Q, Who is Alienor le Gouvello?
Alienor – French by birth, but Australian by choice, I Fell in love with Australia’s magnificent beauty when I arrived at the age of 20 on a 3 weeks holiday and never took my flight back! I have worked on and off for almost 10 years on remote aboriginal communities across the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia working with youth doing social work. It was on these communities that I fell in love with the culture, outback, wilderness, and open space.
Q, Have you been on any other expeditions?
Alienor - Yes I've undertaken other expeditions:
1. Bought 3 horses in Mongolia when I was 22 and travelled 900 km, in really critical conditions (-20 temperature and 2 metre snow storms).
2. A motorbike adventure in India on an Enfield from Pondicherry on the East coast to Cochin on the West coast to Kanyakumary, the southernmost tip of India.
3. A 10,000 km sidecar motorbike trip from Irkutz in Siberia to Paris, through Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France with very little money, camping and breaking down a million times!
Q, How did the idea of riding three horses the length of Australia come about as this isn't your typical adventure?
Alienor – A friend mentioned the Bicentennial National trail to me and the desire to do sections of it with brumbies. The idea stuck with me until I decided that I wanted to do the entire trail with wild horse that I‘d trained myself. I researched the different brumbies associations until I came across the Guy Fawkes Heritage Horses Association. I went to one of their open days and shared my project with them and that I was looking for the right horses. We spent 10 months waiting for the right horses to be trapped and I have been extremely lucky to have their support all the way. They mentored me with the training of my wild horses.
Q, The Bicentennial National Trail won’t be your first big journey as you’ve previously taken on Mongolia on horseback, what did you learn from that experience that will be invaluable for this trip?
Alienor – Hobble your horses at night!!!! When your horses are all you have for transport and support, the worst thing is seeing them gallop into the horizon in the middle of nowhere!!!
Q, Can you please share a fond memory from your Mongolia journey with us?
Alienor – Meeting wonderful Mongolian nomad families and experiencing their amazing hospitality and the warmth of a yurt after sleeping in -20!
Q, Who’s been an inspiration to you within the adventure world over recent years?
Alienor – Robin Davidson across Australia with camels – (book and movie tracks). My ant Raphaella le Gouvello, who’s crossed every ocean on windsurf! and Tim Cope's horseback trek from Mongolia to Hungary.
Read a Going Solo Adventures Q&A Session with Tim Cope HERE
Q, What are some of your biggest worries and concerns about this trip and how have you prepared yourself to make sure your have everything covered?
Alienor – Not being able to provide for my horses and keeping them in good enough condition to carry on trekking. I have an expedition manager who will be helping providing horse feed in sections that will be precarious for horse feed.
Extreme weather conditions – heat, freak snow storm in the Victorian section, drought, bush fires. Again keeping in touch with my expedition manager and planning ahead.
Wildlife – wild brumbies wanting to harm my horses or even take my mare away, crocodile infested rivers that I’ll have to cross with water up to my waist, wild pigs, bulls, that could charge us, death threatening snakes, spiders etc.. the list goes on it’s wild Australia!
Myself or my horses getting really sick or injured, I have a pretty comprehensive horse and human first aid kit, Satellite phone and spot tracker.Coming across days with no water points, I can only carry 10 Litres on me, brumbies can last a few days with no water but it would be tough. I have water sterilising pills and a sterypen.
Q, This mammoth 5300km journey will open your eyes to many new and breathtaking sights, is there a certain area you’re keen to visit with excitement and is there an area that slightly worries you?
Alienor – I really really look forward to the Victorian Section with the Kosciuszko and Omeo National Park and the snowy mountains, it’s all mountain country that’s really steep, tough country but gives breath taking views and has a real history of bush men and brumby culture. The movie the man from snowy river is one of my favourite and a huge inspiration for this trip.
The sections up north in Queensland in the heat and humidity through tropical forests and crocodile infested country worries me a little!! I’ve lived in desert and hot country but I don’t do as well in humidity.
Q, Ultimately you are doing this alone and unsupported, but if you could have someone join you for a 48 hour period who would that person be and which part of the journey would you have them alongside you? Oh and if they could bring you a treat what can you see yourself craving?
Alienor – I have a friend doing the first month with me, just because I have three “green” horses, just broken in horses and I wanted a bit of help at the start to make sure we are all good and get them into a routine, it can be really challenging to manage three horses on your own! I might have a couple of friends come and find me and anywhere they are keen to join me will work for me. It would be just amazing to have a visit! My treat would be chocolate and red wine!
Q, It’s taken you one year to train you three horses, In which ways did this challenge you and help you grow before the big departure day?
Alienor – It’s a huge undertaking working with wild horses and I hadn’t quite measured the task. It was really challenging, I pretty much had to forget everything I knew about working with domesticated horses and had to learn how to communicate with them. But it’s an amazing and extremely rewarding experience when you do start to win their trust and establish a good connection/communication. I was extremely lucky to have the people from the GFHHA mentor me through it. I have had the three that are going on the trek for the past 4 months and we have been training all together and we are a good team, they still every now and then question my leadership but that’s what a green horse does!
Q, You’ve chosen three wild Heritage Horses for this expedition, why this particular horse and please could you introduce us to them?
Alienor - I chose Brumbies, (Australian wild horses) because I’ve always had a fascination for them in the bush working in central Australia. I chose specifically the Guy Fawkes Heritage Horses because they are beautiful quality horses descendants of the war horses, the whalers and have the attributes of a great trail horse, small, resistant with great feet that don’t need shoeing. In the wild natural selection makes that the ones that survive are really tough. Brumbies compared to domesticated horses have been through difficulties in their lives and are a lot more resilient. I intend to raise awareness of these extraordinary Heritage Horses, and the work of the Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association who were born out of the awful aerial culling which caused such uproar in NSW but still goes on in other states. The GFHHA have proven how to successfully manage wild horse numbers and re-acquaint horse loving Australians with their loyalty, strength, endurance and willingness.
Brumbies are considered a pest in Australia and are culled in many states.
Cooper, was the first one I acquired a year ago now, he is a 5 years old buckskin gelding. He is dominant and courageous and also a massive shit head when he wants to challenge me! But I love him, he is an amazing mountain goat / bulldozer in the bush, he goes through anything!
Roxanne, is my 12 years old bay mare I acquired 4 months ago. She has been off parks for many years now but hadn’t been ridden in ages and I had to get to know to her a bit too. She is my solid, calm and sometime a bit sensitive girl. She is very strong and a great pacer, she puts the boys in line. But she is also gentle and you have to ask her things nicely otherwise she might not do them!
River, is my 3 years old palomino gelding, my baby. He was captured in the park only 5 months ago and has come such a long way. He is a bit young for the trek so he is only my back up horse and will tag along most of the time. He is absolutely gorgeous and smart. He learns super fast and he is keen. But he is young and can be a bit of a teenager sometimes too. I really look forward to him becoming an adult because he has a stunning personality that will really shine with a bit of maturity!
Q, Packing for most trips I’ve been on haven’t ever been an easy task and I’m pretty sure packing three horses for a long journey must be a tedious task. So what 3 bits of kit are a must have to make this journey successful?
1- horse hobbles
2- a good quality pack saddle and saddle to not injure my horses
3- a Sherpa 100 power bank and solar panels to keep my gear powered and be able to document my trip.
Q, You’ve made your dream become a reality with sheer hard-work and determination over the last 12 months, which requires something special to pull it off. What parting words of wisdom can you leave those who’ve read this to encourage them to make their adventure dreams happen?
Alienor - You don’t need millions to go out there and explore! Most adventures I’ve done were on really minimal budgets and planned at the last minute! This one takes a bit more planning because of its length and the welfare of my animals. But follow your dreams, it really doesn’t take that much to make them reality with a little determination and belief in yourself!!
You can help support Alienor's journey by visiting her crowdfunding page - www.gofundme.com/Wild-At-Heart
All photos credited to Ellen Keidge, Still Free Photography. Check out her website - www.stillfreephotography.com.au