Published on 16 October 2018

The great outdoors on our doorstep

The eastern ranges of the City of Onkaparinga offer some of South Australia’s most picturesque horse-riding, cycling and walking trails with creek crossings, linear reserves, and gum studded tracks.

It’s pre-dawn and Kate Coates is already saddled up to exercise her 10-year-old Warmblood mare, Wicker, on the Tom Roberts Horse Trail near her Coromandel Valley property.

“Having access to this amazing trail is a great asset for our family,” says the owner of four horses and mother of two young children.

“I ride the trail and do flatwork with the horses at the Frank Smith Reserve, and our family comes here a lot too. We use the creek, walk the dogs, ride the bikes; there are so many things we can do.

“I am always grateful for this lifestyle. The city is not far away yet we have this wonderful natural asset close to home.”

And Kate is not alone. No matter what time of the day she’s riding there will be others out and about walking their dogs, hiking, cycling and breathing in the clean country air of the ranges. Kate says on weekends, there will be kids kicking balls, families exploring the landscape, and picnicking by the creek.

No doubt Tom Roberts would be pleased, for the trail pays tribute to the man who is regarded as South Australia’s foremost horse whisperer.

At the age of 16 he was the youngest ever military riding instructor in the British Army, training horses for front line battles in World War I.

Emigrating to South Australia, Roberts became the co-founder of the state’s Dressage Club, Show Jumping Club, and the Pony Club Association. He then served as an instructor to the SA Mounted Police, retiring in 1960 to write the acclaimed Horse Control series of instructional books.

“There are not many riders in South Australia who have not benefitted from the life and work of Tom Roberts,” Kate says.

The Tom Roberts Horse Trail traverses 80 kilometres through urban and rural districts and the City of Onkaparinga has a set of online maps, detailing seven sections, for viewing at

KATE COATES AND WICKER  refresh at the Frank Smith Reserve, a beautiful section of the Tom Roberts Horse Trail.