Whether you're a novice or an experienced rider, Australia has an extraordinary horseriding experience for you.
By Katrina Lobley
In Australia you can sign up for an equine experience like no other. Ride out with an Aboriginal cowboy, point your steed into the surf, sit astride a once-wild brumby or gaze upon some of Australia's most impressive peaks without leaving the saddle.
Horseriding experiences for the whole family
Canter along the coast
At Rainbow Beach, a three hour drive north of Brisbane and the southern gateway to Fraser Island, it's possible to horse around on the sand and in the surf while keeping an eye out for dolphins and breaching whales (during the migration season, July to October). Rainbow Beach Horse Rides is the only operator allowed to conduct horserides along this stunning stretch of coastline surrounded by national park. Options include a full moon beach ride and a swimming ride in the surf. Photos taken on a waterproof camera are included in the tour price. If the countryside is more your thing, head inland for the day.
Ride with an Aboriginal cowboy
For the ultimate outback horseriding experience, head to Kelly’s Ranch at Tennant Creek, 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The riding school's owner, veteran stockman Jerry Kelly, is an Aboriginal Australian and traditional owner who can tell you about his ancient culture and the stockman's way of life. Enjoy a riding lesson and, once your confidence is up, head out on a trail ride through the spectacular outback.
Encounter a once-wild brumby
Wild horses, known as brumbies, roam free around the Snowy Mountains. They were immortalised in the classic Australian movie, The Man from Snowy River. At Thredbo Valley Horse Riding, just outside Kosciuszko National Park (home to Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko), some of these brumbies have been tamed and can be ridden through the sub-alpine wilderness. Other horses, including stock horses and an Appaloosa, are also available. Take a one hour trail ride, a half day ride that includes "boiling the billy" for a cup of tea, or the three hour From the Ground Up deal, which includes grooming your horse.
See the Blue Mountains from below
Centennial Glen Stables is based in the Kanimbla Valley near Blackheath, about a two hour drive from Sydney, in the stunning Blue Mountains. Once you're down in the valley, admire the soaring sandstone cliffs from horseback. Sign up for a riding lesson or a trail ride, or make like a pioneer and drive a horse and sulky around the farm. A popular all day ride heads south to the neighbouring Megalong Valley (which can be seen from the picture windows of the recently restored Hydro Majestic hotel), with a stop at Megalong Valley Tearooms for lunch.
Natter over a platter
In the heart of Victoria's spa country, near Daylesford, is Hepburn Lagoon Trail Rides. After being matched to your perfect steed, head out on an adventure ranging from a two hour trail ride to a full day out that includes a stop at either a historic pub or an organic winery. All the equine experiences finish with food and drink back at the farm – either by the fire if the weather is cool or out under a shady tree.
Get a horseback view of Cradle Mountain
Keep your eyes peeled while nosing through alpine eucalypts and myrtle forest in north-west Tasmania, and you might spot a cute wombat as you head towards a spectacular view of Cradle Mountain. Cradle Country Adventures runs horseriding tours that include transfers to and from your Cradle Mountain accommodation.
Ride through the rugged Kimberley
Home Valley Station, 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of Kununurra in Western Australia's remote East Kimberley region, shares the same owners as Ayers Rock Resort near Uluru. That means there's a focus on training Aborginal Australians, giving guests the opportunity to learn more about this ancient culture. Home Valley is a working cattle station that offers guests 90 minute trail rides, along with introductory rides for kids.
Learn from an Olympian
Equathon, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, offers expert horseriding tuition from triple Olympian Alex Watson. As well as taking lessons, riders can choose to canter along Teewah Beach, north of Noosa, on a one hour ride, take a two hour beach/bush ride or an overnight tour that includes a stay at a Noosa resort.