Our Bicentennial National Trail Team consists of 1 horse, 1 woman, 1 girl and two donkeys…
FLY- ‘The Brains’
Fly is a 12 year old, 16hh chestnut thoroughbred . I bought him a few years ago to get back into riding and he is well and truly worth his weight in gold. When we started planning the BNT ride, we tried out a few horses and we even bought a beautiful little pony for Z that we started training up for the ride. But at the end of the day, Fly was the only horse I could trust with her. I was tossing up whether or not it was worth forking out the $$$ to bring him over from WA, but he is great with traffic, as tough as old boots (for a thoroughbred), always puts in 110%, and even appears to think before he acts (rare in a horse, even rarer in a thoroughbred). So basically I figured we couldn’t go wrong with him.
For our BNT trek, Fly will be ridden by Z. As he is a lot of horse for a little human, he also carries our camping gear, clothing, cooking gear and tethering equipment in vast quantities of saddle bags.
BASIL- ‘The Boss’
Basil is a 10.3hh donkey and despite his diminutive stature, is not afraid of telling Fly what for. Or anyone else for that matter. When Basil decides it is time to stop, it is time to stop, and nothing (bar the odd carrot) can convince him otherwise. He also has an innate ability to know whether you are approaching him to offer him a carrot or to saddle him up, and he does not suffer fools or any kind of trickery. He is quite a smart, serious little donkey who takes pride in a job well done. The way to his heart is through ear rubs and rice crackers.
Donkeys can carry up to 20% of their body weight, which for most standard sized donkeys is around 45kg. But as Basil is rather small and relatively young, he usually carries up to 25kg of food supplies for the pesky humans.
Bimbo Brave Beauty Queen’
The dag of the family and perhaps the one with the best sense of humour, albeit used at rather inappropriate times. Jasmine is a 10.1 hh donkey and a half sister to Basil. She is very sweet and loving and carries up to 20kg of animal feed.
UPDATE: I wrote these descriptions not long after acquiring my donkeys. Now, having finished the trail and reading these once again, it feels like I hardly knew them at all. Jasmine initially struck me as a bit of a clown- but she proved nothing other than steadfast and true. SO I would like to add a point or two.
Jasmine proved to be extremely brave, and she was a woman of firsts- always the first to cross a scary bridge, the first to go over murky rivers, the first to go on the dark truck back home. She also turns it on for strangers much better than Basil (except for an unfortunate incident in Queensland), and thus receives far more carrots and cake from roadside encounters. The only thing that will send Jasmine into meltdown down is Victorian March flies.
Teacher by trade and wannabe horse-trekker (currently manifesting as donkey-dragger),I am responsible for keeping everyone fed, sheltered and happy. I walk in front of the donkeys and carry around 10kg of gear in a backpack.
Z- ‘The Beauty’
This gorgeous girl is the best trail companion anyone could ask for. A true nature child, she loves being outdoors and can often be found cuddling one (or all) of the animals once the day’s walk is done.
Holly- ‘The Bike’
Holly is a tandem bike- A Holstar Grand Tourer, to be exact. No, she is not a donkey or horse, and really was more of an afterthought or a means to an end.
You see, once we got six months or so into our trek, we realized that traveling at our pace, we were either going to have to cover some serious mileage very fast, or take a seriously long break and wait for the next trekking season. Z wasn’t keen on missing another year of school, and neither of us were keen to put any extra pressure on our babies to race their way to Cooktown through the heat and humidity.
So, enter Holly. We completed the Cooktown- Biggenden section (BNT Books 1-4 ) on Holly over August- September 2016 while our bubs had a restful spell with friends in NSW.
Our ‘Four-Wheeled’ Friends
We were lucky enough to have our friend Cathy and her daughter M join us for parts of our trip, which was especially helpful during our time on the bike. Nothing like having no panniers to carry! Fly and the donkeys also appreciated the occasional bale of hay, courtesy of Cathy and her four wheels.