Ray Holderway went on the 2010 Cavalcade with his Morab “Justin-time Goldrush”

Saturday 20 March, 2010 On a beautiful day, 15kms south of Omarama, down a valley between the Hawkdun Range and St Bathans Range, the Tussock Creek Light Wagons meet at Dunstan Peak Station for a horse check, dinner and welcome talk. Goldie had already arrived in the very luxurious truck/trailer unit and was standing in a paddock of approx. 20 horse's wondering what the heck was going on, and where had all the grass gone! All humans turned in early that night but equines were heard thundering around in the early hours, probably due to lack of grass and the few attractive mares in the group. A few of us got up to check all was okay but only saw innocent blinking eyes steering back at us. The sky was amazingly clear and a blanket of stars that looked close enough to touch.

Sunday 21 March An early start for a big day, as we climbed the St. Bathans Range. Some needed help but all the others made it to the top eventually, but with many a stop to catch the breath. Views from the top were amazing, looking down at Lake Ohau, Lake Pukaki and the peak of Mt. Cook. A steep bumpy drop following Camp Creek, a much needed lunch break and water stop for horses, then we wondered down through the tussock to Hawkdun Station, arriving at 6pm, exhausted.

Monday 22 March A more leisurely start, to once again, a beautiful day. We travelled to the historic town of St Bathans and its Blue Lake with time to look around this quaint little town steeped in history and a drink at the Vulcan Hotel. We then travelled through Cambrian where on of our famous landscape painters "Grahame Sydney" lives, plus other friendly and entertaining residents. One garden gave us all a laugh, with novelty items hidden throughout e.g. pushbike parked in the middle of a quite large natural pond. Over some rolling farmland and onto a Station, with it’s wonderful old stone woolshed to be entertained by the "McCaws" for the night. Most people kicked up their heels till the early hours, while equines swam in knee deep green grass for the night.

Tuesday 23 March A nice easy day wandering along the foothills of the Dunstan Mountains looking out onto the Maniototo Plains and on to the Glassford's property at Matakanui which is steeped in history. Janice had a bit of excitement this day, when descending one hill, the breeching slipped up under her pony's tail, after a bit of drama a broken breeching strap was replaced with a piece of rope. A great reminder to us all, to always take spare straps, string and/or rope for emergencies. The owners gave us an entertaining talk about the goldmines, and families of the area. We had past many beautiful stone buildings that day that were thankfully untouched by vandals however neglected of maintenance too.

Wednesday 24 March Today we headed over the Thomson Saddle through the Dunstan Mountains. It was a good climb to the top looking down at the grapes at Bendigo (home of Shrek), the Clutha River, the Pisa Mountain Range and looking down on historic gold mining sites. We had a leisurely lunch that day in a sheltered valley at an old stone hut, close to Thomson’s Creek, the County built in 1908 for shelter for the drovers and travellers. The hut is still used today. It was such a lovely spot that many of us could have just stayed lounging in the sun, but Chris rounded us all up for group photos in front of the hut before heading on down hill for another few hours to Ardgour Station for a two night stay. Winds had picked up on our way down and dust had caked us all so it was great when we arrived and saw that the caterers had been very creative and erected an makeshift gas shower unit in the back on the shearing shed pens. For those patience enough to wait their turn they were rewarded with a 3min. $3 hot shower and for others a refreshing dip and scrub in the nearby water race.

Thursday 25 March A nice easy day with a ride/drive or rest, or even a trip into Cromwell for some Ray saddled up Goldie that day and I was given a horse to ride while Eileen rested up in the aircon 4 wheel drive for a trip back to Bendigo Township (1869-1872). Extensive vineyards are now being established on the terraces and lower slopes surrounding this area and we timed it just right to see them removing all of the covers off the vines for the day. It was another great photo opportunity with horses amongst the ruins of the old stone bakery. A very relaxing afternoon socializing was had on our return. We entertained ourselves that night with a pyjama party / fashion parade. What a lot of laughs and great imagination went into a few of the out fits, and not much at all into others. Ted (Shetland pony) stole the show dressed in his t-shirt on stage and obviously loved the lime light as he didn't want to leave after he found one of the cooks food boxes at the far end of the shearing board.

Friday 26 March We headed north past high country stations skirting the magnificent Clutha River and parts of SHW 8, over the Clutha River Bridge where we managed to get the sandblasting workmen and the traffic to stop while we crossed the one lane bridge. We then climbed up the hill through Lake McKay Station, around the back of the airfield, down behind Wanaka and onto the Larches in the Cardrona Valley. A great swimming hole and a magnificent final meal by our amazing caterers and we were all in bed wandering how the week had past so fast.

Saturday 27 March At 6a.m. we were awaken by the 'Reveille' played beautifully by Graham Mason from Westport whose wife had been riding. A slow start to the day, the left over pavlova from last nights banquet to be cleaned up along with all the rest of the food stores. One of the riding trails past through our camp at about 10 a.m. on their way to the Rodeo grounds where we would meet before the parade. Friendly banter was exchanged as familiar faces were spotted. After many years of practice, Chris, our trial boss made our timing into Wanaka 'spot on’ so there was very little waiting around on this very hot day, before heading through the main roads of Wanaka. What an amazing turnout of people lined the streets, very festive atmosphere. I lead Kori while Eileen drove Bracken along the front of Lake Wanaka followed by Ray and Goldie. The children were so excited, we heard one little one comment, "look at the baby horse mum"(Kori) and LOOK at that bouncy horse (Goldie prancing). Little 'Ted’ stole the show again, looking really cute - trotting along behind the Clydesdales. It is hard to believe the week goes so fast, but what wonderful memories, stories and photos to have for ever.

Edited from an article in “The Swingletree” written by Ray’s daughter Joanne

Published in the Morgan Horse Association of New Zealand Magazine in the Summer edition 2010

Stephen Jaquiery will be photographing the various trails again next year and Arc Photo will have the photographs available for viewing on the last day of the Cavalcade.

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