Wild horses will carry her: French woman tackles 5,300km Great Divide with brumbies
Alienor Le Gouvello rattles off her adventures with the nonchalance another person might use when listing what they had for breakfast.
“I’ve done one (expedition) in Mongolia a few years ago [where] I did 900km for three months in minus 20 [temperatures] and snowstorms and camping and crazy stuff,” she said.
“I did another motorcycle trek from Siberia to Paris which was 10,000km and another one in India.
“I just have a passion for travelling and exploring.”
Most isolated people on Earth
Ms Le Gouvello came to Australia as a 20-year-old for a three week holiday and never left.
“What drew me here was a bit of a flame for a French guy who moved to Melbourne, but that was not interesting at all,” she said.
“But I had this amazing feeling that I’d come to the other side of the planet, and if it wasn’t for this guy then it must have been for something else.”
It was the extremes of the world’s oldest continent that drew her in.
Tough, rugged, spirited animals
In the outback, she learned to muster, and she first saw a brumby when riding as a jillaroo.
“I was fascinated when I first met brumbies in the desert in Central Australia,” Ms Le Gouvello recalled.
“The ones in the desert are absolutely fascinating. They survive. It’s pretty rugged out there. There’s not much feed but they do really well.
“They’re just such tough, rugged, amazing, spirited animals that survive in this condition.
“I just wanted to understand them and have a bond with them.”
A friend told her about the Bicentennial Trail 18 months ago, and the kernel of an idea began to sprout.
The trail is a 5,300km journey along the Great Dividing Range, more a concept than a defined route.
Ms Le Gouvello stumbled across the Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association near Dorrigo in northern NSW, which captures, breaks-in and rehomes wild horses, the descendants of Walers from World War I.
It took a year for her to raise the funds necessary, then six months to capture and break-in the horses, and prepare for a journey which could take her between a year and 18 months to complete.
But how does one pick a good temperament in a wild horse?
“It has been hectic. I had a deadline. Starting from south you can’t leave later than November,” Ms Le Gouvello said, laughing.
“They have very good characters and really beautiful temperaments. I just absolutely love mine.”