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Holidaying on home soil

As Australians, we don’t have to travel too far to enjoy a fabulous riding holiday, writes MATHILDE GREGOIRE.

Looking for a summer riding holiday destination? Some of the best experiences may very well be in your own backyard! A staycation is a great way to be environmentally conscious while supporting local businesses, and of course at the same time enjoying the piece of paradise we live in. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you and your girlfriends to take a trip, or to make new friends who share the same passion and want a quintessential Australian experience.

Although we’re essentially spoiled for choice, we narrowed things down to a couple of exciting summer riding suggestions that we think will inspire you.

Rainbow Beach Horse Rides

For a perfect beach getaway consider Queensland’s Rainbow Beach Horse Rides (RBHR). Located around three hours north of Brisbane, RBHR is a multi-award winning horse adventure company. World renowned for its crystal clear water, fine white sand, and stunning blue skies, Rainbow Beach is the very definition of natural beauty, which you get to revel in on horseback! What’s more, you can enjoy a little VIP exclusivity as RBHR holds a permit to ride along a section of the beach where no other vehicles are allowed.

The company caters for riders of all levels, from beginners to experienced. But if you want a good dose of Vitamin Sea, we recommend their special swimming ride for experienced riders only, where you’ll ride your horse bareback into the water. And the RBHR team will be there to memorialise this unforgettable experience by taking photos on their waterproof cameras!

If you fancy a nocturnal adventure, every month RBHR offer their Country Pub Full Moon Ride. You’ll ride to the top of Mount Goomboorian to watch the sunset and the full moon rise, before heading to the pub for a hearty meal. Andrew McCarthy, owner of RBHR, reckons that this ride is popular for a number of reasons: “Riding a horse into the bar of the pub for a photo with a drink in hand is quite popular with the guests. It’s something quite unique,” he laughs.

Catering mainly for small groups, multi day rides to explore the area are available on request. You’ll have the opportunity to see kangaroos, koalas and native birds, and to ride through a variety of terrains including creeks, eucalypt forests and mountainous areas. And the atmosphere is cozy – a campfire is set up in the evenings where a meal is shared along with recollections of the day’s adventures.

The most popular rides are the seven and five day rides, which, Andrew says, “have genuinely changed lives.” The most popular aspect of these rides is tuition given on stock work before actually working with cattle. “We find that Quarter Horses are well suited for this, with some Australian Stock Horses added to the mix. Every guest rides a horse worth between $30,000 and $40,000.” In fact, the horses ridden by guests are the same horses used for mustering and competition, predominantly geldings with Acres Destiny and Rey Dual bloodlines, along with some RS Chism and Seligman Spin geldings. A thrilling learning experience with top-of-the-line horses? What more could you ask for?

Watsons Mountain Country Trail Rides

This 580 acre family farm in the heart of Mansfield, Victoria, has been the base for riding adventures for many generations, offering a fantastic way to experience the authentic Australian High Country on horseback. From one hour rides to five day treks, Watsons Mountain Country Trail Rides (WMCTR) offer a unique experience through Victoria’s valleys and cater for riders of all levels.

Experience the thrill of a Man from Snowy River adventure (Image courtesy Watsons Mountain Country Trail Rides).

Their popular five day luxury ride will take you to the High Country and give you an opportunity to view the wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, and Wedge-tailed Eagles. Riding along the banks of the Howqua River and crossing at multiple points, you will enjoy long stretches of canter and breathtaking 360 degree views. Adventurous riders looking for a thrilling Australian bush experience will love following in The Man from Snowy River’s hoof prints, riding past the steep hill down from Kate Cameron’s Peak where the famous jump scene from the movie was filmed – now that’s one to tick off your bucket list!

With horses well looked after, and a strong focus on rider and horse safety, you can rest assured that your hosts will show you the best that the Victorian bush has to offer. Emphasis on providing a memorable culinary experience and strong attention to detail will ensure you are well taken care of. And with some overnight rides, you will also enjoy the experience of sleeping in a swag under the stars with the river as a backdrop.

The real beauty of these rides is being able to see sights what would otherwise be very difficult to glimpse from a car or even on foot. And if you are looking to complement your riding holiday with some sightseeing and other outdoors activities, Victoria’s High Country also has plenty of opportunities for waterskiing, wakeboarding, and dirt biking in the summer.

For more information visit Watson Trail Rides, and Rainbow Beach Horse Rides.

Feature Image: An unforgettable ride along magnificent Rainbow Beach (Image courtesy Rainbow Beach Horse Rides).