A line of riders on horseback winds its way through the swathe of scrub against a backdrop of scribbly gums. The riders dip down into a dry gully and then head along a path that leads up through a copse of trees. They pause, looking down across the expanse, spellbound as the setting sun flares red across the sky and the shadows grow long.
The group circumnavigate the rim of a dam, their reflections pooling in the still water and head home.
This twilight ride is bucket list stuff for anyone who loved ‘The Man from Snowy River’ or wants to explore the beauty of our wide brown land for a few hours. This experience is just a short drive from the Capital.
Burnelee Excursions on Horseback has been operating for 45 years in the hills around Murrumbateman. Founder Lindsey Butt grew up on this 3500-acre property, rich with wildlife and scenic views of coffee-table-book Australia.
It was a natural step to combine his own family’s passion for horses and a desire to share Burnelee with others.
“There’s 1000 acres of natural bushland under conservation management that we ride through,” explains Lindsey’s daughter, Rachel. “It’s called Picaree Hill.”
The Picaree Hill Conservation Project is an environmental corridor that’s been fenced off and protected from livestock, foxes and kangaroos. This belt of land enables the regeneration of 76 rare species of endangered native flora and smaller native animals.
The family knows their property well and they map out unique trails to suit the riders.
Our twilight ride experience began with orientation. It finishes with a local tasting experience. Riding is hungry work and this evening’s riders congregate in the huge shed around a table set with platters of antipasto, breads and dips. Bottles of wine and other drinks chill on a ledge. The Burnelee team supports and promotes local businesses.
“We use wine from local wineries and our nibblies are locally sourced. We get our smoked meats from Poachers Pantry,” Rachel says.
Burnelee is a working farm, and more experienced riders can get involved in one of the daily parts of this farm’s life – mustering livestock.
“Mustering rides are generally for more experienced riders who can trot and canter in a group,” Rachel says.
Rides take place every Saturday, both morning and afternoon. Bookings are essential! Group bookings can be made for other days.
Twilight rides run throughout daylight savings months. The riding time is from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, followed by nibbles and wine tasting. Groups of six or more can book in their own twilight ride for a specific day.
“Twilight rides make for a memorable Christmas event for small groups of 6-10,” Rachel says.
With Christmas looming, it is also worthwhile to note that Burnelee offers gift certificates as a unique present idea.
Reviews on both Facebook and TripAdvisor consistently comment that the Burnelee team provided a trail ride experience that was fun both for a raw beginner and an experienced rider. Reviews also unanimously praise Burnelee’s uniquely Australian vistas and its warm, highly skilled team.