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The day to bring the herd of 62 donkeys home to The Heartland, to cross the entire property along dry-under-hoof conditions had finally arrived.

It was timely as the paddocks offered to the flood-displaced-herd by three kind neighbours throughout the previous ten weeks, were depleted of grass, trodden by 248 hooves and in need of a spell.

The Heartland’s  middle ground by that time, had finally dried out so the herd could get through safely. The donkeys could again follow their tracks one kilometre through their home territory
to again be at the destination they love....their muster areas, with their favourite troughs, their numerous little shelters and sheds, their comfort place called The Pace Station and where they love to meet the volunteers for grooming and dutiful care.

At 9am on 27th May, the volunteers were ready to undertake the well-rehearsed adventure. They were ready to support the herd as it began its journey towards home. The 62 donkeys had to trust the volunteers, going with them to crossover three neighbouring properties, manoeuvring their widespread procession from open fields into narrow lane ways, briefly opened gateways and without disturbing (even worse, stampeding) neighbours’ cattle in occupancy. The trek by the donkeys and the volunteers could have been a total disaster if just one thing had gone wrong.

The boss-donkeys were led by the brisk-walking young volunteers, then through the middle of the herd the senior-aged volunteers trekked and encouraged the mob. The older volunteers, with years of herding experience brought up the rear, supporting the slower donkeys, closing lanes and gates, and turning back cattle eager to go through the gates too.

The final route to home was anticipated by the boss-donkeys, the trusted herd leaders. They knew they were taking their donkey-mates home and the race began. The lead donkeys gathered pace until they were in full flight, galloping and delighted. 50 donkeys followed displaying joy in their gait. They pranced, and held their heads high,  turning their noses from side-to-side, as happy donkeys do when they romp and play.

The majority of the donkeys reached the Pace Station, caught their breath, refreshed at the troughs, then proudly sighed, took their usual places ten minutes before the humans. The humans being hampered by having only two legs and no where near the speed of a donkey on a mission.

There was one sweet, tear filled occurrence when the little mob of 10 older donkeys and some with slight mobility disabilities, stayed close together, struggling, ‘hurrying-slowly’ along the route. They arrived five minutes behind their healthy herd mates, but were very proud when they too were again ‘at home’. Perhaps having flashbacks to the days/years gone by when they were herd leaders.

The entire home-coming procession, from start to finish, was perfection, even magical.

After almost a week has passed the donkeys have settled into the routine of each day and the little mob of special-slower donkeys have been given a separate paddock and sheds to rest and recover after the stress of ten weeks away from home, through no fault of their own.

Thanks for all support from volunteers and donators during the major flood recovery and home coming time.

Christine Berry OAM
Donkey Master.

Please see the brief video below. Enjoy!