhere instead of nowhere.

And so we left the stables…..

My ever gracious J fed me lamb and salads, watered me with ciders,

shared her life with me again and sent me home ….

content that I may still learn to ride and actually

go somewhere instead of

standing still and going nowhere.

Perhaps next time 🙂

 

 

Buckle Up Ladies – come for a ride…..

How wonderful to have reached the ripe old age of ‘comfort’.

That age between old enough to no longer to care and not so old that you need to be cared for.

So when two friends I recently met invited me to join them with their girl friends on an annual weekend ride;

I didn’t analyse why;   I didn’t second guess their motives; I didn’t worry about whether I would snore or not (I know I do); I didn’t stress about whether I was a good enough rider (I know I am not, I don’t even have my own horse);

I just thought how lucky I was to be included and said yes.

Of course that was 6 months ago and suddenly, here was the weekend away with strangers and I was to all intents and purposes, a stranger , perhaps even, a gate crasher !

Except, that’s the point.

Trail riders are not really strangers.

Within 10 minutes of meeting, with the common anticipation of 2 days riding together, we were bonded.

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I knew nothing about them, not even, if the truth be told, their names (as my memory lets me down in that department), whether they had families, what they thought, what they did when not on horseback – nothing.

Except that they loved horses and riding and that is enough.

That is enough to enable 7 strangers to buckle up, and ride into the Howqua river with, yes, you guessed it –

Buckle Up Bush Rides.

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 And I no longer was a stranger.

The love riders have for horses seems to extend with no effort at all, to those of us who are new to this game, and with open arms, I’m included as if I have always been part of the group.

 

mounted ladies

We met our horses, and set off for 2 days of beauty, fun, food and laughter.

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Well not just our horses

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there was also the view

meeting 1
but our horses were lovely

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as were the surroundings

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and I had Ben

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so much water

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and we were off….

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The Howqua Valley is a beautiful area not far Melbourne and yet So far.

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Spring had arrived and everything was So green, with new leaves still almost sheer so that the sun seems to shine Through the leaves and summer dust has not yet arrived so it all felt so Light.

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from clear waters

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following us…

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or perhaps we following it….

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with steep climbs

climbing up
always up…..

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to lush gardens

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and cute homes

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blossoms round

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every

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corner

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and so to our ‘home’

We rode together, we ate together, we talked, laughed and even slept together 🙂

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Nothing like a fire

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to make good friends

 

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linger and share

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and dream…….

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and some just……

We played, on land….

some with more success than others……

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Please – see there’s nothing scary on the other side

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Come i’ve jumped over – follow me

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Okay perhaps the other way will be easier?

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well if you lifted your hind legs 🙂

We played, in water…..

some with more success than others…

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Our horses afforded us such joy, ever patient, sometimes funny, always waiting for us.

 

food time

Okay not great footage, but how cute – breakfast time and like lemmings…..

they arrive.

 

They weren’t the only friends we had on our weekend either

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And then there was just the sheer beauty of walking, cantering

and absorbing this amazing countryside.

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sky

rows

up

forests

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A very happy place –

thanks to a wonderful group of ladies

who were prepared to include me

and BUCKLE UP for a ride.

I cannot thank you all enough

 

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and thank you all, ladies, for your lovely photographs.

Glenorchy Back Country ; No Words

“Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words!”

Well at least Eliza Doolittle was.

Me, I would be better saying,

“Words, words, words, I’m so stuck for words!”

Which for anyone who knows me, must surely be a first.

I LOVE words.

I love working out their origins, the way they look on paper; their shapes and rhythms.     And I love the way they can have multiple meanings, depending on context, dependent on the company, the glint in an eye, the emphasis on a syllable, the quickness of response, the back and forth.

Words can bind or divide with such ease and speed they become almost the most powerful tool available to us mere mortals.

But I digress –

words, they confuse, confound and cause all sorts of meanderings.

Like our meander into Glenorchy Back Country, South Island, New Zealand.

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Don’t click on the blue map – nothing will happen. Just an overview of where ‘we are’

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This is the area we rode in 🙂

And for those who don’t know where New Zealand is, the bottom of the planet, almost in the Pacific Ocean.  I think God created the world from the top and as he moved down, his artistry became more and more breathtaking; his masterpiece complete at Glenorchy.

And that’s the point – this trip was SO amazing,

So breathtakingly beautiful.

So filled with laughter and energy and love and caring and support that

WORDS FAIL ME!!!!!

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Bijmin – no words 🙂

No really, they do.

From our first meeting for a drink, which ended up including a dinner, we knew we were in a special place, where like minded people understood the words spoken, the words unspoken, the meanings behind them.

People who immediately saw the laughter in an eye, or the nervous hesitation in the curve of a mouth.

We knew, without any hesitation that we were heading for a special 5 days and we were right.

Although perhaps heading wasn’t quite the right word, try meandering.

As some of us did on the way home via a fairy light boat or two (see blog All grown up? Really?) but to bed we went, finally.

Surprisingly, despite creaky heads for some, we were all up and ready to go as planned, bright and early referring to the day and time, not necessarily  the people.   See what I mean about words ?

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Queenstown early morning

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Lake Wakatipu – 75km long, 400m deep

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The crew the morning after that meandering night 🙂

And that was the beginning of a Real world:

no internet, no radio, no news, Facebook:

sometimes not even lights.

But again, words – there were lights, just not the ones we normally think of when using the word.

The sky was alive with lights, THOUSANDS of stars, breathtaking, moving, shimmering, glimmering, glowing, even flowing….. just endless stars that kept us spellbound.

A walk in the dark one night, clambering down the side of a cliff in total darkness trusting Bijmin our leader, lead us to more lights.

At first we thought they were stars, but they were not.

They were glow worms – THOUSANDS of them, hanging under a huge cave like boulder across the river, which in the dark was invisible to us, and creating a second heaven of starlight.

We gawked, silenced and humbled by the enormity and power of our universe and thought how easily we could have missed it except we dared to brave the dark and damp.

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We rode around mountains, seeing glaciers, snow, water as blue as the sky, and then as transparent as glass so that you couldn’t be sure what was reflection and what was mountain.

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Sunrise from our camp

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No words

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That water

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That grass

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Breathe taking

amazing
Whichever way you

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looked, left you

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speechless…

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no words

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Pistol gazing at the world…..

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No words….

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the Dart River… braided, beautiful, breathtaking….

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anyone for a wedding?

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the beauty of silence – created by the beauty around us… no words…

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The crew

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That’s Pistol again – and a VIEW – no words 🙂

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Cabbage trees, snow, mountains, rivers, air as clear as….. no words 🙂

We rode through forests.

With Beech trees as tall as cathedrals, moss and lichen dripping,

streams and waterfalls a constant surprise.

At times the forest was so silent we felt like the first and only people in the world.

At other times it was so full of bird sounds it made me laugh for joy.

The forests were filled with dreams.

Thoughts of dinosaurs, ogres, goblins, Bilbo, Gandalf, Frodo.

You name it, they were there.

Silent, watching us feeling them.

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sometimes steep, ……

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Both ways……

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silence….

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that up…… and

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and down feeling….

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No words…. but heaps of smiles….

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That Forest….

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That Forest….

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The waterfalls, the walks, the views –

No Words….

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None of us could stop smiling for the sheer joy of being alive

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In a world so captivating

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On top of the world

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No words….. just love

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The look of love – Needs no words

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My ‘partner in crime’ looked always like the cat who had found ALL the cream…..:-)

We scrambled up and down, feeling, smelling, sensing the forest

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and took those candid shots!

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So much water – everywhere…..

We camped in cold, clear places and warm snug places.

We shared our meals with our beloved horses.

We brushed our teeth in public, and even had a bath with a view.

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Our camp – frosted grass, slippery decks, cold feet and hands but warm smiles and laughter to make our stomachs ache….

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and then the sun reached us……

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and thawed our frozen chairs

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Drinks were shared, with all sundry 🙂

sharing is caring
that’s mine…

 

Making lunch was always such an adventure

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What about my breakfast please…..?

never lost
At least someone knew where we were, or at least where we were going to be :

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“with a little help from my friends

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Some conversations were private….

 

 

Brushing teeth was an adventure 🙂

 

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and After 🙂

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so warm and welcoming

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What remained after a horrific fire 😦

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no words – just a new day

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As old as time itself……

 

my rusty
where are you?

 

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We lunched along river banks and on grass hills, we talked, we laughed, we giggled, we lay in the sun, we rode bare back, we swam our horses in glacial pools.

Returning from my first ever swim, bareback…..

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My first ever bare back ride – the face says it all 🙂

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The 3 Musketeers before we plunged into the icy glacial water 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Fun and….

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and games in the most beautiful country on earth….

We cantered, we jumped, we fell (or at least I did – twice in the first hour of our ride!!!!) we laughed again and shared- stories, drinks, food, fears, loves, joys, life with a capital L

 

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We felt like children on a school camp, in the moment, thrilling to the  joy of being alive, overwhelmed by the beauty of our surroundings, humbled by the generosity of spirit shown by our horses, stripped to our essence camping together and always laughing and playing.

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swim?

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Our last dinner together

 Our little group, from worlds as far apart as Tuscon Arizona, New Hampshire, South Africa, Nebraska, California, Sydney, Noosa, Melbourne were united, bonded forever by this experience.

Bonded by a thread as smooth as silk and as solid as chainmail.

Linked through our connection to our horses.

Joined by an experience that cannot be put into words and that cannot be replicated, nor understood except by those of us who were so fortunate to have experienced these remarkable animals, so patient, so responsive, so willing, so kind, so powerful in a country of such extravagant beauty.

No words.

crazy crew

 

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I left a part of my soul with Rusty my beautiful horse; Glenorchy Back Country and my new friends….

 

Photos are thanks to ‘the crew’ – I can claim No credit for them – very grateful team

Holiday Romance

Okay, so I’lll admit there was a time when I indulged in a few holiday romances, but that was many years ago.

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Now I am older and wiser and a whole lot more cautious.

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After all, the broken heart following such affairs is deterrent enough for me not to venture into those waters again.

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So I approached this relationship with grown up attitudes.  We would be together for 5 days, we would enjoy the time we had together and go our separate ways with no strings attached, no expectations and therefore, no pain.   Nothing could be simpler.

And so it was that we danced around each other, assessing how far we could push ourselves and each other.

We tested which buttons would produce a joy of such magnitude I cannot begin to describe it, and which buttons were clearly going to be a no-no with me left deflated and hanging on the ground, foolish and stunned by the speed of the whole chain of events!!!!

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Still I persevered, thinking the whole thing would be so worth it for 5 days.   And I believe he did as well as he stuck by me – faithfully and quietly.   Never looking elsewhere, always waiting for me to join him.

But he was not boring;  not submissive, quick to challenge me and turn a ho hum moment into an adventure.    There were times when he was confronting, prodding and dare I say it, even went so far as to goad me into losing my ‘cool’.

It was at moments like these that the encouragement and support of my girl friends  kept me ‘in the game’ so to speak and made it all worthwhile.

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And then it was all over and I had to leave.

I had been preparing myself for this moment from day one, but still, it was SO much harder than I had expected it to be.

A long kiss, and I walked away.

But no, not too far.

I came back for another cuddle and a whisper and he gave me a kind, soft, lingering nuzzle which left me oh so warm and fuzzy.

I was ready to leave him.

It was after all, just a holiday romance.

I love you.

I stalked him the day after I left to find that he was happy, content, eating well and showing little sign of distress.

Was I relieved?

Perhaps.

Just a little.

But hurt too, did it really mean so little to him,

this holiday romance?

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At home again with a slow heart I did the washing, hung it up to dry

and there it was!!!!!!!!

He had not just walked away casually without a backward glance.

He had left me a locket of his beautiful hair.

Well perhaps not quite a locket.

Rather a whole lot of auburn, russet short hairs.

But still a secret parting gift to remember our precious time together,

those stolen moments when we swam unhindered,

bare backed, not even socks or shoes;

in a delicious spine tingling icy glacial pool with no one around

(well almost)

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They were there, clinging to my leggings – the leggings I wore on that special ‘bare back’ day.

Even After the washing machine had done it’s work.

Clearly, I had meant something to him, since he wove them so firmly into the cloth of my, was going to say soul,

but really just my pants and jackets.

Still, a gift from him to me.

So Just Perhaps, this wasn’t merely a holiday romance,

but a whole lot more.

The Big question now is,

do I live with ‘him’ around me for a little longer,

or do I use the band aid approach to purge all memory

with a lint stick?

“the look of love”

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Mt Goomboorian, Campdrafting

Now that we had mastered the art of cattle mustering

(in 2 easy lessons you understand 🙂 )

We moved on to ‘greener’ pastures.

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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.

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The pies were delicious – with or without sauce

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The lovely Lisa salting our amazing chips

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While some rested in the smoker’s lounge 🙂

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and our lovely horses settled for their hay

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If you down that way – the best lamb shank pies in town (and good coffee too)

Cots Camp,

near Widgee was our home for the next few days,

with such cute tents awaiting us and  more lovely views.

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The local bar 🙂

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Our home –

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Our home for a few days

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our ‘little’ houses

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Sunrise – or perhaps…

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it was sunset ….

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another guest at….

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Cotts Camp

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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 🙂  )

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Our amazing crew

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Jake, an old soul in a young man as one team member described him.   He was SO kind, patient and enthusiastic –  a real treasure

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The most amazing Ash

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Rod, the rock of Cots Camp

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.

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First Jake or Rod are ‘the beast’ – walking us through the concept – yup that’s me and T Rex

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Then they (in this case Jake) rides with you

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showing you so patiently

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Then you have a Real ‘beast’ !!!

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Which I will attempt to ‘dominate’ 🙂

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Serious discussion 🙂

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In front of an ever patient audience!

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Comfort to know that even the excellent riders (Duncan in this case) had lessons

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One thing about this sport – lots of sitting and waiting….

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!!!!

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… and out the gates they went….

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)

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walking the arena to ‘get our bearings’

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pondering the arena

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riding the arena

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being helped around the arena

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being watched in the arena

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)

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Then another day dawned

 We were back for our last day of campdrafting –

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This was a very serious competition

with much shouting and encouragement from the sidelines

as each of us attempted to win the coveted trophy.

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Yup, that is

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Me & T Rex…..

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Wish this was me – its the lovely Helen….

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And that’s me pretending I’m Helen 🙂

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

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Waiting for the ‘Judge’s call”

On the day, I am SO pleased to say that our favourite John, won.

Never was a team more pleased for a winner.

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The winner

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and his runners up

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and in case you Really want to know how I did – 😦

and in case you thought it was all chasing beasts, there was also ‘washing them’

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Talking to friends afar

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Talking to friends near

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Resting ….

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Stretching..

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Hugging

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