If you come to Strathalbyn during the school holidays, you’re sure of a big surprise, we will go over, around and through this gorgeous town in our horse drawn carriage, hunting for all of the bears to mark off your check list. You could even line it up with having a teddy bear picnic in one of the lovely parks the town has to offer.
The idea of our bear hunts came about when the state was in lockdown for Covid during 2020, and community members started placing bears for kids to see while driving around. After a couple of different formats, we settled on the offering that we currently have, available on selected days during state school holidays. Initially we went for a bit longer, and covered more of the town, but as we went on, we realised the smaller kids really had trouble maintaining focus for the full hour, and started to get quite restless.
We then thought perhaps if the kids had a checklist to mark off, they would know the job at hand, and while they were focussed on finding the bears their parents could sit back and enjoy the ride. We took mugshots of all the bears, made up our checklists and gathered all our props.
So what do we actually do on a bear hunt?
Well… we meet you at the tourist information centre in Strathalbyn, conveniently located near a playground, public toilets and parking spaces. After you have had the chance to pat and feed the horses, you all climb into the carriage, which is usually our Surrey pulled by 2 horses, but sometimes it will be a single horse and our mini wagonette if we have smaller groups. We supply all the kids with a checklist, a pen and some binoculars (ok, so they aren’t the greatest quality binoculars, but the kids seem to love them). While I am meeting my passengers, my son and husband (sometimes my son and my mum) are out hiding the bears.
We travel the most picturesque parts of the town, and I’m happy to share the history of the bits I know, as well as talking about the horses. We do a 4 km loop, and are out for about 40 minutes, but there is always time before and after to pat the horses and get photos.
Why do bear hunts cost so much less than other carriage rides through Strathalbyn?
Basically because we take a gamble.
We are acutely aware that our services are simply not affordable for many families. For this reason I like to offer ‘specials’ such as these bear hunts. Usually I align them with a ‘Hallmark Occasion’ such as Valentines Day or similar, but since parents are always looking for fun activities through the school holidays, we developed our bear hunts.
You may have read in other blogs I have written, that the majority of our costs and work take place when we are not actually out in the carriage. Maintaining our fleet and our horses is very very expensive in both time and money (and lets face it emotion). Therefore the cost of carriage hire is relatively high for the length of time of the ride. When we can align more than one job, one after the other, we can split the cost between the groups.
When we take a booking for a bear hunt, we will then attempt to book two or three more jobs on the same day, meaning we only need to transport the carriage into Strath once. This is why they are a school holiday special, and not available on other weekends through out the year, as it is not viable for us to do them individually.
We still have a number of spaces available for our Bear Hunts during this coming spring school holidays, only $175 for up to seven adults. They are more designed for kids, the 7 adults thing is to give you an example of size of the carriage. If your group is mostly kids, we can fit more in. One group we had last holidays was 2 adults and 8 kids- please check with us when booking regarding the size of your group.
We look forward to seeing you on a bear hunt in one of the coming school holidays.