H4C ‘Stories from the Saddle’
I hope you all an incredible and very ‘Merry Christmas’ accompanied by a super start to the New Year! 2018 is your year…make it happen!
My hope for everyone is that you received the ultimate Christmas Gift of being surrounded by those who love you, along with the mix of some time for quiet and relaxation!
Just before Christmas we farewelled our Grandad; Bob Savage in a heartbreaking but beautiful memorial tribute to his life. There were many wonderful memories & engulfing emotions as he made his final trip home to Suplejack and was laid to rest up on the hill, beside his best mate Grandma.
I successfully completed my Diploma of Agribusiness Management…Yayyy…done and dusted!
Now that I’ve have stopped long enough to catch my breath…my mind wanders back to that epic month when I awoke each morning and rode my horse up the NT. track…
Join me as I reminisce: ‘Stories from the Saddle’ tells of the adventures we had during our 1,000km horse ride across the Northern Territory, raising awareness of issues faced by our most geographically isolated & remote children; our Aussie Bush Kids – Day 4
Aunty Marg needs New Shoes
It was day four already and we were really beginning to find our groove. Nights were filled with splendid starry skies and the days were cool and breezy. The horses were settling into routine and everyone was in good spirits!
We’d traveled over 90kms since leaving Suplejack, today was Tuesday. I was finding it was all too easy to lose track of the days, the only evidence time was rolling on was the changing of the moon’s face each night, which we’d gaze upon as we lay in our swags under the marvelous outback night sky.
We’d woken up a little later this morning…perhaps because we stayed up a bit past our regular bedtime last night as we laughed and retold stories of the horses’ antics from the previous day. Perhaps it was because we knew tomorrow we be arriving in the BIG SMOKE of Lajamanu, which was kind of exciting, especially because the Rugby League ‘State of Origin’ Footy was playing and we’d be able to watch it on TV! I’ve always been kind of a Footy Fan, by default really! Go Cowboys! Sorry Dad, the ultimate die-hard Bronco’s Fan!
Sitting around the now cold and dead fire eating breakfast, we mused back on perhaps another reason the excitement of last night saw us go to bed a little later than normal.
The sun was setting in another spectacular display; Aunty Marg was diligently stoking the fire drum and getting it perfect for Norma to cook tea on. We were conscious of how careful we had to be with our fire and especially selective of where we placed our fire drum. It was always on a bare patch of ground away from grass and sticks. This was our dry season in the Tanami, each year the grass hays-off after a massive growth spurt during the wet season. It wouldn’t take much to start a fire…apparently a hell of a lot less it would seem!
Aunty Marg had just given one end of the drum a good stoke, then turned her attention to the coals at the other when a tiny, little, skinny stick burnt off and dropped onto the bare ground. As quick as you like, the instant that stick touched the dirt an immediate chain of events started. The smoldering stick lit up a single piece of grass which in perfect timing, received a little gust of wind fueling it and lifting it, sweeping it across to a nearby patch of grass. Up it went, the flames then skipped across to a few more dry clumps and before Aunty Marg even had time to turn around there were flames bouncing everywhere, fueled by an unassuming evening breeze.
Aunty Marg was in a panic, stomping everywhere she saw flames, she was kicking up dust in a tap-dance show which would’ve put Fred Astaire to shame. We all raced over and joined in, a slight panic beginning to rise in me. Someone on the water bucket and another was flogging flames with a rag…then we realized the fire was headed towards the road…phew! So all we really needed to do was kept it on track and moving in that one direction until it reached the wide cleared section of the road. Stomping on the edges we allowed it to travel over to the road, and just as quickly as it started, it burnt onto the break and was out! Holey Crap…we breathed a sigh of relief that was a bit too close for comfort.
Aunty Marg wasn’t taking any chances though…she was still stomping on smoldering grass clumps and small sticks, killing each puff of mocking smoke in the aftermath. After all she knew how fast it had taken off in the first place.
Nothing like a bit of adventure to finish the day on! We were all on full alert while tea was cooking, nervously laughing at our antics and pondered a darker fate.
Once all the excitement had died down, Aunty Marg showed us her joggers, the bottoms were ruined and in a couple of spots they had completely melted away leaving toes popping out the front. 'All is well that ends well' was Aunty Marg’s motto as she splashed out on a flash new pair of leather Ariats from Katherine a few days later.
Today, was a brand new day, no breakfast fire, but no-one was complaining. We estimated we had about 30kms to ride today, so a relatively easy day. Tash and I were saddled up and on the road by 9am. Rod, Norma, Marg and Dennis packed up the camping gear and caught us at the 7km mark. We watered the horses and then rode onto the 10 km mark where we water the horses again.
Today was shaping up as a 'salt in the wound' kinda day for Aunty Marg’s moral. While we watered the horses, she busily tidied up the back of the ute, picking up an empty, white feed bag she startled an over-reactive Gypsy. He pulled back and jumped sideways crashing into Tash and sending her sprawling flat out into the middle of the gravel road.
Aunty Marg was devastated and took a bit to forgive herself but Tash wasn’t too scathed. Her ribs took the brunt of the impact along with her pride as she picked herself up out of the dirt. Never-the-less we mounted up and were off again for another 10kms onto lunch camp. Lucky you're tough Tash...ankle yesterday...ribs today...maybe you'll have to learn to move a bit quicker! ;)
We met up with everyone for lunch about 20km ride from where we’d left camp this morning. Norma spoilt us as usual and after giving the horses their lunchtime feed of sweet Orange Creek Lucerne, we camped up for a little snooze under a stand of cool gum trees!
We camped 33kms up the road, only about 20kms from Lajamanu. We had an amazing warm shower, thanks to Rod who had it all set up for us by the time we reached camp.
I gave the station a call on the sat phone to check in and to also see how they were getting on with the muster at home. They were about to finish another paddock and were trucking tomorrow morning. Everyone was well and apparently not missing me too much at all! I didn't know whether to be offended or relieved at that!
Back at camp we decided we didn’t need a fire tonight…enough said!
Next… ‘Stories from the Saddle’ tells about our adventures from day 5 when we ride into The Big Smoke of Lajamanu and meet with the very excited School Kids to share some horse husbandry knowledge.