Cobb and Co back in Bendigo

Bendigo’s past will mingle with its present as horse-drawn carriages take visitors on a tour of the city. 

Children squealed with excitement at the two dappled grey Clydesdale Percheron horses and modernised landau carriage staged at the entrance of Rosalind Park on Friday. 

Cobb and Co Carriages have returned, and owner Mat Jones is hopeful their presence will become the norm.

The City of Greater Bendigo has approved a six-month trial of horse-drawn carriage tours. 

Their route includes some of the city’s most famous icons and encompasses the central business district, Lake Weeroona, the Sacred Heart Cathedral and Central Deborah Gold Mine.

Pall Mall, Chapel Street and Hargreaves Street are among the streets to be traversed.

“There is so much history in Bendigo,” Mr Jones said. 

“The [Hotel] Shamrock, across the road, was the old trading place of Cobb and Co when the mail route was operating.”

He was hopeful the spectacle of the horse-drawn carriages would encourage children to learn more about history and horses.

Mr Jones is a third-generation horseman and acquired the business from a descendant of bushranger Ben Hall.

He is based in Lancefield, in the Macedon Ranges, on a property his young family shares with about 20 horses.

“It must be a way of life,” he said of operating a business such as his.

“Some people have forgotten the love and attention that should be given to their horses.

“They are your business.”

Mr Jones has stopped offering tours of Melbourne, where Barbara Lloyd and her family live.

They happened upon the carriage during their day in Bendigo and stopped for a better look.

Mrs Lloyd said she had no issue with horse-drawn carriages. 

“As long as they’re well cared for, because some of the ones in Melbourne look a bit dodgy,” she said. 

Asked what measures he implements to ensure the welfare of his horses and the environment, Mr Jones said the horses are rotated frequently, shod especially for the urban terrain, and wear nappies. 

Horses are trained for 12 months before they share the roads, and all manure is transported back to Mr Jones’s property.  

City of Greater Bendigo environmental health and local laws manager Susannah Milne said the process of approving the trial permit had included consultation with Victoria Police and VicRoads. 

“It’s an alternative form of seeing the beautiful city streetscape,” Ms Milne said. 

“If it works well there is potential to expand.”

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