Gidleigh Station is located near the historic village of Bungendore less than 50 kilometres from the nation’s capital Canberra.
The original homestead and the shearer’s quarters are situated in a wonderful picturesque sheltered valley with timbered slopes and its own micro climate ranging in elevation from 700 to 1,000 metres above sea level and this all adds up to more than 7000 acres of beautiful riding country to be explored on horseback.
The property was first taken up by Admiral Phillip Parker King who was the son of Governor, Philip Gidleigh King. The earliest buildings are the convict built 1830’s stables and 1840’s homestead complex. Legendary bush ranger Jackey Jackey (William Westwood 1820-1846) was assigned to Gidleigh Station and worked on the stables from where he made his first escape.
Current stocking allocation is a percentage of beef cattle and Merino sheep renowned for their fine high-quality wool. Hence, the property has always been productively managed to sustain an average winter carrying capacity of more than 7,000 Merino sheep and an excellent herd of 500 Angus breeding cattle and cropping are currently the mainstay at Gidleigh Station. Run in parallel with this traditional farming enterprise, Gidleigh also enjoys the production of free range pork and Truffles with over 1,000 Hazelnut and Oak trees hosting exceptional Truffles.
Once you get on your horse you will get more than just a taste of how it feels to work on a cattle station. You will be able to join right in and you can be a cowboy or cowgirl for the next few days, checking cattle, moving cattle and sheep and riding horses, horses and more horses.
Day to day activities are mostly dependent on the season and what needs to be done at that moment to care for the livestock. There is always a job to be done and most of the stockwork at Gidleigh’ s is still being done on horseback.
If you bring your own horse the emphasis will be to give your horse some exposure to ranch riding and developing your horsemanship skills. Depending on the trainer and the theme of the week, in addition to getting your hands dirty there will also be an opportunity to develop your cattle working skills. As with all of Horses & Cattle Australia experiences, this is the real deal and to get the most out of the experience as a guest, you will be supported and guided by experienced horse professionals, specializing in campdrafting, horsemanship, reining and ranch riding. If you are an experienced rider this will be an experience of a lifetime for you as a rider but it will also give you and your horse more exposure working out in the open range and learning to work together as a team.
For non-riders – or just in case you want to take a break from riding for a couple hours – there is plenty to do in the area. The village of Bungendore is located just a few kilometres down the road from Gidleigh Station. The historic village dates back to 1837 and many of the original buildings still stand and it’s a charming rural escape where you’ll find everything from lovingly preserved colonial buildings to markets, wineries and incredible craftsmanship.
The Bungendore Wood Works Gallery is an institution, showcasing some of the best wood art and contemporary furniture in Australia. After exploring its collection, you can poke around the town’s galleries, antique stores and gift shops to unearth everything from great vintage vinyl to bric-a-brac, great leather works, local art and pottery.
Bungendore also has great restaurants that will suit food-loving, wine-sipping crowds: After visiting Bungendore, non-riders can take a leisurely drive through the Canberra wine region and have lunch at Lark Hill Biodynamic Winery. In winter, join a truffle hunt at Turalla Truffles alongside Jack Russell dogs who are trained to search for the prized black delicacy. The truffle farm is a short drive from the village near the southern end of the pancake-flat Lake George. You can also pick your own chestnuts at the family-operated Tweenhills Chestnut every April.
There is also a beautiful garden down at the homestead and you might just want to sit in the garden on the veranda with a glass of chilled wine and a good book and enjoy the serenity and beauty of this wonderful place.