Hiring a houseboat for the weekend in winter (June-July 2014) means that you’ll get a very good price and lots of choice, and probably with good weather because you are in the Riverland.
After meeting the family at the Mildura Visitor Information and Booking Centre, we headed to the Mildura Brewery which is located in the former Astor Theatre for Friday lunch. Allowing the waiter and chef to decide our light lunch we enjoyed fresh bread, bruschetta, meats, pasta and salads. The boys ordered the beer tasting plates and picked up a couple of boutique beers for the trip.
Heading to the Mildura Houseboats mooring we loaded the James R II (note to self – limit 1 suitcase per person next time) which was just enough space for the 5 of us.
After a quick lesson we headed upstream past the Gol Gol Hotel and moored near Bruces Bend as the pink sun was setting over the river scene. Exploring the riverbank felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and the camp fire was welcome warmth as we chatted.
Saturday morning we awoke to a cooked breakfast by Aimee and we cruised further upstream past the Psyche Pumps to Red Cliffs Pump Station taking in the beautiful, sunny outlook and wildlife. Trentham Estate was our stop for the afternoon where you can moor the boat to a private jetty and walk up the winding steps to the cellar door. Tasting wine in front of the log fire with a stunning view over the cliffs we settled on a favourite – Maestri Frizzante.
Heading downstream early evening we moored near the Mildura Ski Club ready to go through the lock in the morning. To get through the lock you have to call the houseboat company and have someone come on board to steer the boat through safety. Once through the lock and after dropping off our temporary captain, we headed past the Apex Park, Olympic Park Speedway and down to the Merbein lookout for a quick rolls and salad lunch.
With memories of visiting Sultana Sam when I was a kid, I wanted to go to Orange World. After a bit of a walk up to the highway we found the right road to Orange World where Scott and I went on a train tour (Jess, Aimee & Dan weren’t keen) to see 30 different citrus and avocado.
A final night out on the banks with a camp fire with a good night’s sleep we then had breakfast, packed and headed back to the mooring all to be back by 10.00 am.
Three nights on the houseboat was just about right – I enjoyed seeing the changing river landscape, camp fires and time with my family.
Written by Wendy Perry, 2014.