LET’S RIDE

Saddle up for Australia’s best horseriding trails —the ultimate venue for the other all-terrain vehicle

Thousands of Australians saddle up every day, with myriad opportunities across the country to get your horse on, whether it’s via a romantic ride on a pristine beach, breathing in the bush or taking in mountainous scenery. Aussies love a good BYO, so there are two main options: towing your own pony to a secluded spot; or getting your equestrian fix at a fully fledged, guided trail ride. Tally ho!

New South Wales

If you like … fine food

Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures, an hour north of Sydney and 20 minutes from Gosford, offers guided and “free-range” rides along scenic private trails, with cattle-muster rides and camping options—and, in the summer months, gourmet eats. The property is surrounded by 3000 acres of unspoilt national parks with 50km of private trails to explore. 02 4375 1222, glenworth.com.au

If you like … mountains

The Megalong Valley Farm, a little over two hours west of Sydney, is home to Blue Mountains Horse Riding Adventures. They boast over 2000 acres to explore on horseback with escorted rides available. Rides travel through the farm’s pastures, with views of the Blue Mountains and the Coxs River. Several three to five-hour bush rides are offered with lunch included. 02 4787 8188, megalongcc.com.au

VICTORIA

If you like … roaring surf

Gunnamatta Trail Rides is based on over 80 acres, an hour’s drive south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. A dedicated horseriding business, it is a licensed tour operator through nearby national parks and beaches—many of which are thumped by some of the country’s ‘boomingest’ swells. A beginner-friendly two-hour coastal bush and beach ride and 5-hour “all-day” options are available. 03 5988 6755 gunnamatta.com.au

If you like … The Man From Snowy River

Watson’s Mountain Country Trail Rides operates where some of the nation’s most known poetry was inspired —the Victorian High Country. Follow in the hoof prints of Clancy of the Overflow, traversing terrain where the classic 1982 Australian movie was shot on the 730-acre working high-country property. 03 5777 3552 watsonstrailrides.com.au

If you like … quoting Mel Brooks

Blazing Saddles, situated at Aireys Inlet between Anglesea and Lorne, has trail rides starting with a 1.25-hour bush ride. More experienced riders can go for a 2.5-hour bush and beach run using Fairhaven Beach. Overnight camping trips are also available, but there’s no mention of repeating the bean-fired campfire scene from the movie of the same name. 03 5289 7322 or 0418 528 647 blazingsaddlestrailrides.com

QUEENSLAND

If you like … idyllic beaches (and Olympians)

Hitting the beach at Queensland’s Noosa North Shore or climbing into the Sunshine Coast hinterland on horseback is the main game of Equathon Horse Riding Adventures, which is managed by triple-Olympian pentathlete Alex Watson. You can choose from one or two hour riding packages and there are also overnight and week-long Bush and Beach packages available. 07 5474 2665 equathon.com

If you like … working farms

Slickers Horse Riding sits on 3500 acres of a working property offering a broad variety of trail terrain only an hour inland from Brisbane, in Kurwongbah. It has open plains, bush, steep stuff for the brave rider and a 40-acre lake. Basic trail rides and unescorted trail rides (subject to riding skill) are on offer. 07 3285 1444 slickershorseriding.com

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

If you like … BYO horses

The Tom Roberts Horse Trail, named after a renowned SA equestrian coach and rider, is less than 30km south of the Adelaide CBD. There are almost 40km of trails extending from the southern suburbs through gum-studded national parks and reserves. There’s an additional section in the Belair National Park for those closer to the CBD (admission fees and bookings apply–log on to www.mitchamcouncil.sa.gov.au).

If you like … wine country

Four Oaks Farm operates from Littlehampton in the Adelaide Hills, 30 minutes east of the CBD. Its trails meander through the surrounding bushland, with views of the Adelaide Hills and Mt Lofty, as well as acres of vineyards. You’ll even get a choice of Western or English saddles. The trails explore the surrounding bushland, with hand-led trail-ride options for inexperienced adults and children. 08 8388 6361 fouroaksfarm.com.au

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

If you like … tall timber

The Western Ranch is in tall-timber country near Quinninup, a little over three hours south of Perth. The owners of the property, which is surrounded by karri and jarrah tall-timber bush, offer packages starting with an hour-long forest Ranch Ride. More accomplished riders can opt for the five-hour Warren River Ride, which includes a picnic lunch. 08 9773 1118 or 0427 478 828 westernranch.com.au

If you like … a bit of everything

Located in the Margaret River wine region two hours south of Perth, The Horse Resort is a 500-acre, family-run working sheep and horse farm. Trail rides through open and wooded pastures suit beginner riders or skilled equestrians. A standard trail ride lasts for two hours; children as young as five can participate on a led horse. Packages are tailored to suit individual requirements. 08 9757 4444 thehorseresort.com.au

NORTHERN TERRITORY

If you like … the Outback

Kelly’s Ranch is a solid day’s drive south of Darwin (990km) or five hours’ drive north of Alice, and it’s a true ‘red dirt’ horseriding experience. Near Tennant Creek, it offers trail rides for 2.5 hours in the Outback. Owner Jerry Kelly, a local Warumungu traditional owner, provides visitors with insights into traditional culture, cattle station life and the bush. 08 8962 2045 or 0427 824 191 kellysranch.com.au

TASMANIA

If you like … untouched bush

Horseback is a serene way of taking in the Cradle Mountain region. Cradle Adventures offers rides for the novice or experienced horserider, including creek crossings and log jumps through the old-growth forest and farmland. Basic two-hour horseback tours and other packages are available. 1300 656 069 cradleadventures.com.au

If you like … accessible Tassie

The chance to get some fresh air amid 10,000 acres of eucalypt woodland, heathlands and pine plantations while fording creeks, climbing subalpine hills and meandering through valleys littered with horseriding tracks is what Horse Riding Tasmania provides. Based at Wattle Hill, about 30 minutes’ drive from Hobart, the outfit offers five main rides. Packages range between three and six hours, with dining and overnight accommodation options. 0417 308 069 horseridingtasmania.com

TIPS

Sturdy footwear (boots are your best bet), helmets, long pants, sunscreen and insect repellent are all vital for horseriding. When making bookings, it’s worth checking the insurance situation— and organising your own cover if necessary—and any weight ratings for the horses, as good operators won’t overwork their animals and 100kg is a widespread limit.

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