There was something about it, I still cannot really tell you why. It was just an experience I won't forget.
It seriously was something out of Mad Max; strange, thrilling and utterly stunning. Lightning Ridge- what a place! Named after an incident when a farmer, his dog and sheep were all found dead after apparently being struck by lightning.
When Pat, Charlie (basically my brothers) and I rolled into the strange mining town, we knew we wanted to find somewhere that would give us a horse-riding experience...well I guess ill speak for myself... I wanted to. Happy wife (producer) happy life right? I’m no pro horse rider by all means, I guess I just have a fascination with these animals. That’s when I found Brooke.
I found Brooke and her business on Facebook after I incessantly searched the internet to find a place that would let me sit on a bloody horse. Then I found it; ‘Grays Holler Horse Riding’ it read. The account didn’t say much, it just seemed as if it were just pony lessons for kids, but at this point I’d just go for a pony lesson to at least fulfil those saddle club dreams right?
“ Hey Brooke, it’s Georgia Farrell... I’m currently working with two creatives exploring NSW blah blah blah.. LET US ON A HORSE!”
Later that day the 22 year old got back to us..
“Sure, let’s do a sunset trail ride through the bush up to the first shaft lookout, a great spot for sunset!”
WE'RE ON BOYS!
The next day we would meet Brooke in her other place work selling fine Black Opal jewelry to those that could afford it.
Brooke is a 22 year old woman born and bread in Lightning Ridge. She has one of those personalities that really does light up a room. She is blonde with a huge smile that instantly makes you feel like she’s just an old mate from high school lending you some canteen money. Brooke is largely independent and you can just feel how connected she is to the town. It is not in a proud, bogan pride type of way.. just more of a subtle and humble affiliation to the land.
After following the ‘green car door tour’ (yes literally green colored car doors nailed to trees) we arrived at Brookes place and met her boyfriend Casey. Think white picket fence with a quaint little letter box…then think the opposite. Literally, Brookes place couldn’t be more opposite if it tried.
Her land seemed as if it were a just junk yard. Scrap metal and old mining machinery scattered everywhere, a couple of dogs tied on a large patch of arid dust under our feet. And you know what? I LOVED IT. So vastly different from anything I had seen.
We then met her beautiful horses, Flicker, Jasper, Ida & Fancy.
The white horse was chosen for me ; Flicker (the best horse of course) whilst Pat and Charlie got each abeautiful brown ones. All the horses had a gentle and responsive nature which was perfect for allowing the boys to single handedly shoot and ride... a strange sight nonetheless. Next minute we were off!
I'll get to the stuff that made this ride so special.
Apart from Brooke teaching us how to respect the animals and being so relaxed. We watched the sun go down as the light streaked through the trees. Houses we passed were just as strange as Brookes and we got to learn a little history about the place. Half way through the ride Pat decided he wanted to shoot from the moving Ute (easier than a horse I reckon?) and s. off he went in the tray! Brooke didn’t tie Pat's horse to hers, she didn’t freak out she just took Jasper’s (the horse) saddle off and let him follow and do as he pleased! That is when I knew Brooke really did have a special connection to these animals.
After passing old mine shafts and tin clad houses we reached the lookout The lookout had the usual stuff you would expect… a ‘beer can house’ and a stone labyrinth maze. Oranges and pinks painted the sky and the boys had thrilling race through the labyrinth. I wandered around on my horse trying to hold back tears. Was this place even real?
Those are the moments you should live for. When you come across a place that you feel connected with... that envelopes your soul beyond what is tangible.
Thank you Brooke for allowing me to have this experience. If anyone would like her contact etc. Don’t hesitate to message or contact me. Her and Casey’s vibe really did make the experience what it was.
The videos and pictures I hope sum it all up.
Photos by Pat Suraseang and videography by Charlie Brookes-Allen