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 November 13th 2012
Bon voyage for a holiday with a difference
Western Australia's vast and spectacular coastline traverses some of the most remote and rugged landscapes on the continent. From the secluded inlets and tall jarrah forests of the far south to the wilderness coast of the Kimberley region in the tropical north, there are so many amazing places to visit and marvel at.
Image from Houseboat Holidays website.
Hiring a houseboat is a great way to explore these wilderness waterways safely and in comfort. The feeling of freedom is unparalleled, and one can easily become immersed in nature's beauty. Provided kids are well-behaved and safety conscious, it's also a unique way to enjoy a family holiday. Various houseboat companies operate throughout the state, offering floating accommodation ranging from the rustic to the luxurious. The following list outlines some of Western Australia's most popular destinations for houseboat enthusiasts, and suggests a few local operators who offer boats for hire.
The waterways around Mandurah offer innumerable opportunities for houseboat enthusiasts, and popular areas to explore include the Peel Inlet, the Harvey River estuary, and the rivers which flow into them. Although they're just an hour from Perth, as you cruise these sheltered waterways, you'll feel as though you're a million miles away. Their close proximity to the city also makes them a realistic destination for a weekend escape, and let's face it, there's no better way to retreat from the urban rat-race than on a comfortable, well-appointed boat.
Peel Inlet, Mandurah. Image from Wikimedia Commons (by Orderinchaos).
Mandurah Houseboats operates both Dolphin Houseboat Holidays which is based in the heart of Mandurah, and Murray River Houseboats, which is based at nearby Ravenswood. For more information, check out their website, give them a call on 08 9535 9898 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
Augusta and the Blackwood River Entering the Southern Ocean at the Hardy Inlet near Augusta in the state's far south, the Blackwood River is another popular destination for houseboat-lovers. Within the inlet there are several islands which provide secluded anchorage spots and pictuesque places to explore. The Scott National Park also borders part of the Hardy Inlet near Molloy Island, and provides much-needed protection for the area's unique flora and fauna. Spectacular jarrah and karri forests are endemic to the area, and the inlet is the home of many dolphins, which you can watch from the comfort of your boat.
Image is from Blackwood River Houseboats' website.
Based in Augusta, Blackwood River Houseboats operate along the lower Blackwood River and the Hardy Inlet. For more information, check out their website.
Walpole Inlet Situated on the pristine sheltered waters of Walpole Inlet and surrounded by tall forests, national parks and prolific wildlife, Walpole is a perfect destination for a houseboat holiday. In addition to Walpole Inlet, Nornalup Inlet (which connects it with the open ocean) and the tranquil waters of the Walpole, Frankland and Deep Rivers provide many sheltered nooks to drop anchor and linger longer. Operating since 1984, Houseboat Holidays hire out boats ranging from intimate four berth up to more social ten berth.
Image is from the Walpole Houseboat Holidays website.
Walpole and Western Australia's south coast in general have always been extremely attractive holiday destinations during summer when the weather further north is sweltering hot. At this time of the year, what could be more appealing than having the shallow, refreshingly cool waters of the Walpole Inlet literally at your doorstep?
A delightful hamlet located on the Southern Ocean between Albany and Esperance, Hopetoun provides many beautiful places to explore on a houseboat holiday. The comfortable self-contained houseboats offered by Hopetoun Houseboat Hire allow visitors to access remote locations along the shallow and tranquil waters of the Hamersley Inlet, the Hamersley River, and the rugged Fitzgerald River National Park.
Image is from the Hopetoun Houseboat Hire website.
The Fitzgerald River National Park is one of the largest national parks in the state and is an internationally recognised Biosphere Reserve, the significance of which is recognised by UNESCO. A nature lover's paradise, from your boat it's possible to catch glimpses of the prolific wildlife and birdlife which frequents the area. In addition, during the springtime the landscape is carpeted with thousands of colourful wildflowers, many species which are only found in the region. Therefore, for enthusiastic photographers and those with a strong desire to genuinely 'get away from it all', a houseboat holiday here would be the perfect escape.
Kununurra and the Ord River The Kimberley region in the state's far north is one of the world's last great wilderness areas: a vast realm of rugged gorges, wide rivers and ancient, deeply spiritual culture. Situated on Lake Kununurra, on the upper reaches of the Ord River, Ord River Houseboats enables houseboat connoisseurs to experience the holiday of a lifetime traversing through this unique area in safety and comfort, and to experience it from an entirely different perspective.
The majestic Ord River, Western Australia. Image is from Wikimedia Commons (by isthatdaves).
In conclusion, if you're looking for a local holiday with a big difference, then a houseboat adventure on one of Western Australia's beautiful waterways could be just what you're looking for. Although the above suggestions are some of the most popular spots, others do exist, so keep looking and it's quite possible that you'll unearth some other hidden gems. Bon Voyage.