August 1924 was the last mail run for Australia's famous Cobb & Co, though last weekend a re-enactment celebrated 90 years since the service ran across inland Queensland.
Service No. 177 carried only the Royal Mail and parcels from the store, the last of which for the entire country operated during August 1924 from Surat to Yuleba, as the coach was due to be sold off and replaced by a truck service with the big horses set for other working lives.
'Bushrangers' reenacted days of old holding up the Surat mail coach escaping with riches
There's been anniversary in the past, big ones being the 75th and 85th anniversaries, though this year the 90th year was deemed a special one by locals of the Surat/Yuleba region.
So as day dawned once again horses were hitched up to the old coach, brought out from Surat Museum especially for the occasion. Tickets to ride in her were in demand, and just one condition applied for successful ticket holders, it was compulsory to wear a costume befitting the period in Australia's heritage.
Dressed in the true spirit of the adventure passengers relived the adventures of the Cobb & Co of 90 years ago
Yuleba Development Group were the backbone to this event, itself a logistic nightmare, though a resounding success for all involved. It was obvious to riders, campers and those simply following the journey that nothing had been left to chance.
With a police escort, riders escorts in place, even the trailer portaloo following the ride to each destination for comfort a convoy of sulkies, gigs, and riders followed the old Cobb & Co coach along roads very different to yesteryear.
Taking a break to rest the horses, refreshments at stations along the Cobb & Co route from Surat to Yuleba
The ride even features a couple of bushranger hold ups along the way, the focus being the replica coach, built by coachbuilder and driver Steve Ralph, in his workshops at the Teamsters Hall of Fame, Glass House Mountains QLD.
For those of us who were first timers it was an adventure to be remembered.
First we headed out to Surat, to be welcomed with warm hospitality by the local community, then early on Saturday morning after a street market the trek began.
At a pace ranging from a springy trot through to those who ambled along behind, followed by a line of cars, utes, caravans and 5 wheelers we started off out of town to cross the Surat Bridge on our way to Yuleba, with stops along the way.
Morning tea was an impressive spread at 'Frogmore' homestead on the Frogmore Road before travelling on to lunch at 'Bainbilla' which used to be a changing station, for roast lamb rolls, lamingtons, fruit and refreshments.
Hospitality at stations along the way was warm, the lamb rolls tender, and welcome repast
Heading off to 'Wallabella' on the old stock route afternoon tea was a sumptuous spread with every cake and slice you can imagine.
Horses and riders watered and rested it was off on the last leg of the day, to `Lorelle Downs' where a camp oven dinner was waiting, along with a bar and live entertainment with Ausphonic, for those who had the energy left to party on.
The rest of us bedded down, in tents and swags, along side temporary horse yards, so we could be ready for the next day's activities and celebrations.
As the sun set camp was in full swing for camp oven dinner, fireside entertainment, a great night had by all
Sunday dawned beautiful and bright, not a hint of the dark clouds which had looked so threatening on Friday.
Once camp was dismantled, swags packed and a hearty breakfast consumed it was time to be on the road again, for 'Gaemond' the old changing station, once home a school 'Pleasant Fields', and our morning tea stop on the journey.
This was a quick stop for some of us as we wanted to get ahead of the entourage and watch the convoy arrive in Yuleba. From here on the celebrations were set to really start, with horses fed and watered and set to rest, it was now time for the party to begin in earnest.
Bushrangers joined the trek providing spectators entertainment
From all accounts it's been a successful celebration, I'm fortunate to have been able to share in the adventure, sample a taste of yesteryear, meet some lovely folk, and be reminded of some of the really great things our countryfolk have done to develop travel and mail services to what it is today.
Stepping into the spirit of Cobb & Co down to the last details