The Empty Esky Tour, Day 26 – Home

Day 26 Tuesday 17/3/20 Broken Creek to home, glorious

Overnight we’ve decided not to tarry any longer, we’ll go straight home and prepare for an unknown future. That being the case, our last sleep in the van for what will be at the very least a long time, is restless.

We bid tearful farewells to our mates, Veewee, The Prado’s, Toothless & Madam Secretary as we all fear what lies ahead. Above all it’s been a fun trip.

Sunrise on our last morning at Broken Creek, Vic

We fuel up in Benalla and as always wave to our old pop top van as we pass through Swanpool. It’s lovingly housed in a farm shed. Rather than stopping in busy Yea, this time we pull up for a coffee in Yarck. The Giddy Goat café is well worth a return visit, the coffee is good and so too the French Vanilla Slices. Already they’ve closed indoor dining and their toilets. I take over the driving while Woody tackles oozing custard and flaky pastry and by lunchtime we’re home.

 It’s a relief to be home, but sad to unpack. We have no idea when we’ll go away again. It’s unusual that none of us had made solid plans for the winter nor could we quite agree on where we were going. A premonition almost. Upcoming club musters of course, have been cancelled.


Fuel: $74.06

Towing Kms: 262Kms

 Did we achieve our aim? Well thanks to the Coronavirus we didn’t get to stock our vans and eskies with local produce, that would have been unfair on the locals. We did however, funnel our daily expenses into an area that needed it. Yackandandah, Tangambalanga, Tallangatta and Kergunyah although not burnt out were affected by the fires. If we tally our expenses from Yackandandah through to Colac Colac:

Meals at Star Hotel Yackandandah and Cudgewa Hotel, drinks at Cudgewa Hotel and Eskdale Hotel. Tours of museums at Yackandandah and Corryong. Caravan Parks at Yackandandah, Kergunyah, Colac Colac as well as daily groceries and supplies for 7 people, 1 poodle and fuel for 4 vehicles I’m guessing that we probably spent more than $1000 per van in the region.

We introduced some of our friends to an area that they weren’t familiar with and we rekindled fond memories of an area that we love.

It’s upsetting that Coronavirus has dealt a second blow to this community and these friendly welcoming people. When this nightmare is over, do yourself a favour and visit The Upper Murray region of Victoria.

Upper Murray Map
The Upper Murray section of the trip. Courtesy of the caravanner’s favourite app WikiCamps

And Jack Riley? Well he was the man from Snowy River and to this day a legend in these parts.

The Man from Snowy River by Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from Old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses –  he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up —
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast;
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony — three parts thoroughbred at least —
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry — just the sort that won’t say die —
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop  – lad, you’d better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited sad and wistful — only Clancy stood his friend —
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.”

“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”

So he went; they found the horses by the big mimosa clump,
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”

So Clancy rode to wheel them — he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,
Where Mountain Ash and Kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull  –
It well might make the boldest hold their breath;
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint-stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timbers in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat —
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringy barks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the farther hill
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely; he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges – but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around the Overflow the reed -beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

14 thoughts on “The Empty Esky Tour, Day 26 – Home

  1. I am hoping that, once this plague is done, there will be a sustained upsurge in domestic travel. The local economies – and the overall national one – will need it. The cost would be more crowded localities, of course. But I suspect that overseas travel – and cruising – will have lost some of their appeal…..


    1. Would you want to jump on a ship? We did a few years back and it took months to get over the flu that we caught. Yes, I do hope that there is an increase in local tourism and families doing the big lap. Those that have done never forget it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My best friend -M-did a cruise a couple of years back where norovirus was rife on board. Spent most of the cruise locked in cabin with meals of bananas and boiled rice. Not what she had signed up for…..Before that, The Driver was quite keen on the cruise idea, but it put him right off. Mind you, I would make an exception for a Coral Expeditions cruise along the Kimberley coast!


  2. Good decision, I think. Once people you know are actually ill, it brings it all much closer to home. Please take care. On a happier note, a friend of mine who showjumps, decided to live in his lorry for the duration to be near his horses—so you can always stay in the van in your garden if you miss it! 😂 Loved the poem, btw.


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