Some weeks on the BNT are tough. Some, although not many, are pretty mediocre. And some, like the week we spent travelling from Mt Silvia to Murphy’s Creek, are just extraordinary.
We had heard about donkey trekkers Adolph and Julia on and off pretty much since entering Queensland. Every now and then, a local we happened to come across on the side of the road would excitedly tell us that donkeys had passed through not long ago, describing them and their owners in great detail.
Gossip is alive and well on the BNT, and trekkers can be assured of being let in on every detail of every trekker that has ever passed through- what they thought of their choice of saddlepad, where they camped, alcohol preferences, showering habits, etc, often all very much embellished and exaggerated for added story-telling effect. Thank goodness most of it tends to be positive!
And because whole conversations are often relayed, I happen to know where the lovely Jackie Mann carried her camera, why she eventually decided to use two horses instead of three, and that she was disappointed to find that the log bridge at McLeod’s Creek was down when she went through. I also have inside information that well-known BNT travellers Kathryn and Preston are voracious eaters, that Alienor finished all the duck at Kangaroo Flat Road, that Belinda forgot to turn right onto the Taralga Road and that Carol’s youngest son had a birthday at Killarney. Oh, and that she had to go to the Telstra shop in Warwick the next day.
I suppose it’s a bit creepy really, but all part of the experience and as Carol herself says, there are no secrets on the BNT! I guess it also encourages us all to be on our best behaviour. I just cringe when I think of the juicy gossip fodder we inadvertently gave the locals further south, where we made a giant faux pax by tethering the donks at the back of a cemetery… ooops… Lesson learned! I hope they’ll forgive me one day.
So anyway, after hearing many a farmer rave enthusiastically about Julia and Adolph, by the time we met them at Mt Silvia, I felt like I already knew them on a personal level. And indeed what wonderful people they turned out top be, bringing much-appreciated treats for human, horse and donkey and sharing tales of their 1000km journey along the stretch of trail that we had just begun. Adoph had recently had a birthday and very generously brought his amazing gourmet chocolate birthday cake out to share with us. Thus, the week of cake and abundance had begun.
The next morning we set off, loaded up with beautiful fresh broccoli from Mt Silvia vegies- the first we had set eyes upon in weeks. After weeks of riding on the flat through much of book 7 and 6, we began to notice that we were entering hillier country once again. Having lost our mountain legs to some degree, the five of us puffed and sweated our way up the range. At the top of the hill we met a lovely woman who brought out apples for the Fly and the donks and we got talkng about her amazing Swiss-style log cabin (which, incidentally, BNT trekker Mushgang helped build) and our plans to be in Toowoomba in a few days’ time for Z’s birthday.
We said what we thought were our final farewells and set off for Razorback road, a camp on private property where we were once agin received with a warm welcome.
As we were finishing dinner by our campfire that night and getting ready to crawl into the tent, we spotted headlights approaching. To our surprise and delight, it was our friend from this morning, who had come to deliver an early birthday cake and a couple of small gifts to Z, along with an entourage of her children to sing the obligatory Happy Birthday. This takes random acts of kindness to a whole new level! We went to bed feeling utterly spoiled and blessed to have met and been looked after by such wonderful people. I shake my head as I write this, thinking how very lucky we have been. You wouldn’t think it watching the news or reading the paper, but we really do live in a world filled with wonderful people.
Fueled by chocolate cake, we made our way to Murphy’s Creek via camps at Rockmount and Upper Flagstone, where yet more truly lovely people were in store for us. There certainly is something special about Queenslanders.
And eventually, Murphy’s Creek came into view like a beacon of light in the distance- the promised land of food resupply, rest days and a birthday celebration for Z. Lynn Anderson and her son Jack are famous in BNT circles for their kindness and generosity to trekkers and Lynn’s property has rightfully been nicknamed ‘the BNT Hilton’.
After the devastating 2011 floods, students from QUT took on the rebuilding of a dedicated BNT shelter (known as Real Studio) on Lyn’s property, and hence the facilities available to trekkers are pretty awesome. The camp also marks the halfway point between Healesville and Cooktown.
Lynn and Jack’s hospitality, plenty of hay for the bubs, chili chocolate cake goodness, a visit from WA and a birthday trip to the Gold Coast (Z is a water slide fiend) all made for an unforgetable few days of rest and recovery.
More cake was devoured after the purchase of a birthday creme caramel sponge, and after a hearty breakfast with Lynn on our day of departure, she presented us with a beautiful fruit cake to pack in our saddle bag for the ride.
We had never eaten so much cake in our life as we did that week, and every bite tasted of kindness, generosity and new friendships forged.