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Wild Dog Mail Trail - 2009

Photos from the Wild Dog Mail Trail, April 2009.

 

The inaugural Wild Dog Mail Trail event retracing the steps of the original 1880's Mailman Hugh O'Sullivan took place on the weekend April 17th – 19th.

It was appropriate that the O'Sullivan family at the “Pine Plains Lodge” greeted the walkers at the pine log homestead. The Mallee Line Dancers and Robin Yetman set the mood for the weekend in the beautifully manicured surrounds. SusanAdrian and their band of willing workers have to be congratulated on the catering which was five stars and the scones, jam and cream to die for.

Not to be outdone The Murrayville Community Inc. Team lead by Kylie ArmstrongNeville Heintze, David Allan and Sam Parker provided camp meals at Twelve Mile Patch that were pure theatre. Showers, toilets and classic Bush poetry read by Don Ross under a clear star filled sky made the Camp at Twelve Mile Patch one to remember.

The Cowangie Tennis Club provided morning teas, lunches and finally Pinnaroo Bakery's pizzas at the Cowangie Bakers Oven to top of a culinary journey that had one walker complaining “I have just walked 70km and gained weight”!

Walkers gathered from far and wide, mostly locals but as far as Melbourne, Geelong Adelaide and Mildura.

The Salvation Army through “Operation Living Waters” sponsored this event to give the local community suffering many years of drought a much needed lift. In the two days bodies, feet and minds were put through an amazing test as they were pushed through the harsh but amazingly spectacular scenery of the Wyperfeld National Park (perhaps the least known and most underrated parks in Australia). Blisters, chafe and aches were forgotten as the sense of achievement lifted tired bodies.

All should take inspiration from Tom Kilpatrick (Underbool) and Austin Grace (Hopetoun) both in their 70s and both determined and fit enough to tackle the toughest section of the course, the infamous “Ridgeback”.

Geoff Armstrong (Patchewollock) aged 60 walked the full 68km and said he did it to prove that just because you are getting older doesn’t mean you can’t achieve something extraordinary.

Merle Pole (Walpeup) aged 62 was worried she might not be able to make it but is now more determined than ever to set lofty but achievable goals happy in the knowledge that she can do it!

Australia Post in their Bicentennial year were also major sponsors and walkers were never more proud than to wear their Hi-Viz  orange “Posties” shirts as they became honoree “Posties” for the weekend. The orange shirts were a safety tool and stood out as the walkers weaved their way through the bush and looked amazing dotted along the ridge backs in the distance. The Australia Post representative Bernie Kelly (Ouyen) set an excruciating pace for what became known as the “A Team”. Pine Plains Lodge to Twelve Mile Patch in about 10 hours, pure madness! If Bernie delivers the mail around Ouyen at that pace he will have it delivered before it is written.

But the event was about teamwork, camaraderie and getting your mates through the tough times a reflection of what life is like in the Mallee.

The Mildura Rural City Council entered a team led by Rhonda Monaghan. They were also major sponsors, provided event co-ordination and ensured this event becomes more than just a “one off”!

There will be many stories and great memories from this event but who could ever forget being woken at 4.30 am to the bugle playing revelly and the “Rocky” theme blaring out of the car stereo, the crisp star filled skies, the spectacular sunrises and that deep and endless sand?

After two days and 68km (Some claim 71.08) the walkers gathered together on the outskirts of Cowangie and with much euphoria and elation the Murrayville S.E.S. led the walkers into the Historic Kow Plains Homestead which had never looked better.

Group photos were taken and local member of state parliament Peter Crisp gave a stirring speech about being part of history and ensuring the story of the mail run, Pine Plains and Kow Plains is carried on for another generation.

No date is set for the next Wild Dog Mail Trail but time will ensure that the sand will become deeper, the hills steeper and the trail longer!

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