Tag Archives: Brumby

THIS WRITING LIFE: Spirited – Australia’s Horse Story

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While I was visiting Canberra the other week for the Australian Romance Readers Convention, I was fortunate enough to catch the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at the National Museum of Australia before it closed.

Being horse-mad from birth, I can’t resist the call of anything equine and the museum was only a pleasant stroll around the edge of Lake Burley Griffin from the QT Hotel where the convention was being held. A sunny autumn day, some horsey goodness… perfect.

The museum released a great video of the exhibition which is well worth a look. It certainly got me excited!

It was rather thrilling to be confronted with more video on entrance to the exhibition, this time showing wild brumbies in action. An elderly man, who said he used to help his dad break brumbies, and I stood mesmerised by the footage in warm, horse-loving companionship. We were so entranced we watched the video loop through twice. Even when I left to take in the main exhibits, he stayed on. I don’t think he wanted to leave.

Video still of brumbies at the Spirited exhibition

As expected, the exhibition was a trove of interesting artefacts and information. Look at this: A first edition of The Silver Brumby alongside Elyne Mitchell’s typewriter.

Typewriter used by Elyne Mitchell and a first edition copy of The SIlver Brumby

The first displays were interesting, focusing on colonial life and the important role horses played in the development of the colony and agriculture. Horses were uncommon in the early years of settlement. A few arrived with the first fleet, but according to the museum guide book by 1791 only one stallion, one mare and two colts survived, and horses remained scarce for several decades.

There were some wonderful artefacts on display from Springfield station, near Goulburn, including this magnificent dress harness fitted with the Faithfull family crest.

Carriage harness with Faithfull family crest decoration from Springfield station.

From Burrungurroolong station, also near Goulburn, came this wonderful rocking horse. I would have killed for something like this as a kid. That’s a go-fast rocking horse if ever there was one!

Wooden rocking horse from Burrungurroolong station.

I thought this carved-out log trough was amazing too. Imagine the hard work involved in its creation.

Carved log feed trough.

I also really liked this forging anvil, which was used by blacksmith Samuel Sinclair, who arrived in Bermagui in 1904 to set up shop after having served as a farrier in the Boer War. I know it’s hard to tell from the photo, but this thing was HUGE and weighed 348 kilograms.

Forging anvil.

My favourite display was probably the trophy cabinet. This contained, among other things, the 1866 Melbourne Cup won by The Barb, and is our earliest known intact cup. Initially, the Melbourne Cup was a prize – a gold watch or cash – and the first actual cup was awarded only in 1865, which makes this version particularly precious. The other two trophies are the 1867 Melbourne Cup and Queen’s Plate won by Tim Whiffler. Apparently two horses called Tim Whiffler competed in the Cup that year, with ‘Sydney Tim’ taking the prize, along with the Queen’s Plate two days later.

Ornate Melbourne Cups and Queens Plate

The exhibition had its quirky items too. Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, here’s Jackson, a toy horse used in the 2007 alternate Birdsville races when an outbreak of equine influenza caused a ban on the movement of horses and shut down the normal event. In typical outback fashion, the show went on, with mock races fielded with stuffed toys.

Jackson, the stuffed toy Birdsville races competitor

And more quirky exhibits. An inkwell made from a horse’s hoof. This makes me think of the snuffbox the British made from Marengo’s hoof, Napoleon’s favourite warhorse, and was presented to the Household Brigade.

Hoof inkwell.

There was even an old horse-drawn dairy carriage, circa 1947, complete with poo (out of shot, unfortunately). One of the plaques told a great story of a bakery horse who was so habitualised that it simply set off on his route when flu kept its driver from turning up to work.

Lincoln Park Dairy delivery cart

This sculpture had so much life, and was (ironically?) surrounded by anatomical specimens, including bits of Phar Lap.

Wire man and horse sculpture

There was much, much more in the exhibition, including information on breeds in Australia, a fascinating video on the use of the whip in horse racing, medals from Olympics and other major events, pony club tales and photos (rah!), and pieces on all the various equestrian sports Australians compete in, from dressage to campdrafting and everything in between.

Definitely worth the visit but for those who missed it, never fear! The National Museum of Australia has pages and pages on its website about the exhibition. There are photos, videos, and deeper stories about horses in Australia. You can spend ages on there. A fantastic resource for those who love horses or are simply interested in our history.

And here’s my souvenir from the exhibition: Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse. What a steed!

HotChoc3.0

Not quite the real thing but at least he’s house trained, doesn’t eat much, and packs away flat. Sadly, he will never, ever compete with this darling. Not in my eyes.

Cathryn as a little girl with Mysty

My first horse, the romantically named Mysty. Best horse evah. Sigh.

Yep, once a horse-girl, always a horse-girl!

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

Good morning, Feasters. Today I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Jennifer Scoullar to the blog. Why? Because not only is Jennifer a fellow Penguin Australia rural lit author, she’s a fellow horsey girl which naturally makes her a mighty fiiiiine person!

Jennifer ‘s world sounds wonderfully romantic and Man From Snowy River-ish. She lives with her family on a property in the gorgeous southern Victorian ranges. Her house is on a hill-top, overlooking valleys of messmate and mountain ash, and all her life she’s ridden and bred horses, in particular Australian Stock Horses.

Which means she knows what she’s writing about in her debut rural romance, Brumby’s Run.

Check it out…

BRUMBY’S RUN

 

A blissful, carefree summer beckons for Samantha Carmichael. But her world is turned on its head when she learns she’s adopted – and that she has a twin sister, Charlie, who is critically ill.

While Charlie recovers in hospital, Sam offers to look after Brumby’s Run, her sister’s home high in the Victorian alps. Within days, city girl Sam finds herself breaking brumbies and running cattle with the help of neighbour Drew Chandler, her sister’s erstwhile boyfriend.

A daunting challenge soon becomes a wholehearted tree change, as Sam begins to fall in love with Brumby’s Run – and with Drew. But what will happen when Charlie returns to claim what is rightfully hers?

Set among the hauntingly beautiful ghost gums and wild horses of the high country, Brumby’s Run is a heartfelt, romantic novel about families and secrets, love and envy, and most especially, the bonds of sisterhood.

 

 

I am so, so excited about this book and can’t wait to score a copy. The official release day is July 2nd but there are reports of Brumby’s Run already in the shops. So keep your eyes peeled!

And now I hand you over to Jennifer.

 

BUSHFOODS

Recently I’ve become interested in Australian native foods, commonly known as bush tucker or bushfood. I think it’s a natural extension of my passion for our environment. Bushfood ingredients were initially harvested from the wild, but cultivated sources have become increasingly important to provide sustainable supplies for a growing market

The fledgling bushfood industry is helping to conserve wild resources and protect bio- diversity. It is creating incomes and jobs for rural communities, and I like that it values and utilises indigenous knowledge.  It encourages farmers to branch out from traditional crops, and has had some unexpected advantages.  For example, salinity is being reduced in some areas by introducing native perennials, and waterways once polluted by fertiliser runoff are returning to health.

Once I discovered the pleasures of cooking with bushfood, I couldn’t get enough of it. Everybody knows about Macadamia nuts, but there is another far more ancient native nut that has been considered a delicacy for thousands of years. My new novel is set in the Bunya Mountains of Queensland, famous for their Bunya nuts. The nuts come from a magnificent pine tree which dates back to the Jurassic era 180 million years ago. When Gondwana separated into different land masses 45 million years ago, the Bunya pine survived in a few areas of  Australia. It is a cousin to the Monkey Puzzle tree of South America. Nuts from both trees were a prized food for indigenous tribes, and the Monkey Puzzle nut is an important food source in Chile to the present day.

The football-sized Bunya cones weighs 5-10 kilograms and hold between 30 and 100 nuts.  Each nut contains about 130 kilojoules (32 calories) with more starch and protein than the average nut. They taste similar to chestnuts with overtones of pine, and are great in both sweet and savoury dishes.  Bunya nuts are a bit hard to come by, outside of Queensland. But you can buy them online from the Australian Produce Company, and store them in the freezer.

Flourless Bunya Nut  Cake  (gluten free)

Ingredients:

  • 750g of Bunya nut kernels  
  • Half a litre of milk
  • 75g butter
  • 300g sugar
  • 6 free-range egg yolks
  • 6 free-range egg whites
  • 100g almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence

Method:

  • Boil nuts in large saucepan for half an hour and remove from shells. (This can    involve hammers and shouting. I find it’s a great job for teenage boys!)
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Place kernels in food processor and reduce to a smooth paste, slowly adding the milk to soften mixture.
  • Mix softened butter with egg yolks and sugar until smooth and fluffy, then hand-   blend with the Bunya nut paste.
  • Beat egg whites to a firm consistency and again hand-blend with the Bunya nut, mix in one cup at a time, alternating with the almond meal and almond essence until all ingredients are fully mixed.
  • Pour mix into a 28cm spring form, lined with grease-proof baking paper.
  • Bake for 50min in centre of oven. Turn heat off and leave for a further 20 minutes before removing from oven to cool naturally.
  • Shake sifted icing sugar on top. Best eaten same day.

This delicious and unusual cake is also suitable for those with a gluten intolerance.

 

What a fascinating post! Thanks, Jennifer. I really enjoyed that and will definitely be on the hunt for some Bunya nuts now. I’ve cooked with wattle seed and finger limes and a few other bushfoods but not these. Must try!

Now, Feasters, lovely Jennifer has offered one super-lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of Brumby’s Run. Rah! But as usual you have to work for it. Jennifer and I want to hear all about your best Australian bush experience. Don’t have a best one? Then share your worst. After all, everyone loves a good python in the sleeping bag story as much as they love a romantic campfire dinner/cute furry animal one.

Get in fast because the giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 3rd July 2012. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to JindivickWildlifeShelter who has won a copy of Jennifer’s wonderful debut rural romance Brumby’s Run. Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun!