Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Travel -

Three­jour­nal­ists,onepi­lotan­da­pub­li­cre­la­tion­spro­fes­sion­al­w­ere­give­na­house­boatand­sent­ton­av­i­gateth­eir­wayupthe Man­durah­canal­sandMur­rayRiver. With­noboat­ing­ex­pe­ri­ence,apart­fro­man­hour-long­briefin­gandquick­boat-driv­ing les­son,therew­er­e­mo­mentsof­doubt. Butwhile­trav­el­lingataspeed­of­five­knot­sand­be­ing­tracked­byGPS,not­much­can gowrong. Yousim­plyget­tosit­back,ob­servethewil­der­nes­sand­set­tlein­toaslow­er­way­oflife. AS I leaned over the rail­ings of our house­boat Haku­naMatata, I wanted to reach down and touch the glis­ten­ing feath­ers of the ducks fol­low­ing us on the Man­durah canals.

The house­boat was our home for three days and each day the same three ducks seemed to trail in the wake of the boat with an en­chant­ing look in their eyes – some­thing I had never no­ticed be­fore.

But then again, I'd never re­ally just sat and ob­served ducks.

I re­alised this was the kind of de­tail and in­trigue that would oth­er­wise pass you by if you didn't slow down and look closely at what sur­rounded you.

It dawned on me that Man­durah House­boats wasn't just about pro­vid­ing a group of friends or fam­ily with a sense of es­capism in a well equipped boat – the ex­pe­ri­ence of trav­el­ling slowly on the wa­ter­ways lets you see the en­vi­ron­ment through dif­fer­ent eyes.

I had to re­sist the urge to toss the ducks some bread. Our fam­ily host Mia Lacy told us that feed­ing the wildlife an un­nat­u­ral diet was not good for them – and we didn't want ev­ery seag­ull in Man­durah de­scend­ing on us.

I re­luc­tantly agreed. I con­sid­ered some re­search to find a suit­able tit­bit for ducks, but by then we had left the feath­ered ar­mada be­hind as we con­tin­ued our jour­ney up the Mur­ray River.

The night be­fore we had docked at Cooper's Mill on Cooleenup Is­land, which was home to a his­toric wheat mill built in the 1843, na­tive shrubs, birds and the is­land's care­tak- er, who liked to keep to him­self.

Our makeshift boat driver, my part­ner Sam, was do­ing his best to ma­noeu­vre our 50foot long house boat out from the jetty.

He had paid at­ten­tion to the brief­ing and boat-driv­ing lessons and was do­ing a good job, given his limited ex­pe­ri­ence.

In min­utes we were float­ing down the Mur­ray River to Ravenswood, where we would dock for our sec­ond night.

The scenery along the Mur­ray River was in stark con­trast to the multi-mil­lion dol­lar houses and boats we saw when we started in Man­durah.

We were now in rel­a­tive wilder­ness, which re­vealed an abun­dance of wildlife, in­clud­ing wa­ter­birds, blue manna crabs and dol­phins, which would oc­ca­sion­ally pop up next to the boat.

Homes with old jet­ties were nes­tled in the dense bush along each side of the river.

We all thought the own­ers had great hind­sight by choos­ing to live in such a se­cluded and scenic spot.

It didn't take us long to travel from Cooper's Mill to

Sarah Wa­ters and Sam Daniels en­joy the sun set­ting on the Mur­ray River.

The house­boat Haku­naMatata docked at Cooper's Mill, Cooleenup Is­land.

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