Hoofing It


Paul Makin


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(From left to right) Corr, Sophia Homor, Flint, Stephanie Toms and Future at Willie Pye Memorial Park Craiglie. Picture: Paul Makin

Two intrepid adventurers, Sophia Homor at 26 years of age and her companion Stephanie Toms, aged 22, have embarked on an awe-inspiring journey along the renowned National Bi Centennial Trail.

This iconic long-distance trekking route spans an impressive 5330 kilometres, meandering from the historic town of Cooktown to picturesque Healesville in Victoria. The trail, an illustrious gem in Australia's outdoor landscape, seamlessly connects stock routes, bush tracks, fire trails, and surveyed roads, tracing the contours of the Great Dividing Range.

Newsport had the privilege of catching up with these enterprising young women as they reached Craiglie where they were poised to make a transition onto the challenging bump track. With a projected duration of nine months for this epic expedition, the resolute duo displayed a remarkable nonchalance. "Whether it takes ten or eleven months, our priority is the well-being of our horses," emphasized Stephanie. Since its inception in 1989, the venerable name of legendary Australian bushman R.M. Williams has stood synonymous with the National Trail. Williams, in collaboration with the Australian Trail Horse Riders Association, envisioned a trail that would immerse walkers, horse riders, and cyclists in the quintessential lifestyle of the drovers who once traversed Australia's historic stock routes.

Suicide prevention

In addition to their remarkable feat, Sophia and Stephanie are utilizing their trekking endeavour to raise funds for a forthcoming charity initiative named Freedom Youth. This cause is spearheaded by visionary founder Alycia Burton and is dedicated to direct engagement in suicide prevention.

Alycia’s extensive track record includes the successful delivery of life-saving youth mentor programs, benefiting over 3500 young people across Australia, New Zealand, and the USA over the past decade. Under the banner of Freedom Youth, a network of dedicated youth mentors, counsellors, psychologists, and volunteers has united to positively influence the lives of the next generation. A sprawling 520-acre off-grid property in Sandy Creek, Queensland, has been secured to provide a haven for these folk. This sanctuary, boasting equestrian facilities, camping amenities, a club house, sprawling wilderness, and hiking trails, will serve as an oasis of hope and support for youth in need.

Hong Kong meets Hungary

The adventurers' trusty companions, two horses named Corr and Future, once renowned on Hong Kong’s racetracks, were floated from Brisbane to Cooktown to start their journey.  A third, Flint, a spirited brumby hailing from Gympie, fills the vital role of a pack horse. Sophia, hailing originally from Hungary, crossed paths with Stephanie during a work experience stint at a Kilcoy camping and horse-riding centre. With a formidable background in endurance horse events, Sophia confidently shared, "Having participated in a 1000-kilometre race in Mongolia and a 500-kilometre race in Argentina, I am well-acquainted with long-distance challenges so this pace should prove manageable." Adding to the camaraderie, Stephanie's father, Steven, diligently fulfills the role of a support vehicle driver, bridging the gap and offering vital assistance every few days. Safe travels girls.

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