Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

Wilderness horse riding trial: questions and answers

Why is the NSW Government trialling horse riding in wilderness?

The NSW Government is committed to providing appropriate, high-quality horse riding experiences in NSW national parks.

This commitment is articulated in Strategic Directions for Horse Riding in NSW National Parks, released in 2012.

The strategy commits to establishing five wilderness pilots across NSW to trial horse riding in wilderness locations.

Where will the wilderness pilots take place?

The wilderness pilots are within:

  • Kosciuszko National Park – Ingeegoodbee Trail and the Nine Mile Trail within the declared ‘Pilot Wilderness Area’
  • Deua and Monga National Parks – WD Tarlinton Bridle Track, Georges Pack Bridle Track and Shoebridge Bridle Track, traversing the Buckenbowra, Burra–Oulla and Woila–Deua wilderness areas
  • Mummel Gulf National Park – Dicks Hut Fire Trail and River Road Trail in the Mummel Gulf Wilderness Area
  • Curracabundi National Park – location to be finalised following exhibition and adoption of the plan of management.

When will the pilots start and how long will they go for?

The pilots in Kosciuszko, Deua and Monga, and Mummel Gulf national parks will start on 12 April 2014 and run for two years.

A commencement date for the pilot in Curracabundi National Park will be announced following exhibition of the plan of management for the park in 2014 and its final adoption.

What happens at the end of the two-year trial period?

Horse riding within each location will finish at the end of the two-year trial period. Each pilot will then be evaluated, including assessment of monitoring data collected at each location.

The evaluation will inform any future decisions regarding horse riding in wilderness areas.

How were the locations for the wilderness pilots chosen?

Local horse riding and community stakeholders have been involved in the choice of pilot locations and the design of the program. Workshops and meetings were held early in 2013 and NPWS selected the trails for the wilderness pilots in consultation with local horse riding groups, taking into account environmental values, riding experiences and monitoring requirements.

Each proposal was identified in publicly exhibited amendments to the plans of management for each park and all submissions were considered before any amendments were adopted. That process included statutory consultation with the Regional Advisory Committee for each park and the statewide National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council.

Are the trails and tracks part of park plans of management?

Draft amendments to the plans of management for Kosciuszko and Mummel Gulf national parks and Far South Coast Escarpment Parks (Deua and Monga) enabling the wilderness pilots to proceed were publicly exhibited in mid-2013.

The amendments have now been adopted.

The draft plan of management for Curracabundi NP will be exhibited later in 2014.

How will environmental impacts be minimised?

The design of the pilot program has sought to minimise the potential environmental impacts of the trial and a precautionary Review of Environmental Factors (REF) was completed for each pilot trial location. Key measures include:

  • use of existing management trails (which are already used for park management purposes) or bridle tracks with a history of horse riding access
  • no construction of new trails or tracks or supporting facilities
  • restricting maintenance works to targeted actions to ensure trails and tracks are safe and accessible, such as removal of fallen debris
  • limits on the size of riding groups
  • no formalised or constructed horse camping areas
  • application of a monitoring program to enable early detection of any impacts and the undertaking of actions to address these.

Is any clearing or construction proposed?

The locations for the pilot are either on existing management trails already accessible to vehicles for park management purposes (such as fire control) or bridle tracks where there is a long history of access for horse riding and other purposes.

As a result, there will be no new clearing or construction of trails or supporting facilities.

To ensure trails and tracks are safe, distinguishable and accessible, some small-scale and targeted maintenance may be required including removal of debris (such as fallen timber) and trimming of encroaching vegetation.

How will the introduction of weeds into wilderness areas be prevented?

The monitoring program will assess potential weed impacts associated with horse riding in each wilderness location. Baseline data on existing plants and weeds has already been collected.

How will the impacts of the trials be assessed?

The pilots will be monitored during the two-year period. Fifteen monitoring sites have been established in both Mummel Gulf and Deua and Monga National Parks and 16 in Kosciuszko NP. Baseline data on current environmental conditions has been collected prior to the opening of each route to horses. Monitoring will include the use of remote-sensing cameras, which is an established technique that assists in measuring levels of use.

Information from the monitoring program will be regularly published.

An assessment of potential environmental impacts, called a Review of Environmental Factors (REF), has been undertaken for each pilot.

Does the community have an opportunity to be involved in monitoring?

Local communities will have opportunities to be involved in the monitoring of the trials as they are implemented from 2014 to 2016. Local NPWS offices will liaise with community stakeholders to provide further information on how they can be involved.

Do I need to book or get permission to ride?

No. Access to the identified trails is available without making a booking or obtaining approval.

For horse riders travelling as a group, the following limits are in place to support the protection of park and wilderness values and the experience of park visitors:

  • Kosciuszko National Park – up to eight horses per group
  • Mummel Gulf National Park – up to 20 horses per group
  • Deua and Monga National Parks – up to 20 horses per group.

What should I do when planning to ride in these locations?

The trial is in remote locations where mobile phone reception is often not available. They also include some rugged and challenging sections. The trails in Kosciuszko National Park, in particular, should only be attempted by experienced riders.

When planning a ride, normal precautions should be taken:

  • check the national parks website for any warnings or closures
  • check and plan for a range of weather conditions
  • take appropriate quantities of food and water and first aid equipment, including for horses
  • do not ride alone and ensure you inform others about your departure and return times.

The Code of Practice for horse riding in parks provides more information on safe riding techniques.

Where can I find out more about the trials?

Further information, including fact sheets and maps for each park involved in the pilot, is available on the wilderness horse riding trial webpage.

National Parks and Wildlife Service regional offices can also provide information about the trials. Office locations are:

Kosciuszko National Park
Snowy Region Visitor Centre
Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne
Phone: (02) 6450 5600

Mummel Gulf National Park
Armidale NPWS Office
1st floor, 85 Faulkner Street, Armidale
Phone: (02) 6776 0000

Deua and Monga National Parks
Narooma NPWS office
Corner Graham and Burrawang Streets, Narooma
Phone: (02) 4476 0800

Page last updated: 09 April 2014