Thursday, October 30, 2014

Part 2 (continued) Camp Cobbald in photos

The camp was fortunate not only have Catherine Marriot there to inspire and motivate us, but she she’s also a pretty mean photographer. Many of her photos are included below.








A random selection of photos from our time at Camp Cobbald. We reconnected with old friends, made new ones. I am not sure anyone came home refreshed and rejuvinated…but certainly left “home” behind for a few days.

In somewhat unrelated, but good news, The Husband may have learnt how to send emails from his phone, so that I could check in that he wasn’t under a tractor or something each day**.

Turns out you can teach old dogs new tricks!

**no phone signal but great technology set up so one could access wifi to keep in touch with the outside world.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

School Holidays Part 2 {Road Trip to Camp Cobbald}

Bright and early, the Monday of the second week of the school holidays, we packed up the wagon with all that we’d need for a week of roughing it in the wilderness, and headed north. We left behind us Dad and all of the assorted animals in his care, instructions on their feeding and use of the washing machine. Also instructions on how to send an email.  Learning curves on all fronts .

The first 250kms were broken at The Oasis, after a road we’ve travelled well and is much more pleasant than it used to be (so much bitumen). Fearing we may be lost in the depths of the Gulf Savannah from this point on, as we ventured onto roads un-travelled (by us at least!) the kids begged for a feed.


And then westward we were bound. Einasleigh and Forsayth were on the route, and so we looked forward to discovering their delights.


Deeper into them there hills we drove – with a surprisingly long and windy and HIGH range in between Einasleigh and Forsayths (the delights of both I will save for the return journey). And dry, oh my goodness. Ravaged by huge fires in the back end of 2012, it is very clear a lot of this country has a long way to go before its recovered, drought gripping this part of the country as well. Back to feeling that perhaps things are QUITE so bad at home.

And finally we arrived.


Cobbold Gorge itself is a privately owned tourist attraction on Howlong Station outside of Forsayth. Its a long way to town. They have created a wonderful camp site for travellers here, and this camp site was taken over by the organised of Camp Cobbald. Organised by one of my oldest friends, it’s a camp aimed at outback families, with a focus on bringing services to them that they may struggle to access especially in the midst of this dry conditions. Swimming lessons, sports, wood work, music and more, the kids were kept extremely busy. The mums also weren’t sitting around idly either – with sessions with inspiring motivational speakers Catherine Marriot (Influential Women) and Julia Telford (Engage Create Consulting), physio, haircuts, remedial massage. There were also educational support and physcologists present as well. As well as a huge team of helpers in the form of Chappies from around  the north and volunteers all of the way from Toowoong Uniting Church. In all there was around 230 people on site.


{aerial view of camp – in a “normal” year the pool over looks a waterhole}



{our camp site – I just provided bedding and clothing – a mere 10 metre walk to a shared toilet and shower block – but a 300 metre walk up a steep hill back up to the pool and dining hall}

We had a very busy and full week, including a fancy dress disco, sit down formal dinner for the mums (and dads) and a culminating concert on Thursday night.

Thursday afternoon we had the chance to look at Cobbald Gorge itself.  This required a short ride on a 4WD tour bus, crossing the large Robertson River on the way.  Cobbald Gorge itself is only 750 metres long, a small unique gash in the landscape.

The gorge is accessed via a walk way and specially made flat bottomed boats with super quiet electric motors. These boats were made especially for navigating the narrow reaches of the gorge.




The gorge maintains a near constant water level year round (apart from during wet season rains of course) being spring fed. The depth of water is around 8ft. The water is held up by a natural dam in the form of tea tree roots, the water drops from the top “dam” into a series of smaller “dams” very quickly before disappearing into the sand bed of the nearby Robertson River (from which the Camp site pumps its water from, via a spear into the river bed)


The knowledge of fresh water crocs residing in this water way had Angus quite anxious. (honestly! picture me rolling my eyes right now) And, from memory, his boating experience has thus far been quite limited so he was quite worried about the whole process for awhile.

The gorge is so narrow in spots that one can nearly touch each wall with arms outstretched.







Its quite a unique little spot, and protected as a nature reserve now. (although has made me realise we have some wonderful natural assets closer to home as well).

The tour of the gorge was well timed, on the eve of our departure. We packed ourselves up and were ready to leave after breakfast in the morning – with a 6 hour drive to get home we (or rather I) decided that the sessions that morning were  not vital our well being!

More adventures to share of the trip home…..

Saturday, October 25, 2014

School Holidays Part 1

The word holiday sort of conveys the feeling of relaxation and restoration, doesn’t it? Not so around these parts, with the juggernaut that is 2014 continuing, or so it feels, to gather even more pace.

After a very busy term, we finally went to our last session of netball training. During the last couple of days of term I also ventured out, attending the Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network Conference in Charters Towers. I wasn’t sure what to expect;  but the speakers were inspiring, although the workshops that I chose weren't quite as advanced as I would have hoped.

So, onto the school holidays. It had been on the calendar for a while that a free cutting clinic had been organised. Thankfully, a different location had been sourced at the last minute (easier for me!) so after rounding up kids and saddles and horses and swags and horsefeed and overnight bags, not to mention a few smokos, we loaded the truck and headed off.

IMG_5016Richard Webb was running the clinic. Cutting isn’t something that is high on our agenda of horse sporting events, however he came with a great reputation of being able to teach kids some great general horsemanship skills. And straight off the bat he had the kids doing things that I thought were well above their ability level.



{Georgie getting Redman to stay collected in the stop – he prefers the lazier version}

Both of the kids ponies are very well trained to a high level, however like all kids horses they don’t use their full range of talents unless the kid actually does the right thing at the right time. Straight away he had them all applying their leg aides and getting great results, with nose in and nose out of the circle. This may sound like gobblydogook, but I was amazed that the kids followed his instructions so well and were able to do as he asked. I guess its about simplifying  the process. They don’t have to understand it, they just have to DO it!


Although, as you can tell, the ponies did a fair bit of napping when they got the opportunity.

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After lunch the mechanical cow was introduced to the horses. Some were quite unfazed by this bit of flappy fabric on a rope drawn back and forth by a little pulley system. Some however, thought this was some fresh hell come down to earth to torment them and put on quite a show.

Redman wasn’t too worried although wasn’t too impressed with having to try and block the thing up all of the time.


Kate’s old pony Ben, who knew exactly what this cow was and what it did (and what was asked of him) chucked a tatny of a different nature, and unfortunately got away with it.  He was NOT going to chase that silly thing around, and expend any further energy, thank you very much.

The afternoon concluded and led into a BBQ dinner, with the kids all sleeping over.  At this point I left them there, even Angus who was managing to keep himself busy even without a horse.

The kids rode again the next day. I didn’t take my camera, and am kicking myself. They again had another lap at the cow in the afternoon, and I intervened and made Ben take his overfed attitude up to the cow. With spurs on Kate’s boots and some timely instructions from Richard, she had that old pony sit down and boogie like he had been trained to do in his youth. A great confidence builder for her as well. Ben, he heaved a big sigh of relief when he was allowed to walk away from it.

And so, we then packed up the saddles and swags and horses and feed and ports and kids (when I say it like that, it sounds so EASY and QUICK) and home we went, on a mission to be unloaded before dark lest any constabulary type person might enquire after the lack of lighting on my borrowed gooseneck.


Being a strapper for the kids is probably more exhausting than riding the horses themselves!

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