It has been with much resistance that I have finally got around to doing a blog post again. This is due to the fact that I managed to epically stuff up the blog as soon as we got to Wallerawang, wiping most of the posts I had written. To add to the frustration, my phone (which I write everything on by means of portable keyboard) died the following day, which meant that I lost quite a few other pieces I was writing for the blog… So it was a bit like that feeling of going so far past anger and frustration that you just have to laugh. And pretend the whole thing never existed. So that’s where I’ve been at for the past few weeks!
Anyway, to back track a bit, we had a pleasant couple of days’ ride up along the ridge from Hampton through Rydal and towards Wallerawang, passing under the Great Western Highway that links all towns in the west to Sydney. We were about 3 kilometres from Wallerawang and were greatly looking forward to the pleasures of town, as we hadn’t passed one since Taralga. So with thoughts of real coffee (me) and icecream (Zaydee) in our mind, we began to pick up the pace, only to be thwarted by a very large…. well…puddle. Once again, the donkeys lived up to their reputation of being stubborn little monsters at the worst possible time.
Despite promises of fresh carrots on offer within the hour, they refused to even get their tippy toes wet. There was no room to skirt around the puddle and once again, we found ourselves stuck with donkeys who were unwilling to budge. Again, after much fruitless cajoling and coercing, we were forced to find an alternative route, which fortunately wasnt too difficult. However, all earlier excitement at finally reaching town had faded and both of us were feeling totally flat and close to tears. It may seem silly to have set out on the trail with water-phobic donkeya but we had such a hard time trying to find rivers or creeks near our agistment place in Victoria where horses weren’t banned. We also knew that Fly would cross anything , so assumed the donkeys would take their cue from him and follow suit. How wrong we were!
After meeting the lovely Denise (local section coordinator) and setting up camp in a grassy paddock behind the pub, we made the decision to go no further on the BNT until all water issues were resolved. If we still hadn’t got things sorted after two weeks, well then we would reassess our animals and their suitability to the task. With all the fresh green pick available and a big lake to practise in down the road, Wallerawang seemed as good a spot to stop as any.
But before we knew it, we had been in Wang for a couple of weeks. It was such a great opportunity to play in all sorts of puddles big and small without the pressure of having somewhere to get to on the trail, and also to fulfill a few other missions, such as:
1. Buy a Navigator
It is pretty scary not knowing where you are. It has only happened to us once on the trail so far, but I figured a navigator might just save our life somewhere down the track and could quite possibly save quite a bit of time and frustration backtracking or looking for well-hidden turn offs. I also decided to purchase the additional topo maps which can be downloaded onto the device, and was thrilled to find that the entire BNT is marked on it. A great investment after all!
2. Fatten up Fly
Being a thoroughbred, Fly hadn’t been holding his condition as well as the donkeys and was starting to look a little ribby. With a paddock full of lush green grass and multiple bags of pellets delivered from the fantastic local stock feeds, he soon chunked out a bit.
3. Sort logistics for the next section of the BNT
I was feeling a little daunted at the prospect of riding through the middle of fairly remote National parks for the next fortnight, with various locked gates, codes and access permission needed. It was a great chance to chat to the ever- informative and helpful Mal and Denise Keely about the next part of the trail and to get everything sorted.
4. Rethink gear
After being on the trail for a month, we now had a pretty good idea of what we needed and what we didn’t. Gear that was sent home or disposed off included a ukulele, extraneous school workbooks, items of clothing, nylon halters (causing rubs left right and centre), extra cooking pot and a steripen. We added a new water filter, rope halters, new solar charger and the gps unit to our gear collection.
5. Hang about for an appointment in Sydney.
6. Attend the Banjo Paterson Bush Poetry Festival in Orange.
7. Wait for our awesome friends Mollie and Cathy to arrive for a visit from WA! yipee!!
As an added bonus, we met so many incredibly friendly and helpful people during our time in ‘Wang’- Dave who did a beautiful job fixing our saddle panniers, local coordinators Mal and Denise, who couldn’t have been more helpful or informative during our time there, the local pub owner who let us stay in the dongas during inclement weather and of course the amazing Vee, proud carer of baby wombat Dexter.
It just goes to show that first impressions don’t always count for much- Wang first struck me as just another seedy, gritty coal-mining town and while it certainly does retain some of that element, there are some real gems who I feel so blessed to have met. It was a great stay but after three weeks, time to head out on the trail again. Thanks for the memories, Wang!