To take up where I left off... We did make it to water on Monday night, in fact we came across an irrigation channel running more or less parallel to the road, but well out of sight. Ignoring the threatening signs, we kept along it hoping to find somewhere Nugget and Sarah could actually reach the water - the sloping concrete sides weren't allowing them to get down to it.
I was even considering going back to a farmhouse to borrow a bucket, when we came upon a large lake (later we found out it was a nature reserve) filled with waterfowl. So Nugget and Sarah had their fill, and I rigged up what I thought was a most ingenious setup between two irrigation channels - the wire going up to tree in the middle, and down on either side to the steep concrete drop. I figured they wouldn't try to step over the low part because of the way I angled it, besides, this gave them about 1 50 x 20m of good grass between the wire and myself camped at the other end.
I had a small fire and considered shooting a duck for dinner, but settled for rice instead (lucky, considering what I found out later!) Only once in the night did Nugget and Sarah try to sneak past me. Anyway we only had about 15 km to go to Tolga, so we had a slow morning, I did some more cooking, while unnoticed, Nugget and Sarah stepped over the wire! They didn't go far, though, although it's funny how they try to get out even when they have plenty.
Approaching Tolga, Tex, the farrier, pulled over to say Hi (and "you haven't got very far" - true, only about 50km from Mt Molloy when I saw him over a week before!) - he suggested I see Debbie in the store to put my horses in a paddock for the night... I did, and Nugget and Sarah were soon acquainting themselves with three other dainty things. Compared to most horses, Nugget and Sarah really do look like clodhoppers! (but who wants a frail spindly racehorse on the trail?)
They had a few run-ins with the other three, but Nugget and Sarah were generally more concerned with eating than answering questions of "whose paddock is this anyway?" A few times, though, the teeth and hooves came out - one spectacular manoeuvre by Nugget nearly took the other's head off with both hind hooves, none seemed too serious (although the big chestnut had a definite limp in the morning) and more often than not they ended up galloping around the perimeter doing little skips in the air - quite happy to be free of hobbles!
The ICOM woke me at 11.30 pm - Libby arriving from Abergowrie; we spent the night under a tree next to the paddock. Then another slow morning today - I didn't leave Tolga until we'd had a rest in the midday heat. Saw Lib again on the road, with a long drive and daunting responsibilities back at Abergowrie, before returning for good on the weekend.
Well, things are looking good again. Sarah's sore on her wither is healing nicely - and this rest at basecamp will be even better for it - and although she is losing a shoe, I feel confident that I can pull it off and replace it properly. I might do that tomorrow after checking out this town.
Thursday 14th July
A cold, grey, windy day - I think it might rain later on... I'm undecided whether to move or not. A very peaceful morning - I treated myself to some fast food at the caravan park and had a hot shower (why don't all towns have a shower in the public toilets?) I managed to do a pretty good job on Sarah's hoof I think - but we'll see how long it stays on!
Looking at the map Libby lent me of this area, I've decided one thing I could do while I'm here is climb Mount Bartle Frere - Queensland's highest mountain - it should be pretty spectacular up there (if it's not closed in by rainforest). . .1,615 metres and only 7 kms from the flat coastal land at sea level! I'll have to get some local knowledge first - I remember Paige telling me about some tracks...