Saturday morning

Still on the Walsh River, but a spot hundreds of times better than the other night - I rode into town first thing yesterday, and asked for local advice on the best place to camp. The lady at the post office/store was very helpful, pointing out this spot and putting my ICOM batteries on charge for me. We rode out here, a few kms SE of town, and found a nice little sandy bank beside the river with acceptable grass. Nugget and Sarah munched away while I read my mail, wrote a few letters and admired the prolific bird life - not only the usual crows, kookaburras, and little brown jobs, but lorikeets, palm cockatoos, many large waterfowl and these brilliant green and blue kingfisher type things.

I walked back into town later to buy groceries and find out where to get horsefeed - having decided to stay for another day I bought a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs. Walking back out I stopped at an inconspicuous house that I'd been told was a saddlery, where I bought a brush to replace the one I lost at Roaring Meg.

Back here, I set out my fishing lines, and before I knew it I had caught a very large black bream, which went down very well with a bit of baked garlic. (I cooked it whole, frittering away nearly half of my precious aluminium foil - but I think it was worth it!)

I woke up several times in the night; hearing the horses were Out didn't really bother me - they wouldn't go far with hobbles.. .and the flip-flopping of a fish on one of my lines - I decided both could wait for dawn. I found the horses not far away, led them back and since then (about an hour ago) they have wandered out of sight again. I went to pull in my fish - he was wallowing in the shallows but the line was tangled everywhere - and at that moment he finished chewing through the line,and escaped with my hook! Infuriating! While collecting Nugget and Sarah this morning, I found a fantastic fishing hole, but I've got both lines out here, determined to get my hook back!

Well, tomorrow we set off up the Stannary Hills - dry, but not too far from Irvinebank, providing I don't get lost! Sitting here reading some of the pioneering history of this area, and those that I've been through, it's easy to see the scene, and admire some of the feats accomplished. Going back to the remains of the Bump Road I was following (unfortunately the photos I took of this old track with the stone pitching still in place would be ruined when I stupidly opened my camera) - back in 1879, it was used to transport the big 10 ton boilers used in the mines (on wooden wagons hauled by 8 oxen). Cobb and Co once harnessed 6000 horses every day in Australia - they used this track for about 10 years.

On an earlier section of the Bump Road (between Mossman and Mt Molloy) the creek bed still shows signs of the many iron wheels that crossed it: "The first pack-horse mailman rode this route in 1877, in the same year a teamster lost a 10 ton boiler over the side and most of the bullocks were killed. It took a team of 36 horses to get a 4 ton wagon load up the hill from Port Douglas. In October 1877, thirteen bullock wagons left Port Douglas carrying over 100 tons of stores and made it to the Hodgkinson goldfields eighteen days later."

Anyway, time for breakfast, part 2. I can imagine that a dozen eggs in one sitting would be too much for some people to consider - at least for those who haven't been living on rice for a month! I had two boiled eggs with bread and Promite - now the rest of them are busy scrambling with cheese, tomato, soup powder and mixed herbs (to hide the ash). All I'm missing is the bacon! Excuse me, but I have important things to do!

Monday 11th July

Sitting beside the Kennedy Highway - the last place I expected to be a few days ago! After a couple of phone calls to Abergowrie, and some frantic planning with Libby, I've left the trail for a while to stay with her at Tinaroo basecamp. I don't know how long I'll stay (or even whether horses are allowed in the State Forest!) but it'll be great to relax for a while, and even better to spend time with Libby.