We currently own 33 donkeys! The number increased with the birth of three foals in early 2006:
The herd is organised into four sub-herds to assist with control and management:
The Pack Team;
Trainee Donkeys and Foals;
Breeders and Rescues; and
Donkeys Fostered Out.
All our donkeys are treated as pets; all know their names and each donkey is accounted for and handled daily. All donkeys, have their feet checked and rasped, are wormed and treated with insect repellent regularly. They enjoy treats such as peppermints, carrots and bananas on special occasions and during visits by the many people who call in the see the donkeys.
Our veterinary surgeon, John McKenzie from Yungaburra, has become quite expert with treatments for donkeys with his annual visits to inspect the herd and (fortunately) infrequent patients.
The Pack Team:
The pack team is currently limited to 12 animals, as this is the number of packsaddles we have built or acquired. It is intended to increase the number of packsaddles to 16. This will enable us to field two or more teams simultaneously. We currently employ eight or nine donkeys to support a party of up to 12 people with pack loads of 30 to 65kg giving a total load capacity in excess of 600kg.
Insert image of “Pack team at home”
Josephis a chocolate brown donkey, 10.5 HH and weighs about 230kg. Purchased in 1997, Joseph is our first donkey. He comes from a pet type background and is used to receiving the luxuries of life and being the favoured donkey. Joseph has reached star status, being featured in numerous newspapers and both Getaway and The Great Outdoors TV programs. Josephdoes notenjoy being reduced to working donkey status and having to live with the remainder of the pack team! He has become used to living on his own and receiving (or taking) treats from the kitchen. Joseph is understanding around children but can be impatient and strong willed around adults. He is well rehearsed in accompanying “Simpson” at memorial services and on ANZAC day.
Charlie. A white donkey with faint cross highlights. Charlie has been branded at some time in his life (B or 8 over a bar or Boomerang). Charlie is extremely compliant and willing. He is closely associated with Daisy and Matilda and is often teamed up accordingly. Charlie is reliable, floats easily and is great around children. Charlie is 11.1HH and weighs 230kg.
Pump Jack. A light grey dunn, Pumpjack is one of the Banka Banka boys. He is 11.5HH and weighs 240kg. He is extremely strong and very bush savvy. He prefers to be the last in the string. He will often refuse to move on if he has not accounted for all donkeys and humans in the party. He is preferred for carrying awkward loads as he steers carefully around trees even in very difficult terrain. Pumpjack is friends with Fat Albertand Biscuit.
Fat Albert, 11.2 HH and weighs 320kg, Fat Albert is dappled grey in colour and was a rescue case. He was part of a failed horse-riding venture and was living in appalling conditions. He was lame and poorly nourished having been fed on mostly bread and molasses. He had developed a habit of escaping and raiding nearby market gardens and consequently was living on death row when he was offered to us.
Fat Albert is trained to the bit, but tends to be very pedestrian when fully loaded and has even been known to lie down in protest! Very reliable otherwise, Fat Albert is entrusted with fragile and awkward shaped loads, including rations. Fat Albert has learned to enjoy human foods and must be supervised to ensure that pack bags are not raided.
Biscuit.Biscuit is the smallest member of the pack team being only 10HH and weighs160Kg. He is very tough and carries his fair share. Biscuit seems to appeal to ladies in the party.
Wingnut. Another of the Banka Boys he arrived at Kalinvale on 1stDecember 2000. He is 11.3 HH and weighs approximately 230 kg. He become notorious during a Hells Gate trek as “Screwloose” when he bolted unexpectedly destroyed his saddle and smashed his load by crashing into trees. A lot of work has developed him to be reliable. He has been a good learning aid.
Sonny. Sonny is the most experienced donkey in the pack team. He has trekked from Brisbane to Cooktown and most of the way South again with his previous owner, Robyn Reid. He joined Wilderness Expeditions on 31 May 2003 arriving by horse transport from Mundubbera with his mate “Bronson”. Sonny is brown with a white fleck (roan), 11,2 HH and weighs 240kg. Sonny sets a good even pace all day and is very reliable until he has to cross a water obstacle. He will eventually follow the other donkeys across after a lot of fussing about.
Bronson. He is the largest donkey in our team, being just over 12HH and weighing 245kg. He can carry more than 60kg. Bronson is inseparable from Sonny and has also walked a considerable distance of the Bi - Centennial National Trail (BNT) with Robyn Reid. Bronson is a very smooth coated dark grey dunn, with a prominent dark cross.
Whipstick. A member of the Banka Boys, Whipstick is a feral donkey that has not yet participated in any packing due to his advanced age and distrust of humans. He is a slender white donkey, weighing about 200 kg and is about 11HH.
Cocoa came to us as a rescue case from Mt Garnet in September 2002 where she had been mistreated. Consequently she was difficult to catch and handle, as she was terrified of humans. She became friends with the horse Chesapeake until she gave birth to a foal that unfortunately died. Her second foal, Molly Milo, was born in March 2005. Cocoa is brown with white highlights, 10.5HH and weighs about 200kg. Cocoa has participated in a six-day Hell’s Gate Trek.
Daisy came with her daughter “Matilda” from a large block of rainforest near Millaa Millaa in November 2000. She was in poor condition suffering from rain scald and foot rot and under threat of becoming “dingo bait”. Both daisy and Matilda are exceptional around children, being very patient and steady. Daisy tends to loose condition in sparse feed. She is a grey roan, 11HH and weighs about 185kg.
Matilda is a dark grey dunn with a dark cross; She weighs 250kg and is 10.1 HH. She is very greedy and puts on weight in the driest of conditions, resulting in an “ewe” neck. Both She and Daisy form the nucleolus of a pack team located at The Mareeba Wetlands for Pioneer Experience Safaris and live on the Reserve.
Jack is tall donkey of an unusual red roan colour, one of the many traits of Mammoth donkey breed that he exhibits. He came to us from Tarzali via a small rural lot. His loud, calls late at night caused his eviction. Jack was used to running wild with six other donkeys on a large farm. Having to work for a living came as a shock, but he has settled in and is one of our character donkeys.
Jack is 12HH and weighs about 250kg.
Francis another of the Banka Boys, Frankie is named for Francis the Talking Mule. He is a grey dunn. Due to some training errors Frankie became very wary of humans and is difficult to catch, consequently he has not participated on any treks so far.
Snowie the first foal of Bella, Snowie is a loveable white donkey that adores attention. He is pure white.
Priscilla is the first foal of Bridgetborn on 5 January 2000. She is a large, very vocal donkey who enjoys her food. Priscilla is undergoing pack training to trek the Bi-Centennial Trail with her brother Stormfor Max Watkins commencing in late May 2006. Priscilla is 11HH and weighs about 230kg.
Storm is a grey dunn with some roan, with a distinctive star on his forehead. He was born on Kalinvale, ofBridget, on 21 December 2001, during a huge thunderstorm. He loves people and has started training to join the pack team his sister Priscilla, for a six-month trek south along the Bi-Centennial National Trail for Max Watkins starting in May 2006. Storm is 12.1HH and weighs about 230kg.
Insert image of Storm and Pricilla
Casper is a very strong donkey that follows his sireFlourbag. He was born on 16 March 2003 of Bella. He is white with an underlying skewbald pattern. He has the potential to be a prominent member of the pack team and commenced training to lead in March 2006. Casper has sired three foals in a short stud career ending when he was gelded. He is 12HH and weighs about 240kg.
Molly Milo. Born on St Patrick’s Day 2005. Dam is Cocoa, Sire: Flourbag. Molly has been taught to lead and tie up. She is very precocious and demanding.
Bertie. Born on 27 January 2006. A pure white donkey- sire is Casper and Dam is Natasha. He has been accepted by the herd and is gaining confidence rapidly.
Katie is a particularly pretty filly foal born on 27 February 2006.
Bertie (b 27Jan06) dam: Natasha; Sire: Casper
Katie (b 27 Feb 06) dam; Jampot; Sire; Casper; and
Buttons (b 21 March 06) dam: Bridget; Sire Casper. Born immediately after Cyclone Larry. She has just started to share her mother’s lucerne in early May.
Insert images of foals