Take me to the river - Australian houseboat vacations

May 2011 News Daniel Scott - www.smh.com.au

Some of my most memorable holidays have been on houseboats, floating on tranquil waterways such as the Hawkesbury and Myall Lakes. They're close to home but feel a million miles away.

Autumn and early winter are the ideal time to cruise, with morning mists clearing to reveal crisp blue skies, mirror-like reflections and no other boats in sight.

Houseboaters are spoilt for choice in NSW. From long, broad rivers such as the Murray in the south to the sheltered creeks and inlets of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park near Sydney, to extensive coastal lake systems on the north coast, a cruising holiday will transport you through unforgettable landscapes. Here are the state's best places to cruise:

Murray River

The Murray is the world's third-longest navigable river after the Nile and the Amazon. Although it spans three states (including Victoria and South Australia), its waters are under NSW jurisdiction. Stricken by drought for years, the river is now in full, glorious flow. There are three houseboating centres on the NSW part of the river: in Moama, Wentworth and Buronga, opposite Mildura. From Moama you can cruise downstream to Echuca, with its pioneering history, and drift past river red gums. Magic Murray Houseboats at Moama has a May-September special - a week's houseboat hire for the weekend price; 12-berth boats cost $2195 (1800 356 483; magicmurrayhouseboats.com.au).

From Wentworth it's possible to explore the Murray, visiting wineries and the riverside Gol Gol pub, as well as the Darling, where you can escape from it all. Sunraysia Houseboats has 10- and 12-berth boats from $1900 for four nights in May-September (03 5027 3621; sunraysiahouseboats.com).

At Mildura, there are several houseboating companies with moorings on the Murray's NSW side. Among these are Adventure Houseboats (03 5023 4787; adventurehouseboats.com.au), with a fleet of new, eco-friendly vessels (May-August specials, extra night free), and Willandra Houseboats (1800 800 842; willandrahouseboats.com.au), with six deluxe spa houseboats (family packages for two adults and two children cost from $1500 for four nights).

South coast: Clyde and Shoalhaven rivers

On the south coast you can cruise on the Clyde River from Batemans Bay or explore the Shoalhaven, near Nowra.

The Clyde's meandering course is navigable for 38 kilometres and is surrounded by the Boyne, Currowan and Shallow Crossing state forests.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/travel/activity/great-outdoors/take-me-to-the-river-20110427-1dvko.html#ixzz1LEBkLPvG
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