Mt Goomboorian, Cattle Mustering

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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).

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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!!!!

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Words again do not do justice to the views, across to Fraser Island, Noosa and back inland ‘forever’.    Perhaps these will help you.

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Whichever way you looked
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the views took your
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breath away….

Our tents were more than comfortable …….

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My little red bag – stayed outside – not a good shape for opening in a tent – note to self 🙂 🙂
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Margaret and I were as snug as could be in our home from home

and the food always appetising – Sean our trusty chef excelled at every meal.

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Dinner
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Men in the kitchen
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Women round the table
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Mud Crab – delicious
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If challenging for some 🙂
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and absorbing for others 🙂

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But it was our horses that really ‘sold’ us.

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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’.

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Our horses

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.

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Steep climbs
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and drops with
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amazing views
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whichever way we looked
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No words, just views
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and light dancing through the trees
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And skies so blue
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it looks like someone painted it

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 🙂

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keeping heads well up
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to see above the grass
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ducking and diving
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through this

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!!!

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Me and my ‘mule’ T Rex
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Helen and her steed

After drinks and food we collected our transport parked outside waiting patiently and ambled home through such lovely countryside.

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the companionship of riding together
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friends made along the way
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alone, but not alone
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my hang dog ‘mule’ T Rex
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ever changing
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So sure footed
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regardless of the depth
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and of course always a drink
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so special
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Did I mention my T Rex tripped in a hole, at which point I thought I was going to go over his head.  Except a fox popped out of the hole which pushed T Rex up again and we both survived.   Could not believe what I saw!!!!!!
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But left me grinning from ear to ear for a while….
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and T Rex watching his feet more carefully for a while

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!!!!!

Cattle

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.

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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.

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every patient cars
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well behaved cattle……
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with a crack crew behind them
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keeping them in line
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even the tiny calf at the back who kept lagging
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while the cars continued to wait patiently (we hope patiently)
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The traffic 🙂

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.

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them watching us
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watching them (well some watching them 🙂 )
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T Rex – not a dinosaur
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nose to nose with them
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Debbie pondering
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and enjoying her fruit salad
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but not sharing 😦

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!!!!!

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lunch break 🙂

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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!!!!!!

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Them ponies 😦  created ‘chaos’

And that was us mustering……

Done and Dusted – experts, clearly.

So time to move on to greater challenges.

Camp Drafting

 

P.S.  Photos kindly taken by Rainbow Beach Rides, “Jackaroo team”, myself, and Globetrotting.com.au

 

Special City : Special Experience

 

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This is the second concert I have been to of a totally unfamiliar genre/work.

Not something I usually do – I always play safe when I book my concerts.

Apparently not this season.

And I am So glad I did.

This work is Sublime – tears down the cheeks kind of sublime – (and not from the $13 a glass of wine)

Rather from the juxtaposition of death and creation. The poem, Dream of Gerontious is stunning, I won’t quote, but so worth a read

And the music, Elgar at his most sublime.

He said ” I wrote it out of my insidest out” “This is the best of me”

And then the singing – soaring praises, exquisite phrasing

and such comfort after the journey to death :

“Softly and gently, dearly ransomed soul. In my loving arms I now enfold thee”

Special city;

Special experience

Friends in Strange Places

And there we were,

lost in the wonder of the amazing vistas,

the silence

and above all

the solitude.

Apart from a jackal, a springbok and a beetle

we had seen nothing and no one all day.

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 I happened to look ‘up’ the coast and where the dunes meet the sea

something didn’t ‘feel’ right.

Watching  carefully the something not quite right morphed into –

hang gliders.

Yup, in the middle of nowhere,

3 hang gliders weaving alongside the dunes, over the waves, towards us.

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We waved, They waved,

We marvelled and it turns out they did too (they had seen no one all day)

And being good hosts, we held out a beer,

more as a joke than anything else as they appeared

very committed to riding the thermals.

Young, agile and fit men (French or Belgium) that they were,

they were not about to turn down such an offer.

So without missing a beat they flew towards us, or at least one did,

landed or rather hovered just long enough to say ‘hi,

they have been flying for 5 hours and seen no one,

and thank  you for the beer’.

Then off again-

back on their adventure as we turned our back

and proceeded on ours.

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Our ‘visitor’
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Leaving us, beer in hand – the photo does no justice to the height we are at
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Away he went to join his friends

A Desert

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?

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Sandwich Harbour
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This was once, a home
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Just because…..
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We were not alone – Springbok looking at us looking at him

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Space
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wherever we looked
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time to recapture
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or capture
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ever changing and always staying the same
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a moment in time
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so fortunate to see
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and he showed off happily
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There was huge
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effort involved
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in climbing
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the dunes
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whether old
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or young

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but the views rewarded us
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and of course we had to go down too….
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but who is complaining

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The never ending beauty of the dunes
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Difficult to assess the steepness of the dune as we drop down – with the engine switched off you hear the roar of the sand – as if from the bowels of the earth – AMAZING

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These rather ordinary videos will give you an idea of the scale of the place

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some welcome sustenance after the walks

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and this is what happens when you don’t time the tide correctly !!!!!

photos courtesy of the Powrie girls and Erika de Jäger

A Country…..

…in the south west corner of Africa.     Namibia gained independence only in 1990 South Africans have always felt a close affinity to what was previously called South West Africa with many of our young men spending time in the military in this part of the world.

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For much of my youth large parts of the country were ‘out of bounds’ because of the fighting ‘up north’ as we used to say.

Happily now, we are free to explore – and that is precisely what we did recently.

Well actually we only explored a little of the country – 10 days is not enough to do it justice.   Almost the size of South Africa, with a population of 2.5mill (S African has approx 60mill) it is a deliciously sparsely populated so that it is possible to ‘escape the madding crowd’ and absorb the light and air unhindered.

We began in Walvis Bay, with time spent on the water sharing our boat with friends

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The light and mood in the bay is extraordinary – enjoy20170807 - ET2_24

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The Salt Pans are also amazing – this salt pan currently supplies South Africa with 90% of it’s salt; concentrated salt from seawater with the aid of evaporation.    This salt pan also forms part of Southern Africa’s single most important coastal wetland for migratory birds.

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and when we thought we had seen such beauty nothing could compare, we visited Sandwich Harbour…… which deserves it’s own page.

(photos courtesy of the ‘Powrie girls’ and Erika De Jager)

Melbourne – You Beauty

I have recently become a ‘footie tragic’.   It all began with watching my friends (quite a few of them it as it happens) who over the years have donned their yellow and black and madly cheered and cursed their beloved Richmond Tigers.   I did not ‘get it’ thinking them slightly odd ;  and then this year I did (get it)

And for the moment, I too am caught up in the excitement that is Melbourne in Grand Final Week.   Even to wearing a scarf.  You bet it is yellow and black.   And I mean Wearing it, all day, every day, to Park Run (I was not alone) to the shops, (I was not alone), to the grand parade, walking Coco; watching TV.   And everywhere complete strangers become friends as the yellow and black unites us.

Founded in 1885  Richmond  is a very ‘old’ club with its own railway station (well almost) The club has not won a premiership since 1980 – which in football terms is a very long time.   Every time I read up on Richmond there is a different reason put forward for the remarkable passion the Richmond followers have for their team;  from the age of the club to the club song (which is very catchy); to the colours to this to that 😂 so it would appear, no one is quite sure why.   But there it is, Richmond fans are loyal and fanatical.512px-Richmond_Tigers_logo.svgimg_2924

Whatever the reason, when the state declares a public holiday and Richmond is now in the finals, one just HAs to go to the grand parade in the city.  Apparently 150 000 other supporters also HAD to go.

We travelled in by train – together with families of all shapes and sizes, single tragic supporters, couples, – the train was packed; standing room only.    And so the fun began.

Melbourne put on its best face, the sun shone, but not too strongly, the wind blew, but not too briskly, the crowd moved, but not too quickly and we just smiled and allowed the throng to take us with it.     A stop for a coffee gave us time to watch the world go by and then on to the parade.

We could see nothing of The March – we just weren’t tall enough with the crowd so deep.  It didn’t matter.

The people, families, couples, singles, everyone willing their team to win, everyone soaking up the weather, the city, the energy, the glorious atmosphere that is Melbourne.

Our stomachs were calling us to fuel them, and we looked for a table – there were hundreds, all taken.  Resourceful Jackie found us a corner and amongst scores of yellow and black clad diners, we shared a lovey paella, talked about everything football and non football; and wandered home, weary but so grateful to be in Melbourne at Grand Final time.

 

All that remains is to survive the actual match, families meeting in so many different places and ways.   Some 120 000 lucky enough to be at the MCG, some at home, in hotels, in pubs, the city is Pumping with energy as we wait for our team to….. well that’s the question – win or lose?   Time will tell.

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Melbourne sparkles : even as we go back to 1630 : Shakespeare’s pop up globe 

While on a visit to London earlier in the year I found The Globe theatre closed.

Surprise surprise – it turned up in Melbourne.

Using meticulous research including sketches like this (Czech artist Hollar -1630) one of London, together with archeological reports on the dig of the first Globe these innovative (and brave) New Zealanders created this replica.

Their dream was to see Shakespeare’s work performed in its original space, to build the worlds first full scale temporary working replica of his theatre; fill it with a festival of his masterworks and share it with as many people as possible.

The theatre visible in this sketch of London 1630

And so it was that Claire and I went to see what the fuss was all about.  Aside from the fact that a walk through Melbourne’s stunning gardens to reach the theatre is a treat in itself, the Pop Up Globe is enchanting; the actors quite amazing, the energy exhausting and the desire to see another production strong.

Melbourne still sparkles ❤️❤️

ps. No fruit was thrown, but rain fell – all adding to the atmosphere – almost like being in England!!!!

 

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It’s all about ….

It’s all about the right horse, I was told by those who know best. And those who know best are, of course, those who ride all the time.
So why would I doubt them?
After all, they are regular riders who know horses well and are, I was told, the people one should ask for advice when embarking on a riding adventure.
Except, precisely Because they are riding fit and do so all the time, perhaps they are Not the people to ask?
What do I know? I set off to the gym confidently believing if I did the exercises (squats, sit ups etc) as prescribed, for a few months, I would be fine, as it all depended on having the right horse 😳
So there I was, with dire warnings from many friends about the madness of this adventure; the pain I was going to feel in unmentionable parts of my body, the risk I was taking, still ringing in my ears. My stomach slightly knotted as my brain tried to convince my body that those that Know, say I’ll be fine, it’s all about the right horse.
So I waited for Howard from African Horse Co to arrive at our meeting place, Farm 215. at the designated time of 10am having overlooked of course that the riding world runs to its own clock – dictated by where the horses wandered off to graze; how the old car felt that morning (riding in my limited – very limited experience seems synonymous with old cars – the cost of the one mode of transport dictating the cost of the other 😜), which saddle was where etc.
And then suddenly, after hanging around for an hour or so, there I was being handed ‘my horse’ – Luke
Far from sitting down and gently talking me through the week’s plan with words of encouragement ( the picture I had created in my head 😂) with a question/answer type session. Breyten advised; “Howard said hi”, and “up you get!” Which of course I couldn’t do without a step ladder 😂😂
Luke was a large animal – the largest of the three horses – and I was the smallest, or perhaps shortest is more accurate, rider. Somehow that didn’t seem quite fair 😩.
Since there was no ladder, I needed a leg up; and that was the case every time I wanted to mount him, for the entire week! Alas? I never did get to master the art of lifting one leg as high as my shoulder, putting it into the stirrup while balancing on the other and then swinging myself into the saddle, all on one elegant motion 😂
Nonetheless before I knew it I was on the back of a large horse and off down the road to, well I wasn’t quite sure where.
Reminding myself I needn’t worry – it’s all about the right horse.
And of course it is. All about the right horse.
And the legs, and the thighs, and the back and even the feet (6 hours in stirrups and you find parts of your foot you didn’t know existed 😳)
But it is about the horse. And Luke was the kindest, most gentle soul and within half an hour I knew he would not surprise me, well not much anyway. After all he did bolt when the bus greeted him, and we shot into the bushes when the bushbuck shot out of the bushes, but as bolts go, they were gentle ones, even for me, a beginner.
His back was broad and comfortable. His walk was steady if a bit slow. I asked him to trot and he did, not reluctantly nor in mad haste. It felt like he was indulging me: you want to trot, okay we can trot. Oh, you prefer a canter, no problem, I don’t mind cantering.

When we were galloping and I could hear Sparky galloping up behind me, I prepared for Luke to increase his pace. He didn’t, he stayed reliably steady. A ‘man’ beating to his own drum.
He never embarrassed me by moving when I was trying to mount or dismount him, something I was most grateful for 😃 He waited kindly, nuzzled me when I stood close, shared my sandwiches and even, dare I say it looked pleased to see me each morning.
And at the end of 5 glorious days of riding I agreed that it’s all about the right horse.
Perhaps Howard was right when he said. “If you had to chose a husband, you would want one like Luke.   Reliable, stable, predictable, trustworthy, safe”
Did hear a small voice somewhere whisper “and boring”.

I could not be sure.

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There’s more to The Bush


There’s more to The Bush than the bush.

There’s more to The Bush than the big five, or even the little five, or the birds, or the snakes.

The Bush is about the smell, the sound,the Feel.

In this instance, the wind, the rain.

First fierce and dominating so that speech is pointless as words are carried away with the hustle of the storm. Water cascading down, flooding every corner of the land and disappearing quickly into ground parched and thirsty to drink.

And then, spent, the heavens seem to rest and the rain falls gently, so gently my clothes don’t get wet yet I can see the drops still falling on the water hole.

On this day, most holy day of Good Friday it seems appropriate that the sky is black and angry and the storm rages down on us.

And it seems also appropriate that as I turn to look to my right, I see the light through the clouds, not yet shining, but with the look of a promise of what is to come; sun and renewed growth.

And the rainbow to remind me, on this holy day, most holy day of Good Friday;  not of our covenant with Him, but His with us.

“When I bring clouds over the earth, and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being.” (Gen 9)

There is more to The Bush than the bush