Time to saddle up for your next riding adventure? Here are five of the great horseback experiences around Australia.
1. Horseback Winery Tours, VIC
Length: one day
Vino and ponies; is there a happier match? Based in Red Hill on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Horseback Winery Tours has been taking travellers to wineries on horseback for 15 years, with plans to open a new five-million-dollar equestrian centre and cellar door. Weaving through farmland, down picturesque country roads and across rolling hills overlooking the sea, the tours then stop at cellar doors such as Red Hill Estate, Olive Grove and T’Gallant Winemakers. Pick up a bottle (or box), which you collect at the end of your ride. Among the packages is a three- and five-hour option (from $160 and $250 per person, respectively).
2. Snowy River Horseback Adventures, NSW
Length: 2–5 days
The Man from Snowy River meets a touch of luxe with Snowy River Horseback Adventures. Designed for experienced riders, the two-to-five-day treks meander along tracks used by wild brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park, through snowgum forests, along crystal clear streams and up peaks with postcard-perfect valley views. Then after a day of spectacular scenery, retreat to the grand Old Ingebirah Homestead for a hot shower (or spa bath), a sumptuous three-course meal and relax on the verandah or in front of a cosy log fire.
3. Kelly’s Ranch Riding School, NT
Length: 2.5 hours
Run by long-time stockman Jerry Kelly, a traditional owner of the region in Tennant Creek, these tours are a lesson in both horse riding and local bush tucker. From private riding lessons ($50 per adult) to scenic trail rides through the surrounding wilderness ($150 per person), all options cater to various skill levels and ages. Along the way, Kelly also points out native food sources and tells tales from the ‘good ol’ days’, topped off with a cup of billy tea and a slice of damper cooked on an open fire.
4. Jillaroo training at Home Valley Station, WA
Length: one day
Set alongside the spectacular Cockburn Ranges in WA’s iconic Kimberley region, this once-thriving cattle station now hosts a range of horse riding experiences for guests. There’s childrens’ pony rides ($15 per child) to guided trail rides along the Pentecost River ($120 per person), but it is the Mini Cattle Muster option (from $290 per person) that’s the most unique. That is, with the help of Home Valley’s resident ringers, guests (regardless of riding ability) can learn how to ride for a real cattle muster in true jillaroo/jackaroo fashion.
5. Uluru Camel Tours, NT
Length: one day
OK, we admit it, this isn’t strictly a horse-riding experience, but it’s still an unforgettable outback experience on a four-legged steed. Set in Australia’s most iconic outback location, with Uluru and Kata Tjuta as memorable backdrops, there’s a number of rides available including Camel Express tours during the day (from $75), as well as sunrise and sunset tours (from $119). But the ultimate ride is arriving by camel to a Sounds of Silence dinner – a bush-tucker inspired buffet under the stars, enhanced by a traditional dance performance and a talk from the resident ‘star talker’ (from $275). See ayersrockresort.com.au
Did you know?
You can catch a game of ‘horse soccer’ in Queensland’s outback town of Hughenden – about 350 kilometres north of Longreach. It’s one of 20 sporting events at the biennial Great Western Games, held in July 2015. see flinders.qld.gov.au
MORE: Want more adventure ideas?