10 May 2023

Teenager eyes 5000k club by conquering Bicentennial National Trail

| Matt Nicholls
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Libby and Rob Wylie at the Lion’s Den Hotel on Monday morning, ready to tackle the Bicentennial National Trail.

FEWER than 50 people have made it all the way from Cooktown to Healesville since the Bicentennial National Trail opened in 1988.

Rob Wylie managed to make it from Cooktown to Tamworth when he attempted it 25 years ago, but daughter Libby is aiming to make it all the way to Victoria – likely sometime next year.

The father and daughter duo left Cooktown on Sunday and camped at the Lion’s Den Hotel.

Speaking to Cape York Weeklyfrom the iconic pub on Monday morning, Libby said it had all gone to plan thus far.

“We trucked up three horses and then bought another one in Cooktown,” the 18-year-old said.

“We’ll have a couple of riding horses and a couple of pack horses but will rotate them a little bit.”

Her dad will ride with her for the first couple of months and Libby expects to be joined by other family and friends along the way.

Tamworth was home for Rob in 1997 but the Wylies now live at Tea Gardens in NSW, just north of Newcastle.

Libby said hearing stories about her dad’s trip had made her eager to do the iconic 5330km trail from Cooktown to Healesville.

“For as long as I can remember, anyway,” she said.

“Mum and dad wanted me to wait until I was 18.”

You don’t need to be an expert horse rider to do the National Trail, but you need to be a great horse manager, something Libby has got covered.

She left school after Year 10 and has been working in the horse industry for the last two years.

“She’s been on a horse since she was a little kid,” said her father.

“There isn’t much she doesn’t know about horses.”

Officially opened in 1988, the Bicentennial National Trail travels along a mixture of roads and paddocks, as well as national parks.

It follows the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and the eastern escarpment.

The trail was originally conceived as a route for the long distance horse trekker but is now enjoyed by cyclists and hikers.

Most people conquer sections of the trail but very few join the 5000k club.

Two official bicentennial events were held to mark the opening.

One was at Healesville, where RM Williams, then aged 80, led the procession, while the other was at Kilkivan a week later where Premier, Mike Ahern opened the Queensland section.

Libby said she was most looking forward to the Guy Fawkes National Park section of the trail around Ebor in northern NSW.

“I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to do the whole trail but it will be next year,” she said.

Her main transport will be a chestnut mare by the name of Tess.

“We think she’s an Arab-cross stock horse,” Libby said.

“She’s very fit and will go all day. She’s the horse I’ve done all my horse sports on.”

You can follow Libby’s trail ride on Instagram at hoofbyhoof.

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