From four legs to four wheels: where to ride in NSW
There’s adventure, and then there’s adventure involving a saddle. Whether that’s on a horse or a mountain bike, it’s time to get up, get on and feel your heart leap out of your chest.
Ready to get out of your comfort zone? Across NSW, there is wild terrain waiting to be discovered on two or four wheels, on horseback... or even atop a camel.
Read on for riding experiences that will challenge and delight you in equal measure.
Whether you’re an experienced rider or a first-timer, you’ll find horse-riding opportunities in NSW that will get your heart pumping. For a high-altitude frolic, head to Oberon in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and join a scenic expedition with High Country Trail Rides; for a beach ride, make tracks for the Great Lakes for and join Horse About Tours or Byron Bay for a gallop with Zephyr Horses; or go north to country Tamworth and explore a pristine 565-hectare property with Tamworth and Kootingal Horse Riding Adventures. Alternatively, head to Snowy Wilderness Resort near Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains for guided rides across rugged valleys.
If you’re based in Sydney, discover the wooded corners of the city’s epic Centennial Parklands on a 1hr tour with Centennial Stables, which caters to beginners and experts. Then head west out of the city to Sydney Horse Riding Centre, surrounded by green fields near Campbelltown; or discover Hawkesbury Valley Equestrian Centre in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.
For a truly out-of-the-ordinary thrill, why not jump on a camel? Oakfield Ranch will prep you for a journey across the massive sand dunes of Port Stephens on the state’s Central Coast. Port Macquarie Camel Safaris offers camel cruises along idyllic Lighthouse Beach, and Silverton Outback Camels can arrange an overnight camel-back expedition in the far west of the state near Broken Hill.
Quad biking is a blast wherever you do it, but when you bike in a stunning natural environment, the buzz is even greater. If sand and sea are your thing, book a session with Quad Bike King Williamtown and conquer the towering Stockton Sand Dunes at Port Stephens.
Nearby, Sand Dune Adventures offers an eye-opening cultural quad bike experience, led by experienced Aboriginal guides. Uncover the secrets of the area – known as the Worimi Conservation Lands – during a tour that’s tailored to your preferences and skill level.
Quad biking isn’t just about skidding across sand: in the Blue Mountains near Oberon, the team at High Country Quad Bikes are ready to show you sweeping valleys and captivating gorges on a cross-country small-group tour. Alternatively, the lush Glenworth Valley on the Central Coast is home to Glenworth Valley Quad Biking, part of a large riding and adventure centre. With easy access to rainforest, bushland and mountain trails, it’s a one-stop-shop for quad bike enthusiasts.
Test your nerve
NSW is home to some of the most dramatic mountain ranges in Australia, so it’s no surprise that our mountain biking trails are world class. Keen riders head straight for Kosciuszko National Park, which transforms from a ski destination to a biking mecca in the warmer months. The classic challenge is the Thredbo Valley Track, which extends some 35km and includes sections suitable for all skill levels. Thrill-seekers should also investigate Thredbo Mountain Bike Park, which boasts some ultra-advanced rides.
If you’re game for a high-speed mountain biking experience, Blue Mountains Biking Adventures can loan you an e-bike that makes light work of the area’s ups and downs. The team can also point you in the direction of the best Blue Mountains trails. Meanwhile, in the Snowy Valleys, the 21km, sealed Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail is perfect for families and adult bikers looking for a change of pace.
You can mountain bike by the coast and in the outback, too. Tathra Mountain Bike Trails on the Sapphire Coast in the far south of the state has almost 50km of dirt trails to choose from. Inland, the serene Bidgee Riverside Trail near Hay follows the Murrumbidgee River, while the Moama Five Mile Mountain Bike Trail in Murray Valley National Park offers a great mix of fast and rolling terrain.
Make some noise
NSW’s highways and country roads provide endless motor biking options, but a few areas are particularly good. If Sydney is your starting point, head west and follow the windy Bells Line of Road up into the Blue Mountains; travel south and join Grand Pacific Drive for epic coastal views down to Wollongong; or cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge and cruise north to Barrenjoey Road, which reaches the northernmost tip of the Northern Beaches.
There’s plenty of choice in the Snowy Mountains, too. The 68km Tumut Loop uses the well-maintained Snowy Mountain Highway and is ideal for those comfortable travelling at higher speeds. Or, if you’re up for a multi-day adventure, start from Cooma and take on the “Larger Loop”, which passes some truly monumental scenery.
Around Port Macquarie on the coast, start with the Coastal Cruise, a twisting 39km ride from Port Macquarie south to the fishing village of Camden Haven. Then test your mettle on the route known as Pandemonium, which takes you high into the hinterland. Finally, there’s the iconic, 100km Hot Trot trip that leads to the Great Dividing Range and an unforgettable view back towards the coast.