HIRE A HOUSEBOAT IN ECHUCA:
If you’re looking for an EPIC weekend away, hiring a houseboat from Echuca and spending a few days cruising the Murray River guarantees a kick-ass time.
With all the facilities of a modern home, you get to cruise in comfort, but don’t let that fool you – this will be a true blue adventure.
Swimming, exploring, boating, paddle boarding, water-skiing, BBQing, fishing, partying, chilling, you can make the adventure your own. Oh, and waking up on the water is bliss.
What you need to know:
- All year, but best from November – April (when it’s hot AF)
- The biggest houseboats can sleep up to 12 people
- Many have spa pools on the top deck (worth every penny)
- There’s usually a 2 night min. hire period, 3 nights on long weekends
- You DO NOT need a boat license (only a drivers license)
- The driver needs to remain sober (unless parked & secured)
- Inflatables are essential for maximum fun times
- Take earplugs if you plan to sleep in, the Cockatoos get rowdy
For the ultimate weekend away, we recommend rounding up a dozen mates and hiring one of the larger houseboats – it really is ‘the more the merrier’!
HOW FAR CAN YOU GO IN THE HOUSEBOAT?
Ok, we’ll give it to you straight. Houseboats are essentially floating apartments / hotels / hostels and while we love them, they’re ungainly and bloody slow.
They cruise at around 8 km/h downstream and 4 km/h upstream. With that in mind, and assuming you’re not near a dam / unpassable bridge, you’re only really restricted by time.
Our recommendation? Stay within 15 kms of the hire location so driving doesn’t become a burden. Move one or two times a day as it is fun to find new spots and change up the scenery, but park up for the day before 2-3pm so you can get the party started.
10 THINGS TO DO WHILE HOUSE BOATING ON THE MURRAY
You really can shape this adventure to suit the crew. It can be a super chilled weekend soaking up the relaxed river vibes, or you can bust out the tunes, fire up the barby and get stuck into a few beverages.
If you’ve rustled up a solid crew, we highly recommend the latter. Of course, this is best coupled with some legit river activities. Here are a few ideas…
1) GET YOUR FLOAT ON
Going to the Murray River without an inflatable is like going to a BYO and forgetting the wine. It’s still OK, but you’ll be kicking yourself. Better yet, ensure everyone brings one so you’ve got the makings for an epic float.
Tip: Take plenty of rope to tie them together when floating down the river & to tie off to the boat when you’re parked up.
2) PLAY BEER PONG
Related to the above, take an inflatable that has enough cup holders for a game of beer pong. There’s something great about standing in waist deep water playing pong (and it’s not just the lack of toilet breaks).
Tip: If you forget the ping pong balls, a champagne cork works a treat.
3) FIRE UP THE BARBY
All houseboats should have a BBQ on board, and these naturally become focal points around breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plan to do most of your cooking on the barby.
Tip: Take paper plates to make light work of the clean up.
4) GO FISHING
The Murray River is full of fish, and while you’ll probably catch mostly carp within 15 – 20 kms of Echuca, they’ll keep you entertained. If you’re mad keen, Murray Cod will be around too, but you’ll need to be up at sparrow’s fart to give yourself a shot.
Tip: Take a bell for your rod, so you can fish into the night. And you’ll need a NSW fishing license.
5) RELAX IN THE SPA
Yep, there’s a spa pool on a lot of these houseboats, and it’s well worth paying a little extra for the luxury. It doesn’t get much better than having a few drinks in a spa, on a boat, floating on the Murray River.
Tip: Get your spa time in early, because that water will be filthy come day 3.
6) HIT THE DANCE FLOOR
Assuming you find a ripper spot without anyone in earshot, you can really crank the beats without keeping anyone up. Most houseboats have a large deck upstairs that makes for a great d-floor.
Tip: Prepare a few playlists before you get there & make sure you’ve got quality portable speakers. Don’t rely on the houseboat speakers.
7) GO WAKEBOARDING
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a ski boat and want to add an element of sport to the weekend, take it with you. Towing the boat around brings a few challenges, but it’s so worth it.
Tip: Take a few iron fencing posts and some rope so you can tie the boat off on shore at night.
8) SWIM & BE MERRY
With or without toys, this weekend is about having fun with your mates and we guarantee there will be no shortage. So embrace the location and have one of the best weekend adventures going around!
Tip: Take enough booze to sink a smaller watercraft.
9) GO FOR A BUSHWALK
Wherever you park up (noting you can’t park on private property), there will be plenty of car trails or bush tracks around. So if you’re keen for a little exercise or just explore the area, go check it out!
Tip: Walk upstream & take an inflatable with you. Floating back is a great option.
10) DRESS UP THEMES
It may be a bucks, hens, birthday or just for the hell of it, either way, dressing up will make this weekend even more memorable. Themes associated with water work well, of course. Aye aye, captain!
Tip: Theme the entire day to make the even more entertaining. Food, music, games etc.
WHAT ARE THE HOUSEBOAT FACILITIES LIKE?
Most houseboats on the Murray River are decked out with all the luxuries of home, then some. To make it a little easier to plan, here’s everything you will likely have, and what you’ll need to take. Note, all houseboats are different, so check with the hiring company to confirm.
What you can expect on a houseboat:
En-suite bathrooms, hot showers, an oven, gas stove, microwave, fridge, flushing toilets, BBQ, TV, stereo, generator, lounge suit, lounge chairs (upstairs), outdoor seating, bedding (often an extra $), cutlery, pots/pans, fresh water, kettle & a coffee machine (pod).
What do you need to take on a houseboat:
- Food. Creating a meal plan and buying accordingly is highly recommended
- Booze. Don’t skimp, you can always take it home
- Portable speakers
- Multiple eskis and loads of ice
- Serious amounts of sunscreen
- A hat, ideally a sombrero
- Earplugs, the cockatoo’s fire up at sunrise
- All the gear for fun & activities
- Inflatables are KEY (floating eskis are super handy)
- Insect repellant
- Paper plates
A NOTE ON WATER SAFETY
This will be a cracking weekend, and it’s likely plenty of booze will be consumed. But, it’s common knowledge water sports and alcohol can cause accidents.
As such, here are a few points to note if you hire a houseboat on the Murray River:
- The driver must be sober (as per NSW law).
- Don’t jump off the top deck. People die doing this.
- There is no speed limit on the Murray River, so be seen when swimming.
- There are strong undercurrents in some sections, swim responsibly.
- Don’t swim away from the boat at night time.
- If floating in a pack, make sure you’re grouped tight.
- Ensure the houseboat is tied off well before it gets dark.
WHERE CAN YOU HIRE A HOUSEBOAT IN ECHUCA?
Here we’ve listed a few companies hiring houseboats near Echuca, but there are plenty more, particularly if you’re happy to start from a different point on the Murray River.
We recommend looking at the reviews for each, emailing the company with any questions / concerns and booking the best boat for your needs.
- Moama on Murray Houseboats
- Bella Casa Houseboats
- Murray Downs Marina
- Adelora Houseboats
- Luxury on the Murray
- Simply Irresistible Houseboats
- Magic Murray Houseboats
- Executive Houseboats
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO HIRE A HOUSEBOAT?
While the price varies depending on size, hire period and level of luxe, you’ll typically be paying a substantial fee for houseboat hire. That range could be anything from $500 to $5,000+.
You’ll also be charged more during peak season (summer) and long weekends when errryone wants to be kicking back on the Murray. So plan accordingly.
If you do go large, the hire and fuel costs (generator + engines) will be split between more people, making the adventure relatively cost effective.
As a rule of thumb, expect boat costs to be $250 – $350 per person if you hire a houseboat from Friday to Sunday. Not bad for a once in a lifetime experience.
HOW TO GET TO ECHUCA?
Echuca is a 3 hr drive north of Melbourne if you get good traffic conditions, but this can blow out to 3.5 – 4 hrs if you’re heading up in peak traffic (i.e. Friday evenings, long weekends).
There are 3 routes north you can take, the Calder Fwy / M79, Northern Hwy / B75 or Northern Hwy / B75 / C325.
Our recommendation is to plan for the Calder Fwy / M79 route, but always check Google maps first, as one route can often be significantly faster than another.
If you’re heading up for a weekend, try to get away earlier in the day to minimise your drive time and maximise your river time!
Looking for more adventures in Victoria? Read our article on the Best Bushwalks in Victoria.