HOUSEBOATS PROVIDE A
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.