Bellrowan Valley Horse Riding has been a leading local tourism business for many years. Chrissy Jones has a chat with owner, Mark Ennor.
You obviously love doing what you do, Mark. Tell us why?
Someone once said: “Find a job you’re passionate about, and you’ll never work another day in your life!”
Julie and I set out 10 years ago to set up a lifestyle for ourselves in one of Australia’s best regions (in our opinion!) We wanted to live amongst nature, away from the hustle of bustle of town life, work from home and use our passion for horses to achieve this. Both of us having travelled overseas extensively, we wanted to show visitors the same sort of hospitality we received … but the Aussie way.
We’re currently in our ninth year of business, and last April clicked over 20,000 riders since our first trail ride. You can never say you’ve seen it all, but after that many riders you could say that we can look after anyone from all walks of life. We certainly love what we do, and hope to see many more in our special valley!
You have an interesting business – what does a normal day entail?
Anyone working from home knows that as soon as you step out of bed, you’re at work! The first thing for us is to see if the mob (horse herd) has come home for breakfast. If not, then I’m off on the quad bike to go and get them. They aren’t normally that hard to find but our valley is so big, it can take a while. Once home, all the animals on the farm are fed and the day begins.
On busy days we have some great staff and Woofers (volunteers). We all get stuck in to prepare the horses and homestead for the arrival of our guests. Being a farm, there is always something going on besides ‘the business’. On a ‘normal’ day I can be on or under (shoeing) a horse, on or under (fixing) the tractor, building or fixing something around the farm or in front of the computer with a phone stuck to my ear.
I also run TAG (Tours and Attractions Group), which initiates the ‘52+ Things to do’ concept. With so many businesses involved, I have to dedicate time to the office to respond to emails and phone calls from members. Meanwhile, Julie is just as busy back at the homestead looking after the ‘back end’ of the business; there would be no Bellrowan without her! She also looks after the health and wellbeing of the horses and the general management of the mob currently and into the future.
The days end as they start – feeding the horses and the menagerie. We can then kick back and relax in the peace and quiet while the horses head back out into the valley for another night of grazing …
What are some of the rides and/or adventures you offer?
All of our rides are an adventure. As soon as you’re picked up in our troop carrier at the start of our road, the adventure begins! We run daily 1-hour and 2-hour trail rides including riding tuition and morning/afternoon tea with Julie’s delicious damper (baked every morning). You can do an overnight package with trail rides, accommodation and meals.
Our Pub Ride is great fun and run over two days: a 30 km round trip to Beechwood and back, with your accommodation and meals included. Our newest addition is the Bellrowan-Bago 3-day trek (for experienced riders). This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while, and now we’re ready to offer this great ride.
I am a bit of a novice rider; have you a ride suitable for me?
All of our rides (except the 3-day trek) are suitable for novice riders. We’re able to do this, firstly because our horses are placid and trained specifically for the job. Also, we conduct tuition before every ride and send out multiple guides, so everyone gets enough attention. We’ve been doing this a long time now, so nervous riders don’t faze us or our horses. We actually enjoy having apprehensive people come, because we know we can turn that fear into pure enjoyment!
You have a large family of horses. What does it consist of?
Our large family of much loved horses come from all over NSW, all being picked for their temperament. They consist of a large family of Draft X Stock and Arab horses. Out of our 30 horses, 17 are related; 7 of those have been bred by us and are the new generation.
When the horses are not working on the trail, how do you keep them?
Apart from Alladin (the colt) and the youngsters, the mob lives free in the valley. We do have internal paddocks, which we rotate, but they mostly roam free in the valley. They are living the way they should, as a herd and allowed to ‘run free’. This is why they are so comfortable on the trails and sure-footed in all terrain and conditions.
What’s your point of difference?
Our point of difference is that we offer a real bush experience, not just a ride on a horse. Our horses are exceptional, and we value ‘customer experience’ and safety very highly. Horses are our love, and giving our customers a great experience is our passion!
What’s your favourite ride?
It would be easy to say the Pub Ride, but really my favourite ride is any of our rides where we have a good fun bunch of people. I spend so much time riding the trails, so if I can be out there having a good chat and a laugh, then I’ll enjoy it!
What’s the future hold for Bellrowan Valley Horse Riding?
We’re going to be around doing this for a long while yet. We want to be known as the best horse riding experience in the country – one that everyone can enjoy, whether you’ve never been near a horse or spent your life around them. I’m also passionate about our region being known for having so many things to do. We’ll be working our hardest to make sure both these things happen!
Where are you situated?
We’re nestled in the hills outside the town of Beechwood, 35 mins west of Port Macquarie and 15 mins from Wauchope.