There is nothing quite like camping with your horses to develop a deep relationship and sense of trust. But it can be a lot of work. From finding a suitable and safe trail, to packing everything you need for both yourself and your steed. Sometimes, the biggest headache of all can be finding a decent enough horse campsite that can cater for your needs of you and your horses. Luckily, there are more than a few gems around the country where horse camping is welcome, encouraged, and won’t break the bank.
If any Australian state was to scream ‘made for horse campers’, it would be Victoria. With a multitude of purpose built horse yards and free to use huts, it truly is a horse trekkers’ land of milk and honey. Below are just a few of the tasty pickings from its vast array of horse campsites.
Jackass Fern Gully
Jackass Ferm Gully is about as close to Melbourne as you can get without encroaching on suburbia with your saddlebags. Located in Cobboboonee National Park, horse riders can explore the surrounding 60 kilometres of trails that make up the great Cobbobonee Horse Trail.
Scout Loop Track Horse Yards, VIC
Another site just a stone’s throw from the state capital, Scout loop track camp is a horse campsite located in a bush setting within the Kurth Kiln Regional Park. There are great horse yards on site as well as a maze of trails to explore.
Redbox Camp, VIC
Redbox is by no means the cream of the crop when it comes to the litany of campgrounds strewn along Victoria’s Wellington River. Being rather dusty and with little green pick, it is perhaps more suited to horse travellers with support vehicles, and thence, a supply of hay. Nonetheless, the sturdy and well-maintained yards will ensure a good night’s rest for all.
Kelly’s Lane, VIC
Kelly’s Lane Camp is situated in the Alpine National Park off Tamboritha Road, about eight kilometres south of Arbuckle Junction. The substantial, well-fenced horse paddock and shady clearing under the peppermints for the humans certainly makes one want to stay longer than planned. You may need to draw water from nearby Shaw’s Creek, as the bore in the paddock seems to be defunct. Nearby, you’ll find Bennison Lookout, the Tamboritha Saddle, and glorious Alpine hills rolling into the distance.
Howitt Hut, VIC
Howitt is a cattleman’s hut built in the early 20th century and now inhabits the Alpine National Park. Although the hut is now rather dilapidated, the nearby horse paddocks and grassy areas make for an awesome horse camp.
For adventurous and experienced horse trekkers, the Howitt Hut camp offers access to rugged trails such as Butcher Country track, Caledonia River and the Wonnangatta Valley. However, At around 1500m in altitude, the Howitt High Plains are not the place to hang out in bad weather- consider taking a few extra layers and a perhaps a rug or three for the equines.
South Australia is home to the Kidman Trail- a 269 kilometre long friendly trail featuring several fantastic horse camp facilities. Here are a few horse camping favourites:
Jack’s Paddock, SA
Opposite Kuitpo Hall, Jack’s paddock is an exclusive use areas for horse riders on the Kidman Trail. Situated in the Kuitpo forest areas, the site includes horse yards, a shelter, pit toilet, fire place, and rainwater tank.
Starkeys Horse Camp SA
Starkey’s Horse Camp is located in the Mount Crawford Forest and on the doorstep of the famed Eden and Barossa Valley. It is set between native and plantation pine forest and offers the usual yards, toilet, shelter, water and picnic tables.
Australian Capital Territory
There is much more to Canberra than Parliament house, white collar workers and politicians. Canberra has recently been more aptly described as ‘basically just one big national park’, and indeed the ACT is full of horse trails and potential campsites.
Mount Clear, ACT
Mount Clear’s horse paddocks, shelter, fire pits and water tank are a welcome sight after a long day’s ride in the nearby Naas Valley. However, large numbers of kangaroos and wallabies inhabit the park, so the grass in the designated horse paddocks may be a little thin on the ground.
Unfortunately, Western Australia offers relatively little in the way of established horse campsites. However, WA’s spectacular Kimberley region is perhaps best explored from the saddle of a horse.
Home Valley Station, WA
Set at the foot of the majestic Cockburn Range, Home Valley Station is a great base for riders to travel the famed Gibb River Road and the stunning Kimberley region of Australia’s north west. Although not a free camp, Home Valley offers over three million acres to explore, as well as other mod-cons such as powered sites, playgrounds, and swimming pool. Be sure to visit during the winter months when the weather is a little more horse-friendly.
New South Wales
Legends like Paterson’s Man From Snowy River and Flash Jack from Gundagai were born here in Australia’s first state, and it was here that our nations’s horsemen and pack saddlers first cut their teeth. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that New South Wales offers some of the most diverse, stunning and historic horse camps in the country.
Ghost Gully, NSW
Surrounded by black sallee eucalypts, Ghost Gully campground is a small campground with basic necessities, horse facilities and easy access to the northern section of Kosciuszko National Park.There is no vehicle access in winter and occasionally at other times due to snowfall. The campsite provides access to Mosquito Creek trail, which reaches north to Hainsworth and Old Currango huts. The site is tucked away off Long Plain Road, just over 50km from Adaminaby via Snowy Mountains Highway.
Youdales Hut, NSW
Youdales Hut gives a glimpse into early settler life in the World- Heritage listed Kunderang Wilderness, located in the stunningly rugged New England region. Although there is no paddock or functional yards on site, you wont have the worry of nearby roads or traffic to deal with down here in this remote gorge. Deep in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, the site offers a maze of steep and rugged country for the intrepid equine traveller, and the nearby crystal clear waters of the pristine Kunderang Brook are a sight to behold.
Tom Groggin Horse camp, NSW
On the banks of the Murray and in the southern precincts of the Kosciusko National Park, Tom Groggin horse camp features two horse paddocks and plenty of nearby green pick. The river is a welcome relief on a hot afternoon for horse and human alike, and the newly developed Boardman’s run bridle trail is well worth exploring.
Geehi Horse camp, NSW
The Old Geehi Hut, located on the large shady river flats on the Swampy Plains River, was once the vestige of mountain men and pack-saddlers. While Horse-riders are forbidden to camp in the immediate area, NPWS has gone above and beyond in their efforts to provide an alternative site.
The Geehi Horse Camp is about 50 mins south of Khancoban on the Alpine Way. From Jindabyne, travel west along Kosciuszko Road for 3km then turn left on to Alpine Way. Continue for 78km, cross the bridge at Swampy Plains River, and look for the Geehi Horse Camp signs. You’ll find beautifully fenced paddocks, a water tank, shelter, and grass. There are also fire-pits and picnic tables from which to enjoy the panorama of the Main Range teetering above you.
Currango Homestead, NSW
A favourite trail-riding getaway for Canberran equestrians, Currango’s buildings include the oldest surviving continuously-occupied homestead in the Kosciusko National Park.
Nestled among the snowgums, Currango Homestead offers heritage eco-accommodation for horse and human alike in the Australian Alps. According to the NPWS website, Currango is registered on the National Estate and ideal for large groups and families who want to experience the spectacular High Plains in true pioneer style.
The homestead is an excellent base to explore the beautiful northern Kosciusko National Park, much of which is closed off to vehicles. Oldfields Hut, Circuits Hit and plenty of other historical sites abound, as do the numerous herds of brumbies oft sighted in the area. Luckily, Currango’s well—feced paddocks should deter the neighbouring brumbies and ensure that your own mount is still there in the morning!
Home to some of Australia’s most skilled and hardworking stockmen, Katherine is also home to Golden Guitar winner and horseman extraordinaire, Tom Curtain. The property offers horse-starting and working dog demonstrations, entwined with live music and humorous bush tales.
Despite occasional water problems and availability of green pick at certain times of the year, one thing you can be sure of in Queensland is space, as well as a huge network of Travelling Stock reserves.
Only a couple of hours drive north of Brisbane, Kilkivan is a fascinating, quaint little town with a rich gold mining and farming history. The town itself os known for its annual ‘Kilkivan Great Horse ride’ and is an important resupply point for horse trekkers on the 5330km Bicentennial National Trail.
Kalpowar Forest, QLD
In the foothills of the Burnett Range, Kalpowar State Forest protects a mosaic of forests. Patches of dense rainforest with towering hoop pines remain between open eucalypt forests and hoop pine plantations. There is more than enough space to set up somewhere with your horses in the Kalpowar forest, and numerous grassy sites and clearings aboud. The main campsite is a tranquil bush setting beside Crane Creek near the start of McNae Road.
Narawntapu National Park, TAS
Situated on the central-north coast of Tasmania, the eastern entrance to the Narawntapu National Park is less than 1 hours drive north-west of Launceston. The pristine Baker’s Beach is an easy ride from the yards. This camping area has limited drinking water, so it is recommended you carry your own. If you are planning to camp with horses, 2 days notice is required prior to your arrival and conditions do apply.
So there you have our favourite horse-friendly camping spots! Found a horse-camping gem of your own? Let us know about it in the comments!