Slept like a log on our final night in the van. I am definitely ready for my bed. I am not ready for a 14 hour flight though.

Packed up Travvy as much as possible. Went down the street and got a coffee and a danish for breakfast. I had a dream about a custard danish so imagine my delight when I discovered the apple danish I had purchased also had custard in.

Drove down Clarkson drive to find the Rainbow Beach horse riders. They have a temporary pen set up there so I don’t know where their stables are. I went and had a chat with the girls and got the paper work I had to sign and (begrudgingly) put my jeans on.

Other people had arrived in the time I’d been fannying around so I went back and spoke to the bloke that had turned up. I think he’s the owner, he is pretty hefty but his cowboy boot were well worn so I think he has experience. I was chatting to him as he sorted me a helmet out and he told me he used to have a small cattle farm and had the horses to work the farm. A real life cowboy! He told me about the saddles on the horses, he called them Australian Standard saddles. They were similar to Western saddles in that they had shaped pommels to rest your legs and long stirrups with wide leather panels so nothing rubbed your legs. They were not as big as Western saddles and didn’t have the back rest. The bridles were all made of rope and the reins were quite thick.

I was on a horse called Rocky, I told him that I used to ride a pony called Rocky but he didn’t seem to care. The Cowboy gave us a quick demo on how to ride but I think everybody had ridden before. Two of the girls were pony clubbers and one of them had her own horse and had been working on a ranch in Aus for a bit. There was also a little girl and her mum, I think mum had ridden a bit when she was younger and the girl had ridden a couple of times but not much.

The cowboy said there were two other people supposed to come but he didn’t know where they were and they were late. We were mounting up when they arrived so he had the two girls that work for him take us out and he sorted out the two late comers. We set off up the road and down a track though the bush that was a bit windy and then led out onto the beach not far from where I’d attempted to surf yesterday.

The ride was pretty slow, too slow actually. We walked up the beach where the waves were coming up but Rocky didn’t want to get his feet wet. After a while the mother and daughter went on and the rest of us hung back and then had a canter to catch up. Rocky was pretty speedy when he got going which is nothing like the Rocky I used to ride. Then we walked the rest of the way up the beach, turned around, came back and posed for photos with the striped sand dunes in the background.

At this point the Cowboy and the Late comers caught up and had their photos taken too. All three of the ride supervisors were off their horses at this point, taking photos or adjusting styrups or holding other horses and then when nobody was looking Late Comer Lady (a slightly larger lady who I don’t think had ridden before) ‘s horse got down to roll in the sand.

The lady managed to get out of the way and hopped straight back up so she wasn’t hurt but she was covered in sand. They got the horse up and the Cowboy checked the saddle to make sure it wasn’t broken. I told Rocky not to get any ideas.

The lady got back on the horse (like you’re supposed to) and the Cowboy took them on up the beach. The rest of us went back down, avoiding the fishermen and having another canter. One of the girls told me Rocky regularly goes swimming so it wasn’t that he doesn’t like the water he was just being a pain and I should take him into¬†waves. He didn’t want to go but I made him although as soon as I wasn’t paying attention again he walked back up the beach. Oh well.

As we were going back up the track off the beach I asked the girl what breed the horses were. She said some were quarter horses and some were Australian Standards, I don’t really know what that means but when we were on Fraser Island Barry said a ship full of Arabian horses went down near the island and all the horses made it to shore. They’d been bred in Australia because of their suitability for the hot, sandy environment. Judging by the shape of the Australian Standards’ heads I’d say they were bred from Arabians.

We got back to the horse pen without any incidents and I said thanks to the girls and took off because we had to drive to Brisbane. As I was leaving the Cowboy and the late comers came back so they can’t have had their full time. The Cowboy wished me a safe flight and I got in the van.

Put my shorts back on and we drove the 3 hours down to Brisbane. I slept and bit and we got KFC. Brisbane is a bitch to drive in, loads of traffic and tunnels. Google didn’t give good advice towards the end and we had to turn around and come back. Made it to the Travellers Autobarn yard at about half 3 which is half an hour after we should have dropped Travvy off. The boy there didn’t care though. When he found out we had nowhere to keep our bags for the afternoon he said we could leave them in the van and drop the keys off as an after hours check in. We said we’d asked in Cairns if we could drop the van off later and been told we couldn’t, he said they’re a bit more relaxed in Brisbane.

So we left our cases in Travvy and walked into Brisbane. I cracked my knee when we were tidying and it really hurts now, another thing to make this 14 hour flight fun. It was a bit far into Brisbane but we found China Town (I was annoyed I’d had KFC now because there were sushi bars) and a couple of bars. Walked back to Travvy and said our emotional goodbyes. Called an Uber to bring us to the airport.