Show­ing vis­i­tors the best of both worlds

Mansfield Courier - - PROPERTY - By RICHARD JAGO

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...

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