Riding around Australia on horseback we need to find a camp about every 30 km. So you can say we have some experience in finding camps everywhere. It's a great lifestyle being on the road with your horse and we would like to encourage you to give it a try as well. Maybe not as full on as we do, but a little holiday with your equine partner next time you have a break would be great. It's easier then you think.
Easy camps, with horse yards
Let's start easy. If you have always been dreaming about camping with horses, but you don't know where to start, have no gear or even haven't got a horse, maybe you could try a organized horse holiday first. This way everything is organized for you and you can test if the real deal is worth getting into. Globetrotting has some amazing adventures for you lined up all over the world. Or try your hand at a multiple day ride with a private tour operator. There are heaps around.
Dedicated horse trails
The next best thing is to find trails that are dedicated to horse riders. The good part about them is that not only your camps are set up for horses but you also have a route to follow. To find horse trails, check out the National Parks or Forestry websites of your state. Another good website is All Trails which is also available in an app. Or one of our favorites Rail Trails Australia. Choose horse riding in the menu options and you will get a list with all the trails you can ride. We are looking forward to trying the Great Victorian Rail Trail soon. I will report how we go. If you are in WA, try the Warren Blackwood Stock Route.
Australia has an abundance of different horse riding clubs. Most of these clubs have equestrian grounds of some sort. Again they are set up for horses, so ideal grounds to camp at. Not all clubs welcome non-member campers (mostly due to insurance) but we were welcome at plenty of grounds. Look up horse clubs in the area you want to ride and contact them to see if you can camp at their grounds. Try to find clubs that are centered around trail riding. Local knowledge about tracks is always welcome. The Australian Trail Horse Riders Association has a list of affiliated clubs and events. Maybe you can even join an overnight camping event.
Camping at sports and recreation grounds is getting more and more popular amongst the travelers of Australia. They are a good, cheap option with often great amenities like showers, toilets and camp kitchens. And... they often have some sort of yards as well. Beware though, they are not always yards that are suitable for horses. Agricultural shows most likely accommodate cattle or sheep. It pays to check out the yards first before you commit to camping with your horse here. One of the easiest ways to find out all the details about showgrounds around Australia is the Facebook Group Showgrounds Sports and Rec Grounds Camping. They keep a pretty up to date list of all grounds listed per state. Wiki Camps is another good source of information.
Want to spend a little extra money and 'camp' in luxury? Find yourself a holiday rental that welcomes your horse as well. What we find great about these places is that the horses often have a paddock instead of a small yard. We get to enjoy some luxuries and are able to explore the region, knowing the horses are safe and taken care of. Check out these websites to find the ideal option for you: Have horse will travel, Horse Directory Australia, Agistment Finder, Horse Shed and Bed.
We are lucky in a way that people offer us and the horses accommodation all the time. They have read or heard about our travels and are willing to put us up at their place for a night or so. This is great obviously and we often take people up on their offer. There are some downfalls for this way of camping as well. For one, the property is not always on our exact route and we have to make extra km's to get there. What people forget is that 10km with a car is not much, but 10km on horse takes 2 hours (there and back!). Also not everybody has the same standards as to what are safe horse yards or paddocks. Some yards are better suited to cattle or sheep.
I wanted to mention the private option here because it can fulfil your needs. If you travel in the horsey world, you are bound to have horsey friends. Why not camp at each others properties and get to explore some new and exciting trails. You can then return the favor and show off your backyard.
Camp with your own yards
We have our own set up with the luxury of our horse truck and yards for both horses. This means we can pretty much camp anywhere. The truck is self sufficient and carries water, feed and anything we need for us and the horses. But even if you don't have a set up like ours, if you have some sort of yards (or hobbles, highlines etc) it opens up a whole lot of places to camp.
Traveling with pets is another section of the holiday market that is on the rise. And lucky for us, horses are considered pets as well. We found caravan parks in small towns are more then happy to accommodate horses. Don't try the BIG4 parks, or parks in popular tourism destinations, as they probably won't have you. But the small ones are happy with the extra income and the novelty of horses staying in the park. The good thing about caravan parks is that you can have power and water if you need it and you can use the ablution blocks. Mostly there is some extra room a bit away from the other campers where you can set up your yards and where the horses are safe after a days ride.
Our go to planning tool for overnight options is Wiki Camps. Wiki Camps is an app you can download for your phone or tablet. It costs $7.99 (more then worth it) as a one off purchase, so you don't need a subscription. It works offline and also offers a trip planner.
But the best thing it offers is Australia's largest database of campgrounds as well as water points, toilets, dump stations etc. Through Wiki Camps we have found some ripper campsites that we would normally not be aware off. It basically is like you have all the locals knowledge in your pocket. The campsites range from caravan parks, to free RV parks, showgrounds, rest areas to gravel pits and everything in between. It shows what amenities to expect (bins, toilets, showers, phone reception), if dogs (and we then read horses) are allowed, how much it costs and what type of vehicle the site is suited for. The reviews are very handy as well. It gives you an idea of how easy the sites are to get into, what the best spots are, if you can expect difficult terrain etc. If you are self sufficient like us, the sky is really the limit as to where you can camp with your horses. Just make sure your horses behave and always clean up when you leave.
Last tool. Sometimes there is no camp to be found on Wiki Camps along our route and within a comfortable riding distance. We then revert to Google Earth. What we look for is open spaces, parking bays, gravel pits etc on crown land, reserves or just along the road verges. Street view is a great help to have a better idea if the site is suitable for a quick overnight stop.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post, but more so, I hope you are inspired to grab your horse and go on a camping trip. You don't need much with the right set up and remember, every road is a trail.