We have just spent a marvellous weekend with our daughters Alice and Louise, and Louise's partner Annette, aboard a houseboat on the Murray River. We had booked this a couple of months ago, and didn't quite know how it would go - but it was really good!
We had to drive up to Moama, just across the river from Echuca. For us, coming from Castlemaine, it was only an hour's drive; for the children, coming from Melbourne, more like 2½ hours. And as Alice, being a teacher, couldn't get there till after dark on the Friday, we had to stay at the "dock" (which is really a beach) until Saturday, as driving the boat is not allowed after dark (very reasonably).
But this was not an issue; it was a very acceptable place to spend the night. (The most disturbance we had was from the generator of another houseboat which, for reasons incomprehensible to me, had tied up almost straight across the river from us. They had a whole river to tie up in, away from anyone else. But..... I don't always understand other people.)
Saturday morning came around, and we had a quick lesson in driving the boat. As you can see, it was not small; 4 double bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large kitchen / living area at the back; the steering wheel and a small room for sitting in at the front; outside decks front and rear, and upstairs tables, chairs, sun lounges, a large spa, barbecue..... quite a big thing to drive up the river. It was helped in this by having GPS and a reversing camera, and a low top speed - I think the fastest we got up to was 7.5km/hr. But his was just fine; a lovely relaxing way to travel along the river. And whenever you feel like it, you just "nose in" to the bank of the river and tie the boat up to some trees. Most of the section we were on had National Park or State Forest bordering the river.
It was a sunny day, and despite being a little cool at this time of year, most of us went for a swim in the river. I also went out on the paddleboard they had, but found that some of its seals were not perfect; it filled with water and sank! Not to the bottom of the river though, so it was retrievable.)
We drove upriver for 2 hours, the the junction of the Goulburn River with the Murray (which is a far upriver as we were allowed to go.) So we tied up here for the night; no-one else around. And it was lovely and relaxing; we all went for a walk in the bush by the river, sat around, talked, played cards; and with no disturbance from noisy generators, because one of the good things about our boat was that it was very well eqipped with solar panels and batteries. Apparently it has a generator, which comes on automatically if it's needed; but it never came on for us.
On Sunday Annette had to go home - because of work - so we drove back to where we started, dropped her off, and turned around and went upstream for 10 minutes to yet another quiet secluded spot; until Monday morning when we had to go and hand the houseboat back.
It was a great way to spend the weekend!