Gold Mine Jan 2011

Over the years we have bred many fine young horses here at Bogong Horseback Adventures. The vast majority of the working team today are “locals” having been born, trained and worked here, surrounded by the high plains and peaks of the Bogongs. They have taken their names from the places that make up the rich landscape of the Victorian High Country, names like Feathertop, Fainter, Lankey, Joker, Weston, Faithful, Woollybutt, Dungey, Harriette, Basalt and many others.
Our foundation stallion was an Australian Stock Horse called Inca Gold and his blood lines run through a lot of our stock. More recently we introduced another Stock Horse stallion to strengthen our breeding program when Lin acquired Simply Red from Ashlar Stud.
In keeping with our traditions Lin now calls him Simply Red Robin, with reference to the a local landmark, the heritage listed Red Robin gold mine. All the young horses being bred here at Spring Spur are now named after local gold mines. New additions to the horse family this year include Indigo, out of Feathertop and Stringer, out of Caddie.
The Red Robin mine and battery continues in operation today, owned and operated by Ken Harris. In 1941, after several years of prospecting the country between Mts. Hotham and Feathertop, Bill Spargo opened up the Hotham Heights field, which comprised two reefs: the Red Robin and One Alone. The Red Robin was fabulously rich where it outcropped: a sample crushing yielded an average 112-oz per ton. Small, rich crushings continued through the 1940s. In 1949, a road into the Red Robin mine was completed and a 3-head battery brought in. Three years later the mine was purchased by the owners of the Sambas mine at Harrietville. They cut an improved track down to the mine and reconditioned the battery, also adding a hopper and self-feeder. At that time, the Red Robin was one of the richest in Victoria—in terms of its yield per ton, not total production and was the highest mine in the State. Being well above the snow line, the mine could only be worked seasonally, and its crushings remained small. In 1954, the mine crushed 49 tons for a gold return of 48 oz. From 1956 stone from the Red Robin was sent to the government battery at Bright for crushing. A 10-head battery (formerly the Bairnsdale government battery) was erected at the Red Robin mine in 1966, lower down the valley than the earlier plant had been.
Located as it is in the upper reaches of the West Kiewa River Valley, the Red Robin battery buildings were burnt in the 2003 bushfires. Ken has more recently restored the old battery buildings and the heartbeat of the the upper Kiewa is once again heard echoeing off the ranges when Ken is crushing ore.
References: Kenny, J.P.L., “Red Robin and One Alone Reefs, Hotham Heights”, in Mining and Geological Journal, September 1941, pp. 263-7. Mining and Geological Journal, 1941-57.

Dungey’s Track Jan 2011

Another casualty of the big rains is Dungey’s track. Following the route originally blazed by Sergeant Dungey in his regular travels through the High Country in the 1860’s in pursuit of horse thieves.
The modern “track” was built by bulldozer. After following Little Snowy creek upstream to it’s head at Simmon’s Gap the narrow track continued along a high side cut on the western side of the West Kiewa River for several kilometers until it descended to the first of the big river flats about 15 kms downstream of Blair’s Hut.
The recent big rains have caused a large section of the track to slip down into the river far below, leaving an impassable rock face. Until Parks Vic and DSE consider the options for a new alignment, the track remains closed.
Any tours we have scheduled for the West Kiewa have been re routed over Mount Fainter, via Bogong Jack’s Yards.

Sand in the Yards Jan 2011

Yep, we have had big mobs of rain and at their peak the December storms dumped 170 mm in less than 24 hours. We came close to loosing the new dam as the flood was running about 300 mm over the wall. Creek beds that have been lying dry for a decade, choked with dry vegetation and fallen timber were once again free running streams, running bankers with flood waters spilling into surrounding river flats.
When the stream peaks receded the landscape was endowed with a network of clean, fast running streams, all opened up with sandy beds and long runs of gravel and cool clean water. Some places the washed sand had built up around bends and bridges forming large sand bars and flood outs. On a neighboring property the sand had to be cleared from the crossing and consequently we took delivery of many truckloads of new washed sand for our yards and stables. Sand that probably started up here in the first place!

Barefoot Winter Jan 2011

Talking horses feet, last autumn we took possession of a number of brumbies that had been removed from the Bogong High Plains by Parks Victoria as part of their brumby management program. We were impressed by the general good condition of the wild horses feet and decided to followup on an interest we had in “barefoot trimming” of horses feet, as an alternative to fitting steel shoes to the feet with nails.
The plan was to keep a working team of trail riding horses unshod, but correctly trimmed, through the winter months when the tracks are softer and the mountain work not required. We are delighted to report that the whole team came through the winter with their feet in great shape, many with improved foot health and no cases of ill effect.
We have now shod our team for the summer and the rocky mountain tracks, however come next winter the equine feet will get another recuperative spell from the steel shoe and nail.
Information about barefoot trimming http://ahca.org.au/

Meet the New Farrier Jan 2011

Andy Warhol famously stated in 1975 that “In the future everybody will be famous for 15 minutes” In popular culture this has morphed into “15 minutes of fame”.
Some of the regular guests at BHA may remember meeting our hardworking farrier, Bob Brown, probably cheekier than any butcher, Bob always had a cheerful side for anyone walking past his anvil. The farrier’s task, fitting shoes to our horses, is a tough physical endeavor and Bob has decided to reduce his work load and slow down a bit, so we had to find a new farrier.
Kath and I first met our new farrier, Brendon Anton in 1992 at a Wayne Banney clinic in Albury. Since then Brendon has made his mark as a horseman and rodeo competitor, working as a farrier and starting young thoroughbreds for the racetrack with very successful natural horsemanship methods. Ask Brendon about his “15 minutes” and he will undoubtedly refer to the 8 seconds he rode “time” on the infamous bucking bull Chainsaw at the 1991 Cootamundra Rodeo, up to then, only the 5th rider to score on the bull.
Chainsaw was one of Australia’s most famous bucking bulls. Only nine contestants scored on him and he won the Australian national title of Bull of the Year a world record eight times during 1987 to 1994.
We welcome Brendon into the team and thank him for his quiet and professional approach to shoeing our hardworking horses.

Wood Fired Oven Jan 2011

Home from the bush after 5 days of horses, adventure and campfire meals, our packhorse expedition guests now wind up the week with a wood oven pizza night at Spring Spur. After a welcome shower and re-emerging into the night in their “civies”, the riders spend a final evening together reliving the highlights of the ride and enjoying the pizza creations coming from the oven.
Lin and Clay have recently finished building the wood fired oven, a fine addition to the terrace attached to the homestead.

Lin’s pizza dough recipe (keep it simple).

strong plain flour
warm water
dry yeast
honey
olive oil
pinch of salt
a few strands of horse hair

Make dough when you light the oven, kneed dough as little as possible then allow to rise and punch down a few times. Divide into small bun size balls and let rise a little before rolling out into pizza bases.
If you have made too much dough (as I often do) why not pick some fresh herbs from the garden and prepare a focaccia to bake after the pizzas.

Tourism Awards Jan 2011

Bogong Horseback Adventures returned to the Victorian Tourism Awards in 2010, tossing our hat into both the Adventure and Ecotourism categories. The presentation night at Crown Palladium Ballroom is greatly anticipated by those members of the BHA team who enjoy a big bright night out on the town, an opportunity to get out of the riding clobber and “frock up”.
As it turns out we were awarded a Merit for the Parks Victoria Adventure Tourism Category and a Finalist for the Eco-Tourism Category.

Wildflowers Jan 2011

The return of La Nina weather cycle has been dramatic this winter/spring/summer with fantastic rainfall totals month after month. The summer dry cycle seems to be upon us know, but the country is looking spectacular, a green valley, full streams, dams, rivers and water tables and a mass of wildflowers across the top of the High Country.
The impact of a decade of drought and fires is fading into a patina on the landscape and a hard memory etched into our community. We are all looking forward to a period of less extremes and the joy of sharing our special backyard with all our guests.
Take a look at our latest pack horse expeditions at the Bogong Horseback Adventures website.
Find out more about the native plants of the Victorian Alps here.