The gypsy wagon.
Checking out the wildlife.
Setting up camp.
Sorrel takes a children's adventure with a difference when she hits the road in a gypsy wagon.
Mel Gay and his best mate Gypsy Rose, a long-haired German shepherd, wanted to get out of the city, so they moved to a mud brick house in Victoria's South Gippsland.
Mel now has nine Clydesdales, which pull bright yellow wagons, hand-painted with possums, galahs and wattles. More than 1000 people a year take a slow and comfortable journey back to the time when milk, ice and bread were delivered daily by similar means.
One wagon is great for up to two adults and three children, but if you want to do the full getaway bit with friends, the four wagons will comfortably accommodate up to 18 people.
Mel tries to match the temperament of his horses with his guests. Robert is a gentle giant; Pride has a lot of her namesake in her; Magic is a city slicker who loves children; Joe is the old man of the team and used to pull a stage coach, while 24-year-old Blue Bell just draws you along at an easy pace.
Mel gives two hours of training before you set off you need to know how to harness, groom, drive and feed the horses, and it's handy to have a bit of knowledge of their history.
Then you're off with your map, along sealed roads and dirt fire trails, making your way to your first campsite. Even though you are on a bush adventure, you will be visited four times a day with deliveries of camping equipment, feed for the horses, firewood, drinking water, ice and any shopping you have requested.
Trips average four days, three nights, with a different campsite each night, passing through open dairy and beef-farming country to eucalypt forests, following the magnificent Strezlecki Ranges.
You do need to take your own food along, and you can either cook inside on the stove or enjoy a real bush campfire meal. It's a good idea to set up camp when you arrive at your destination and then look around the bush for echidnas, wallabies, kangaroos and lyrebirds. This is also the time the horses enjoy their reward of a good sponge and brush before bedding down for the night.
The wagon trips are great for getting all ages of people together, and the family dog is welcome to join you on your holiday.
Alberton West, 2Â½ hours south-east of Melbourne
Promway Horse-drawn Gypsy Wagons cost $140 a day, including firewood, chairs, table, tarpaulins and a lesson.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Promway Horse- drawn Gypsy Wagons
Alberton West, via Yarram, Victoria 3971
Ph/fax: (03) 5184 1258 www.promway.com