31.8.11 Wrapping up the 2011 Coast2Coast horsetrek

August 31st, 2011

Melanoma Institute Australia Nth. Sydney.

I had a whole 48 hours at home after stepping out of the truck late last Wednesday night after completing the 2011 Coast2Coast 4600km horse trek and the massive drive back  across this wonderful country of ours with the horses in the truck.  48 precious hours then I flew out to Sydney for a training event with NSW Cancer Council and then Monday afternoon and yesterday meetings with staff at the Melanoma Institute of Australia  (used to be the Sydney Melanoma Unit-from which  Hannah’s first two ’rounds of treatment’ happened under the care of Assoc. Prof. Andrew Spillane. )  This new facility is magnificent and is a reality because of the generosity of Mr Greg Poche who sadly also lost a family member to melanoma and generously funded $40 million  to see the new facility become a reality.  This is the largest purpose built melanoma treatment and research facility in the world and it’s right here in NSW Australia! Check out www.melanoma.org.au for further information.  Additionally, Jay Allen (campaigning to ban solarium industry in NSW and ultimately Australia wide),  himself a melanoma survivor works as a community coordinator at MIA and has a truckload of enthusiasm and drive to spread the word about melanoma and prevention strategies.  This may look like a bricks and mortar building, but inside is the genius of Hope housed in the clinicians rooms, the research labs, the blood and tissue banks, the hearts and souls of the admin staff working there, I have never felt so strongly such a deep sense of organisational collaboration, on every level…hope seeps out of the very walls and my friends I am excited about the future of melanoma research and education…..

26.8.11- Home sweet home on 24th….

August 26th, 2011

Day One Crescent Head NSW 2.5.11 Pacific Ocean

116 days on the road whilst Esther completed 4600kms Coast2Coast on her amazing horses ‘putting melanoma on the map’ across this magnificent country of ours…Crescent Head NSW to Perth WA…..97 days of get up, saddle up, keep riding…..40 schools and community events presenting ‘Mela-What?’ raising awareness of melanoma as a young persons disease in Australia (the most common cancer that young people under 25 get), 32 tanks of diesel to get there and back….raising over $25 000 with more coming in and  dozens and dozens of amazingly fantastic humans who made the trek so incredible and of course our TOTALLY AWESOME sponsors of whom we couldn’t have done this trek and I’m so indebted too……we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts we thank you…..

A very THANKFUL ride4acure 2011 horsetrek crew

21st August: Way home Balranald NSW…rest day.

August 21st, 2011

ride4acure team riding out of Fraser Range Station WA to Eyre highway

The days are melding into each other as we make our way through four states to get home.  We’re taking it easy with the horses not travelling more thank 5 – 600 kms per day.  I unload the horses every 2-3 hours to have a ‘comfort stop’, stretch there legs, give them a drink etc. have a quick cup of tea ourselves. This picture is of Esther riding ‘Titan’ bareback leading ‘Meg’ and ‘Surprise’ with Bobby tagging along- a couple of kms along the road into Fraser Range Station in WA 100kms east of Norseman on the Eyre Highway toward the end of the Nullarbor.  This station is incredible and attracts many tourists wanting to experience station life they have fantastic facilities for the travellers.

see the strangest sites in WA! tree power!!


This gem of a sight is on the road into Fraser Range…Joe nicknamed it ‘tree power’! We’ve been retracing Esther amazing ride and catching up with people along the way.  There is no doubt in my mind it is the people we meet that make an event like the Coast2Coast Horse Trek such a success.  Sharing stories because it’s the stories that people remember.

I absolutely loved travelling through WA, the Nullarbor is a treasure trove of amazing sights and experiences.  I will definately be back to re-experience that wonderful vast landscape again, I feel a real affinity with the wide open space of that country.  It’s like a million Hay Plains in a row! I will be back….

A massive thank you goes out to all the roadhouses across the Nullarbor whom without their support we couldn’t have done this trek.  Each of the roadhouses provided us with de-salinated water for our horses, donated our accommodation and more!  A big hearted thank you to all.  On the way over I had written especially about Andy Morris the pilot from the Nullarbor Roadhouse who’d taken Esther and Joe up flying,to see the whales.

Nullarbor Roadhouse crew Andy & Ben celebrating Ez's 21st with us.

We caught up with Sal and Stewart (managers) and Ben (bar staff) and Andy (pilot) on the way back and toasted Esther’s successful ride and her 21st! this photo we’re hooking in to a delicious cake Ben bought out with sparklers blazing singing Happy Birthday!  We played some seriously dodgy games of pool and had a few celebratory drinks and a great night.

Onward the next day to Ceduna where we stayed overnight at the racecourse and had to clean our truck out again for quarintine from WA back to SA.  Then next day to Wirrulla where we caught up with Gary and Kathy McFarlane and famiily whom we stayed with on the way across.  Our horses enjoyed a great paddock for the night with a good pick.  The next day had to deliver ‘Surprise’ back to Bill and Barb Willoughby at ‘Boolorro Centre’, he has been such a little ripper horse for the trek and we felt a tonne of gratitude for the part he played in making the ride a success.  It had been raining heavily for days and we had about 20kms of dirt road to get to Boolorroo Centre, our truck is now covered in red mud, and I’m hoping to give it a pressure wash somewhere soon! We then made our way to Gawler SA where we’d left ‘Lofty’, sadly ‘Lofty is still seriously lame and has a fetlock injury that hasn’t healed and on a good vets advice is unlikely to after nearly three months rest.

We’re now in Balranald where we had a fundraiser on Friday night at the ‘Shamrock Hotel’ where Jennifer the publican turns out the ‘best ever’ countermeals.  Joe rates her schnitzels as 11 out of 10 on his schnitzel meter!  We had a couple of dozen people turn up for a meet and greet.  Local horsewoman Megan Purtill organised a raffle of a load of split redgum firewood donated by David Chaston from Balranald, for the night that raised $220 so a big thank you to the Balranald crew for their support.

Balranald 19.8.11 Shamrock Hotel fundraiser raffle winner Emma Scott with 'Hugo' and Joe!

The raffle was won by Emma Scott (above) who was there with her Mum Wynn and her Grandma. Our little mascot ‘Hotondo Hugo’ was in on the celebrations, he’s never far from the action!

Esther was very crook yesterday and is still low today with temp, headaches and vomiting, and Joe is down now also.  So we’re extending our stay here at Balranald Pony Club grounds hoping they’ll be right to travel tomorrow (Monday) and we’ll head to West Wyalong.  Because the kids were crook we sadly didn’t get to Ivanhoe for Rowan McKenzies 21st and to catch up.  Another time.  Esther could barely lift her head up with a temperature over 38 degrees.  We’ve had a superb couple of days here weather wise, the horses are soaking up the sunlight and enjoying not being on the truck!  We’ve got a couple more meetings on the way home and hoping to be back in Kempsey by Thursday.

Carrot & Coffee bike riding Perth to Sydney met at Balladonia Roadhouse on Nullarbor WA

At Balladonia Roadhouse on the Western end of the Nullarbor we met up with a real character, a man called Carrot riding his bike with his dog ‘Coffee’.  Carrot is raising funds for both the Cancer Council of NSW and also MS  Society.  He’s ridden from Perth and is heading to Sydney.  We’ll be definately heading to Sydney to welcome him in when he makes it.  Due to the incredible distances across the Nullarbor 1200 kms between shops at Ceduna and Norseman it’s impossible to carry enough food on the bike, so we left ‘food drops’ for Carrot and CoffeeDog at Cocklebiddy, Nullarbor and Eucla Roadhouses, which included in it 3 feeds of dry dog food for CoffeeDog (a white kelpie), dried food, a couple of tins of soup, noodles, rice, tim tams and a stubby of beer for Carrot and some fresh fruit!  We were stoked to get a phone call today from Carrot at Madura roadhouse to say he’s enjoying the tucker and so’s Coffee Dog! We wish them both all the best and safe travelling!


Tuesday 9th August: Journey home begins early in the morning.

August 9th, 2011

GPR Truck Service & Repairs, Welshpool WA. Ian (Service Manager) & Peter (Owner)

In preparation to begin the almost 5 000 km journey home tomorrow the awesome crew at GPR Truck Service & Repairs in Welshpool WA,  generously donated a full service to our ride4acure truck.  Perth has been a rich experience for us all.  The fantastic support here at the Riding for the Disabled facility in Claremont providing us with a ripper paddock for our three horses.  RDA is facilitated by M’Liss Henry who is an incredibly hard worker spending every hour of daylight working with riders and looking after the horses and facilities.  They house dozens of horses here and there is a big crew of hardworking volunteers keeping things going.  Met and talked with many of the students (we had our truck pulled up right along side the arena and had many a yarn over the fence! A massive thank you to the M’Liss for her generosity.

We’re only really beginning to feel the reality that the trek is completed, well the riding side anyway!  We’ve got several fundraisers and a couple of parties we’re going to on the way home including a 500km ‘detour’ to go to a friends 21st at Ivanhoe in Western NSW on August 20th which fits in just nicely with our itinerary for travelling back home.  Of course we have to deliver the little champ  ‘Surprise’ back to his owners Bill and Barb Willoughby at Booloroo Centre ( near Port August SA) then  head to Gawler to pick up ‘Lofty’ which we’re looking forward too.  I’ll have an ache in heart leaving ‘the little fella’ behind….he’s been a ripper trek horse, stepping up into Lofty’s place when we had to leave him behind in Gawler.  The bonds between ourselves and the horses is strong, knowing that without their willingness we wouldn’t have had a trek.  We did.  And what a ripper success it’s been.

Whilst we’re in Gawler Joe has business to attend to.  He’s been collecting scrap metal and recyclable bottles/cans for the last two months and he’s going to cash them all in! He’ll have quite a bit of pocket money out of his little venture. We have about ten Mitavite bags under a tarp on the roof of the truck with Joe’s collection in it.  Joe’s lucky to still have it, as Esther’s threatened a few times to chuck the lot when she’s had to unload chaff we store on the roof under a few tarps and has to move all Joe’s bags to get to it!  Nothing like a little sibling ‘argy bargy’!

We’re also having a gathering in Balranald on the night of 19th being organised by Megan Purtill whom we met on the way through. Looking forward to reconnecting with the many new friends made along the track.



Coast2Coast Horse Trek arrives at Cottlesloe 6.8.11 Esther’s 21st Birthday

August 8th, 2011

ride4acure camp at Claremont in Perth

As daylight cracked Saturday morning I fed ‘Titan’, ‘Meg’ and ‘Surprise’ their breakfast feed, then made Esther and I our usual pot of tea and vegemite toast, leaving Esther to relax in her swag as we talked through the day ahead of us.  Of course firstly I sang her Happy Birthday to celebrate her special day turning 21, however Esther’s mind was firmly on completing this mammoth task of riding her horses across Australia to ‘put melanoma on the map’ by reaching the iconic flagpole at Cottlesloe and dipping the hooves of her East Coast horses in the Indian Ocean linking the hoofbeats of 97 days from Coast2Coast across the country. We had media arriving from 9.30am so we had a lot of preparation to attend to. But first things first we had to have Esther open her 21st presents.  What do you give a young woman who has just ridden across the country for her 21st?  Well I decided that jumping out of an airplane was the solution! Esther gasped when she opened the handmade gift voucher I’d written out…..it was a delight to watch her shock and then excitement. (see photo’s at bottom of blog.)

We’re camped at Claremont in Perth at the riding for the disabled facility with a fantastic one acre paddock for our horses.

Two of my sisters and one of Esther’s cousins had flown from  Armidale in New England and also Melbourne to witness Esther’s arrival at Cottlesloe Beach after 97 days on the road riding 3 horses across four states of Australia.

Joe, Esther & Grant McArthur

We found out late on Friday that Assoc. Prof. Grant McArthur who heads the Hannah Rose Melanoma Research Fund is in Perth for a meeting and was able to briefly catch up with us prior to his flight back to Melbourne. This was fantastic for us, Grant has been such a fantastic support with each of the ride4acure treks and very interested in both the awareness and educational work we do with melanoma and young people and also the fundraising to support his work to find a cure for melanoma.

Meeting up with Grant was really significant for us as it is to support his work and his research crew at PeterMac to find a cure that was the catalyst for ride4acure two years ago stemming from Hannah’s hope to support his work.

Grant McArthur with ride4acure crew-Grant takes a liking to Joe's Hat!

To know how much the efforts of ride4acure mean to the research staff inspires us constantly to do more.

Our little mascot ‘Hotondo Hugo’ was the star with Channel 9 reporters when he wanted to have his say about the Coast2Coast trek.  Hotondo Homes make a donation each time Hugo makes an appearance with ride4acure on facebook and our website.

Hotondo Hugo & Esther's interview on Channel 9

Channell 9 TV interviewed Esther at the beginning of the Perth CBD leg of the trek before setting off on the 14km ride through the city to Cottlesloe. Ozwest Pilot vehicles generously donated their resources to  support our ride to Cottlesloe making a seamless ride for Esther with no traffic hassles.  Mark Button (a truckie we met on the Nullarbor) from Berty Button transport company http://bertybutton.com.au/ set up this support for us with the pilot vehicles.

‘Titan’ behaved amazingly well having to go under overpasses on the motorway, under footbridges, over bridges to get to Cottlesloe.

Cottlesloe arrival Esther 'Titan' 'Meg' & 'Surprise'

About two kilometres from the beach I unloaded both ‘Meg’ and ‘Surprise’ and Esther lead them both with her to the finale.  As I drove through these last kilometres with Joe beside me in the truck and Esther riding her horses my heart was huge with pride, respect and love for my kids and our horses.  Working together we’ve achieved something incredible that’s very much grown out of our deep love for Hannah and her loss.  Something so positive has emerged and is  connected to ten’s of thousands of people both in Australia and overseas the ride4acure story is sending out threads around the world.

Again I want to give a huge shout out to all our sponsors who have worked with us to make this ride a success.  David and Roslyn Wallis from Manuka Chaff http://www.manukachaff.com.au/ flew from Quirindi (near Tamworth) in NSW to be here to witness Esther’s and the ride4acure Coast2Coast Trek finale.

David & Roslyn Wallis from Manuka Chaff Quirindi NSW at Finale make presentation to ride4acure crew at Cottlesloe.

It was awesome to have  David and Roslyn with us…we were very conscious also of our other major sponsors from Mitavite http://www.mitavite.com.au/mitavite06/default.asp and Clarke Horseshoes from Wingham http://www.clarkehorseshoes.com.au/.  these three companies have all gone beyond our expectations offering support that significantly contributed to our success and we are so thankful for their support. We couldn’t not have done this without their help. Additionally we’d like to thank HorseTalk TV http://www.horsetalktv.com.au/ for their support in documenting the Coast2Coast Trek, they will be posting webisodes of the trek and later in the year there will be an episode of HorseTalk covering the ride. Film crew seen here joining in with singing Happy Birthday to Eshter.

HorseTalkTV film crew at Cottlesloe Hotel

Amazingly the day went smoothly, on arrival at the beach we closed the trek with a ‘Safe Arrival Blessing’ which was facilitated generously by David Tehl,  a friend of Fr Chris Chaplin MSC (who lead us through a Blessing of the Horse Trek with a reading of the Travellers Prayer at Crescent Head/Pacific Ocean on 2.5.11 on Day 1). At the conclusion of the Safe Arrival Blessing Joe gathered water and sand from the Indian Ocean and we mixed it with the water and sand gathered on Day 1 at Crescent Head NSW, we’d carried with us for 97 days across Australia- I mixed both waters and sands representing this Coast2Coast Horse Trek journey to ‘put melanoma on the map’ and spread the word across our country  from East to West that melanoma is everybody’s business and particularly young people.

Skydiving Cowgirl!


Esther skydiving 21st Birthday Pressie.

Our Hero! Esther back on the ground after skydiving.



Indian Ocean here we come…

August 4th, 2011

Day 1 Beginning in Pacific Ocean Crescent Head on Hannah's 23rd Birthday...

Leaving the Pacific Ocean behind to begin this epic journey feels both like a blink of the eye and a long time…with so many steps between.  Here Esther is now with only one more riding day in Perth to the finale of the 2011 Coast2Coast Horse Trek at Cottlesloe on Saturday 6th August. 97 days of feeding, caring for, saddling up, unsaddling and comforting the horses. 97 days of compromising and working with both Esther and Joe so that we were able to achieve this together. 97 days of things going to plan and 97 days of things not going to plan-and dealing with it calmly. And here we are a days ride to the finale.  My mind turns to Esther and my witnessing of her efforts over the months.   My heart is bursting with pride and respect for this young woman.  Day after grinding day she’s got up and pulled her boots on and mounted up again to fulfill her dream to ride Coast2Coast to ‘put melanoma on the map’.  This has happened. Many thousands of young people now understand a little more about melanaoma and what they can do to prevent it. What they don’t know is the absolute courage, grit and determination that has motivated Esther daily to do this.  To borrow from Ghandi, ‘to be the change you want to see in he world’.  Esther is living this.

Coupled with the finale of this ride is the milestone for Esther of turning 21. That this epic ride bookends her childhood and adolescence is profound.  Never in a million years would Esther have thought back when she was 18 that she’d be 21 without Hannah in her life. Hannah and Esther were like two sides of the same coin. They shared deeply so many things in their lives, a deep passion for horses and livestock….thousands of hours spent talking about horses and supporting each other to achieve their dreams in rodeo, campdrafting and eventing….never thinking that would change.  Hannah  back in September 2008, having a couple of days between treatments- leaving hospital in Sydney  in the middle of another cycle of surgery and radiation to travel all the way to Nana Glen to watch Esther compete in the Zone 9 One Day Event Championship on her good mare ‘Diva’ and the delight when Esther took the A Grade trophy home for a 2nd year in a row. These were the things we thought we’d have for life….never dreaming of Esther turning 21 and being older than Hannah… for life….how does one be older than your older sister?

Our focus turns now to these last few days.  We have family flying in tonight to be here to witness their niece and cousin complete this epic horse trek from Coast2Coast.  Generous people we’ve met along the way coming also to Perth to see Esther ride in and of course one of our major sponsors, David Wallis from Manuka Chaff in Quirindi NSW who has flown to Perth to be here too.

An event like this is only possible because many generous people have worked together to bring it to life. And of course our amazing horses, daily they’ve said ‘yes’ to doing the miles,  us human family working together to  bring this dream alive, all the good people who have generously given to provide the resources to make this ride possible from the very beginning and also along the way, the media who have helped spread the word, the good people following via this website, facebook and twitter…we thank you. Today finally after a week of stormy, windy weather  is a beautiful sunny day and we have much work to do…….

Day 84: Kalgoorlie Saturday 24th July 2011

July 24th, 2011

Kalgoorlie farrier Steve Routledge shoeing 'Surprise' with Esther.

Kalgoorlie is a surprising area.  Great people, fascinating environment and to Joe’s joy wild goats all over the place! We pulled in here Friday afternoon to go through quarintine again.  We had to get the horses drenched again for liver fluke (previously drenched at Port Augusta), and have the truck washed down.  We were able to camp here with the horses for the weekend which has been great and a luxury with BBQ area, hot showers etc and only 15 minutes into Kalgoorlie. Today saw us take in the final Harry Potter movie, felt surreal to be sitting in a cinema after so long in the bush!

The trip across from Norseman was wet and muddy!  A word about Norseman, another gold mining town (1 pub, 1 store, 1 cafe!)  the first since Ceduna 5 weeks ago! It was named after a horse that was called Norseman, when a local farmer a century ago pulled up there and his horse pawed the ground and uncovered a massive gold nugget and the town was born!

'Titan' & Esther meet 'Norseman' WA.

Makes it hard in this country pulling off the road to change horses, have to be very careful to avoid bogging the truck, but I managed.  Has been delightful weather, low 20’s during the day down to just our shirts. There are a gazillion mines in this area, mullock heaps abounding.  Just up the road from here is a massive nickel smelter.  Half the vehicles on the highway are mine utes (all covered in red mud, they’ve had nearly two inches of rain this last week).

Perth in our sights again!

We’re going through Coolgardie tomorrow and taking the next three days to get to Southern Cross (my paternal grandmothers childhood home) they had a wheat farm there a century ago.

It feels surreal being back in ‘civilisation’ after so long in the bush.  The thing that blows me away is after so long of counting every drop of prescious water having hoses at truckstops, there’s a hose and water trough in every yard here at quarantine…..keeping up with water was a big challenge since we left Ceduna 31 days ago.  Thats nearly 5 weeks of watching every drop.  The Nullarbour roadhouses predominantly relied on their own desalination plants or rainwater.  showers were mostly costed out at $1 for 3-5 minutes and were coin operated.  I don’t think that would’ve covered the cost really of the deisel to run generators and their desalination plants!  And we so appreciate the generosity of the Managers who gave us water. Most people drive across the Nullarbor in two days from Ceduna to Norseman, we took 5 weeks! The ladies at Eucla Roadhouse generously donated us a box of fruit and veges to keep us going to Norseman! Human food wise we’d planned two red meat meals a week, a couple of tuna meals, beans and eggs!  We had a well stocked tucker box, plenty of long life milk, flat bread etc. Coped really well. We had Viv Kyle from Kempsey and her family do a drop off of beer and chocolates on their way back from Perth!  Awesome!!

Crossing the Nullarbor these last 5 weeks has been totally awesome.  I’ve seen some of the most awe-striking country in my life and the grandeur and majesty of it has taken my breath away.  I feel like 5 weeks was to fast to take it all in it is such a vast landscape, and that’s just following the Eyre Highway!

One of my greatest discoveries on this trek has been the stories of Daisy Bates, a notable Australian pioneering woman who in the 20s lived on the Nullarbor with Aboriginal communities for 16 years  to understand more about traditional life and the impact of European settlement on Aboriginal culture.  Certainly on my agenda to read up on the history of her life.

We three are making each day count enjoying every minute of these final two weeks of this trek and of course excited also for Esther that she’ll be making history riding 4600kms from Coast2Coast as a young 20 yo woman, and landing at Cottlesloe Beach on her own milestone, her 21st Birthday, that’s a totally awesome way to make it both memorable and remarkable! And most importantly for Esther, Joe and I is that the backdrop to everything we do is remembering Hannah, bringing her hopes to life to ‘put melanoma on the map’, and we’re doing that one hoof/step at a time…with Hannah on our minds and in our hearts every step of the way…

Day 79 ~ Norseman WA

July 19th, 2011

Wow to finally be back in range of Internet and Mobile service. 16 days of being ‘disconnected’ got us all back to basic’s and enjoying the simple things.

Day 64 to 66 Nullarbor Roadhouse to Border Village ~ Leaving Nullarbor Roadhouse early morning was like waving goodbye to civilisation! It was so COLD! The road travels about 150 to 200 metres of the edge of the cliffs of The Great Australian Bight. I had the chance while I was on Titan to ride right to the edge when a thunderstorm was rolling in. INCREDIBLE! I thought the view from Andy’s plane was amazing, but the feeling of riding my horse right to the very edge of the cliffs was the single most outstanding moment of my life.  I had just been caught in gale force winds and heavy rain, I was still 15k’s out of night camp and the ten metres before I got a view of the cliffs my body was riddled with aches and pains. But walking right to the edge felt like sitting on the edge of the earth. A beam of light burst through the rain and shone off the cliffs and everything was glistening in the light after the storm. Then playing catch up once I got to camp Mum and Joe found a beaut rest area only 150 metres of the cliffs with a pod of whales there. Leading all three horses to the edge and listening to the roar of the waves and the noises the whales were making was the perfect ending to my day! (Not to mention while I was have a moment Mum and Joe finished setting yards up, getting water and mixing night feed up!) We got to catch up with Viv (from Just Lingerie Kempsey) and her family! We caught up with them in Ceduna and jokingly asked for beer and chocolate when they passed us on the way back! It was the best beer I have ever drank and the chocolate was perfect! We made it to Border Village in time to watch state of origin. Mother nature threw a bit of wild weather my way, Luckily I have my great Muddy Creek Raincoat and stayed warm and dry!

Day 67 ~ Rest day at Border village, loaded three pallet loads of Western Hay feed on the roof and into the truck.

Esther and joe loading feed onto roof at border Village

Day 68 to 72 Border Village to Cocklebiddy ~ Crossing in to WA on Titan felt terrific! He crossed the Victorian border for me in the Early hours of the morning and crossing my last border felt like we where entering the last leg of the journey. Mundrabilla was the first camp, and the shocking reality that my bed was now a dedicated horse feed area saw me sleeping out side. I need to mention that it was raining, windy and Bobby made his way into my bed, I was five metres away from the horses so not only did I have a considerably large lump of red heeler snoring ‘in’ my bed I had Titan snoring while he was asleep and licking rails when he was awake, Surprise grunting and Meg snoring, which was a perfect combination for me to be awake at 3am making a cup of tea. Mum woke up up and nearly died of shock! Adjusting to the time difference was weird, and even though I rode through the time zones  it was still hard to get in the swing of WA time. I saw my first camel tracks on day 69, they were old so didn’t worry me too much! I didn’t make it all the way to Madura roadhouse, so we camped in the scrub again! Titan was first horse out and Mum was still behind me packing up camp and out of nowhere there is the ‘Madura Pass’ where you cut up the mountains and on the a plateau and looked way out over the plains that I had been riding across for days! I rode right to the edge of the rocky edge on Titan and was admiring the view taking a few pictures and we turned to walk away and notice the lookout behind me had six or seven people lined up taking pictures of Titan and me! Riding into Cocklebiddy gave me a sense of relief that there was a rest day ahead of us!! A massive Thankyou to Shona and Tony for their Hospitality!

Titan admiring the view at Madura Pass


Day 73 to 76 Cocklebiddy to Balladonia ~ Leaving Cocklebiddy later than expected due to fog made our morning relaxing! I arrived in Caiguna just on dark, meeting up with a few push bikers from Byron Bay. They have ridden from Perth and heading back to Byron Bay raising money for Diabetes along the way. I need to mention, I am still bedless at this stage! Either sleeping under the annex or in the very back of the truck where the horses travel. This experience allowed me (and Mum) to further understand the depths of my temper. Getting into camp in the dark, tired, mostly wet and a little wind swept and then attempting to move massive bales of hay to procure a flat space for my swag to get rolled out on. In the process of attempting to dislodge an incredibly heavy large bale of hay the threads of containment of both the hay bale and my temper snapped. Seeing Mum ever so quietly back out of truck and leave me to my cursing and hay tossing. After the grey cloud above my head cleared the next day Mum took a moment to tell me about the flash back she had of me as a year old baby and droving on the Hay plains. Standing in the caravan playing with Duplo blocks on the toy box building things, and when it didnt work I would have a total temper tantrum and swipe my arm along the box wiping all of the blocks out of the door on to the clay pan, for working dogs and older siblings to steal! And had I been able to have got hold of that bale of hay it would have come to the same end. Mum realising this, she quickly exited the truck!   Arriving at Balladonia felt like we were back in civilisation! The meal was delicious! I caught up with a bloke who pulled up near Iron Knob and liked the look of Meg. He was stoked to know we had had such a successful trip! The horses where happy to have another Rest day! As was I!

Es n Meg having a Deep and Meaningful at Balladonia

Day 77 to 79 Balladonia to Norseman ~ Leaving Balladonia on Surprise in the fog was an experience! he is always a little spooky anyway but after a day off and brisk morning air he was particularly jumpy! Lucky I love him and he is a ripper! We made it to Fraser Range sheep station with an hour of daylight left! So I was casually wandering down the 2k driveway hoping that by the time I arrived Mum and Joe had the yards set up! The joke was on me because there was beaut sandy sheep yards. Titan and Surprise rolled and rolled! Titan did the first shift out of Fraser Range and we arrived in Norseman late last night. Norseman got it’s name from an Explorer’s horse who pawed the ground and dug up a gold nugget.

We have two rest days here in Norseman and will enjoy them thoroughly!

So I have now crossed the Nullarbor. And being honest, I enjoyed this bit of the trip the most! Feeling at home in the remoteness and wide open spaces. there is only 18days left on the trek and I am finding hard to believe that I have ridden 3900 kilometres… I have mixed emotions about finishing the trek. The most part of this year has been focused on this trip, and to finish will be a great sense of achievement I am sure, but will also be the end of this chapter and open the door for the next adventure to begin.

Meg and Esther at the Great Australian Bight

Happy Trails. X Es

Day 63: Sunday 3rd July Nullabor Roadhouse

July 3rd, 2011
Joe, Andy Morris & Esther , before take off, from Nullabor Roadhouse scenic whale watching flight.

Nullabor Roadhouse is a welcome oasis after the two day haul from Nundroo.  We camped in the scrub inbetween Nundroo and Nullabor and it was wet and cold.  Luckily our camp was on an old gravel pile where the ground was good.  Got a good early start on Saturday and Esther rode 75kms into Nullabor getting here about 4.30pm.  When she arrived here on Surprise two massive 750 hp prime movers pulled up towing train engines from Brisbane! Amazing sight.   We had a yarn with the drivers.  We had to build our yards for the horses.  There’s absolutely no grazing for them here, only salt bush and spear grass.  Had a great day which included the flight with Pilot Andy Morris whose contracting here from the Roadhouse with scenic whale watching tours over the Great Australian Bight.  Both Esther and Joe rated it as one of the most amazing things they’ve done ever! Now that’s saying something.

Nullabor Train transports 750hp prime movers towing the train engines. 2.7.11

The days are melding into each other on the Nullabor, we’re on the ‘treeless’ section of the plains now, which is a pain for me the strapper as there’s no where to tie horses up out of the wind a little!

Anyway that will change down the road! Off in the morning heading toward Eucla the WA/SA border.  We’ll take two and a half days to reach the border. We’ll actually pull up at  Border Village on the SA side on Wednesday night and we have to go through all our quarintine criteria, including yarding horses overnight to ’empty’ them of their NSW feed, and we have 3 pallet loads of WA product waiting for us.  We also have to surrender any fruit and veges, honey, nuts, seeds.  Of course we’re trying to arrive with as little of all those items as possible.  Additionally we have to remove any dirt from SA/NSW from the truck too.  Good luck with that for us! Will need to get somewhere where there’s actually water to spare to clean it.

I would encourage any travellers crossing the Nullabor to have a stop over here.  The environment is amazing, (reminds me of Hay Plains only bigger) the Nullabor Plains is 200 000 square kms! This roadhouse accommodates campers, caravans, and also has bunkhouse style accommodation and good motel rooms.  The best showers and good laundry facilities, all of which we road tested! I’m only sorry we couldn’t have another day here!  Met up with travellers in the bar, had a quiet beer and talked about ride4acure.  Actually met a lady from Gisborne Saddlery I talked with last July when I was preparing to ride into Melbourne at the end of my pack horse ride.  She and her husband have been travelling around WA for a while and where fuelling up when I pulled the truck in to the camping area. Small world.

The horses are going great.  Getting fitter every day… unbelievable how good they look for such grueling work.  But they keep pulling up sound and the feedback from people on how magnificent they look is testament to the quality horse feed we’ve got from both Mitavite and Manuka.  The other fantastic thing is the top quality tungstan plugs and tungstan road nails we have been sponsored with in addition to our horse shoes from Clarke Horseshoes from Wingham, with the tungstan we’ve prolonged the life of the shoes x 4 or 5 times at least.  So fingers crossed we’ll be right to Kalgoorlie!


Esther & Titan 50 kms east Nullabor Roadhouse.2.7.11

We will definitely be out of  phone range now for a couple of weeks.  We lucked it here with a phone tower right at the roadhouse!  We didn’t know about this.  But we’ve been told no more!


Day 58 Ceduna Tuesday 28th June 2011

June 28th, 2011

Daylight will see Esther riding Titan from Ceduna Racecourse through the main street alongside the magnificent waters of the Great Australian Bight! On our way across the Nullabor.  we’ll be camping at Penong tomorrow night, the horses will be yarded at ‘Heaven’ just on the Western side of Penong and we’ll be having dinner at the Penong Pub and meeting up with some locals.   Ceduna is an amazing little town (approximately 3 000 people in area) with brilliant facilities.  Exceptionally clean and bright CBD area.

Ceduna Beachfront, sunset dinner for ride4acure crew.

Yesterday Esther, Joe and I visited both schools in town Ceduna Area school which caters from Kindy to Year 12, and also the Crossways Lutheran Central School which caters from Kindy to Year 10.  Great groups of students who were very engaged with ‘Mela-What?’ One of the questions I put to the student groups at every venue I go to is ‘Hands up if you’ve learnt something new today?’ and always most hands are held up- I then invite the young people to share what they’ve learnt with one other person to help us ‘put melanoma on the map’.   Also on Sunday had lunch here with the Far West Pony Club who put on a delicious BBQ lunch for us.  In SA pony clubs are made up of both kids, young adults and mature aged riders.  There is no upper age limit to riders!  NSW you can only ride til your 25 .

A couple of the Ceduna POny Clubs youngest members, with ride4acure crew and Hotondo Hugo

We’re also putting ‘webisodes’ of the trek on www.horsetalktv.com.au and Horsetalk (on pay TV) are also putting together coverage of the trek that will air later in the year.

Big news is our NSW chaff and Hosilage sponsor David Wallis from Manuka Chaff Quirindi NSW very generously secured us sponsorship for our WA leg of the trek.  Quarintine regulations prevent us taking into WA any lucerne based products.  David secured sponsorship for us and also organised the transport of three pallett loads of chaff and hay to the SA/WA border for us to pick up when we cross.  We are so grateful for his help with this.  David has been incredible all the way from the first instance we approached him for sponsorship back in February I think.  24 hours after my first phone call we had a pallet of his wonderful Manuka chaff and horsilage delivered to Coffs Harbour for Esther when she was there.  And he’s been consistantly excellent all the way through.  We’re indebted to Manuka for the amazing support we’ve received.  Couldn’t have done it without them.  A beautiful little gem out of this is the WA hay company WesternHay www.westernhay.com.au is that Richard Rose the proprietor and his wife have a 7 month old baby daughter called Hannah Rose.  this is the second 7 month old baby girl we’ve met along the trek who is called Hannah Rose and also both little girls are daughters of lucerne producers!!!

We’ve had since Saturday here in Ceduna, four whole days supposedly ‘rest days’. We’ve decided that’s a complete misconception and if we’re ever crazy enough to do another trek in the future be called ‘busy days’ because they’re chocka block full of jobs! One of the worst is washing clothes!

Drying washing at Ceduna racetrack!

Having said that we’ve managed a couple of waterfront artery clogging dinners! Joe got a fish in today on the long wharf at Ceduna and managed to catch a shopping trolley!

This morning at 7 am we had Shane Doudal come and do a quick farriering job for us with Meg (she’d lost the tungstan plug out of her horseshoe.  the plugs are quadrupling the life of the shoes for us which is awesome, but it’s a technical job to get them in securely! Beyond my simple skills.  Anyway there isn’t actually a farrier in Ceduna, nearest one is Streaky Bay.  Shane works out in a mine on the Nullabor but happened to be home  on his days off and volunteered to come shoe Meg before he had to fly back to the mine site!   Lucky us! We keep meeting fantastic people who step up to support the trek.

the horses have enjoyed having four straight days rest.  They’re fresh and fighting fit again.  On Sunday each horse got a good wash, and also heaps of gear like saddle blankets, sheep skins, bell boots! We’re grateful to have the water here to do that as we’ll now be on severe rations as we head into bore water country.  Most of the roadhouses apparently have their own desalination plants for the bore water.  Just hope our horses will drink it!  We have some ripper ‘tablets’ that will neutralise the water donated by Olsonns stock feed supplements.  Touch wood they’ll mask the flavour enough for the horses to drink it.

Surprise before his wash!

Titan after his shampoo looking very dapper!

We will be less regular with website updates and blogging as we’re going out of range for a few weeks, however will be able to post updates at a couple of the roadhouses! So my apologies in advance.  I will endevour to do my best with capturing this epic part of the trek as Esther rides across the iconic Nullabor Plains.  Truly we’re going into the ‘big empty’ for a while and the three of us feel okay about that.  We’ll keep safe and continue the Journey.