By Gabrielle Hall
In a magical little valley of the Adelaide Hills, with birds singing, kangaroos looking on and the occasional koala lolling about in the trees, the clip clop of horse hooves and gentle creak of a carriage is taking people back to yesteryear and a world away from the bustle of city life.
Classic Carriage Drives based at Montacute is the brainchild of Libby Green, who with her beautiful dappled-grey Percheron horse, Indiana, and vintage European carriage, it is fast gaining momentum as a destination for vintage teas, parties and weddings alike.
A childhood love of horses planted the seed for the business, but it was when an illness threatened to end Libby’s nursing career that the idea for Classic Carriage Drives came to fruition.
Fortunately Libby was able to return to nursing, but the business idea meant Libby was able to combine her work with her love for horses.
“I was fortunate to grow up on a family farm near Jamestown in the Mid North, and from my earliest memories there were always horses there and so grew my love and understanding of them,” Libby says.
“Dad was a bit of a horseman and grew up in a time when they drove horses as part of their daily farm life, so he was always encouraging of me and my love for horses.
“For as long as I remember there’s lived an old jinker in the shed at home that dad had driven before it was replaced with tractor power, and he always said we’d restore it.
“It’s still sitting there in pieces in the shed but I think that may have planted the seed for my business today.”
Gentle giant Indiana – the second in the Classic Carriage Drives fleet after losing the beloved founding horse Montana to colic last year – leads the way, and Libby says the joy her horse brings to her customers is integral to the business.
“I selected the Percheron breed for their temperament and reliability, with their social personalities and big soft hearts they are the heart and soul of my business,” she says.
“It’s one of the most satisfying things seeing people reconnect with something they grew up with and can relate to, or on the flipside people who haven’t ever engaged with a horse and introducing them to Indiana.
“Children having the opportunity to pat the horse and see them in harness is very satisfying.”
So too has been watching the interaction with the groups of elderly and disabled who visit and interact with Indiana and enjoy the tranquillity of a carriage ride through Montacute.
Classic Carriage Drives have also been spotted further afield, playing a role in promoting the current television series of Married At First Sight, as well as Christmas pageants, weddings and other events across Adelaide, the Barossa Valley and Fleurieu Peninsula.
For Libby, the business has been a match made in heaven.
“I pinch myself that something that was a dream – not necessarily a realistic one to begin with – naturally evolved,” she says.
“I’m fortunate that I’m able to combine my love of horses and carriage driving in this little hidden gem of the Adelaide Hills with an experience for people that evokes nostalgia, is enchanting and unique all at the same time.”
Find out more about Classic Carriage Drives here or call 0429 887 121 for more details.
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