Our first official day of riding started with a rainy two hour ride around the ranch. Rob managed pretty well for a non-rider. What I say in my journal about my non-horsey brother is that “He did very well on the introductory ride – managed to post at the trot and hold on during the canter.”
The next day we had another ride around the ranch, then came back for a late lunch. The lunch was exactly like a lunch you would be served in England; bread with canned meat, tuna and a pasta salad. This was served with sliced tomatoes and chopped lettuce. We also had the option of Vegemite. I went for the tuna.
I think Rob just had beer.
We departed the next morning in the pouring rain. The ride started by fording the river behind the house and setting out across extremely rough country. We forded two more rivers and crossed gullies and hills steeper than anywhere I’d ever ridden before.
Because it was rainy and cool the kangaroos were out in force. We probably saw a hundred of them that day, as well as wild goats (which looked exactly like domestic goats) by the dozen.
Our guide told us that the kangaroos were considered a pest, eating forage that could be better used for cattle or sheep. They are not protected, and are often shot for meat and hides. Occasionally the local stockmen hold kangaroo roundups, herding large groups of kangaroos into an enclosure where they are disposed of with rifle shots. They often poison them as well.
The terrain was treacherous in the rain and mud, but we forged ahead.
We finally arrived at the little town of Emmaville at about 4:30. We were drenched and tired by then, and plenty happy to see the little pub where we were to spend the night.
I wrote “The local pub was a welcome site, with warm fire and cold beer. We had a hearty dinner and retired to the bar to watch some dart players and visit with the locals.”
This is our group in front of the pub the next morning before leaving.
We set out at 9:00 and had an easier riding day, though we had some steep uphill climbs where we had to stand in our stirrups and hold the horses manes to keep our balance. We saw lots of sheep and baby lambs, and had several good long gallops. There were a couple more river crossings today, too.
We even got to jump over some logs. Rob didn’t jump though. He was too scared.
At the end of the day we stayed at another little pub, in the tiny town of Torrington, population 82. We spent a couple of hours playing pool and talking to a local stockman and his wife until dinner time. We had roast beef with potatoes for dinner, an excellent meal after our exertions of the day. The next day was our rest day.
On our rest day we hiked out to see the lookout site of Thunderbolt the Bush Ranger, a very famous thief on the order of Robin Hood. The views were spectacular from the top.
We went back for lunch, then hiked off to see the “Mystery Face,” which is a natural rock formation shaped exactly like a real face.
After a few more hours of beer drinking and pool, where Woodsy and I beat Rob and Woody for the World Championship, we turned in for the night.
And headed out on a beautiful sunny morning for our next leg.
It was a perfect day for riding. The ground was smooth and we had the opportunity to do lots of galloping and more jumping of logs.
At one point we were galloping along through a farmer’s paddock when suddenly a horse came out of nowhere and shot by me.
It was Shandy. And he had no rider.
Rob landed in fairly soft dirt, and wasn’t injured at all. This time. But I get ahead of myself.
We stopped in Deepwater for the night, where we had some unanticipated and vaguely disturbing entertainment. The Publican, which is the owner of a pub in Australia had a two year old stud cold. Our guide Woody made arrangements to have the stud colt service our hateful little packhorse Chartreuse, who was in season.
We joked about who was more excited about that, the stud colt or the Publican. We never could come to agreement.
At each pub we visited there was a schedule posted as to when the Pub Crawlers would be visiting. One pub had a huge board for us to sign. It had obviously been there for quite some time.
Rob stayed up late every single night, drinking beer and playing pool with the local drovers who came to visit. Much hilarity was always enjoyed by all.
The next morning we headed out for our final long cross country tour.
It was another great day for riding, and we made the most of it.
And this is where Rob took the coolest picture of our whole trip.
Isn’t that awesome?!
Rob didn’t participate in the race. He was chicken. But he took lots of pictures.
We swam through a reservoir, then forded another river before coming to an area called Ranger’s Valley. Ranger’s Valley is home to Australia’s largest feedlot, feeding 70,000 cattle. It is owned by the Japanese. Huh.
After Ranger’s Valley we went for a nice gallop over hard flat ground. Those Australians love their gallops. Rob was right in front of me when Shandy suddenly literally jumped right out from underneath him. He hit the ground very, very hard. Rob, not the horse.
He broke his wrist. But we didn’t know that until we made it back home. He was in terrible pain for the rest of the trip.
How he hated that spotted horse Shandy!
We eventually made it back to the ranch.
Join me next week when I show you the super cool event we got to do before we left the ranch.
And I’ll explain why trying to stop chewing tobacco while on a trip overseas with a broken wrist is not a good idea.
I like the picture of Rob sitting at the table. We were in Australia in 2009 to visit my wife’s sisters who emigrated there and I didn’t wear a hat one day when we went to an outdoor Mass at a Monkastery…err, I mean Monastery, of course…and the top of my head got sunburned right through the hair. I leaned quickly that the sun is pretty strong down under. Now hurry and write. I can’t wait for the next installment of this tale! I’m loving it!