Equestrian trails have been prevalent at Mount Stromlo since the inception of European settlers to the region in 1800’s. As a result of the expanding population and the proximity of Stromlo to the developing suburbs of Weston Creek, the forest was opened to the public for recreational purposes in 1967. The Forest quickly became an important recreational resource for many Canberran’s, particularly those in Weston Creek.
To cater for the increasing number of recreational horse riders in the area, equestrian facilities began to appear. Mrs Llewelyn opened her riding school ‘Llanelly’ on Lady Denman Drive in the 1960’s and many riders agisted their horses at the de Salis’ property ‘Weston’ in Weston Creek. They rode their horses to the Equestrian Park at Curtin for Pony Club and through the Stromlo Forest for recreation and exercise.
Also in the 1960s, the system of government paddocks in Canberra arose from a desire on the part of planners to move horses out of the backyards of Canberra houses in order to improve the city’s image as a National Capital. The government paddocks in the Weston Creek area (Yarralumla, Curtin and Illoura) allowed local horse riders ready access to hundreds of hectares of pine forest.
In the 1970s, as equestrian activities continued to grow in popularity, Forest Park Riding School at Curtin and Bibaringa Riding School (now Mt Stromlo Equestrian Centre), closer to Mount Stromlo, opened. Properties along the Cotter Road, such as ‘Bulga Creek’ (now the National Equestrian Center) and ‘Riverview’ offered agistment to the many riders who wanted to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Forest.
Equestrian activities and forestry operations happily coexisted in the large pine plantation. Endurance riders found kilometres of training tracks, show jumpers had their choice of strengthening hill climbs and everyone else had shady rides along pine needle strewn tracks with spectacular views.
Equestrian trails are now an integral part of Stromlo Forest Park and are available to both recreational and professional riders wanting to use the expansive array of trails available.