At times it can be fun, at others it’s an inconvenience (for example, in the lead-up to exam week), but during school holidays I tend to go away a lot. The destinations vary but the logistics of accommodation stay the same – eventually all the hotels, motels and cabins blur into one. Well, my most recent holiday proved different. A few weeks ago my accommodation was the most exciting aspect of my holiday: a houseboat on the Murray River.
The houseboat, appropriately titled “Escape”, was so modern and well-equipped that the interior looked like a hotel – except instead of skyscrapers and city haze outside, you saw the breadth of the Murray River, usually accompanied by a jet ski or a fellow houseboat. We didn’t feel any motion sickness (which was a relief for a friend of ours) and the weather was beautiful every day: warm but not too hot. With comfy beds and couches, a widescreen television and an awesome stereo system inside as well as a canoe for kayaking, opportunities to fish, a river to swim in, deckchairs to lie in, and a spa, we had the perfect balance of indoor and outdoor activities. Those who wanted to lie around inside could do so, while the more restless could get active outside. We had no fear of being noisy as our “neighbours” were moored a hundred metres upstream – a liberty that doesn’t come with hotels. During the day we cruised down the river, mooring at walking tracks or wineries along the way.
There were of course a few issues, the major one being that someone had to drive. After a twenty minute crash-course we were handed the keys and we were on our own with just a boat, a river to navigate and minimal boat-manoeuvring skills. It was cruising down the Murray that was the easy part; it was parking or “mooring” that was nearly impossible. We obviously had to moor somewhere every night so each afternoon we would attempt to moor on a bank somewhere (sometimes on the NSW side, sometimes on the Victoria side), hitting low-hanging branches or trees, crashing side on into the bank, sweating at the thought of damaging the boat, being yelled at by winery owners and making absolute fools of ourselves in the process. One thing can be said: it was an experience we’ll never forget!
I recommend sharing the houseboat with a group of friends or between two families as we did, as it obviously isn’t cheap and the houseboat can accommodate up to twelve people. I also recommend not breaking your ankle while you’re up there like my mother did, as she can tell you first-hand that it’s no fun being on crutches. She can also tell you all about the efficiency and precision of the Mildura Hospital Ambulance, something to keep in mind when you go there.
Mildura itself is only six hours or so from Melbourne – not a huge journey but far enough to feel like a real holiday. Living on the houseboat for a week was probably one of the most relaxing, enjoyable holidays I’ve been on: the river is so tranquil yet you can never get bored as there are so many activities to do along the way. The weather was beautiful even though it was miserable in Melbourne. It’s definitely a holiday worth having!
For more information on houseboats available in Mildura visit Willandra Houseboats.