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Charter your own adventure: The ultimate houseboating guide

17 Jun 2022 by Daniela Sunde-Brown

Charter your own adventure: The ultimate houseboating guide

Towering ancient gum trees slip past your bedroom window, the sound of native birdsong floats across the water and the smell of coffee wafts by as you get ready for another relaxing day on the Murray River.

Captaining your own houseboat is the best way to explore Australia’s longest river at your own pace.

Whether you have time for just a quick weekend boat trip or week-long journey, here’s a step-by-step guide to plan your houseboat adventure along the majestic Murray River.

Step 1: Round up your crew

A weekend or week floating along a river without a care in the world sounds pretty good, right? So it shouldn't be hard to round up a crew of riverfaring scallywags to join your houseboating jaunt.

There’s no limit to the type of holiday you can have on a houseboat. Groups of friends will have a blast barbecuing and boogie-ing, couples with kids will enjoy the endless activities at each anchor point, and multi-generational families can use it as an excuse to disconnect from city-stresses and reconnect with one another.

The Murray has a houseboat to suit your group size and style of vacation, from compact four-berth options to a luxurious 12-berth with all the mod cons like a sundeck, spa and state-of-the-art entertainment systems.

Step 2: Designate a captain or captains

The best thing about renting a houseboat on the Murray River? It’s simple! You don’t need a boat licence or fancy course to steer your floating hotel.

Before you set off, your captain (or captains) will learn the ropes, literally, with a quick lesson on operating the houseboat, mooring and tying ropes. Anyone over 18 with an unrestricted drivers licence can be in charge.

Since the Murray River is a long, wide, slow-moving river there’s no need to stress about bumping into the banks, navigating tight bends or getting stuck in boat traffic - just keep the floating house to the right and your alcohol reading below .05 to drive.

Step 3: Map out an adventurous or relaxed itinerary

The beauty of chartering your own Murray River houseboat is that you and your crew can choose the pace, how many anchorage stops and mainland activities to fill your day. Build-your-own itinerary to include action-packed land-based adventures or simply load the boat with supplies and traverse the peaceful waters at a relaxed pace.

The mighty Murray is dotted with charming towns to get your land legs back. Taste the spirit of the land at Corowa Distilling Co, or swirl, sniff and sip your way through local wineries such as All Saints Estate, Morrison’s Winery and St Anne’s.

Bigger towns such as Echuca Moama, Albury-Wodonga, Mildura and Swan Hill also offer the chance to get your adrenalin racing with high speed water sports, especially in the summer.

If you’re in a hurry to take it slow, load up the houseboat with a full grocery run and spend your evenings sharing home-cooked meals and nights in the hot tub. Stay immersed in nature when you pull up on the riverbank to light a campfire (check it’s not a total fire ban day) or fish from the banks.

If you run low on essential supplies (beer, potato chips, watermelon – you name it!) several convenience stores along The Murray, like the IGA at Dareton, will even bring deliveries down to the riverside moorings.

Step 4: Enjoy the onboard amenities

A houseboat really is a hotel with a rudder when you have an onboard spa or pool, barbecue, lounge, Netflix and a coffee machine. Modern houseboats along the Murray are kitted out with the best amenities and state-of-the-art technology so you and your riverfaring crew can simply show up and start living your best life on the water.

Reel in a Murray Cod or two and feel smug while grilling them up on your barbecue, or kick back with a cold drink in your 10-seater rooftop spa bath. Keep the kids entertained with Netflix or Foxtel, and well fed with an equipped kitchen to whip up homestyle meals. By night, retreat to your queen-size ensuite bedroom kitted out with quality linen and air-con. Bliss!

Every houseboat is different, so explore your options and find the best amenities and features for your group and price point. Some boats are even pet-friendly so you can really bring the whole family.

Step 5: Secure the best seat on the Murray River for sunset and sunrise

Picture yourself luxuriating in your rooftop spa with a glass of bubbles in hand as golden orange and pink hues cascade across the sky. Or enjoying a cheese board and glass of local wine from the terrace. Being immersed in nature is the best way to enjoy any sunrise or sunset and it’s easy when you’re sleeping on the Murray River.

Of course, once the sun sets the stars appear and you’re already exactly where you need to be. Cheers to the good life.