Barossa Blessings

Exactly the idea….

I felt blessed when Jen & Jeremy of

Australian Horse Adventures

gave up their one free weekend in their Barossa season

and invited me to come and ride with them.

I was doubly blessed to be able to invite four friends.

Each special on their own remarkable way……


I rewind…..

I was blessed four times over;

Since to have even one special friend is a blessing;

So to be able to invite

four friends; each so special in their own way;

makes me blessed fourfold.

Friends and Horses = Heaven on earth.

For three days we rode through stunning countryside;

Breath-taking views
whichever way we looked

For three days we rode amazing horses.

whichever angle…..
one chose……..
… they were stunning…..
Although some angles were better……
… than others

We had amazing weather;

clear skies;

no wind,

and one short sharp shower.

Just strong enough to make our horses drop their heads

and canter flat out into and through the rain.

To find a rainbow at the other end.

Absolutely exhilarating.

Every meal was a blessing –

Hot home made soup and bread appeared as if by magic in the middle of ‘nowhere’

Lunch at wineries
celebrations at

Stunning wines and gourmet sandwiches with warm fires.

Tweedie Gully Winery

Country market breakfast.

Degustation dinner and wines.

Langmeil winery
Our FABULOUS hostess, Pauline
a moment captured….

Flowers and pancakes for breakfast on Mother’s day.

This short Barossa breakaway,

after such a tumultuous year

of lock downs in Melbourne,

was an amazingly generous gesture by

Jen & Jeremy

One that will sustain the five of us,

Moment captured

through this never ending see saw that is Melbourne.

One that will stay in my memory forever

as a reminder

to count my blessings.

Thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

And because the Barossa break away Was such a blessing,

I add photographs for those who care to browse.

Thanks to this lovely crew and especially Jen for all these memories.

The matriarch Ruby

Thank you ALL, for being in my life xo


Hidden Valley. Hidden Trails.


In the middle of ‘nowhere’

Have you not done the Wonnangatta ride?…

You will love the Wonnangatta ride.

You must do the Wonnangatta ride.

Statements and questions that have been put to me more times than I can count.

And the answer, always was “No, I haven’t”

And so,

despite Lock Down,

(or perhaps because of it, since this ride is always booked a year in advance)

I ‘signed up’ so to speak.

Signing up in this case meant :

a) borrowing money from the kids

b) packing for an 8 day trail

c) rearranging work

d) getting to the start of the ride

All with less than 24 hour’s notice as lock down was only lifted the afternoon prior to the ride.

Such is life in the world of Covid.

But that is nothing compared with the organisational skills shown by

Laura and Christian Hayes

http://www.hidden trail horse adventures

throughout these crazy times.

For this long and fairly inaccessible ride,

they went ahead the week before to prepare.

To drop off feed for the horses.

To clear tracks.

To check campsites.

The list is long.

Not a mean feat when you see where we ride.

An 8 day ride is an interesting experience.

It is long enough for personalties to shine,

some offering a bright light,

some providing the shadows.

who all made it work…

It is long enough to challenge bodies, both ours and our amazing horses.

…whichever way you look at it

It is long enough to cover a large area and see amazing views.

Hell’s window.
Along Mt Magdala
Loo with a view. Mt Howitt

It is long enough to experience mountain weather in many forms.

Misty mornings
Never dampened a smile….
and made for great ……
Regardless of what weather we were given.
Fields of flowers on Mt Howitt
Not quite smelling roses, but close enough…..
Or as in this case, not close enough. Look where They are…..

It is long enough to make good friends.

all kinds of friends….

Nothing like a fire, clear sky and hot food to calm the soul……
And create a sense of quiet……
….or not, as the mood takes us.
home made, delicious all of it…
There was always something to smile about……
…. whether only They could see it……
… or we all could!
There were moments of remarkable…..
… serenity….
……that held one captive
or made one smile with joy
Times of quiet contemplation……
and earnest reading…
Times of relaxation….
Times of roaming….
Times of climbing……
up and down…
Moments to cherish
moments to show of the resident hairdresser‘s work
Times of seeing clearly
Times of seeing dimly….
whether we wanted to, or not
There was light and space…..
Colour and blossom
And ghostly shapes
There were rivers to cross and people to meet
There were roads to follow…
Moments to capture…
Or was that horses to capture…..
Ah no, it was light !
There was time to graze….
and time to gaze
and time ponder the beauty of nature….
Moments of quiet with no…..

……man in sight.
moments made of sheer joy.


as quickly as I had packed to join the ride,

so I had to pack to leave the ride.

The trip of a lifetime.

A trip never to be forgotten.

A trip I hope to repeat,

as I ask YOU now,

“Have you not done the Wonnangatta ride?…
You will love the Wonnangatta ride.
You must do the Wonnangatta ride.”

Photos are not all mine,  this was a ‘group’ affair – thank you everyone 

Markdale Madams…..

Have you ever wondered what happens when you

put six women of a certain age together?  

Women who do not know each other, but are now

going to share rooms, bathrooms, meals and 4 days together.

Yup, I hear your thoughts.   

I’ll tell you what happens…….



That’s what happens.


Horses are involved.

And they work

their magic.

EVERY time. 

They become teenagers, chasing childhood memories….
They start to dress alike…. Smile alike, Laugh a lot.
They pretend they are cowgirls…….
…..mustering cattle…….
…. that seemed to know the game…..

They laugh until they can’t ….. and then laugh some more……

Markdale Station, near Crookwell – our home for the 4 days

In the 1950’s designers

Leslie Wilkinson and Edna Walling

were commissioned to create an amazing garden.

Resembling, yes, that’s correct.

A Horse’s head.

The house is the centre, the eye…. – amazing stuff

Every corner of the garden is breath-taking…..
Although thankfully, the water in the pool was not breath -taking.
It was pleasantly refreshing.

Today the property, approx 6 300 acres is a fully operational sheep station with around 8,500 merino sheep. .

It also operates as a farm stay.

And stay, we did, in the refurbished

original stone cottages built in the 1850’s for the shearers.

A shearer’s cottage
The light – could be a water- colour.
The Sky……
The gold at the end….. we found it. Or we felt like did…

When in fact,

what we Really found

were horses.

Fabulous horses.

And riding country.

Fabulous riding country.

Whichever way you looked……
….. you had to smile…..
…or the beauty would take your breath away.
Even the sky was beautiful….. whatever it chose to do.

having fun

And above all,

falling in love with our horses

It was a wonderful trip

And anyone who knows me, knows that I could go on and on and on.

But that may be at the risk of boring you, my dear non horsey friends.

So I shall put a full stop right here.

If you want to know more,


Or me xo

Stanley… No Words….

……. does not mean no riding.

On the contrary there has been plenty of riding.

The Nut. Which one I hear you say? You decide.

What it Does means is that finally,

and absolutely,

there are no words

(or to perhaps, very few words)

that can describe this new world I have discovered.

Having met the love of my life on my first ride to Tasmania

What’s not to love about this young man?

I could not resist riding with him again.

I mean, come on……..
… Really ….

In the Barossa, South Australia

Just look at him …..
Okay, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I get it. Still…….

and again,

wherever I could.

Getting the idea about heaps of riding

How could I resist my amazing young steed, willing and crazy and everything that kept me on my toes and in love.

Him, coupled with Jen & Jeremy, Australian Horse Adventures http://www.australianhorseadventures

was a temptation too great to resist.

So why, you ask, no blog?

The answer dear friends is simple.

No words.

When the opportunity came to ride my

valiant steed and catch up with Jen and Jeremy –

I jumped at it.

Well, I jumped on a plane, to be precise

(pre covid you understand)

The flight now that I think of it, was not without incident.

I was ‘apprehended’ – no other word for it by about 12 burly uniformed,

very uniformed;

very armed and not just with dogs,

police of some sort.

They appeared to be waiting for me and showed no interest in any other passenger;

I was marched off into a very small room –

and searched….

another blog perhaps….

Suffice to say, I was, finally released,

my reputation somewhat intact

my luggage most certainly not.

A hop and a skip across the Bass Strait……

Once released,

I found myself standing at the Devonport aerodrome –

waiting to go to Stanley, for the adventure of a lifetime.

Stanley is a lovely town, dominated by a volcanic plug of rock, The Nut.

The so called Nut is a remarkable structure

and some of us walked up every morning.

It became a ritual salute to the rising sun.

Perhaps that’s why we have had such good weather on each ride.

(Yes, I have been there twice. That’s how great it is)

Highfield House sits proudly looking down onto Stanley.

A relic from a determined Van Diemen’s Land Company’s attempt to

tame a land that refused to be tamed.

It’s story is bold and tragic.

Highfield House looks much smaller than it is. This was a deliberate design to misrepresent it to London to gain approval for its construction.
Moments captured in the gardens of Highfield House

We were, as usual, spoilt in terms of riding. The horses are amazing; Jen & Jeremy superb horseman who help, encourage and educate us all the time.

We were, as usual aching from the laughter,

bulging from the amazing food

and blessed with renewing old friendships

and forming new ones.

Girls just wanna
have fun !
And fun we had……
A plenty !

And so, instead of words, this time,

I shall try and capture moments through

our photographs.

Always something to laugh at
That’s my man looking at the Nut

And so I could continue,

the most Stunning scenery

The most stunning views.

The most stunning adventures.

But I have learnt that my non horsey friends

find every horse photo looks the same

and bore you I do not want to do.

Suffice to say,

Stanley is worth a visit, more than once, and if you

DO happen to ride – you MUST ride there.

http://Australian Horse

Highfield House from the Nut
Another Nut
Whatever floats your boat….. so to speak
no words…..
needed to describe….
the views.

Me and my man
My other steed – dear Piccolo

Photos gathered from friends -with gratitude.

Yeeha Cowgals 🐴

Come with me- it will be fun she said


(For those who don’t know 😂😂 see the links )

In the Otway National Park between Torquay and Anglesea.

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And so I did .

Go with her.

It was a VERY early Start

with a Very rocky ferry trip


And it was. 🙃😍

Fun that is

Who? Me?

The Yeeha Cowgals

There was great weather, most of the time.

Always an interesting beginning – meeting our ‘transport’. So much trust involved from both partners in this ‘gig’ and not much time to develop it.

Before you know it, you are up and waiting, me on Misty this time – and Yes, you guessed it – a flea bitten grey – must have something to do with someone’s age I am beginning to think!!!!!!

There was also rain,wind and cold some of the time. 😉

Rain, wind and cold arrived on our way home – no one was in any mood to take photos and this one doesn’t really show how wet and miserable we both were!!!! Trust me…..

There was laughter, most of the time. 😉.

Not Actually squashed against the tree!

Besties now and forever

Smiles before the rain

still smiling…. and hanging on!!

There was also a grumble or too some of the time. 😉.

There were great views, all of the time😍


whichever …….

way we ……


The Otway

National Park

And a welcome stop for a pub lunch😉

Well, I don’t know about the Camel, but I do know there was a thirsty Horse and an even more thirsty Rider!

Well, there Really was food as well, but cowgals like their horses had to have a drink!!!!

Well after all …..

we had eaten…..

so it was only fair…..

we (seriously) let them eat too!

There was a horse stuck in water, for some of the time.

And a great sense of relief when she finally stood up again 😍

A planned human pit stop….. and an anxious wait for a horse swim stop to stop

Great relief when both were confirmed safe. And we could continue.

There were canters to die for and some who thought they would! 😉


Long lovely stretches to canter

Bikes one way…..

Horses the other way…..

as we ambled in to Anglesea ( Pete what did you do with Jacqui?                                                                 I hope she is at the end of that rein!)

There was exhilaration and exhaustion.

For some it was hard to tell which was which !

There was tooth ache; bum ache, leg ache and ‘unmentionable’ ache. 😉


There were hot showers, Uber eats and ‘Thirsty Camel’ to lift our spirits

so that we could drop our bodies into warm beds. 😊


There were crack of dawn starts and lazy long lie ins. 😴

There were beach walks, energetic runs, coffees and breakfast. 😊

Salty Dog early morning

ah, such a treat

and such beauty as

we used two legs instead of four!!

There were ferry and car rides and hugs goodbye.😘




There were new friends made, old histories shared, bold futures imagined and

joint memories made. 😊

And just like that the Yeeah cowgals weekend was over.


And we went back to our different worlds.


Thanks to a group of  Yeeha Cowgirls

who despite a 40 year age difference made me feel young again !!! 😝

And yes, she was right.

It was fun.

 (thanks too, for the photos)

Duracks, pastoralists, the Kimberley’s and megh

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.


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.


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


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.

history both modern and

an idea of that ancient

and ancient

trees that tell a thousand tales

and the ‘new’ art


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.



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.

hard to

decide which

view was more


but regardless

the food and

company was no less


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.

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.

Meeting our transport

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.

My tiny Tinker…..


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.


Grass so gold, so patterned, so extravagant…..

Sky bluer than blue….

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.

A special light…

A lost young bull tagging alongside for kilometres

Silent contemplation

and sharing the joy

We pause along the way,

to marvel at a view,

learn some history,

look at the intricacies of nature.

The Cockburn Ranges – amazing and sooooo old

A Boab and a history lesson

As we decipher the names and dates well into the 1800’s

So beautiful …..

Wherever the sun is…….

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.

An organised Home Sweet Home

My less organised Home Sweet Home

My socks and swag

Good morning

Must I? Just a little longer…..

And that trail riding rhythm includes caring for the horses.

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.

There’s ‘stuff’

and patience

and so much work as the feed is prepared

Chewing the cud

Chewing the chick peas

The non stop work and love goes into the caring of theses horses

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 🙂

a lunch stop

with table flowers and all …..

and always more than we could eat – although we tried our best

as we told tales, shared laughs and learnt heaps

There were nights around the fire

and skies to take your breathe away.

There was ‘girl’s time”



and not

always smiling

There was ‘boy’s time’

with the talking

and the thinking (or was it the drinking?)

A Moment Captured

We had time too, to soak our bodies.

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




whether by our winged companions

our our bathing young beauties

the cold was refreshing

ah, that smile……

and the sun invited us to stay….

and drink …..

…. the special moment.

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


we will

never know their

thoughts – as is appropriate

But clearly these are good ones

Mine was awe

Jen was concentrating

and perhaps they were just thinking about the climb ahead….

That private time

that is so peculiar to trail rides

where we are together but apart

and alone

or not.

There were fun times,

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

comfortable with one another


we did

it made us smile

We rode through

an old branding yard

where we found a ‘witch’

riding a broom left there for her !

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





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

Saddleback Ridge

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a long and windy road….

a climb I preferred to do with four legs than four wheels!


the tall and the short – but really the view…..

No reason, except I love this photo

Amazing views – the Pentecost Valley

Oh and another amazing view – sunshades!

ever patient friends

And endless other adventures.

Friends and


Rope tying, rein plaiting






and then the madness and excitement of swimming with my Tinker – and being the first to get into the ‘croc infested river’ 🙂 🙂

But I was safe….