By Derek Schlennstedt
After four years of planning, training and preparing Clemmie Wotherspoon set off from Healesville on 7 March on a journey that will take her across the state as she travels along the Bicentennial trail.
It’s a journey that she has wanted to go on since she was a young girl and growing up in Delaware USA, her dream was set into motion when her Australian father gave her a copy of Robyn Davidson’s book ‘Tracks’ about an epic journey through the outback on camels.
“Because i was raised by an Australian father, I grew up fantasizing about exploring Australia on horseback,“ Ms Wotherspoon said.
Unlike her idol though, she will not be accompanied by camels, instead choosing to take four trained brumbies who will travel the 5330km of the Bicentennial National Trail with her.
The entire journey is predicted to take over a year – perhaps even two as she follows the route set out by RM Williams, who in 1988 opened the trail built to recreate the historic droving experience.
That trail runs the length of the Great Dividing Range, through national parks, state forest and private property, passing regional locations and famous high-plain huts before ending in Cooktown, Queensland.
At 28-years-old, Clemmie is finally making her dream a reality and though she has balanced mental health low’s, study and work, she never lost sight of her dream.
Much of her desire to undertake the trail is to show the benefits horses can bring to those with mental health illnesses and the ride will also be fundraising for Riding for the Disabled Australia.
‘Like any big dream it haunts you until you do it,” said Ms Wotherspoon.
“At a low point in my life as young adult I started working with horses and they saved me and improved my mental health.”
“It became clear to me then how horses and humans can help one another.”
The horses will rotate between being ridden, carrying the pack saddle and walking with no saddle.
Throughout the journey at various locations Ms Wotherspoon will be in contact with equine vets and nurses and is supported by a team of experienced horse and adventure professionals.
Her horses, she said were perfectly set-up for the harsh conditions of the trail.
Two of Ms Wotherspoon’s brumbies have lineage from the Bogong mob, while one named Aritunga has travelled from the Northern Territory where he was rescued from a truck bound for the knackery.
“I’ve got four brumbies their very special … their bodies are perfect for the trails, strong backs, strong hooves, strong necks and they can stand variations in temperatures,” she said.
Ms Wotherspoon conceded that although she was as ready as she could be, the journey would be tough.
“It will definitely be a challenge but I’ll be with four of my best friend, and we’ll be very close.”
For those wanting to follow to Ms Wotherspoons or provide knowledge or assistance on her journey you can follow her trip at https://www.wildtracksaustralia.com/ and can also donate to the ride at https://www.gofundme.com/wildtracksaustralia