LAST OF HIS TRIBE: Steve Otton and his 'little helpers' from left clockwise: Oscar Phelps, Kaleb Johnson, Reece Winters and Blake Johnson keep watch over Brumby.
LAST OF HIS TRIBE: Steve Otton and his 'little helpers' from left clockwise: Oscar Phelps, Kaleb Johnson, Reece Winters and Blake Johnson keep watch over Brumby.

Brooms Head says goodbye to a familiar friend

THE COMMUNITY of Brooms Head farewelled a familiar friend this week, a handful of Brumby's loyal admirers and supporters gathering to say final goodbyes and pay their respects to the wild stallion that had been a part of village life for more than 20 years.

He was the last brumby of Brooms Head, his death this week the final chapter of an historical era of horses that roamed the coastal landscape of Yuraygir National Park for decades.

Long-time mate to the piebald, photographer Steve Otton, was privy to Brumby's last hours, along with a handful of "young helpers" who all rallied around during the horse's last few days in the park, feeding him, keeping him company, taking turns to watch over.

As Brumby's health declined over the past few months people chipped in, from locals to regular visitors to the area including a retired vet who donated many medical supplies.

Mr Otton had been a friend of Brumby's for more than a decade, photographing his presence and striking up a friendship albeit at a comfortable distance along the way.

But despite the emotional time he was faced with these past few months, Mr Otton said what occurred this week was the best possible farewell for the legendary resident.

"It was about as perfect as it could get in this situation.

" I wasn't worried and was happy with the decisions that we made. We were never going to please everybody but we had to ensure we didn't make him more stressed. We had to take notice from officials and we came to our decisions on all corners of it," Mr Otton said.

He said it was a very tough decision to make, handling protocols in amongst the grief they were feeling.

"We were going to lose him and that was hard to take, but I had a great little team helping me who showed up all week and were there to the end."

Mr Otton said laying Brumby to rest on the grounds of the bowling club was the final chapter in his legacy.

"He kept coming back there when he wasn't well so it seemed to be an appropriate place to bury him. When he was relieved of his suffering nearby, he was transported gently to the grave site. It was very professional and Mick Corbett, who did all the earthworks was a true artist.

"His gentling handling of Brums and the excavation of the site, he made the perfect resting place for him."

Mr Otton also praised the work of Alistair Hills, the officer from the RSPCA.

"He must also be commended for his professional handling of this delicate and emotional situation."

He said together those present helped to create a "beautiful vibe" on the sad occasion.

"I was getting a bit wobbly on my feet so my little helpers did things like laying native plants and heath and adding little bits of pieces out to be buried with him like photos. There was also hair from his off-springs' manes collected, little snippets so they could be reunited with him. His favourite food bowl is there, all his stuff."

Mr Otton said there was no question a permanent memorial will be erected on the Brumby's final resting place.

"We've got a beautiful tribute there at the moment so people can pay their respects and leave a wreath or whatever they want but we're going to do a really good memorial for him.

"We'll have one of those national park boards down there too, with a set of photos and something nice to remember him by and the bowling club will look after where he lies."

He said while Brumby wasn't out in the plains any more he was in good company "facing the lake where he spent a lot of his time".

"Brumby maintained his guard with people throughout his life as wild horse, but in the end he let it down and took in the love that he was surrounded by.

"It was very special to be a part of that."

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