Prepping for Cobb and Co

Col Anderson building endurance for trail riding with horses Bailey, the ‘left wheel’, and Mr BoJangles (right wheel). Picture: JACOB HAYDEN

Grantham wagon rider Col Anderson is training her two horses, Bailey and Mr BoJangles, for something very special.

Col is participating in the Cobb and Co 100th anniversary 80km ride from Surat to Yuleba in late August, 2024.

The festival celebrates the anniversary of the last Cobb and Co mail coach service in Australia, and participating in this bucket list event requires a lot of preparation.

“They start at Surat and do 40km and have a big party in a paddock, then they go another 37km into Yuleba and there’s a parade in town,” she said.

“It’s a long trek and the horses need to be really fit, and since mine are only paddock lizards all they do is munch around and eat grass.”

Col explained the old mail trail was broken up into 10km treks.

“Originally they’d have a Cobb and Co change station, only a little building, and there they would have the horses which would stay until the next coach came,” she said.

“You’d pick up, drop off, so there’s always a fresh team of horses.

“That’s why the towns here are 10km apart, because we are the original Cobb and Co mail route.”

The 100th anniversary festival will re-enact this practice, with horses pulling a coach currently sitting in the museum in Surat.

“They pull it out every five years to do this run, and they change the horses every 10km like the original trail,” Col said.

“But me and my horses are planning on doing the whole 80km.”

Col, Bailey and Mr BoJangles are building their endurance with hikes every Tuesday and Thursday around the Lockyer Valley.

“My goal is to get 20km from home and then turn around and come back so we can get the 40km done in one day,” Col said.

“They’ve got to work slowly to build up those kilometres.

“Once they’re up to the 20km pace I’ll pull out my postie wagon and start getting them to pull that so they’re used to the weight as well.”

Col recently purchased the original Jimboomba Royal Mail Wagonette at the Meadowbank Museum, which was in service between 1890 and 1915 and decommissioned when the railway line came through.

She has since replaced its brakes and wheels, and sanded and painted the wagon with the original sign re-stencilled on.

Col said the Grantham and surrounding community has been very supportive of her.

“It’s taken a few years to get there,” she said.

“I remember one year, some idiot yelled out the window ‘pay your rego’ right in the horses ear as we’re going down a hill.”

Col and fellow horse trainer Ron Roman advised people to familiarise themselves with road rules concerning horses, whether ridden or with carriages.

“What people don’t know is the law is that the horse has right of way,” Mr Roman said.

“If you put your hand up in the air like a stop sign, they’re supposed to stop.”

“If you agitate your arm, they’re supposed to turn their motor off as well,” Col said.

Col recommended slowing down to 10km/h when passing horses.

“The government’s educating people to slow down to 40 because they think 40’s safe, but if you’ve got a 40km/h car going past your horse that’s not very slow at all,” she said.

“I always give people a thumbs up when they’re doing the right thing because I really appreciate it.”

Col, Bailey and Mr BoJangles are slowly extending their journeys further from Col’s residence, beginning on Philps Road, Grantham.

Eventually, they will also travel Lawlers Road to Helidon, then Airforce Road and Lockyer Siding Road, before pushing on to Murphys Creek Road to reach the 20km mark.

If you see Col, Bailey and Bo on the road, make sure to slow down and say hi.