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8 must do’s aboard a houseboat on The Murray

18 Jun. 2022 by Daniela Sunde-Brown

8 must do’s aboard a houseboat on The Murray

Any Australian travel bucket list should include boating along the country’s longest body of water, the mighty Murray River.

But why settle for just a day trip, when you can stay the night?

You’ll find plenty of action by checking out - and checking into - this Australian geographical icon aboard a houseboat.

Board your pontoon-palace and get ready for an unforgettable adventure as you captain your crew of family or friends and set off for a journey along one of the world’s largest river systems at houseboat’s pace.

Here are eight essentials you must do while navigating the majestic, slow-moving river with your houseboat over an unforgettable long weekend or week-long escape.

1. Soak in the serenity

Fans of The Castle will be shouting “how’s the serenity” from the back deck of the houseboat within minutes of arrival.

Why? You’ll be soon floating this gentle river, passing towering gum trees and native bushland, likely without passing another soul in sight.

Check out from the hustle and bustle of the city and into a slow-paced holiday, spending your days fishing, swimming, reading or just relaxing in the simple luxuries of peace and quiet.

2. Navigate through Lock 11

Navigating through a lock is all part of your Murray adventure.

Along the river there are 14 weirs in total that help keep the Murray waters at a more constant level for irrigation, transportation and the famous paddle steamers.

The PS Melbourne passes through Lock 11 at Mildura several times a day, and so can your houseboat.

Lock 11 shifts on the hour going downstream, and on the half hour going upstream – but you’ll need to make sure you book your adventure through Lock 11 in advance.

3. Swap your captain hat for hiking boots

The beauty of a houseboat holiday is that you choose the pace.

You could spend every day kicking back with a fishing rod and ice-cold beer, or mix it up with an active adventure on dry land.

If you choose the latter, moor your floating villa and lace up those boots for a short trek riverside.

There’s plenty of regional parks and state forests to explore that line the banks of The Murray and make for easy mooring, like the Gol Gol State Forest near Monak, Murray Valley Regional Park near Echuca Moama, or the Perricoota State Forest.

4. Cast a line and reel in a Murray Cod for dinner

Australia’s largest freshwater fish, the legendary native Murray Cod is a prized catch for any angler in the area.

If you manage to reel in one of these beauties your crew will be in for a feast - often growing in excess of one metre in length and up to 25kg at full maturity, even an experienced angler is in for a challenge trying to reel one in.

If the famous cod is hiding, your lures might snag a golden perch, trout or freshwater crayfish instead. Favourite spots to fish include Yarrawonga and Kings Billabong near Mildura.

Don’t forget you’ll need to pick up a NSW fishing license before casting into the Murray River, available at local stores and service stations or online. Take note, there’s a closed season for Murray Cod between 1 September and 30 November.

5. Enjoy a tipple on the banks of The Murray

The Murray Region is abundant with rich soil, agriculture and lush vineyards.

Moor your houseboat and make tracks towards one of many wineries with cellar doors, a cork’s pop from the river’s edge.

Moor your houseboat and taste the terroir when you swirl, sniff and sip your way through local wineries lining the banks of The Murray including All Saints Estate, Morrison’s Winery, Trentham Estate and Cape Horn.

The Murray, Australia’s second largest wine region, is best known for favourites varietals chardonnay and shiraz, but local winemakers are also growing viognier, nebbiolo, vermentino, durif, barbera and other more unusual grapes.

6. Catch every sunrise, watch every sunset

A houseboat holiday is all about relaxing and taking life in the slow lane – and this means leaning into nature’s rhythms and watching a pinky hued sunrise or golden glowing sunset each day.

A deckchair with a coffee or wine in hand is a prime location to witness a spectacular sunrise or sunset - a location that could only be beaten by a rooftop spa date with a cheese board and bubbles as you watch day turn to night.

7. Enjoy quality time with friends and family

A houseboat holiday was made for friends and family – so gather your favourite people and book a houseboat with enough space for your entourage.

Smaller houseboats sleep around four to six people, while the bigger ones sleep up to 12.

Often decked out with onboard kitchens, barbecues and spas, and a whole lot of board games, you can relax, catch up and make new memories as your floating hotel glides peacefully along the water with your designated driver at the wheel.

Did we mention some are pet-friendly too?

8. Spend a day in town

Pull up, tie up and explore Mildura, Swan Hill, Echuca Moama, Albury Wodonga or any of the towns dotted along the majestic Murray.

Explore art galleries and follow heritage trails, taste local spirits and meet local legends, visit farm shops and enjoy true paddock-to-plate dining.

Tee off a round of golf, shop small boutiques or hunt out local craft beer.

Before you venture back to the boat, load up on supplies and get ready for your next adventure.