Showing visitors the best of both worlds
HOW would you like to ride horses all year round, even if you had to cross most of Australia to do it?
Christian and Laura Hayes have got it all together, taking visitors on horseback tours in the High Country over summer and spending the cooler months in Victoria taking others through the Kimberleys.
Their Victorian business – Hidden Trails – runs until about the end of April, after which the couple and their 10 month old baby, Madeleine, decamp for the north.
“It’s a very enjoyable lifestyle; Madeleine was only seven weeks old when we took her last year,” Laura said.
They started with Hidden Trails about four years ago after working with Charlie Lovick in High Country Adventure, and have been 12 years in the industry.
But there is no problem among those who offer trail rides in Mansfield.
“We’re all on the same page – Mansfield is the area to come to for horse riding,” Laura said.
Now they take visitors on trips ranging from two hours to two weeks, depending on their skill and interest.
The longer tours for serious riders and adventurers will take them to the Wonnangatta Valley over to Dargo, but mostly their tours involve new riders and are much shorter.
Food for the troops is one of their specialties – Christian was earlier a chef, so anyone along on one of these rides is unlikely to starve.
Well known for the food they offer, the horse party is accompanied by a trailer that catches up with them each evening to supply the chef with the makings.
Locally, the couple have about 50 horses ready for the tours, and even do their own horse breaking and training.
When they eventually break off for the winter, their horses go off to Bonnie Doon for a well-earned rest.
El Questro Wilderness Park in the north of Western Australia extends for about 80 kilometres into the heart of the Kimberleys, which are still relatively unexplored.
The El Questro Station in the park is where the Barwite couple keep another 25 or so horses for their tours of the Kimberleys, as part of the contract they hold for the operation.
The site is about 870,000 acres in area, offering endless opportunities for visitors to see local sights.
Once the wet season is past – the last one returned 1170mm at the Station - Christian and Laura make the 4000km trek overland to the Station, taking just three and a half days.
“We enjoy taking people out in the bush on horses and showing them the magnificent sights of the area,” Christian said.
“It’s a lifestyle – it allows us to live a good life.”
ENJOYING LIFE: Managing horses has become part of everyday life for Christian and Laura Hayes, with baby Madeleine. The couple run Hidden Trails in the High Country over summer and repeat the process again in the far north of WA when weather here is...