Welcome to the little blog of our adventures and mishaps along Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail. Together, our team consists of two little pack donkeys known as Basil and Jasmine, a trusty thoroughbred named Fly, and of course the two humans…..mother and 10 year old daughter.
So what exactly are we doing?
We plan to travel the length of Australia’s Bicentennial Trail’ which runs from Healesville (near Melbourne) to Cooktown, in far north Queensland on foot (mum) and horseback (daughter). The trail is over 5000km long, roughly following the Great Dividing Range, and will take us at least a year to traverse. After years of dreaming, months of planning, research, preparation, dehydrating copious quantities of food, worrying, fretting, nail biting and almost piking out, I bit the bullet and we are finally out on the trail!
Our journey will unfold in two phases- the first of which will have us travelling from Canberra to Cooktown. If we are are still happy and healthy on arrival in Cooktown, our babies will be trucked south for the final leg of the trail- Canberra to Healesville.
Why not start at the beginning of the trail?
While I had originally planed to start in Healesville, due to the difficult terrain and distance between resupply points on the Victorian section of the trail, I decided that it would be in our best interests to start our journey further north and save what is arguably the most difficult part of the trail for last. So we commenced our journey just north of the Hume highway, where the lands are flatter (much more comforting for these mountain-deprived West Australians) and you are never far between towns. And even that has been plenty challenging enough for a couple of horse-trekking newbies like us!
Well, plans are often made to be changed, as was certainly the case in our BNT trek. By the time we made it to Biggenden (near Bundaberg), it was already July and North Queensland was gearing up for its hot, humid wet season. If we were to continue travelling north, we would have made it Cooktown in the middle o the January heat- ick. Not happening….
So we toyed with the idea of pulling up and stopping or a while… But that would mean a six month break before the wet season passed and the wearer Was suitable for trekking in the tropics again.
We also toyed with the idea of going home once it got unpleasantly hot to travel. But Z and I were both committed to covering the whole distance between Healesville and Cooktown, so I ultimately decided on covering the top 2000km or so by tandem bike.
Luckily, we had our good mates along in a camper van to support us and carry our camping equipment, which made things easier. While all this was going on, our horse and two donkeys were resting up with fiends in NSW.
At the beginning of October, we were reunited with them for the final leg of our trek- Canberra to Healseville with horse and donkeys…Here we come, Melbourne!
So why do this anyway?
For a few reasons….
1. To see if we can.
Not long ago, I read ‘Walk Across Australia’, Deanna Sorenson’s book about her solo walk across the Nullarbor plain. When people asked why in god’s name she would attempt such a feat, her answer was always, ‘to see if I can’. Makes sense to me. I believe people are often much more capable and powerful than they believe themselves to be. Why not put it to the test? If we aim for the stars, we might just reach the moon…
2. To spend time together.
Although I get an awful lot out of my career as a teacher, I feel like my own daughter has taken on a bit of a backseat position over the years. I’m sure many can relate! Ever since she was born, I have spent my days having fun with other people’s children instead of my own. Now its her turn. She is at the age where I fell she is up for for a challenge like this, and it might be a bit harder to drag her away from school and friends in a few years’ time. And since we are away from the mod-cons of home and the distractions of a social life, consumerism, school commitments, home maintenance and all the other things that can eat up a whole day, it is real time, where we have to work as a team to make everything come together.
3. To test my mettle.
There is nothing like a bit of adversity to build character. Every time we overcome an obstacle or solve a problem, we grow and learn. So…….. Bring on the challenges, BNT! (Well, slowly, please…. And one at a time, if you don’t mind.
3. To go a bit feral for a while…
I’ve always wanted to live in the wild. At a young age, I remember being convinced that showers and beds etc were a waste of time and resources. Why not just wash in the dam? Why not just build treehouses? I would say travelling the BNT is one of the most socially acceptable, legit ways of going bush for a year. I am hoping that in our time out here, we will experience a return to simpler ways: living outdoors, travelling with the seasons and having gratitude for the smaller things we come across, whether it be a patch of shade, a flowing creek for a thirsty horse, or a nice hot cup of coffee upon arrival in town.