Teacher educator and author of many teacher reference books. Amused by random ideas and loves random acts of kindness. Enjoys writing humour...seriously!Please see my Instagram: wilsonjeni
Published January 26th 2016
Beautiful natural surrounding so close to the city
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily life is but a dream,
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream,
Children stand, they rock the boat and everybody screams,
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, Left, right, all together, what a frickin' team.
I said left!
Yarra River is just a hop, skip and a jump from the city. Get back to nature, off the screen and do some healthy family exercise in the midst of beautiful bushland. We came for the boating. I would have preferred to kayak and work up some speed but the kids were reluctant. I think they thought the boats would be more stable.
But… a little bit of history of the Fairfield Park Boat House and Tea Gardens first.
Fairfield boathouse was established in 1908 primarily for picnicking, camping and refreshments. The proposal for the boat shed was made to the Premier, because it was on the grounds of the Yarra Bend Asylum.
Boat and canoe carnivals were common until the 1950's, but boating popularity declined and the Fairfield boathouse was closed in 1980.
In 1985 the boathouse and gardens undertook a massive restoration that took 30,000 hours of work.
The Yarra River
The boats used at the Boathouse are unique in the Southern hemisphere, commissioned specifically for the Boathouse. There's plenty of boast so there's no need to book ahead.
They also offer kayaking and canoeing and provide all the equipment (people of all ages and experience need to wear a life jacket). Remember to take $20 for a deposit and ID for hiring.
The Studley Park Boat house can be reached by walking across the bridge and they also offer boats, kayaks and canoes for rent. The prices vary slightly.
The Fairfield Boathouse is a very popular spot for bikers and walkers to stop for refreshments. It's a beautiful multipurpose location. I have seen a few weddings there as well. The photo opportunities are infinite.
The Fairfield Boathouse and the Studley Park historic boathouses are grand old establishments offering a mix of modern favorite treats and old-fashioned drinks and ice-creams.
Breakfast, morning tea, lunch and afternoon teas are available. It's a bit of a favorite spot for Devonshire teas ($10.40). Other cakes are also around $10. Large shakes are on the expensive side at $7.80, however, they are large enough for two but I'm yet to convince my kids of that. Fresh juices are about the same size and price. The beetroot based juice looks great and sounds great, but I prefer my juices sweeter.
For an idea of the prices of food, I have listed some options: Atlantic salmon with salad or burgers are between about $22-$30. A margherita pizza is $18.50. Little nippers brekkies are around $12.
While you're there, cross over Kane's Bridge and turn left to find Dights Falls. You can turn right at Merri Creek and follow the Main Yarra Trail. It's about 12km.
The walking tracks are a bit of a surprise. They are very well preserved with a terrific range of nature and birdlife. I'm sure there were also a lot of other Australian creepy crawlies but we weren't in search of these.
Despite the objections from one of my teenager I wanted to go kayaking or at least rowing while at the Fairfield Boathouse. They wanted to fish, collect gum nuts, take photos and the big boy wanted coffee. We found a great picnic table in a fairly secluded spot on the hill and as is often the way, we all enjoyed the boat trip down the river after all.
Not stuck... just resting
I got lots of laughs at the screaming when the boat rocked ever so slightly and easily managed to convince everyone that I was too poorly coordinated to do much of the rowing. Boats can be tipped so it's a good idea to store your valuables elsewhere. My girlfriend's engagement ring is still at the bottom of the river… but that's another story.
One hour on the river went fast even though we travelled such a small distance. I guess if we added up all the zig zagging we might have covered some distance.
A note about the weather: If it's hot there's no shade on the river so be sun smart. When it's cold, it's really cold on the river. Either way reward yourself with a lovely hot beverage or iced chocolate at the end. The view from the verandah of the boathouse is glorious. This was a very relaxing and bonding family day out.
Please post a comment on your favorite family boating destination.
Acknowledgement: Some of the historical information was adapted from the Fairfield boathouse website (fairfieldboathouse.com/)