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Fairfield Park Boathouse - Rowing On the Yarra

Home > Melbourne > Cafes | Family | Outdoor | Parks | Romantic
by Lorraine A (subscribe)
Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Published January 4th 2017
A romantic step back in time

One of things I've always wanted to do is row along the Yarra, I always imagined it as being a peaceful way to see the sights of Melbourne that you can't see from the surrounding roads.

When rowing was mentioned during discussions of what we should do on the weekend, I agreed and for some reason assumed it would be in a kayak or canoe, however there had been more legwork involved than that and my other half had planned on something with a bit more old world charm... a hand built rowing skiff.

We headed to the historic Fairfield Park Boathouse which had commissioned a shipwright in 1984 to research, design and build their first boat, a replica of the Thames pleasure craft used in the 19th century. These row boats are a bit weathered now but still in working order and available for hire.

Arriving at the boathouse was easy, it's well signposted and there is plenty of free car parking available. From here you just follow the meandering tree lined footpath through the park and down to the river where you are greeted by this pleasant view toward the boathouse and over the Yarra River.

Fairfield Park Boathouse

Although there was a little bit of disorganisation on what looked to be a fairly quiet day we found someone to help us with boat hire and for $37 we hired a rowing skiff for an hour.

It's all self service from here, so you need to select a life saving vest, grab a set of oars and then carry it all down the steps to where the boats are tied up. We were half expecting that there would be someone at the bottom of the steps helping people to embark and disembark from the various water craft on hire but there wasn't so we chose a skiff, climbed aboard, untied it and tried to get the gist of how to row.

We rowed against the flow of the water, as advised by staff to make the return trip easier and managed to row a few kilometres up stream to the Chandler HWY bridge in about 30 min.

With the sun out and the gentle movement of the rowing skiff, I found it to be very relaxing and a good way to see and enjoy Melbourne from a different perspective. Despite being in the middle of Melbourne we had a feeling of being on the Murray river with the dry landscape and big gum trees lining the river.

Rowing back to the boathouse was easy and took half the amount of time going with the flow. The best part about returning was the stunning view of the historic Fairfield Park Boathouse which was built in 1914 and renovated in 1985.

After a row on the water you may like to sit back in the shade of a gum tree (or on the deck below) overlooking the Yarra and enjoy some lunch or a coffee and a slice of cake. We had already eaten beforehand so we skipped on the offerings at the cafe. The reviews that we found online were mixed though next time we will try it out of curiosity.

We would definitely head back to Fairfield Park Boathouse for another row in a skiff but we might try Studley Park Boathouse first to see the comparison in landscape only 6km up the river.

The boathouse is located at Fairfield Park Drive, Fairfield and the opening hours are listed below.

Fairfield Boathouse Opening Hours

For more information on the Fairfield Boathouse including the history, weddings, cafe, menu, boat hire and more, click here.

Boat hire ranges in prices depending on what you choose to row in (kayak, canoe or rowing skiff) with a skiff starting at $30 for 30 min for up to 3 people (max of 5 people in a skiff). We hired the skiff for an hour for $37 ($7 per hour thereafter). Kayaks are the cheapest at $19 for 30 min. Have a look at the full price list on their website here.

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Why? For an enjoyable row on the Yarra River
When: All year round
Phone: 03 9486 1501
Where: Fairfield Park Drive, Fairfield
Cost: $37 for one hour skiff hire
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