I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published December 10th 2012
‘Get away from it all’ in Australia’s tourist heartland
Do you fancy a holiday on the Gold Coast, but would like to avoid the theme parks, crowded beaches and high-rise hotels for which it is so famous? Are you looking for a special get-away, somewhere that is quite different, yet not too far away? If you have found yourself pondering over either of these dilemmas, perhaps what you need is a house-boat holiday. A sojourn on a Gold Coast houseboat enables you to enjoy all of the many attractions of this most desirable of areas, yet provides you with the option to retreat, whenever and wherever you desire. If you're a party animal, it's possible to moor right in the heart of the Coast, with all the action literally at your doorstep, while romantic couples, families, and nature-lovers will relish the potential for truly 'getting away from it all' in some of the more isolated areas.
The Narang River at Surfers Paradise. Image from Wikimedia Commons (by Donaldytong).
The loud and touristy elements of the Gold Coast are touted so enthusiastically that many visitors are entirely unaware of the natural beauty and diversity which surrounds this magical part of south-eastern Queensland. However, despite the ever-expanding suburban sprawl, there are many breathtakingly beautiful waterways and secret hideaways just minutes away.
The following paragraphs introduce a couple of the Gold Coast's waterways, and some of the houseboat companies which operate on them.
THE BROADWATER Extending from just beyond Surfers Paradise, north to the Southern Moreton Bay Islands National Park, the Broadwater is a large and shallow inland waterway. Sheltered from the Pacific Ocean, it offers many islands and sheltered bays which can only be explored by boat. While to the east, the long isthmus of South Stradbroke Island separates the Broadwater from the ocean, Brown Island, Crab Island, and Coomera Island are just a few of many other islands which await you.
The Broadwater. Image is from Wikimedia Commons (by me Zassat).
The beautiful Coomera River which meanders west from near Paradise Point is also a beaut spot to indulge in some houseboat adventures, while more gregarious holiday makers may prefer to moor further south near Southport or Labrador, closer to the Coast's glitzy attractions.
Fantasea Houseboats Based on the Coomera River, Fantasea Houseboats specialise in houseboat holidays on the Broadwater and its adjacent waterways and offer a choice of several boats which can sleep up to ten people. Some of the bigger boats have a few cabins, which is convenient for larger groups.
All of the Fantasea Houseboats provide a comfortable lounge area, complete with television, video and DVD players, as well as a functional kitchen so you can easily self-cater as you explore more isolated localities. They also include a marine toilet and full-size shower with hot water, so you don't have to rough it too much.
Sundowner Houseboat Holidays Based at Hope Island on the Coomera River, Sundowner Houseboats are the perfect way to explore the inland waters of Coomera, Pimpama and Jacobs Well.
Sundowner possesses an elite selection of boats, ranging from smaller intimate vessels up to much larger ones which can sleep as many as twelve people. Some of their larger vessels possess three bathrooms, and a couple of them also have luxury spas. They also have comfortable private cabins, well-appointed living areas and kitchens with all the modern conveniences for self-catering.
TWEED RIVER Located at the southern end of the Gold Coast, the Tweed Valley is a beautiful region, surrounded by rugged mountains, World Heritage listed rainforests and picturesque sugarcane and dairy farms. From its source in the Great Dividing Range, the Tweed River meanders through some of Australia's most beautiful countryside until it reaches the Pacific Ocean at Tweed Heads. The river's lower reaches, from Murwillumbah to Tweed Heads, is wide and easily navigable, and it's here that a few houseboat companies operate. If you want to escape the rat-race of the city for a slower, gentler pace of life, then this may be the holiday for you.
Tweed Heads, NSW at the mouth of the Tweed River. This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Seandigger).
While Tweed Heads is just a 'stone's throw' from all the attractions of the Gold Coast, travelling further up the river you can moor near peaceful nature reserves and enjoy breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside. In addition, many people enjoy dropping in to Tumbulgum, a quaint historic village situated several kilometres up the river, and Murwillumbah, a bustling regional centre even further upstream which offers a delightful fusion of traditional Australian and 'alternate' cultures.
Berger Houseboat Holidays Berger Houseboats is a family-owned business based in Tweed Heads, and has a fleet of ten modern boats, offering from two to twelve berths. Regardless of their size, each of the vessels in the Berger fleet possess comfortable cabins, fully-equipped kitchens, showers with hot water and outdoor deck areas, where you can relax and simply watch the world go by.
A view to Mount Warning from the Tweed River. Image is from the Berger Houseboats website.
Boyd's Bay Houseboats
Located at the Tweed Marina on River Terrace, Tweed Heads, Boyd's Bay Houseboats offers a variety of stylish, self-contained boats which can sleep from two to twelve people. For more information, check out the Boyd's Bay Houseboat website.
In conclusion, if you're looking for a truly special experience for your next getaway, look no further than a houseboat holiday on the Gold Coast. A good thing to keep in mind is that houseboats are incredibly easy to drive, and therefore a boating licence is not necessary: all you need is to choose your boat, hire it and sail away into the sunset. Bon voyage for a holiday with a difference.