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Tour Program Selling Well Oct 2005

The winter mists are lifting from the valley and the snow is melting on the tops. It seems that we have got the mix right for this coming summer of packhorse tours with strong enquiries and bookings. The November 30th trip with Wayne Banney is full and some other tours are close. So the message is if you are thinking about a ride with us, get in touch and make sure you don’t miss out.
The full program of rides is available on our web site. The tour program from December to April includes all the great destinations our regular riders enjoy, our renowned hospitality, food and wine, and that sense of adventure heading off into the mountains for a week. Our mountain bred and trained horses enjoy life here, running as a herd and our daily dealing with them is informed by our understanding and practice of natural horsemanship. All our rides offer opportunities to live and learn with horses in a working environment, and you get to see some pretty awesome country along the way.
If you have any queries about our summer program, Steve and Kath are happy to take a call to answer your questions on (03 5754 4849) or you can email us.

Tonimbuk Trails to Close after 27 years Oct 2005

In 1978 Kath Baird and her dad Bill Viney decided to put their horses and their passion for riding to work on the family dairy farm. The farm on Diamond Creek in the forest country of Tonimbuk, between Gembrook and Bunyip, offered ideal riding country only 1 hour from Melbourne. Tonimbuk Trails was born. Tonimbuk Farm had run dairy cows since 1958, and Bill and Eleanor welcomed the change. The cows went to market and the horses were saddled up. The planned stables were built, daughter Kath got plenty of riding and Eleanor gained fame for her scones. The picture on the left shows Kath on one of the early trail rides.
Kath met and married Steve Baird and some years later in 1986 they moved to North East Victoria and started up Bogong Horseback Adventures, riding in the High Country of the Bogong National Park. Tragically Bill Viney was killed in a riding accident in 1988 and although not a rider, Eleanor has successfully run Tonimbuk trails ever since. Eleanor has now decided to hang up her spurs and scone cutter and close up the business. Any one who has ridden at Tonimbuk will declare the beautiful forest tracks and clear air as the ideal environment for horse and rider.
Eleanor is offering her riding horses for sale with the option to agist on the fine pastures at Tonimbuk Farm. For anyone contemplating taking the next step with their riding this is a rare opportunity. For more details call Eleanor or Jo at Tonimbuk on 03 5629 8525

The Younger Bairds July 2005

Both Lin and Clay, our two sons are spending the next 3 months “researching” at Rock Creek Pack Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Eastern California. Although the country is different, the mules unlike our packhorses and the food not up to the high standards of the Baird outfit, we are sure they will learn lots, have a heap of fun and send us an email occasionally.
The boys have grown up living in a working family business, and after years at university and city life, they are keen to return to the wilder parts of the planet. For Clay it is a return to travels after only getting home from Europe four months ago, but for Lin it his first big adventure away from the adventure of home.
After California they are on the road to Mexico, Cuba and into South America for another 3 months. They will be returning to join the team here at Bogong Horseback Adventures in mid January 2006.

Horsemanship Skills July 2005

Kath’s grandfather said “the day you think you know everything about horses is the day you never put your foot in the stirrup again”. After a lifetime with horses we never cease to be amazed at the lessons you keep learning. A quantum leap in our understanding and working relationship with horses occurred 15 years ago when we attended a natural horsemanship clinic conducted by Wayne Banney, on dealing with problem horses. These days Wayne continues to offer his wisdom to riders, and will be conducting a program in association with Bogong Horseback Adventures this summer.
In early December 2005 we have the “Colt start”, a fascinating insight into the process of starting an uneducated horse, followed by a weekend “Basics and Beyond clinic” that offers an opportunity for horse people to advance their skills, whether you are just starting out or want to refine a particular aspect of your riding. This clinic leads into an opportunity to head off into the mountains for a 5 day “Brumbies and Natural Horsemanship” Packhorse Tour with Wayne coming along, so you can polish your skills in a working environment, while enjoying our renowned tour of the spectacular Bogongs
There will be a second 5 day “Brumbies and Natural Horsemanship” Packhorse Tour with Wayne in early January 2006. On these tours you are welcome to bring your own horse along, sure to be a learning experience for both of you! Details on the full BHA program for 2005-06 are available on our web site.

20 Years in the High Country July 2005

This coming season, 2005-06, marks our 20th year of guiding horseriders into the Victorian High Country. Over that time we have faced many challenges, guided and worked with many, many wonderful people and continued on our journey of learning about horses. Bogong Horseback Adventures has been our ticket to a rewarding and busy life, an enriching environment for our family and career for many a grand horse. We have faced and survived everything the mountains can throw at us, drought and flooding rains. bushfires and summer blizzards. And all along the way we have learnt to respect and stand in awe at the power and majesty of nature. But mostly we have enjoyed the beauty and serenity of our beloved backyard, the cool clear mountain air and the distant views of folded ranges stretching to the horizon.
Those of our guests who experienced the early days with BHA will recall a youthful team of people working with a mixed mob of horses, some with a bit of age on them. These days the tables are somewhat turned with a fantastic team of keen and mostly young horses, bred and trained here at BHA, with the boss’ starting to slow down a bit. Still there is plenty of youthfulness around the place with a new generation of workers getting involved.
Which leads into the following stories about the younger Baird boys picking up the reins later this coming season, and horsemanship clinics for all riders. Next edition of the newsletter will feature our program for young travellers, including a new product of training opportunities, a great Oz experience for backpackers.

Packhorse Program for 2005-2006 July 2005

Once again we have put together a program that we believe will offer the best the Bogong area of the High Country can offer horse riders. We have rides from 3 days to 6 days featuring wild mountain river valleys, rocky spurs climbing to the vast open high plains, spectacular mountain tops, old huts, goldmines wildflowers and a wealth of natural and cultural history.
Our packhorse team takes you on a journey, camping and travelling in a time honoured way, giving us the freedom to visit remote and beautiful campsites, to travel the track less travelled and leave the pressures of the modern world behind. To finish a perfect day with a cold beer, once in camp the packs reveal local food used to prepare home style meals over an open fire, served with local wines and sleep where the stars “fairly blaze” in your swag upon the snow grass.
Once again our program offers something for everyone, rides to suit all riders and some great learning experiences. We will be working in conjunction with Wayne Banney again offering “working” clinics in horsemanship where we combine the delights of a packhorse tour with the chance to advance your horse skills in a working environment, learning about natural horsemanship in the home of the brumby.
Most of our prices remain unchanged and our tours continue to offer great value including all meals, table wines, camping equipment, friendly staff and great horses. Check out the full program on our web site 2005-06 program

Season 2003-2004

We have a great program planned for season 2003-2004. After last season was cancelled due to the Alpine Bushfires, we are keen to saddle up again and venture into the mountains, to witness the miracle of post fire rehabilitation.
The bush will be a different and exciting place this summer with a riot of vigorous plant growth, long veiws “through” the bush and long lost treasures revealed again. We have again offered more detail in our program, with all 5 day rides incorporating a Bogong traverse, and the Mt Fainter rides packaged into 3 days.
Our Spring Spur stables, nestled below Victoria’s highest mountain, are an ideal starting point to experience the best the High Country has to offer. The Bogong area of the Alpine National Park features the 7 highest peaks in Victoria, vast rolling High Plains, dozens of historic huts, mobs of brumbies, fast flowing mountain rivers, spectacular displays of wildflowers, old goldmines and a network of mining and cattle tracks cut into mountain sides over 100 years ago.
The best way to experience this vast area, most of it in-accessable to 4WD, is to join one of our Packhorse supported tours. Continuing an unbroken tradition dating back to the 1860’s, our team can take you on the journey of a lifetime.

Not Rooned

If we don’t get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”
“There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.
“And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If this rain doesn’t stop.”
And stop it did, in God’s good time:
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o’er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.
Selected verse from Said Hanrahan with apologies to Father John O’Brien.
We seem to have avoided ruin these last 12 months, despite the bush throwing all it’s got at us and many others.
Pleased to report that “spring came in to fold” and that this summer the high country will be a wonderful place to witness the power of recovery of the tough Australian bush.

Bogongs Burn

With over 1 million hectares burnt during the 40 days of the 2003 Alpine fires, our backyard has taken a bit of a pizzeling. At Spring Spur, the Mountain Creek fire was held on our eastern property line in the second week. Thanks to the tireless efforts of CFA, DSE, helicopters and others.

The focus of the effort was constantly changing with our community under attack from the Simmonds Creek front, then an outbreak on the Tawonga Gap and another on Bogong Hill that crossed the East Kiewa River near Crankie Charlies and spread into the golf course.
Fire fighting efforts concentrated on control lines, many of which were on the private property/ public land interface, and hence little resources were available to work on the fires inside the parks. Steep, remote terrain also made such efforts too risky”. Talk about smog! We are lucky to see 200 metres, and this limited the opportunity for helicopters to work on the fires.
Our mid January tour was disrupted by the fires and after trucking the horses and transporting our riders to Falls Creek, the tour was forced to ride into the Bundarra Valley and thanks to the generosity of Helen Packer and Russell Mullet, we used their “Willows” property as a base. The riders were evacuated on the Thursday, and the Alpine road closed on the Friday as fires approached Mt Hotham. We thank our riders for their good humour and understanding. I believe the day ride to the Blue Duck Pub was shall we say “refreshing”.
The horses remained at the Willows with Helen and Russell, and of course Nereda who refused to leave them. The Willows was under threat from the southern flank of the Bogong fire for some days. The horses, Helen’s and ours were on flood-irrigated flats and safe as could be hoped.
On Australia day at approx 11am the firestorm finally swept through the Willows in the Bundarra valley fuelled by extreme northwesterly winds. Our horses had been there at Helen and Russell’s for two weeks. The firestorm burnt both sides of the Willows property to within 20 ft of the house. Nereda and Helen stayed with the horses throughout the drama much to our horror. The horses were galloping up and down the irrigated flats during the peak firestorm and settled down remarkably fast once the roar of the fire subsided. They even trotted over to the C.F.A. fire truck thinking it was dinnertime! There was some relief here at Spring Spur although the fire roared through Bogong village area and then burnt Big Hill behind the town of Mt Beauty and was an awesome spectacle from here at the homestead! A terrible south westerly came up and blew the fire back onto us.
During January and Febuary the mountains were very different place to what they were prior to the fires. With dozens of communities under siege, many roads closed, business’s shut down and the new school year delayed, life was far from normal. We remained constantly vigilant for ember attack; maintaining water supplies, pump primes and precautions around buildings.
The condition of the Park, our beautiful camps, many huts and old yards is still mostly unknown. All tracks in burnt areas will be cleared of fallen timber this spring. From assessing fire maps that are available, the impact is across the entire area of our operations. We will be running a full program of rides from December 2003 and look forward to witnessing first hand the post fire mountains.

The Line Goes On

Feathertop, a favourite mare at Bogong Horseback Adventures, foaled in late winter, producing a filly in the image of her dam.
Willow was born in the front yard at Spring Spur and Kath captured some great images of the event.
Willow was on her feet within 30 mins of taking her first breath, and we wish her well in her life here below the mountains.