Discovering the Murray River - Houseboating
A first foray into Houseboating by Stephanie Williams
We Kiwis do enjoy time spent on the water, so it’s no surprise that houseboating on South Australia’s Murray River has become such a popular holiday option.
Coming from a keen boating family, albeit of the ocean kind, houseboating certainly appealed to me too. But really, how different could the two be? Well, as I soon discovered, quite a lot actually.
The adventure starts
Our journey commenced in Manum, a riverside town just an hour’s drive from Adelaide, where a group of friends and I met with Mark Flanagan of Unforgettable Houseboats. We stepped onto the boat and the first thing that struck me was the sheer size of it. I was beginning to appreciate the reasoning behind the name ‘houseboat’ - these vessels are decked out with all the amenities and luxuries of home. The spacious lounge and galley area was complete with a television, oven, microwave and even a dishwasher!! Floor length windows allowed the sunlight to stream inside and provided panoramic views of the scenery. On the upper deck, the space and views were even more impressive. Sun lounges, an outdoor dining area and a jacuzzi were all laid out beneath a shade canopy.
The next major difference I encountered was just how easy houseboats are to drive. I was amazed to learn that all you require is a driving licence and a brief lesson and you're ready to captain your very own floating bach.
We waved goodbye to Mark, and set off down the mighty Murray River. There was no loud motor, no sea spray whipping my face, and no lurching around on the waves. Instead, the boat glided effortlessly along the river and we were free to sit back, relax and enjoy the surrounds.
The ever changing and distinctively Australian scenery proved to be the most memorable difference of all. We cruised past charming riverside towns, towering limestone cliffs and mallee bush thriving with birds and other wildlife. One evening we went on a Big Bend by Night Eco Tour where a runabout boat took us on a sunset cruise through the everglades before we enjoyed dinner on the riverbank and after dark wildlife spotting.
So much to discover
It’s extraordinary just how much there is to discover along the Murray River; you can kayak through the wetlands, go bushwalking, explore the riverside towns or even take a wine tour to the famed Barossa region. Or you can simply sit back on the top deck and watch the world go by while enjoying good food, good wine and good company.
The only problem is fitting everything in!