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Trail to Campbell Town, Tasmania

Like with all journeys and adventures it is the great times that we wish to share. However the not so glamorous moments should also be part of the story, which is where our day begins........

As l am on the ground looking at Coda's scoot boots, l am thinking this morning is not the start l had hoped for.

Even as l mounted from the Ross Caravan park bench, l had a sinking feeling my 'rooky' mistake was not going to end well. You guessed it, on my backside looking at Coda's boots!

All good, back on my feet, into the saddle and we are on our way, out to the War Memorial on the town of Ross's main street and on to look at the 'Ross Uniting Church', which was built in 1885.

Ross is an amazing historical township in the Midlands of Tasmania, approximately 117 km's from the City of Hobart.

Both Coda & Caliska are a little unsettled as we make our way down the main street, but with a few soothing words they continue without any objections.

It is approximately 0900 hrs and the township is only just starting to come to life. A local resident has stopped us to chat about how pleased she was to see horses moving through the township and reminisced about her days of riding 30 years earlier. This lady is an excellent source of local knowledge, providing us with contacts to follow up for future adventures. Thank you Grace.

The 1.9 km's down the main drag to the Midlands Hwy has been uneventful so we stop at the 'Hearth - Living Sculpture', an interpretive sign which tells us that it is:

'A place for resting, refuge, passage and return. Animals, plants and people have passed through here for millennia. Pathways that link landscapes through past and future.'

We move across an old bridge leading to the Hwy, the 'Ticky Tacky Bridge'. How it got its name is a mystery although it does notably pass over 'Tacky Creek'.

The volume of traffic on the Hwy has noticeably increased, this has upset Caliska as we move along the nature strip beside the Hwy. Tahnee gently talks to her and Caliska moves forward trusting the sound of Tahnee's voice. Although our girls are experienced with heavy traffic, like us they have moments which we must address with patience and confidence as those moments occur, for it is our emotions that they will feed off.

It is important to us that the discipline of 'trail riding' is practiced not only on lonely isolated trails but on the busy bitumen also. Horses have been a mode of transport for centuries however as technology has progressed, people's attitudes and understanding of horses & rule of law has diminished. We are here to help remind people that we are a living part of the world of travel.

The nature strip to Campbell Town is very rough, soggy in places and provides us with small obstacles to navigate around or cross. In some places the strip narrows to a point where we are only a few metres from the traffic.

As we ride into Campbell Town, the local gun club is in full swing. Caliska is not bothered but l feel the shudder of Coda as the shot sounds reach us. We keep moving forward, through the local fuel stop and on toward the 'Red Bridge'.

'The Red Bridge is the oldest surviving brick arched bridge in Australia and was built by penal labour in 1838.'

Beside the Red Bridge we give our girls a rest and tether them whilst we wander over to what turns out to be an exceptional book store called 'The Book Cellar' located in the 'Convict Cellars' of one of Tasmania's most interesting Heritage properties, 'Foxhunters Return' an 1830's era coaching inn. Only fitting we stop by with our horses.

Travelling down the wide main road of Campbell Town we are greeted by unsuspecting travellers with a smile and a wave. Moving into Campbell Town's 'Valentine Park', we decide to stop and rest for a while. After a short graze of the local grass, we tether Coda & Caliska and move across to 'Zeps', a local restaurant which has only just reopened due to the impacts of COVID-19.

It is pleasing to see that other travellers are practicing social distancing and 'Zeps' COVID strategy is being followed and enforced.

Whilst checking our tack before moving on, a Father and daughter have asked to say hello to our horses. The young girl has never met a horse in person before and the smile on her face as she pats Coda is very heart warming, a moment that reflects our purpose of 'bringing light to another's day'.

We have decided to move on down past the centre of town and into a side street which passes the local bowls club. We stop at the beginning of a foot bridge with a sign which says 'Access By Horse Across This Bridge Prohibited'. Great! Well that's OK, we will find another way round.

Moving toward the main road we cross the 'Red Bridge' again and heading south. We hope to follow a walking track which follows 'Hoggs Ford Road' and onto Ashby Road. However, we are concerned that this trail may cross private land, which could present a problem.

After 40 minutes of peaceful travel we have come to a locked gate, reviewing our map we have no choice but to go back the way we had come. The alternate route we will now take will increase our trip by a further 20 km's. This will now be via Macquarie Road through to Ashby Road and back through to the township of Ross.

We cross the 'Red Bridge' yet again and l think this bridge has not seen so much horse traffic for some time.

Macquarie Road has so far been extremely limited with traffic which is good as getting off the road has only really been possible after the first 3 km's. The headwind is becoming somewhat bothersome, increasing our efforts as we continue to move forward.

As we cross the 'Macquarie River' on a little single lane bridge, the wind has settled somewhat and both Caliska and Coda cross without hesitation. We have decided to get off and walk for a while, good for circulation and of course, one's backside.

We have turned left at Ashby Road and note that we still have 17 km's to go. The road has become gravel but the lush green grass on its edges gives our girls an opportunity to graze for a while.

We discuss an option to stop and brew a coffee but decide to travel another 40 minutes before taking this privilege.

It is now just after 1600 hrs so we estimate only another 2 hours of light at the very most. We will most likely not get back until 2000 hrs so will be travelling in the dark.

It is now 1730 hrs and have stopped to allow Coda and Caliska a rest and a coffee break for us. The extra long grass is a bonus and the girls pay us no heed whilst they engorge themselves.

Tahnee has just finished brewing the coffee and we lay back in the grass on the side of the trail, admiring the old homestead across the way and the display nature has provided us of the fading light.

We have mounted up and moved on, finding water for the horses on the side of the road for them to drink from which they do.

The moon is quite bright tonight making night travel easy on the eyes however the pet lights on the horses and our head torches make us much more visible to those coming along the road. Best not to become complacent.

We have reached the Hwy and have crossed over to the other side, moving down the steep bank. This will assist us in keeping off the Hwy. This section of grassed strip is very wet in areas and the ground very uneven, with the night becoming overcast the darkness requires us to move more slowly.

We push through some thick shrubbery just at the edge of the road and guard rail, although challenging and barely much room to move Coda and Caliska follow through without any hesitation.

A street light illuminates the road off the Hwy into Ross and a Stone monument with '1821 Ross' embossed upon it has come into view. We turn in toward the township of Ross and ride on knowing the final leg across 'The Ross Bridge' is only just up the road.

'The Ross Bridge', a unique sandstone bridge built in 1836, is the third oldest and one of Australia's finest Sandstone bridges. The sandstone was quarried locally, grounded and cut by convict chain gangs. The bridge itself was finally completed by 2 skilled convict stonemasons, Daniel Herbert and James Colebeck after delays spanning a number of years.

As we ride the last few metres into the Ross Caravan Park, we contemplate the day and decide that although our day had its challenges and eventually covered over 50 km's, the history we have learnt today tells us that we are fortunate to enjoy the labours of the past and the trails we travel now will one day be our history.

If you would like to see more, feel free to view a short video of the 'Trail to Campbell Town'.

Happy Trails from the 'My Life Of Trails' Family

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