It was daylight from about 4:45am but we got up about 7:30 to a heavy dew - the sun was hitting
the tent and creating a canvas sauna. We woke to warm weather, clear skies and a breakfast of
porridge, toast and then bacon and eggs, beans, tomatoes and bubble 'n squeak - all cooked
on the camp fire by Iva. Once we were all fed we grabbed our saddles, caught our horses and
saddled them up. Assistance was available but the crew encouraged us to saddle our own horses.
Grace, Brendon and Conrad were on hand to help with set up. Day 3 Monique helped me to
saddle my horse, but I felt like I was starting the get the hang of it. I was on Campfire again.
As always - Monique was last to catch her horse, and first saddled, because she was
wandering about helping everyone.
Once we were all saddled we again waited a few minutes, checked everyone was OK and then headed off.
We headed East out of camp, watered the horses at the creek at the bottom of the valley, then
crossed the Tantangara dam road and climbed up to the power lines, then crossed under them and
climbed a ridge line onto a track through the trees.
We skirted another valley and crossed a beautiful creek and then skirted another high mountain
plain until we reached a mountain hut for a break. Again the drill was similar. Hop off, let
the horses go and then grab them and get back on when we were done investigating the hut.
These are the huts of Snowy Mountain legend. There are over 100 of these huts scattered about
the high country, 80 of which are in Kosciusko National Park. They used to be maintained by the
stockmen, but when the National Parks took over and the cattlemen were forced out, there was no
one left to maintain the huts, so the Kosciuszko Huts Association was formed and they maintain
the huts. The Reynella crew are pretty cynical about the KHA - I get the impression that the use
and care of the huts has become a lot more rigid since the KHA took over and there seems to still
be some bitterness about the National Park forcing the cattlemen out. The huts are free to use.
You don't need to book, but there is a code of conduct.
They are intended as an emergency shelter or simply a place to camp if you happen to be out
enjoying the mountains - you and welcome to use the huts, and follow the code.
Most of the huts are timber slab or tin sides and most are situated near permanent water.
Some have a separate outdoor toilet (usually with no door and a spectacular view !)
We pushed on to Tantangara Dam, crossed the bridge downstream of the wall and the headed
north up a trail to the base of the Dam wall were we set up for lunch under some shady trees.
We were in the process of making Billy tea when a vehicle on the ridge above us honked his horn.
Apparently, that's another signal for the horses that it's dinner time. So in a flash all the
horses were gone - hurtling up a very steep ridge to get dinner - leaving a group of 18 riders
standing at the bottom of the valley wondering how we were going to get home to camp !! Luckily
I was near my horse Campfire when the horn was honked and grabbed his reins when all the
horses stirred - so he was still with us.
Quick as a shot Brendan was in the saddle and campfire and he were hurtling up the ridge
(a seriously steep ridge) stock whip in hand and after the mob !
When he reached the ridge line he yelled down to us to run down to the bridge and stop
the horses from crossing. So 5 of us sprinted down to the bridge and set up a picket line.
Within 5 minutes the mob came cantering down the track with Brendon hot on their tail.
We waved them on and they trotted back into the lunch zone with Grace assisting (she'd
caught her horse too, but hadn't followed Brendon up the ridge). A Proper Man from Snowy
river demonstration. I wonder what the bloke in the truck gets paid....
After lunch, those of us with swimmers (Conrad, Geoff, Brendan, Pete, Angeline, Grace, Jess
and Vicky) headed down to the bridge and had a swim in the mountain stream. A few of Brendan's
mates saw him in the creek as they crossed in a ute and honked. At the time it was only the
boys in the stream, but apparently the story at the Snow Goose Hotel in Adaminaby that night
was that it was Brendan and a bunch of girls frolicking in the stream !
So after the distraction of the missing mob, we had lunch. During lunch it became evident
that Monique's horse was rolling on the ground and somewhat distressed. She had colic by
the look of things so Monique spent a lot of time keeping her moving and on her feet while
we ate lunch. When it was time to head off Monique was allocated a new horse from
the "spares" ;-Rapture, a young Chesnutt gelding who turned out to be a pretty special horse.
After Lunch we climbed up past the dam and followed the valley back to the camp.
We had a number of boggy crossings on the way but for some reason they seemed to
be getting easier….or maybe the riders were getting better and/or more confident :-
There were certainly a lot more of us "off the trail" and working to understand our horses.
Brendon and Conrad offered a lot of advice about how to move your horse by moving your body
weight. Monique, Andy and Jo seemed to be leading the way and of course Monique was helping
the beginners (like me) too.
Back at camp - the same drill for sorting out the horses and the gear, then Brendon
announced that the bus for the dam was leaving. Monique and I donned our swimmers and
hopped into the Land cruiser "troupy" and we headed down to Tantangara Dam for a swim
(about 12kms down the nearby dirt road) . The water wash fresh and cool, but not as
cold as we thought. On the way home we saw a "wild dog" crossing the road and lots of
wallabies and Kangaroos.
On return to camp it seemed Monique's horse still had Colic and was getting worse.
Breandan and Conrad spend a fair bit of time with her and fed her a beer, then Conrad
mushed up some of his own pain killers (he'd recently had a hip reconstruction) and
fed those to the horse. She was still sitting downa dn trying to roll. So we kept her
on her feet and eventually left her in the paddock - hoping she'd be ok by morning.
We had another fabulous dinner from Iva - the world's largest stir fry if I recall.
I had a few beers on Day 3. The beers were on an honor system - take one from the Esky - put a mark in the tally book.....