Max Watkins and his donkeys visit Comboyne on epic journey

WALKING MAN: Max Watkins and his donkeys were a long way from Atherton when they called into Comboyne. Photo courtesy of the Comboyne Circular.
WALKING MAN: Max Watkins and his donkeys were a long way from Atherton when they called into Comboyne. Photo courtesy of the Comboyne Circular.

The village of Comboyne had an unusual visitor recently.

Max Watkins from the Atherton tablelands called in to stay over for a few days and refresh his pack animals (two donkeys and two mules) on his way back to Atherton.

He was delighted to be told by Rod Fisher that he could secure the gates of the oval and let his pack graze to their hearts' content. Max said that with the drought, he and his team could walk 50 kms some days before finding water and/or grazing. At the showground he had both.

He often buys bales of hay when the feed isn't sufficient for his beasts. Max originally made his way down to Victoria via the Bicentennial Trail, which uses tracks through National Parks, stock routes and roads.

The trail runs for 5,500 kms and is the longest in the world. It took Max two years to get to Victoria, as he stopped here and there to work for a month or two, ensuring supplies for himself, his dog Cola and his pack animals.

Setting off with two animals originally, he picked up two more in Victoria because he wants to gather and train a team that will work well together and allow him to follow his dream when he gets back to Atherton.

He intends going on long journeys, seeking out unused tracks throughout Queensland, seeing the country as few do. He chose donkeys and mules because they can better adapt to poor feed and consume less water than horses.

"His team shares the conditions, good or bad, with him as the photo shows. Max maintains that donkeys and mules are more intelligent and less work than horses. We wish him luck and no problems on his trip home," said Barbara Ward from the Comboyne Community Centre who found Max very interesting to talk to.

"He is a man who is at peace with himself. He's no tramp. He's very bright. We fixed the state of the world between us!" she joked.

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