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Exploring Australia on Horseback: A Wilderness Adventure of a Lifetime

by Lystia Putranto

The go-to resource for planning your horse riding holidays. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and take your riding skills to new heights.
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When it comes to horse riding adventures in the wilderness, there’s probably no destination in the world that quite rivals Australia.

Spanning across 7,692 million square kilometers, Australia has a relatively small population (nearly 25 million people) in comparison to its size. This resulted in plenty of vast and open (unpopulated) land with various terrains and landscapes that are just begging to be explored on horseback.

More over, the history of horses in Australia began in 1788 when they were first introduced by European settlers. Back then, they were mainly used as a main form of transportation and to help farmers muster their livestock. Some of these horses then would escape and when farms close, they would often be released.

They thrived in the wild and today, Australia has the world’s the largest population of wild horses. These feral horses referred to as ‘Brumby’ even outnumbered the population of American mustangs!

With such deep rooted history, it comes to no surprise that Australians adore their horses and when it comes to horse riding adventures, you can find them in abundance in ‘the Land Down Under’.

From trail riding to pack trips, here, you’ll find helpful insights on the most popular types of horse riding excursions in Australia. Pick out one (or more) that best suits your preference and get ready to saddle up!

Trail riding in Australia

The most common type of riding holiday, trail riding is basically a trip on horseback along trails, bridled paths, or roads that are not used by vehicles such as cars and trucks. It can be done across forests, mountains, and just about anywhere horse riding can be done.

trail riding Australia

On a trail ride, you would likely have the opportunity to have some time off the saddle to enjoy other outdoor activities which includes everything from hiking to fishing. 

Also referred to hacking or horse trekking, a trail riding excursion can last from a couple of hours to days, depending on the path and the riders’ preference. 

Though it is suitable for beginners and advanced riders alike, for more challenging trails, you would need to have the skill to walk, trot, and canter on a horse to be able to enjoy a comfortable journey. Do make sure to inquire in advance to ensure that you have tevel of riding required for the trail ride you are interested in.

In general, note that trail riding is slower in pace so if you’re looking truly take in Australia’s breathtaking natural wonders while exploring its stunning mountains, forests, and coastlines, it is your best bet.

While its true that you can find many horse riding trails across Australia, there are some that are simply not to be missed. A trail ride on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland is one example of such excursion.

Located in the north-east part of the country, it is bordered by the Coral Sea and the Pacific ocean which makes it an absolutely perfect destination for a day of beach canters. That said, it also allows you to ride along some of Australia’s tropical rainforests and bushlands. It’s not a rare ocassion that you will encounter cuddly wildlife such as kangaroos and koalas along your path! 

If mountains are more of your cup of tea, horse riding along Cradle Mountain in Tasmania comes highly recommended. Here, you’ll have the chance to test your skills through various terrains as you ride through Alpine Eucalypt, Myrtle Forest, and The Speeler Plain. It may be a bit of a climb but once you experience the spectacular views & sceneries in this region, you’re bound to agree that it all was well worth it.

Ranch Vacations in Australia

Looking to experience life as a real life cowboy or cowgirl, hone your skills in Western riding, or pitch as a ranch hand at a farm? If your answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ to any of these, then a ranch vacation is what you seek!

You may think that the only way to have a glimpse of authentic ranch life is to go to the Wild West of America, but that’s far from true. In fact, even a Texan would vouch that Australia’s ranches are the real deal.

ranch vacation australia

In Australia, you can find top ranches all throughout Australia but most do concentrate in New South WalesWestern Australia, and the Nothern Territory.

During a ranch vacation, you’ll not only be treated to trail riding sessions (usually lasts at least a couple of hours per day), you’ll also be learning various skills required as a ranch hand. This includes everything horsemanship (horse training), roping, haying to feeding the livestocks and how to operate & maintain various ranch equipment!

Some ranch vacations also include cattle drives where you will be given the opportunity to help the farm’s cowboys & cowgirls to steer herds of cattle from one destination to another. Depending on the excursion and the length of the drive, this experience lasts from a couple of hours to several days.

Ranch vacations are suitable for families and groups who are looking to have a unique holiday where they can bond and learn together. It makes a wholesome trip for children in particular where they get to bond with horses and other animals of the farm, develop their horse riding skills as well as learn the hard but worthwhile work that it takes to run a farm.

Pack Trips in Australia

First things first, what exactly is a pack trip? A pack trip is a multi-day horse riding & camping excursion where pack animals such as horses or donkeys would carry your baggage

If you’re looking to explore much of the Australian outback, a pack trip if an ideal choice as it will allow you to discover ‘the nooks and crannies” of Australia that are rarely visited by travelers and inaccessible by motorized vehicle. 

pack trip Australia

Imagine you along with your guide and a group of other 4-8 riders, venturing into the Australian wilderness only with your horses and bare essentials. You’ll enjoy a full day of riding with picturesque natural landscapes as your backdrop. Along the way, expect to make a few stops to admire the view, take photos, and/or get up close and personal with some of Australia’s native wildlife. 

In the evenings, you’ll set up camp in the great outdoors and make your meals on an open fire before ending the night under the star drenched sky. It truly makes for an rejuvenating experience that you won’t soon forget!

Due to the fact that you’ll need to ride across long distances and will need to ride across varied terrains, pack trips are suitable for riders who have intermediate level riding skills and up.

Interested in going on a pack trip? Kosciuszko National Park located in the foothills of Snowy Mountains in New South Wales offers a rustic camping trail that horse riding enthusiasts should not pass up. Though it is arguably one of the country’s most challenging trails, it is also offers one of the most beautiful sceneries.

As NSW shares a border with Victoria, don’t miss out on riding up to Mount Bogong, Victoria Mountain’s highest peak. To get there, you’ll need to climb in to the High Alps and ride across the lush woodlands & open herb fields of the Victorian High Plains.

Beach Horse Riding in Australia

Love spending time at the beach as much as you do horse riding? Why not combine them and go on riding along the beach in Australia? 

Lucky for us, Australia happens to be one of the world’s top destinations for beach horse riding!

Whether you’re looking to include a ride along the beach as part of your excursion or prefer to spend the day stretching at full gallop on the pristine white sand, a beach horse riding holiday will definitely make a lasting memory. 

Imagine the glorious feeling of having the refreshing wind caress your face as you listen to the soothing sounds of the waves all while riding your horse! If you are planning to spend the day at the beach, be sure to stick around long enough to watch the sunset, you’ll be more than glad that you did.

beach horse riding australia

Blessed with over 10,000 gorgeous beaches spread across the continent, the good news is that many of them allow horses. That said, some regions of Australia such as Tasmania and Queensland are home to beaches that are a cut above the rest.

Just a short flight away from Australia’s major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, Tasmania is certainly worth the extra effort. Here, you’ll find one of Australia’s most striking beaches, Hobart’s Seven Mile Beach where you can choose to meander its coastline or venture out to the Tassie bush and ride along Alpine lakes and mountains.

As you may already know, Tasmania is also home marine and land based wildlife that can not be found elsewhere such as the Tasmanian devil and the Pademelon. Hence, don’t be surprised if you come across these beautiful creatures along your ride!

If you opt to stay in the mainland, Queensland’s Rainbow beach is where you ought to be heading especially if you’re looking to combine your beach riding with a ride along the forest. You’ll also be happy to know that it is open all year long! Noosa Beach is also a popular choice for those looking to soak up some sunshine on their riding excursion.

Here, in addition galloping and trotting along the beach, you’ll get the opportunity to explore the Sunshine Coast’s spectacular bushland too. It certainly makes for a beautiful and exciting adventure. 

Short on time and looking for a unique horse riding vacation that is bound to be unforgettable? A weekend horse riding in Australia makes an ideal choice! 

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