It’s cold and grey today, and I can’t help but reminisce about past travels and amazing adventures. In 2002, I travelled to Australia for the first time. I was a recent graduate, and I just needed to get away from regular life and escape to a world of exploration. I didn’t have anything planned, not even my first night in Sydney! (I’m never going to do that again, what was I thinking?) I was truly overwhelmed the first couple of weeks, before I started to settle into the nomadic backpackers life style. I didn’t want to stay in cities, and was looking for a way to get to the outdoors, the outback, the bush. All of that and anything but a big city (although I loved Perth and Hobart).
One of the first things I did was book a five-day jackaroo-jillaroo course at Leconfield, about one hour from Tamworth. Most people had booked months in advance, but for me it was kind of an inpromptu idea and I got lucky there was still a spot available. An amusing thing to mention is that before we went to the farm on the first day, we went to an op-shop (charity shop or thrift shop) to get clothes to use that week. You get dirty and you couldn’t wash your clothes because of droughts. We had a good laugh at over-sized, ill-fitted and outdated clothes, but it did the job quite nicely! One guy got the nick-name ‘carrot’ as he was wearing a jodpuhr type pants that made him look like a carrot.
In those five days, we did many activities: we rode every day for hours, did whip cracking (carrot hit his own face), lassoing (I was quite good), barrel racing (my team won, ha!) and other games, cow mustering, sheep mustering, sheering sheep, we learnt about Natural Horsemanship and ate lots of yummy food cooked on open fire (the apple crumble, so good). They took care of us so well and I had a great time that week!
I felt so comfortable on my awesome horse called ‘Cheeky’. Cheeky was a small white horse with a great attitude. We were matched to a horse based on our riding experience (over five years for me). Cheeky was not a beginners horse. I loved riding her and I loved her cheeky character. She was great at mustering, loved the games and never once was she mean. Back then, I was a lot more confident horse riding than I am at the moment. One time it started pouring down with rain, with thunder rolling in. I’ve never had to hold back a horse as much as I did then. Cheeky wanted to run back to the farm, but I’m so glad I managed to reign her in. ‘Reign Cheeky in. If one goes, they all go!‘ I remember so vividly how our guide yelled this at me. Cheeky was not amused with the crap weather, I tell you. After we got back safely and took care of our horses, it was time for us to patch up. Wet clothes everywhere!
The view from the farm was amazing. We were quite high up in the hills/mountains. At least it felt like that to me. I live below sea-level, so what do I know? 😛 No buildings obstructing the view, no street lanterns to cause light pollution. Just a farm in the middle of nowhere with a wonderful view.
I guess this was the Australia that I was after: wild, rugged, pure, away from it all.
P.S. Please excuse the ‘quality’ of the photos. This was pre-digital age for me. 🙂