Watering the horses (riders) in Australia

by Hidden Trails 04/06/2007

For 23 years, people attracted to those two great bush institutions – horses and pubs – have been traveling to Glen Innes for a taste of both.




There they find another institution - a horseback tour business started by Steven Langley and for the past 12 years run by Steve and Alison Wood, with help from Jo Williams. Their trips are offered by Hidden Trails in Vancouver, Canada.


Based at Bullock Mountain Homestead, about 20 minutes north of Glen Innes, they offer mounted escapades that range from overnight visits to Glen Innes, to longer tours down the wild eastern escarpment – although the latter are becoming less frequent as leisure time shrinks.


But there is still plenty of scope for a unique experience.


An overnighter to Glen Innes, for example, involves the ride to town, a drink at the Railway Hotel, dinner at the Imperial and accommodation at the Club before returning the following day.


A longer trek crosses plains and gorge country to sample the delights of the Club Hotel in Emmaville.


And when there are the numbers, there’s a 10 day camp-out ride in August across some of the wilder country of New England.


“You get an adventurous city slicker, put them on a horse and go and visit a bush pub, and you’ve got the makings of a great holiday,” says Steve Wood.


Steve and Alison should know – they themselves are ex-city slickers.


Alison was attracted to the area by her interest in horses, then about 12 years ago she and Steve developed the operation, renaming it from “The Historic Bush Pubs Tour” to the more suggestive “Bushranger Ride”.


“The name can conjure up the wrong idea,” Steve says.  “This isn’t a drinkathon, it’s a horse trek.


“People used to muck up a lot more, but we have to run it to fit in with rules and regulations these days.”


“Most participants are “average weekend riders”.


A two hour trail ride before longer treks is used to match different levels of equestrian skill with the appropriate mount.


The trek horses are a mixed bag – from Australian Stock Horse and Quarter horse crosses to placid Percheron and Clydesdale crosses – but they share on similarity; they are all trained and selected for bomb-proof temperament.


These steeds have carried people from all walks of life, Steve says: “priests, pilots, madams, vets” and just about every other job description going.


Most are drawn to the universal charm of getting around the bush on horseback, but there are other motives.


Some have a list of experiences they want to tick off, so horse riding may come between skydiving and scuba diving.


But many are also drawn to the personal possibilities of getting away from it all in their own country.


“We get parents – especially single parents – who use the trek as an opportunity to bond with their teenage children,” Steve Says.


“We also get people like policemen, who use it as stress relief.”


Others take a trek so they can talk in private about personal matters away from everyday stresses and mobile phones, in a beautiful, relaxing environment.


Interested ?  Take a look at the Hidden Trails website at:


Please login to add your comment