Grab the captain’s hat and jump on board for a houseboat holiday on Australia’s beautiful waterways.
For a holiday with a difference, why not take to the river on a houseboat that combines all the mod cons with a new take on adventure – the scenery changes daily and there’s always something new to see and do. Australia’s rivers provide a stunning backdrop, whether water sports and discovery are on that day’s agenda, or you just want to laze about on the deck and soak up the serenity.
Houseboats range from ultra- luxe, with on- board Jacuzzis and multiple bedrooms, to cosy and comfortable. We take you around Australia in search of some of the best options on offer.
Myall Lakes, NSW
Surrounded as it is by Myall Lakes National Park, Myall Lakes is a nature lover’s paradise and is the perfect setting to bring the family together. Swimming and snorkelling one minute, bushwalking and bird watching the next, the kids will never be short of something to do. Luxury Houseboat Hire has two sizes to choose from, depending on your needs: a 33ft 2- 6 berth houseboat the size of a large caravan, or a 45ft 2-10 berth houseboat the size of a small apartment or cabin. Both come with a fully equipped kitchen, gas fridge and freezer, and fresh water on board for bathing. Bring your DVDs – there’s a TV and DVD player but no TV reception. How you spend your days is completely up to you. A dinghy with oars and optional motor is supplied for your land-based activities and in case you want to stop off at a cafe or restaurant for a bite to eat. These houseboats launch out of Bulahdelah, the gateway to the Myall Lakes. No licence is required to captain these boats but if you want to do any fishing, you’ll need a licence – Bulahdelah Newsagency will sort you out with one.
Murray River, VIC
Extending for 2520km, the Murray River is the third longest navigable river in the world after the Amazon and Nile. It spans NSW, Victoria and South Australia and, with 37 golf courses along its banks, is a mecca for golfers. Gliding down the scenic Murray River through the Echuca, Moama and Rich River region of Victoria in a houseboat is a great way to experience this remarkable river. If you’re after a little luxury as you go, try Murray River Houseboats. No expense has been spared in the design of the Indulgence, an 8-12 berth boat with four bedrooms, all with ensuites, and a 10-seater spa on deck. The surround-sound entertainment system (complete with 80 DVDs to choose from) and air conditioning will have you relaxing in comfort, or head up to the top deck and lie back in a sun lounger as the river banks drift on by. Murray River Houseboats also has a range of more modest options available to suit families of all sizes and budgets. The boats launch out of Echuca, a quaint town where you can hire a canoe, take a horse-and-carriage ride, or explore the area by bike.
The living’s easy on board a 6-berth familyfriendly houseboat available for hire through Hawkesbury Houseboats. The ‘Executive’ houseboat has a split-level design with three double beds that convert into lounges and a table during the day. Casting a line overboard on the Hawkesbury River may well be rewarding – the area is known for 30kg jewfish and mulloway, not to mention kingfish, bream, flathead, crabs and squid. Cook up your catch of the day on the upper deck’s three-burner barbecue with roasting hood; the kids won’t be able to wipe the smiles off their faces – nothing tastes as good as a meal you’ve caught yourself. But if fishing isn’t your thing you’ll find lots to do on this beautiful stretch of water, and there is also a wide variety of other houseboats to suit your needs and budget.
On the west coast, the relaxed, friendly vibe of Mandurah is an ideal launchpad from which to explore the many wonders of the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary and WA’s own Murray River. Drop anchor and discover a secluded cove, go fishing at Dawesville Cut, or go crabbing off Boundary Island. Only 20km down river from Mandurah’s vibrant cappuccino strip is the town of Pinjarra, where you can stop for a spot of golf, visit the zoo, or go antique shopping. Mandurah House Boats has a range of boats for hire. The African-themed Hakuna Matata has three double bedrooms, plasma TV with DVD player, and spacious front and rear decks. When you dock back in Mandurah, take the family to the King Carnival amusement park – it will be the perfect way to end a fun-filled holiday on the water.
Murray River, SA
Setting off from historic Mannum, an hour from Adelaide, Unforgettable Houseboats combines style with comfort: onboard there are king and queen-size beds, ducted air conditioning, Jacuzzis and gourmet kitchens complete with dishwasher and microwave. The Unforgettable 1 has four bedrooms, a spacious living area and a dining table seating up to eight people, while the two-storey Unforgettable 6 turns heads with six bedrooms, five bathrooms, Jacuzzi and bar. No matter how you choose to travel, your holiday can be as adventurous as you want it to be. Explore the backwaters by dinghy, take afternoon rambles along the riverbank, or go a step further and hire water sport equipment for water skiing, canoeing and jet skiing. The river is yours to enjoy at whatever pace you wish.
The kids won’t be able to wipe the smiles off their faces – nothing tastes as good as a meal you’ve caught yourself.
01 Houseboats are a great bonding experience 02 Fun ashore 03 Taking in the ever-changing scenery is part of the fun 04 Make sure you pack the fishing rods and try your hand at catching dinner 02