Heritage Horse Ride Olympics 2000
Featured Image: The northern team of the 6000km Heritage Horse Ride from Broome WA to Sydney arrive in Scone on Friday 4th August 2000.
It was a phenomenal concept of Olympian proportions. Australian Stock Horses and a proud Upper Hunter Valley personnel connection were up front and central. Touted as the ride of a lifetime the idea of a Heritage Horse Ride was conceived on the steps of the Sydney Opera House (where else) in December 1998. Two branches (‘Teams’) for the mammoth ride would leave Broome in West Australia mounted on trusty Australian Stock Horses. The date set for departure was April 14th 2000 when the two select squads set off in different directions. The southern group were to be led by Neville Holz from Ravensworth near Singleton. Neville was Chairman of Unique Australian Horse Sports and a former Chairman of the Australian Stock Horse Society formed ‘in a shed’ at Scone in 1971. This team were headed for Canberra. Unique Australian Horse Sports was a composite of the Australian Stock Horse Society and the Polocrosse Association of Australia. The mammoth ride intended to reach out to all Australians in celebrating our rich horse heritage and build up relations between the city and the bush. It was a most noble cause.
The northern team were led by Joy Poole also from near Singleton and coincidentally also a former Chairman of the Australian Stock Horse Society. It would take 4 months before the two teams planned to reunite on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Sunday 13th August 2000 before riding across the bridge to Government House. Messages of goodwill for the Sydney Olympic Games 2000 collected along the way were to be delivered to the Governor of NSW.
The northern riders endured some of the harshest conditions outback Australia could throw at them for over 6000 kilometres before arriving in Scone on Friday 4th August 2000. They were greeted at 11:00am with a civic welcome in Elizabeth Park by Scone Mayor Barry Rose. “The thought of someone throwing a leg over a horse in Broome and riding all the way to Sydney makes me think you should be certified” said Barry. Many of the riders appeared to agree! Accepting the Mayor’s best wishes on behalf of the riders was leader Joy Poole who was looking forward to riding into her home town of Singleton. She paid tribute to what she called “one of the greatest team efforts ever put together”. “We had cyclones to start with, torrential rain, humidity you wouldn’t believe, cold winds and snow”, she said. “But the team and those wonderful horses just kept going”.
The Heritage Horse Ride was officially sanctioned by the Sydney Olympic Committee for Organising the Games. SOCOG hoped to break the record for the longest relay horseback ride and the furthest the Australian Flag has ever been carried. In the whole 120-day trek the 36 horses will have eaten more than 106 tonnes of feed and used up nearly 1000 horse shoes. Logistics were an imperative! Their totally admirable effort throws even the ‘Kings in Grass Castles’ marathon of the Durack Clan into perspective.
A good friend of mine from Belmont, Perth made the ride. Fellow veterinarian Christine Johnston met her destiny along the way on the northern ride. Chris is now a cattle farmer and graziers’ wife settled at Surat near Longreach in Far North Queensland. You can never predict when and where Cupid will aim his arrows!
I contacted Chris and she typically responded with the nicest reply which I have posted below. Reg is Reg Pascoe from Oakey in Queensland who I wrote about earlier.
Thanks for the Blog! Yes I was indeed part of that crew. I was 2IC to Joy on our Ride. And with Joy tied up a lot of the time with the opening ceremony for the Olympics, it was a busy time. But it was fantastic. When we got to Sydney, I wanted to go around again! I am in your picture, 4th from the left, on my horse “Sugar” (alias “Boy from Snowy River). Sugar is no longer with us but he was a great little horse. I bought him from Mt Barker in WA, and by the time I had owned him for 18 months, he had circumnavigated the continent one and a half times. When we were on the road and arrived at Oakey, Reg was out on the road watching out for us.
I took one of our rider’s horses to Reg’s hospital that night, for some radiographs. And then went to Reg and Joy’s for dinner. A great change from our camp cooking for one night!
I will looking forward to catching up at Reg’s memorial Service.
Cheers and thanks for thinking of me.
From: Bill Howey
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 5:56 PM
Subject: Heritage Ride 2000
I hope this is YOUR email address? If not I apologise unreservedly to whoever receives it?
This is one of my many ‘blogs’. I’ve become a ‘blogaholic’!
I think you were in this squad?
I may see you @ Oakey on 16/12/17? No-one else is coming from Scone; I think?
Kindest regards Chris and ABJECT APOLOGY to anyone else if I’m wrong?