Andrew and Kirsty McCarthy have put Rainbow Beach on the map again, with their recent win at the Gympie Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.
With only a few months under their belt, they blitzed tough Gympie competition to take out the prestigious 2013 New Business of the Year Award.
Ben Ellingsen, President of Gympie Chamber of Commerce said the independent judges were impressed with their uniqueness, commitment to support local business and “good name”.
So good in fact, Andrew confides, “We have a number of clients drive past other operators to ride with us. One customer told us she heard about us in London. She could have gone anywhere in Australia, but chose us because of our reputation.”
Andrew says, “We’ve ridden with over 1200 customers, with 6% travelling to Rainbow Beach purely for a horseride, seeking accommodation once here.”
Operating since March – this family business has already expanded their services. In addition to the standard beach ride, they now offer a picnic beach ride and a swimming beach ride. At Kia Ora (near Goomborian) they also operate a one day ride including lunch at a restaurant and the Full Moon Ride to the top of a privately owned mountain and have plans for more!
“When I was a kid,“ Andrew starts, “I used to ride up to the top of the mountain and sleep up there in the hut.”
“On our Full Moon Ride we eat a late lunch at the pub, then ride to the top of the mountain for sunset. You can see the world from that hut – Fraser Island and Noosa, Mt Coolum, all over Gympie and Rainbow Beach. We sit by the fire with drinks and nibblies. After we watch the full moon rise, we ride off the mountain under moonlight.”
When asked what is next, Andrew was quick with a reply, “I felt I had something to offer because of our experience in contract mustering and managing large pastoral stations, so we plan to provide a weekend style experience for mustering and cattle work and also expand to multiday rides.”
Already attracting plenty of clients from overseas, this move may see the region grasp more of the international tourism market.
Andrew believes the backbone of any good business is the quality of the team. “Kirsty and our new staff member Nicole Handel are professional, approachable and we wouldn’t have enjoyed this early success without their work ethic and passion.”
Unmatched in the industry, he thinks this has helped with their popularity. “We are so different to other horse riding establishment s with our quality of horses and saddles.”
“We use “Winning Edge” saddles, hand made by Ken Read. A lot of Australia’s top riders use them.”
“Just this month, we’ve had professional horsemen and women extremely impressed with our operation – and their job was to buy polo horses from all over the world!”
“First time riders on those same horses, or people who haven’t ridden in 35 or 40 years, tell us they weren’t sore the next day, even after a 30km ride. That’s because of the standard of our saddles.”
Riders enjoy the experience of our unique beach, cradled between Fraser Island and Double Island Point with the majestic Coloured Sands in the background. Even horse owners book with us for the experience on our beach.
“One day, on all three rides we were treated to whales breaching, viewed from horseback and we often see dolphins as well.”
Always humble, Andrew says, “We are very lucky and satisfied to receive the award, there were a number of quality nominations and we are very fortunate to have the staff that we do.”
He is also grateful to all the riders. “Whole days in December were already fully booked in October, and we already have bookings confirmed throughout the summer months. Our permit conditions only allow a maximum 24 riders per day, so if you are hoping to join us, do book ahead.”
Phone 0412 174 337 to book a horse ride, they’ll make sure you have a magical time on our beautiful beach.
Photography by Bambi.