There are some great places to ride in WA, from mustering at Home Valley Station in the Kimberley to trotting by vineyards in Margaret River – and you don’t need to have any horseback experience at all. Riding fanatics are well catered for, though: there’s the Kep Track for a ride over a couple of days, or the Railway Reserves heritage trail in the hills. And for those who enjoy the horses (without riding) there are races, rodeos and outback musters…
WHERE TO GO
Northwest | A horse trek through the Kimberley region is a great way to revel in the beauty of the popular region, and a number of cattle stations up north offer horseriding treks for the true outback experience, often in the company of stockmen and women – some even allow you to experience a cattle muster. Taking in a view of Cockburn Range via horseback and exploring trails that were part of the original stock route in the 1800s will appeal to history buffs. Travel through the top end offers a plethora of horseriding opportunities (including agistment in or around many of the towns).
Coral Coast | Why not break up the scuba diving and marine life appreciation with some equestrian fun while you’re visiting the Coral Coast? Kalbarri offers many scenic horseriding opportunities, especially if river crossings and beach rides are up your alley. Likewise Carnarvon also boasts a number of trail rides that can incorporate sand hills and beaches for the water-loving horse and rider, and there are horseriding tours in Exmouth that take advantage of the ocean. Trail rides around Geraldton are popular, with local schools and clubs you can contact for news on upcoming treks.
Perth Surrounds | There are many riding centres and schools for equestrian enthusiasts in the metro area. (West Australian Facebook groups are another way to find likeminded trail riders in your locality.) Trail rides and lessons located in hill suburbs like Darlington, Kalamunda, and Mundaring are a great opportunity to appreciate the bushland views. Swan Valley offers riverside horseriding, and just beyond that is Bullsbrook, a popular destination for the riding set, with everything from weekday adult lessons to school holiday camps available. If you don’t mind a drive, Gingin offers beautiful scenery (Moore River a notable trail option), with experienced riders sure to enjoy the historical aspect of the Old North Stock Route.
Golden Outback | If you’re heading to the Wheatbelt, the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail takes riders to the outskirts of Kalgoorlie. Also worth considering is the Collie to Darkin Rail Trail, which begins east of Collie and finishes at the old Darkan Railway Station. Cattle stations and farms of the Gascoyne-Murchison region offer stays that can include horseriding, a great way to follow in the path of the pioneers (especially beautiful during wildflower season). Those passing through Kulin should check out the quirky Tin Horse Highway; the fun horse sculptures were created in order to promote the annual Kulin Bush Races.
Southwest | This popular horseback riding region has options to appeal to beginners, families and experienced riders. For those with their own horse, there are clubs that schedule treks throughout the calendar year, including group rides, and horse and rider camp outs, while less experienced riders might appreciate the riding schools spread throughout the southwest area. Known for its wineries, Margaret River is also a hub of equestrian activity, making it a prime tourist location – tailored trail rides allow for a true appreciation of the countryside. Friends can even opt for a horse-drawn carriage if riding isn’t quite their thing.
If you’ve decided to take your own horse on a trek, remember that it’s almost inevitable you’ll come across elements the animal may not be used to. If the sudden appearance of strangers or the sound of trail bikes is particularly upsetting to your horse, do some research beforehand to ensure you’ve chosen the most suitable route. When participating in treks, tours or day rides, always be honest in regards to your skill level. Remember to dress accordingly, and if unsure, ask the guide for advice first.
Check accommodation websites when planning your trip: many stations only open during the dry season. Birdwood Downs near Derby offers horseriding trails with bungalows and unpowered campground sites. Digger’s Rest Station, south of Wyndham, is an authentic cattle station with horseriding tours, treks and an 11-day muster. Stay at bunkhouse rooms and bush huts, or camp by the homestead or along King River. A whole day’s horseback adventure awaits at Home Valley Station in the East Kimberley, with a guided tour by stockmen and women. Accommodation ranges from grass castles on Bindoola Creek, to guesthouse rooms and safari-style eco tents, or a campground. El Questro has guided tours including one delving into the history of the once-working cattle station up to its current status as a wilderness park. The luxury lodge has camping options, bungalows at The Station, the Emma Gorge resort and clifftop vistas from The Homestead. For northern Kimberley adventures, head to Drysdale River Station for riverside or homestead camp areas. Mount Hart Homestead offers two areas to stay in, including an original working cattle station. Charnley River cattle station has camping sites, rondavels and camping huts. Nallan Station is a working cattle and sheep station, and Ellenbrae Station has stockmen’s cabins and campsites at its cattle station. Mount Elizabeth has produced beef cattle since the 1950s and offers tours and accommodation for visitors keen to hear about living and working on a remote station. Big River Ranch at Kalbarri has daily rides: you can camp or opt for a farmstay room or self-contained family unit. Just 50m from the Indian Ocean, Barn Hill Station Stay has beachside accommodation in an outback atmosphere. Close to Ningaloo Reef, Coral Bay and Exmouth, Bullara Station has caravan and camping sites, and self-contained rooms. Northwest of Carnarvon, Quobba Station runs 10,000 damaras (South African meat sheep) with luxury eco-safari tent accommodation built in 2004. Established in 1898, it contains original cottages including an old blacksmith’s, stables, an overseer’s residence and jackaroo quarters. Murchison’s Wooleen Station has camping and caravan sites, plus rammed-earth guest houses and bedrooms in their heritage-listed homestead.
NullaRbor Muster | A huge three-day event held at the railway siding of Rawlinna. Visitors can watch gymkhana events and bull riding, and take part in skeet shooting and arm-wrestling competitions. Apr.
Perth Cup | Hosted annually by the Royal Ascot Raceway, the New Year’s Day event sees about 30,000 spectators and punters flock to the course for a few bets and bevvies. Jan.
Halls Creek Rodeo | A three-day program jam-packed with steer, bull and bareback riding, camp drafting, an outback challenge for local stockmen and women, a unique Saddle Bronc event, and a mini stampede gymkhana for kids. Jul.
Ord Valley Muster | More than 30 concerts and activities for Kimberley residents and visitors who flock from around the nation and the globe each year. Jun.
Marble Bar Ball and Races | Ticketed as the ‘hottest race in Australia’s hottest town’, the Marble Bar Ball and Races attracts a crowd of up to 3000, with the race event held annually since 1893. The ball the night before gets punters in the mood. Jul.
Fitzroy Crossing Rodeo and Campdraft | Cowboys and cowgirls are put to the test in a range of events. Jul.
Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association | The national club organises the annual Derby Outback Rodeo, Gymkhana and Campdraft, featuring a range of events with bars, bands, food vans and camping available on-site. Aug.
Kalgoorlie Cup | The Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club hosts the popular XXX Gold Kalgoorlie Cup, which sees people gather to watch one of the most iconic events on the nation’s racing calendar. Sep.
Broome Turf Club | The regional club hosts race events including a two-week carnival with the Kimberley Cup, Ladies Day and Broome Cup. In addition, the Pinctada Cable Beach Polo Festival is a major drawcard for visitors to the town. Various dates.