Horse Riding in Mount Kaputar National Park

This guide outlines where horse riding is allowed in Mount Kaputar National Park, and how it's managed with ecological sustainablility and other park users in mind.

Horse riding is a popular recreational and sporting activity and, for many Australians, has strong cultural values associated with exploration, settlement and bush skills. Appreciation and enjoyment of natural areas on horseback may provide for expression of those cultural values.

All recreational activities, including horse riding, can generate impacts on the park environment and must therefore be managed in accordance with legislative requirements and the objectives for which certain lands are reserved. The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 requires that the principles of ecologically sustainable development be applied in order to achieve the objects of that Act.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has developed the Recreational Horse Riding Policy (2006) outlining a wide variety of issues to consider when assessing permissibility of horse riding in individual reserves. A statewide Code of Practice for Horse Riding in Parks has been developed to minimise the environmental impacts of horse riding.

The Mount Kaputar National Park Plan of Management (2006) specifies those areas of the reserve where horse riding is inappropriate. The plan excludes horse riding from areas susceptible to erosion and weed invasion; areas where rare plant and animal species occur; areas where horses may have an unacceptable impact on water quality; areas where an alternate recreational use predominates and declared Wilderness areas (Wilderness Act 1987).

Aims of this Guide:

  • To clearly outline areas where horse riding is permissible within Mount Kaputar National Park.  
  • To ensure the ecologically sustainable management of horse riding within the park.
  • To outline the responsibilities of horse riders while within Mount Kaputar National Park to ensure minimal ecological impact and to reduce potential conflict with other park users.

Permissible horse riding areas

Visitors can ride horses in Mount Kaputar National Park in those areas where it is not otherwise prohibited. Restrictions apply regardless of whether a person is physically on the horse or not.

Horse riding is permissible on selected established management trails and Service roads outside of declared Wilderness Areas and sub alpine habitats such as in the:

  • Plagyan area
  • Beresford Park area
  • Upper Bullawa Creek area
  • the eastern section of the Barraba Track up to the John Perry picnic area.

Trails in Upper Bullawa Creek can be linked with shire roads to form a circular route.

Maps outline the roads and tracks where horse riding is permissible.

  • Horse riding is not permitted in declared Wilderness Areas.
  • Horse riding is not permissible in sub-alpine environments. This includes any track, management trail and public road between Coryah Gap on the Dunnet Parkway (Kaputar Road SR5) and the locked gate at John Perry (Brushy Mountain) Picnic Area on the Barraba Track.
  • Horse riding is not permissible on walking tracks.
  • Horses are to be ridden only on formed management trails and Service roads in permitted areas. Riding adjacent to the trails or across country is not permitted.
  • Overnight camping with horses is not permitted in Mount Kaputar National Park.
  • Horse riding is not permissible in Deriah Aboriginal Area which adjoins Mount Kaputar National Park.

 Horse riding is permissible in other selected reserves in the Narrabri National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area. Contact the NPWS Narrabri Area office for details.

General Park and trail closures apply to horse riders and support crew.

As per the Recreational Horse Riding Policy the total, partial or periodic exclusion of recreational activities, including recreational horse riding, may be imposed as a temporary measure where deemed appropriate by the Regional Manager.

Reasons for closures may include aerial pest management operations, prescribed burning, trail maintenance, wildfire, severe weather, special activities (such as scientific studies) or conditions of increased ecological stress (such as extended drought or after bush fires).

Where access restrictions are imposed Department staff will endeavour to ensure that park users are aware of any temporary access restrictions and that notices regarding temporary access restrictions are removed when the restriction ceases, where practicable.

Where indications of adverse environmental impacts emerge, the total, partial or periodic exclusion of recreational activities, including recreational horse riding, may be imposed as a temporary or permanent measure where deemed appropriate by the Regional Manager.

Planning a ride

When planning a ride into the park, ensure that you are familiar with park regulations. It is the responsibility of riders to make sure they are riding in permissible locations.

Riders must contact the NPWS Narrabri Area office before they enter Mount Kaputar National Park. This will ensure that riders are aware of any issues arising from incidents, temporary restrictions or conflicting operations, and will also assist management in compilation of park use data.

Some areas (refer to Maps) are only accessible via a locked gate. Keys and permits to access these areas are available from the NPWS Narrabri Area office.

Commercial operators, regardless of numbers of horses or participants involved, will require aa Parks Eco Pass.

Commercial operators will also be required to notify NPWS Narrabri Area when entering the park with less than five horses.

All horse riding activities that form part of:

  • an organised competition
  • large scale organised horse riding activities involving 40 people (regardless of the number of horses)
  • or more than 5 horses

will require written consent from NPWS Narrabri Area. Notification to Narrabri Area will need to occur at least one month before the activity to ensure that written consent can be issued in a timely manner.

Consent conditions that will apply include (but are not limited to):

  • public liability insurance will be required (the activity or event organiser will be required to indemnify the Minister, the Government of NSW, the Secreatary of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and all their agents, servants, contractors and employees)
  • a processing fee may be charged
  • the organiser of the activity or event will be required to make good any damage that may be made to the park, its roads, or other infrastructure as a result of the activity or event.

There is no public vehicle access on management trails without prior written consent from NPWS Narrabri Area.

When riding in Mount Kaputar National Park load/unload horses and park floats in a suitable location only in the Upper Bullawa Creek, Beresford Park and Plagyan areas. Ensure the chosen location has clear visibility and is safe from oncoming traffic. There are no floating, parking or turning areas on the Barraba Track within the national park.

Floats are not permitted to be parked, or horses unloaded and loaded in the Mount Kaputar National Park Information Bay parking area.

Vehicle operators must hold the appropriate class of licence for the type of vehicle and all vehicles, including floats, must be clean of mud and weeds before entering the park. Vehicles should be parked in such a way that they do not obstruct or prevent access to the management trails or Service roads.

Although accessible to horse riding, the Kaputar Road SR5 is a steep, narrow and winding road with little room to park or turn a vehicle/float around. Caravans are prohibited on the Kaputar Road and vehicles over 3m wide and with a total length of 7 metres require an escort. NPWS Narrabri Area advises not to take horse floats on this road but to load and unload horses within the national park along the Upper Bullawa Creek Road (SR141).

Floats must be cleaned off park to minimise the spread of weed species, parasites, pathogens, and excessive nutrient accumulation. 

  • Carry a first-aid kit for both horse and rider on all long trips, along with other emergency gear such as rope and torches.
  • Keep all emergency gear in backpacks, not saddlebags, so it isn’t lost if you become separated from your horse.
  • Check all equipment is in good working order before setting out.
  • Ensure horses are accustomed to the things they may encounter in parks, such as wildlife or cyclists, and are under adequate control at all times.
  • Don’t take young, inexperienced or recently broken horses unless you are confident you can maintain proper control at all times.
  • If planning a long trip, tell someone you are not riding with about your plan. Ensure they have the Narrabri Area emergency contact number 6792 4680.
  • Mobile phone coverage is unreliable in the park.
  • Check predicted weather conditions before beginning the ride.
  • Many management trails are steep and rocky. Have a lead rope handy so that the horse can be led if the terrain gets too difficult.
  • Riders under the age of 18 must wear helmets when riding in parks. It is strongly recommended that all other riders also wear helmets.

If someone is seriously injured and help cannot be contacted, one or (preferably) two riders should go for help while the rest of the group remains with the injured person and their horse.

If a horse escapes in a park, park staff must be notified as soon as possible.

If securing horses to vegetation (permitted during the day only), make sure horses are tied to sturdy trunks or branches where there is no evidence of previous damage to the soil or tree and place padding between the rope and the tree. Don’t tie horses to trees if they become restless and paw the ground or chew trees when tied up as this can quickly cause damage to soil and vegetation.

Horses must not be held or secured less than 50 metres from bodies of water, huts, Aboriginal and historical sites and other features that may be damaged.

Horses should be secured using lead ropes and headstalls not reins– many horses have escaped in parks due to broken reins.

Horses should not be held or secured in areas set aside for use by groups, such as picnic grounds.

Bringing hay, chaff or unprocessed grain based feeds into Mount Kaputar National Park for horse feed is prohibited.  Pelleted feed and cracked, rolled or steamed grain is permissible. This is to avoid introducing potential weed species into the national park.

Where possible horses taken to streams to be watered or cross must only be done where banks are hard and stony (and therefore erosion resistant) and downstream from campsites and other areas where water may be taken for human consumption.

Horses must remain in the water for the minimum amount of time possible and should not be washed in streams or allowed to linger on banks.

Where there are no suitably stable points for stream access, horses must be watered using buckets (canvas/collapsible buckets are generally the most practical).

Report lost horses to park staff by contacting the Narrabri Area office immediately. Horses found straying may be impounded.

Contact park staff if horses are injured in areas where tracks are locked to vehicles and access for floats are required.

If horses have to be destroyed, details must be reported to park staff. Note that under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, firearms are not permitted in parks. Therefore authorised park staff will be required to assist in this situation.

Protecting the environment

While riding in the park, always keep horses on formed tracks to ensure sensitive environments such as bogs, moss beds, herb fields and stream banks or areas containing Aboriginal and European heritage artefacts and sites are not damaged.

If tracks are damaged or dangerous please inform NPWS staff

No horse riding is allowed to occur in wet weather or after rain periods as riding in wet areas can cause soil erosion and damage the track surface

Never allow horses to graze on small trees and shrubs as these can be easily killed.

When crossing riparian areas or waterways or when watering horses use established crossing points such as causeways on management trails and service roads Please slow horses to a walk to reduce erosion, bank damage and water pollution.

Secure horses at least 50 metres from stream banks unless otherwise directed by park staff.

Meeting other park users

Kaputar Road is a public road and all users of this road are subject to the NSW road rules. Horses being ridden on the road are considered vehicles under NSW and national law and as such are subject to the road rules.

NPWS Narrabri Area does not recommend riding on Kaputar Road as it is steep, narrow, winding and has poor visibility for oncoming traffic. If you do choose to ride on this road, obey all road rules and it is recommended that:

  • high visibility clothing is worn
  • horses are ridden in single file
  • keep to groups of 8 or less
  • maintain at least 30 metres between groups.

Riders may occasionally meet bush walkers, cyclists and others that are unfamiliar with horses and unsure about passing them on the track. Please give way to all pedestrians and wait until they are safely past before continuing.