Day 55.. Rest day in Ceduna. Saturday 25.6

June 25th, 2011

Esther and Titan Laura SA ~ Please no further...

 

Well actually more than halfway, but it is Exactly half way between east and west!

Hotondo Hugo, Titan and Esther Visit 'The Big Galah'

Esther and Titan Look Mighty Small near that BIG Truck!

As I sit here in my swag at 1pm, I find it hard to believe that I only have another 1640k’s to go until I arrive in Perth! Only another 11days until I cross the Border! and only four more days of Phone/Internet/hot showers! After we leave Ceduna I will ride through some very desolate country. I have 20 days of riding, 1200ks with NO towns! I am not sure if it will be the most Challenging part of the trip or not. I might surprise myself and really enjoy it? Here’s to hoping! Norsman WA is my next ‘town’.

 

I have ridden 2960k’s ~ this has had its ups and downs obviously. We have a list of things we left behind, funniest moments, Blondest moment’s, worst days, saddest moments, best days, Best horse moments, moments Esther has wanted to tie particular horses to post’s on the side of the road and leave them there, Esther loosing her temper (these were quite frequent in the first weeks of the trek), Self inflicted injures Esther has done to herself, injures Esther’s horses have done to the other crew members, Joe’s funniest moments, stupidest things people have said to Esther.

Things we left Behind ~ Day 1 – Hose connector and Sanity. Day 10 – the feeling this was a good Idea. Day 29 – 3 feed Buckets (that Maura left Behind).

Joe’s Funniest Moments ~ the ride4acure ‘team’ at the Mirool Hotel and Joe states Dramatically while in the company of ten adults ‘(sharp intake of breath) [dramatic look] Esther! I cant be here… {Points to sign states all people under 18 must be in the company of a responsible adult} I have to be under supervision of a responsible adult and I only have you and Mum…’

Blondest moment ~ Esther saying to Waiter at Kimba Pub ‘Terrific, that was Thankyou’

Worst Day ~ Leaving Lofty behind in Gawler

Saddest Moment ~ Emily dying at West Wyalong

Best Day ~ Completing 102k’s in one day and all three horses pulling up terrific!

Best horse moment ~ When Titan came down with Colic in West Wyalong and I was walking the Perimeter of the fence with him. Lofty and Meg left their feeds and walked with us until the vet arrived. It truly made me realise how much of a team we were.

Moment Esther has wanted to Tie particular horses to post’s on the side of the road and leave them there ~ I couldnt decide on only one so I have selected one for each horse. Lofty was nearly tied to a post after spooking at a kangaroo and nearly re-shaping the passenger door of a very little very black car from Gulgong to Wellington Day12. Meg was nearly tied to a post when she took to shying at trucks on day 48 of the trip. Titan was nearly tied to a post when he took off for 5k’s on a machinery track, he truly believed that the road train the over took us had his girlfriend (Meg) on it and there was no way it was going to be let out of his sight (to his credit after the first kilometre I gave up on trying to pull him up, and was relaxed enough to take out my I-Phone and put some good tunes on) This was on day 53. Surprise is yet to be threatened with being tied to a post – But watch this space, I am sure it WILL happen!

Esther Loosing her temper ~ Err… There are too many to mention! But the funniest one would have to be when Esther is standing beside a Horse that shall remain anonymous (Meg don’t worry no names will be mentioned..) and saying how well she has just gone and that her moments about trucks were behind her, and then WHAM truck, horse spins around, hits Esther in the eyebrow with bit (that would be the only eyebrow that HASN’T got a scar on it!) and fly’s backwards. Oh, but before this happened my trusty assistant Joe had gone to fetch me some chocolate. Esther that had been hobbling around with EXTREME knee pain suddenly was able to spring back on the horse and gruffly say F*** the Chocolate F*** the Horse F*** the trip and Canter off down the Side of the Eyre Highway Covering 3k’s in 10minutes (meanwhile, the truck has overtaken her and pulled up down the road) Esther Catches up to truck and sits beside drivers window (I may need to mention that when I am Grumpy I am REALLY! grumpy) Mum Pulls out Mars Bar and grins sheepishly, At that my temper subsided and we were all reduced into fits of laughter…

Self inflicted injures Esther has done ~ I am sad to say there have been a few. It is a rare talent to be able to injure yourself as easily as me! The funniest and most embarrassing self inflicted injury would have taken Place at Kimba. After taking photos and talking to school students, talking to a few people Mum takes Titan and I shuffle off to the loo, Turning around being cheeky to Mum I have managed to trip on my own spur and pull the Muscle that runs down over my bum. When you sit on a horse all day this ends very problematically! Mum warns me daily about tripping down truck steps.

Injures Esther’s horses have done to other crew Members ~ I have to mention a saying ‘there are no problem horses just problem people’ Well, This may be true but sometimes a good horse is just naughty! Titan lurched off truck and did some serious (as in may have broken third metatarsal{somebody medical may correct my lack of knowledge of foot bones!} damage to Mums right foot. Day 16. Titan kneed Joe in the face at Narranderra. Day 23. Meg savaged Joe’s arm, Day 52. Countless time Lofty trod on Joe’s toes ( I am blaming Neither the horse nor Child.)

Funniest Moment ~ Esther running towards mob of Emu’s while cracking stock whip (okay there is reason! The three horses were tied up for lunch and FIVE emu’s appear!) and quickly Yells over shoulder ‘MUM, do emus attack People!!”

Stupidest things people say to Esther ~ ‘Oh, that’d be so fun!’ — Please people get real, this IS NOT FUN.

 

I might sound a little over things, and I am most days. But, it is not meant to be easy. If it was everybody would have done it. I get asked so often how my bum is. The bum is not the problem ~ The lower back hurts from an injury I got off a racehorse 2days before my 19th Birthday. The Upper back hurts from another racehorse injury from a few years ago. Left Knee hurts from dislocating it weeks before departing for the trip. Right knee hurts from slipping on wet tailgate and Titan whamming into me. Right shoulder aches all the time, no idea why. Left Elbow clunks, nerve in neck grabs when I look over my right shoulder, hips ache and every muscle in my body hurts/aches/catches/is bruised or I don’t know it’s there I am too focused on the sore ones.

With the warts and all of this trip I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Everyday I think of Hannah, about what she went through with her treatments, I think of the Survivors I have met, survivors of all cancers. I have met so many Families who have been touched with cancer. It made me realise that this ride is about the People. The people I have met, will meet, will inspire (I hope!). It is about living everyday that we are given and finding the good in the worst of situations.

Happy Trails. Xx Esther

 

Day 53: June 23rd Poochera to Wirrulla SA.

June 23rd, 2011

Esther: 51 days on the road and still smiling!

The days keep progressing 53 now since we left Crescent Head on 2nd May, and here we are now only two days ride from Ceduna SA and only 13 days from SA/WA border.  Last night were hosted at Poochera Hotel and Caravan park and had a good night meeting up with some locals, having a delicious counter meal and and ripper hot shower!   Joe gave the schnitzels ’10 out of 10 on his Schnitzel meter!’  Only have a 46km day today so ‘troops’ still enjoying some shut eye at 6.45 but will be up by 7am.  It’s still pitch dark here, and raining gently. Esther may have something to say about that! The days keep melding one to the other, but the people we meet are what defines this journey.  We have ‘turned the page’ on our itinerary and have definately entered the second stage of this trek.  After we leave Ceduna we have 30 days to Kalgoorli crossing the Nullabor. … we’re as ready as we’ll be, horses fighting fit. New horse Surprise is going well and fitting in with Titan and Meg.  He’s a tough little fella and give 100%.

A massive thank you to our sponsor David Wallis from Manuka Chaff in Quiriindi NSW for organising a co-sponsor in WA as we now have to surrender our lucerne products; cereal chaff and Horsilage at Eucla on Day 66.  It was hoped we’d be able to at least take the Horsilage with us in WA but only found out last Friday that wasn’t possible.

We’ve been going through fantastic wheat belt country and two days ago got caught up in tremendous gale force winds and rain before Wuddinna.  Gusts were above 80kms-100kms per hour.

Dust storms out of Wudinna SA.

Lets pray the weather is kind to us and the roadside abundant with feed and water!  Our challenge is monitoring water for horses and us over the next month.  We carry 400 litres total on the truck (100 of that human grade water) and our challenge is making the 300 last 3 days for the 3 horses.   Making every drop count!

Port Augusta SA: Sat-June 18 heading to Iron Knob

June 18th, 2011

Team Esther & Joe at Port Augusta in the red dust.

The Flinders Ranges are a stones throw from our camp and are the most magnificent landform I’ve seen.  As we came through Horricks Pass two days ago my breath was taken away by the incredibleness of the landscape. We’ve had two rest days camped here at the Pony Club grounds while we ‘restock’ for the big push across the Nullabor (after Ceduna). Port Augusta has nearly 20 000 people, Ceduna 3 000.

Yesterday loaded a massive amount of Mitavite onto the roof of the truck adding it to our Manuka Lucerne products that have to keep our horses well fed to Kalgoorlie.

Loading horse feed onto roof with the help of Ranges Fodder forklift driver Vanessa!

we have to surrender our Lucerne at Eucla the WA/SA border as there are strick quarintine restrictions on products from outside WA. (We will pick up on return trip home in truck). Our contact in WA Dept Agriculture has teed up a supply for us when we cross the border.  We have nearly 5 weeks til we’re in Kalgoorlie.  The only town of size now is Ceduna where we’ll have three rest days (did plan 4 but we’ve used one here!)

Lofty is turned out back in Gawler where we had to leave him behind due to ongoing shifting lameness (he’s with very good people who are taking care of him until we return in August to pick him up).  Bill and Barb Willoughby from Boolooroo Centre (out of Melrose SA) have very generously leant us a ripper little gelding called ‘Surprise’ who has fitted right into the crew here (Meg’s being a little ‘ bossy’ with him but will settle down.  Surprise basically ignores her!

'Titan' and 'Surprise' with Esther, first meeting at Bill & BarbWilloughbys.

The ‘introduction’ to the herd, Surprise (bay) not to worried, Meg (buckskin) doing a little drafting, Titan (chestnut) wants to check him out but Meg keeping him to herself at this stage!

Well I have to moove my toosh and get camp packed.  I fed horses at 5.30am in the magnificent full moon here.  I got up the other night at 4.30 to witness the lunar eclipse and couldn’t see it from here!

On our first night here we had the best surprise  in Patsy and Dave Mitchell from Kempsey (Jerseyville) were on a holiday and camped the night with us.  It was so good to see friends, we had a great little catch up. Of course of conversation quickly turned to the Macleay Floods and Mid North Coast NSW. What a contrast to the dry red dust of Port Augusta.   The Mitchell’s were heading to Adelaide, parting words were ‘do you need anything?’ both kids replied jokingly ‘A few kgs of chocolate!’ we all laughed as they drove away, until 30 minutes later they rocked back into camp with a bag full of chocolates of all descriptions! Was a little like Christmas goody bag time!  48 hours later there is a fair dint in the supply! I’m thinking may be lucky to last to Ceduna let alone across the Nullabor!

Esther rode through a town called Laura and to our suprise found out CJ Dennis had grown up there.  Our little mate Hotondo Hugo had an introduction the the famous CJ!

Hotondo Hugo meets Australias most prolific poet the famous C J Dennis!

Esther and 'Meg' at Gladstone SA Primary School

We visited two schools in Gladstone the other day talking with students and presented “Mela-What?” at the Gladstone High School. Fantastic students and teachers.  The principle of Gladstone Primary School  made a comment about being outside our comfort zone and making a difference in the lives of others…that’s what ride4acure is all about…..certainly came about because our lives were ripped out of our ‘normal’ and I know from my years of educating both horses and people that we never learn a thing staying inside our comfort zone, so to make a difference in young peoples lives raising awareness of melanoma stepping outside both my own and ‘stretching’ others a little with the ride4acure story is the key to it’s effectiveness…..and of course Esther spending 97 days in the saddle riding a massive 4600kms, and here at this part of the journey facing up to riding across the expanse of the Nullabor – is a leap outside her comfort zone!

Gawler Wed. 8th June.

June 8th, 2011

The arrival in Gawler tonight was underwhelming.  Took me three hours of running around to find yards for our horses…. after going on a few’dead ends’ finding out there are no yards at either the showgrounds or the racetrack!  and Gawler is the biggest rabbit warren of streets, nothing runs straight, all ducking back on themselves…..and narrow, not made for horse trucks at all.  And all this  before lucking out at Gawler Pony Club. Had a call from a farrier who is catching up with us on Friday to shoe the horses….breathe out…..I had made about ten phone calls, all no luck trying to track a farrier for here and then received this wonderful phone call! Big thanks from me as he also said he had a good paddock for our three horses from tomorrow morning, where they’ll have a good graze and few days off work before we make tracks to Clare on Sunday.  Also a big thank you to our sponsors Diana from Clarke Horseshoes in Wingham for locating a heap of phone numbers for me to find a farrier!

Last night we camped at Waikarie Pony club grounds, arriving again in the dark, couldn’t find the shower block.  The stink from a wine ‘factory’ distillery place smelt like a piggery. Also one of the horses had peed in the truck, so we were torn between opening up all the windows on the truck for the pee smell or having the stench of the distillery ….we settled for horse pee!  We were all that tired and a tad ‘grumpy’ by 8pm last night we were over everything!  The best part of last night was while Esther and I got the horses bedded down and fed, Joe cooked us hamburgers! Delicious!! At the front of our truck we have a very small ‘living area’ where we cook, store clothes, tucker etc and bunk (Joe and I) Ez has a special bunk in the front of the horse area up high above the floor.  The ‘living area’ is about 2m x 2.5m and has all the above in it.  When we break for morning tea and it’s cold and windy it’s pretty cramped inside.

Joe and Esther having a yarn at morning tea today 8.6.11

Esther is covering incredible distances and the horses are doing a great job.  We’ve been on the Sturt Highway now for nearly two weeks since we left Hay and a lot of the truckies are recognising Esther and our truck.

Joe with ride4acure horse team today on Sturt Highway rest stop.

It’s great having the UHF radio and listening to the truckies talk about the ride!  Some of them have been doing their homework on us!  Also it’s fantastic when I can radio the trucks to caution when crossing bridges with Esther behind and also dodgy bits of roads etc.  The horses get all excited when they see any vehicle with flashing orange lights and start whinnying (spelling?) they’ve made a very strong attachment to the lights now!

Joe getting a lesson off Esther on putting on a tail bandage.

Have some great photo’s we’ll put up when we download them off Esther’s good camera in the next day or so. I mainly use my iphone and I can email them straight to myself! Slackie I am.!! Tomorrow we have to pick up a couple of pallets of Manuka horsilage and mixed cereal chaff we’re feeding and organise the truck to fit it in/on the roof! Hats off to David Wallis from Quirindi (the CEO of Manuka) for organising to get feed to us and also the wonderful truckie who carted it cost free all the way to Adelaide for us (the truckie himself has lost a son and wanted to help us out).  One more of the awesomely generous people we’ve met along the way.

Day 30

June 4th, 2011

Day 29 afternoon

June 4th, 2011

Day 29 Morning!

June 4th, 2011

1537.2 Kilometres… A long long way!

June 4th, 2011

Wow, to think that I have ridden 1537.2 Kilometres is kind of INCREDIBLE! I know it is only a small part of the 4600k’s, but each day I only think about what I need to achieve that day. I try really hard not to dwell on how far I have ridden the previous day or how far I need to go the next. Living in the moment makes big task’s seem easy. But to look back to realise you have nearly ridden all the way to the Victorian boarder (I am 3 k’s away!) in just over a month is kinda of cool! The horses are just fantastic and Lofty is back on ‘light’ duties after his week and a bit off. I am learning to appreciate that I cannot compare or expect my horses to be something they are not. Meg is slow compared to Titan but she is the fastest toughest ‘Meg’ she can be. Titan isn’t as independent as Meg or Lofty but he is brave when I really rely on him. A good example of one of those moments when I saw our first emu! I was trotting along and I spotted the singular very inquisitive, very large lonesome Emu! I trotted across the other side of the road said a very quick prayer to my guardian angel. At that moment two trucks came around the corner, Toll Car Carriers, And saw the predicament I was in and sat on their air horns all the way past the emu made it jump the fence and the second truck did the same and manage to get the emu to take off across the flat! If I ever get the chance to meet those blokes I would buy them a carton! I was doing a risk assessment of how far titan could take off before it would damage my k’s for the day! But he has now dealt with many emus, wild goats, feral cats the size of Bobby. I am very very lucky to have him trust me so much!

Mum and Joe are doing a great job as my support team and I cannot thank them enough for dealing with Me! After I ride 80 odd k’s I can get a little grumpy!

Happy Trails. Xx 

 

June 2nd: Euston tonight.

June 2nd, 2011

Just about to hit the swag tonight in Euston just out of Robinvale.  Long day in the saddle for Esther riding just two horses Meg and Titan from Balranald (over 80kms) and both horses pulled up well.  Will be in Gol Gol tomorrow night (just out of Mildura) and having Saturday there.  I took the truck to Al Linnetts this morning at 7.30am and he very kindly did a grease underneath, and sorted a few squeaks in the hydraulic tailgate for us.  Have to get the clutch adjusted on Saturday in Mildura at the Mildura Truck Centre and replace a couple of wheel nuts that ‘went west’ coming across the plains!  I was doing a check over the wheels yesterday and noticed.

Hugo was out and about opening a gate for Esther…little bear takes on a big job!  He’s had a very quiet day today.  Joe’s had a good afternoon, where we’re staying tonight (paddocked horses on the edge of Euston at the Murray Valley Highway turn to Robinvale, there are two boys and Joe’s had a bit of ‘dude time’.  It’s not easy for him constantly having only us girls for company.  We have a ‘meet and greet’ at Gol Gol Pub on Saturday night at 6pm if you know of anyone handy to Mildura and they’d like to meet up with us ride4acure crew let them know!

Hugo helps by trying to open a gate for Esther? How good is he?

June 1st. Day 30- Balranald almost to Victoria.

June 1st, 2011

Hotondo Hugo crosses the Murrumbidgee River at Maude NSW

Here we are now only two days out of Victoria. A month into this thing and going strong.  Esther and Horse Crew are chewing up the kilometres.  It’s been fantastic to re-visit my old home area in the riverina.  so many of the roads Esther’s ridden down I’d walked cattle and sheep on twenty odd years ago.  Not much has changed!  I’ve never seen this country look as good as it does.  Amazing amount of rain about and knee high feed.

Lower Murrumbidgee Floodplains in 'Torry Plains'

Esther has been riding for days across very flat, empty country.

Esther on 'Titan' at the Eastern Boundary of 'Torry Plains' with Hugo!

Been challenging on so many levels.  Great to catch up with many people I’d known twenty years ago.  Had a fundraiser BBQ at Maude Pub on Monday night and raised over $800 dollars. Had a very impromptu night tonight at the Shamrock Hotel having gone down there for dinner on the invite from one of the teachers and we had the best meal.  Whilst at Dinner met ‘Big Al’ who has generously offered to give the truck a grease at 7.30am and him and his family have put us in touch with a few contacts for the Nullabor and Kalgoorlie.

For those that have just joined the ride4acure horse trek blog we have a little companion called ‘Hotondo Hugo’ who’se travelling with us, he actually rides on the dashboard of the truck so he can see everything first!  Every time I photograph Hugo and send it to Hotondo homes they make a donation to the Hannah Rose Melanoma Research Fund!

Hugo at 'Hells Gate' on Sturt Highway 85kms west of Hay today.

Today Hugo had a good look about at the ramp into ‘Hells Gate’ (which is a station I used to drove livestock for back in the 80’s).  We’re heading to Euston tomorrow an 80km ride for Esther.  Lofty is still a bit sore and ishaving a further few days recovery whilst Meg and Titan are doing the work!