A Big Thank You Jul 2009

Last season we had a wonderful evolving crew of helpers and we have put a few photos up, but big thank-you to:
Eeske who stuck with us for the whole season always smiling and positive, her ability around horses outstanding, and the care of our guests on all the rides she was on was fantastic.
Johanna and Yvette who saved the day during winter when Clay was working on an Australian feature film called Van Diemans Land the movie. He had to leave B.H.A. temporarily. The girls were on the first leg of their trip, stayed for 6 weeks during last winter and ran the trail rides perfectly, the most capable, delightful young women. I loved their company, and we had lots of fun while Steve was working with Diamantina touring company.
Eeske, Johanna and Yvette are from Germany and their riding skills in dressage, fantastic, even Shannonvale (alfa mare extraordinaire) was preforming in the arena!
Johanna and Yvette forced themselves away to travel Oz but returned in December when they both booked on the first Natural/horsemanship ride in December!
We miss them!
A big thank you also to…
Luca, a strong hardworking, charming, young Italian.
Nina, also a strong German girl. Nina it was a pleasure working for you! (Nina’s a great organizer) Nina also suffered great homesickness but she soon became happy here and I bet she doesn’t forget her 20th birthday in a hurry! Her mother’s secret phone call from Germany, with the request of a cream pie in Nina’s face ( Apparently a family tradition) was a hard call, we don’t do cream cakes usually!
Eugene and her sister Hermine, beautiful French sisters and great riders, especially Hermine, it was a pleasure to watch her riding Eskdale. I wish they could have stayed longer!
Michael a very funny sweet man we laughed a lot around our kitchen table!
Sophie, from Switzerland who worked so hard in the heat of summer on the fencing and was always there with a helping hand.
Anna also from Germany, came on a 1/2 day ride early last summer and when she finished working as an au pair came back to B.H.A. late in the season to help out and ride.
Stephanie, from Montreal Canada who bravely arrived, having had no horse experience, is now riding on all the trail rides as a very important trail leader (2nd in charge) and even feeding the stallion with great confidence! She is still with us and intends to continue her travels in August.
Bro, Josh and Sean our strapping Aussie Horsemen and camp chefs who worked with Lin and Clay on the pack trips throughout the summer, all are fantastic young men and can they cook!
Cousin Loc, who has taken every opportunity possible to get up to Spring Spur to lend a hand. We wish him all the best in his year 12 studies and look forward to his help this coming season.
Lin, Clay, Steve and Kath welcome you all back anytime in the future!
The young people that have shared our lives here at Bogong Horseback over the years would be aware of the challenges it brings Steve and Kath, sharing their home constantly but they are grateful to have had them in their lives. Exciting changes to this arrangement are progressing with the development of the ‘Riders Lounge’ and accommodation project, complete with commercial kitchen facilities, will render Steve and Kath ‘empty nesters’ at last, albeit even if they all move next door!

The Big BHA Family Jul 2009

When the boys (Lin and Clay) were little they used to say ‘the world comes to us doesn’t it mum” and its very true, the young people that have blessed us with their help over the years, stories and experiences that could fill a book!
The “staff” at BHA, are usually young travelers. We offer a trainee ship at B.H.A, working with our Australian Stock horses. Riding the High Country with B.H.A is a great way to learn about our Australian way of life, its rich cultural history and the modern methods used today. More of a horsemanship/life clinic than just volunteer work, learning new skills from campfire cooking, training young horses, leather working and repairs, all in a shared living/working environment that involves hard work but is rewarded with great food, fun times and lots of horse riding.
We haven’t really kept the staff pages up to date on the web site. So if you have worked with us here at B.H.A. and you have a favorite photo of yourself for the staff page please send us one with the year you were here and we will up date our history!

New Blood Jul 2009

This past summer we were getting ready for a new arrival. A new electric fence was constructed, and within hours of completion there was a young colt investigating his new territory! Ashlar stud Simply Red is his registered name but in keeping with our tradition of naming our horses after places in the area, we decided to call him ‘Red Robin’ after the Red Robin gold mine on the West Kiewa. A studbook Australian Stock Horse with respectable pedigree – Red Oak, Destiny and Liberty lines. Soon Red Robin will woo a mare or two, but first he has some growing to do. His education however is well under way as Lin and Red have spent the past 2 weeks working with Barry Chambers, a talented horse trainer on his property near Corryong.
Feathertop and Mitta are in foal to Ashlar Stud’s Future Direction and Barwidgee and they are due to foal in the spring, so some new bloodlines are on the way!

Moving Forward July 2009

Our busy summer may be over, but there is plenty of things to keep us occupied. We have a few projects on the drawing board this year, our biggest is a new riders lounge and accommodation facility. Steve has not forgotten his building knowledge and architectural talents, he has been busy drawing up draft plans for council. We have all enjoyed being involved in the design process and are eager to keep moving forward.
We plan to incorporate recycled materials with new sustainable building products/technologies along with passive solar design to complete a green, sustainable infrastructure balanced with our existing buildings and landscape. We hope to complete the project by early next year! Below is a sneak peak of our design.
We have also built a timber round yard complete with landscaped viewing areas. This is a great improved work area for starting our young horses. We plan to host weekend horsemanship clinics on the property in the near future!

Re-naming of a Mountain July 2009

Kath has been lobbying for a name change of the Niggerhead mountain range for 10 years, and finally the quiet voices and persistence of the Elders of the Indigenous Reference Group, formed after the 2003 bush fires, made her dream a reality!
Kath’s first reaction on seeing the sign ‘The Niggerheads’ at the Tawonga huts site on one of our first rides in 1986 was disbelief. It went against the fabric of her being and the values she was bought up with, by the progressive nature of her parents. For years, Kath lamely explained to her riding guests, the history and origin of the name, knowing full well the mountain’s geographic features resembled proud strong indigenous heads, especially when viewed from the West Kiewa River valley and the Fainters, and that the name “Nigger “ is a racist term. Research soon revealed it was time to reconcile and give the mountain a new name. She discovered that over the past 30 years letters were documented with the registrar of place names objecting to the name of Mt Niggerhead dating back to 1977.
Finally in 1999 there was an opportunity for change. There was a new State Government and a political shift towards reconciliation, so Kath embarked upon a lonely campaign for name change. The issue was even discussed in parliament in 2000 and recorded in Hansard.
With reference to the historical name (named by stockmen Jim Brown and Jack Wells in 1852) and the mountain’s features, Kath’s first inclination was to suggest the name be changed to “Koori Heads” as suggested in her first correspondence to Mr Parker, the then Registrar. During one of many sleepless nights some weeks later, it occurred to her that the most appropriate name was “Yitmathangs” (sp.), in recognition of the original indigenous inhabitants, and suggested this as documented in another letter to the Registrar of Place Names in 1999. It was her hope that the community would embrace this name and that the heritage and stories of these people not be lost. It proved a difficult and intense campaign and after many letters the idea of renaming the mountain to the Yitmathangs(sp.) seemed unlikely, due to all the negative reactions received. Kath was shocked at the reaction and attitudes of some people in the community! And despite some encouragement, negative feedback is always difficult to handle.
It was quite by accident 8 years later (on National Sorry Day, the apology by the Federal Government) that Kath re-ignited the issue on A.B.C. local radio, and was promptly contacted by the Chief Ranger of the Alpine National Park, to be informed the renaming of the mountain was happening and the chosen name was THE JAITHMATHANG! KATH WAS ECSTATIC!
It was disappointing for Kath to have been side lined by the bureaucracy and not ‘kept in the loop’ but she immediately wrote to the Victorian Alps Indigenous Reference Group (whom, until then, she had no idea existed) and congratulated them for driving this change. Kath is so proud of what she was able to achieve and even though she was not officially recognized by the government for her ideas and drive on this issue, was most definitely embraced and thanked personally by the Elders of the Indigenous Reference group at the re-naming ceremony in November 2008. Kath’s proud to say the story of the Jaithmathang people can now be told openly without prejudice and with integrity that honors their great traditions.

Season 2009-2010 July 2009

We have an exciting season coming up with a range of tours from 3 to 7 day rides available. Check out our 2009/10 dates here. After the disappointing cancellation of our 7 day pack tour last season due to the Black Saturday bush fires, we are pleased to announce we have scheduled another for February 2010! An amazing feast of landscape, both Mt Fainter and Mt Bogong are featured on this journey through Victoria’s spectacular high country.
We have two Natural Horsemanship Clinics scheduled with long time friend and master horseman Wayne Banney. Combined with our preeminent packhorse tours, these clinics offer opportunities to improve riding and horsemanship skills in a working bush environment. We have bred and trained a fantastic team of horses over the years and they are always keen to venture up onto the High Plains for another taste of the alpine grasses, clean air and drink from crystal mountain creeks. You may also choose to bring your own horse on the clinic rides, a perfect opportunity for both you and your horse to learn a few helpful hints or just spend some time with your faithful steed in the High Country. If you are thinking of bringing your own horse we have some helpful information here.
For those unfamiliar with our tours expect great food, wine and fantastic riding experiences – Visiting Jaithmathang country (one of the aboriginal tribes that belonged to this country) is a privilege. Ride along bush tracks cut into the mountains over 100 years ago by gold seekers and the early graziers in search of gold and good grazing country. Experiencing the High Country on the back of a sure footed horse just as our forefathers did, with packhorses faithfully trotting along, is just one of the highlights of your adventure. The bush huts and yards built by early graziers, are a welcome sight. Canter over the High Plains then sneak down through snow gums near Mt Jim for a glimpse of the brumbies. Camp amongst tall alpine ash forests or the silver snow gums for a night around the campfire with a ‘coldie’ or a ‘cuppa billy tea’ and watch one of our delicious meals, prepared by the camp chef, cooked on the open fire in the camp ovens. Vegetarians are looked after with sensational alternatives. Tempted? sounds good eh! Fill in an online booking form here.

November 2008

I‘ve been busy developing an ‘Australian bush skills’ program, designed to teach traditional Australian horse skills, suited to those seeking work with horses throughout Australia. My brother Lin has recently returned from a summer packing mules in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Lin has purchased a registered Australian Stock Horse colt ‘Ashlarstud Simply Red’. He is planning on expanding BHA’s successful breeding program by introducing a new bloodline into our foundation mares, all by ‘Inka Gold”, himself from ‘Radium, Bobby Bruce’ and ‘Abie’ lines. Wayne Banney returns this year. His knowledge andskills are second to none, and he will feature on our natural horsemanship clinics and five-day adventures. You might witness the local brumby population flaunting their new foals, a perfect chance to experience natural horse behavior, and learn from the wild brumbies of the Bogong High Plains. Lin and I are looking forward to developing new infrastructure and moving the business into new areas, including an eco accommodation building. A good winter has left the mountainsblossomingunder the last drifts of snow. The forests have recovered from the fires, so riding through a lush canopy of ferns and mountain ash forests, cantering over the wild grass plains, experiencing the most amazing views, will be all too good to miss this summer. Home from another winter season in the desert, Steve is dividing his time between the art studio and the office – where he is designing the long awaited riders lounge and accommodation buildings. Kath is at the center of it all, planning the horse breeding program, designing buildings and planting the new summer crops of organic vegies for the kitchen table and thepack trips. Lin and myself are enthusiastic about this summer season, the weather is warming up and the mountains are calling us with their promise of summer days riding through pretty valleys and swimming in mountain rivers. Glimpsing brumbies. Sharing great food by the camp fire accompanied by a glass of wine. Picture yourself in a comfortable swag ‘mountain dreaming’ under the endless southern stars. Hope you can join us soon, Lin, Clay, Kath and Steve Spring Spur Stables Ph. (03) 57544 849

Hay, Horses and Tractors June 2008

Found this picture of Claude, our percheron cross and somewhat elderly farm labourer, being pressed into service a few winters ago rolling out a round bail of hay for his mates. Pasture hay is a big part of our winter feeding prgram, and the bulk of the hay is cut from our own land in late spring, early summer and stored for the following winter.
In this scene the boys decided to improvise and set Claude up with a modified pack saddle to act as harness, ran a pair of ropes through a running cinch and attached the other end to a spike pushed through the bale. With Tom on board to drive the “tractor”, Claude took to the task with enthusiasm. Hay was delivered on time and on budget!
For many years we pressed our hay into small square bales, because they are easier to feed out without a tractor. Big job getting the bales into the shed, having to pick them up pretty well behind the baler, load them onto a truck then hand stack the shed, tossing the bales up into the high space in the shed, just under the hot roof. Usually happened around December in hot weather with the threat of a spoiling thunderstorm putting the pressure on.
So we progressed to large round bales a few years ago, and battled on tipping them into a trailer, or whistling up Claude.
We struggled on for years until we accepted that we just had to get a tractor, for the sake of our backs and all the jobs we could get done around the place without using a contractor.
You know the story, looked far and wide with no luck until we heard about a Ford just down the road in Mytleford, and now Claude can look forward to an easier retirement.

Mules & media – socks, jocks & twenty bucks June 2008

Clay recently entered a short film he made at film school in the small but highly regarded FILMFEST@FALLS. Shortlisted for this years event, Clay’s film “Rose”, will be showcased alongside the newest talent in Australian cinema. Artistic Director, and founder of the Festival, Sally Hussey was excited by the quality of this year’s short film competition submissions: “We have fielded the strongest uptake of short films, with a fantastic cross-section of new cinematic artists.”

Lin and Clay, Backup Plans etc. June 2008

We have enjoyed enormously the passing string of young travellers who have come to stay and work with us here at Bogong Horseback Adventures. People with a passion for travel, for horses and experiencing a part of Australia beyond the cities and the backpacker party trail.
Along the way our lives have been enriched by the passing parade of young people from all over the world. We have had some awesome “big” familiy meals with a united nations of food creations and faces.
Having spent much of the past few years travelling themselves, Lin and Clay Baird have decided to take on a more active role in the future of Bogong Horseback Adventures. Look out for new riding and learning experiences, new food experiences and some building projects over the next year or so.
Lin is currently in Belize, Central America, and after spending the next three months with the mule trains at Rock Creek Pack Station in the Californian Sierra Nevadas, he will be home in September. He will be rolling up his sleeves and getting new projects on the go.
Clay is home this winter, managing the shorter rides and winter tasks with horses and on the farm. Read all about his endeavours in the next story.