By Aimee Knight
These seven houseboats are equipped to experience the Murray River to its full advantage. Once you pick up your boat, then it is up to you to skipper them through the gentle waters stopping at wineries and towns along the way.
Escape with Scamp
This homely houseboat docks in Blanchetown, about two hours from Adelaide. With its fully equipped kitchen and plentiful decking area, Scamp is comfortable, practical and economical. Steering is a breeze, which makes it perfect for your debut houseboat outing.
Best suited to two couples or a small family, you’ll immediately feel at home drifting along the Murray River. Head to the tranquil upper sundeck and tick off a few titles from your summer reading list, while your better half fires up the barbecue downstairs.
Houseboat from: $1200 for three nights.
Ideal for: two to four people.
Magic happens in Mannum
Be enchanted by Magic: a bewitching mid-range houseboat suited to a spirited family or group of friends. The sound system pipes your favourite tunes throughout the boat as you soak up the sun from the spacious front deck, or hit the water for a spot of fishing from the included dinghy.
Collect the keys to Magic from the historic township of Mannum and lap up some of the finest cruising waters the Murray has to offer.
Houseboat from: $1700 for three nights.
Ideal for: four to six people.
Aqua Dreaming on a summer’s day
This boat was made for coasting. Aqua Dreaming’s sleek design offers unrivalled vantage points for viewing the Murray River’s undulating landscape. Pass beneath majestic river red gums while reclining on a sun lounge. Try your hand at nature photography and take home picturesque mementos of your inimitable houseboat holiday.
Aqua Dreaming is a gem among Riverfun Houseboats’ unique fleet, docked in Renmark.
Houseboat from: $2750 for four nights.
Ideal for: four to eight people.
The intimate River Wren
Good things come in small packages, as River Wren proves with plenty of charm. Sweet and petite, the nautical-themed interior is packed with character. Gentle, quiet and fuel-efficient, this is perfect for a couple who want a cost-effective getaway.
Meet River Wren in Murray Bridge, then set off for a romantic jaunt past Sunnyside, Riverglades and Willow Banks.
Houseboat from: $660 for three nights.
Ideal for: two people.
Entertain on the Murray
Assemble your hungriest, thirstiest friends for a gourmet voyage on Murray Entertainer. The airy outdoor dining area provides an idyllic setting for long lunches and delicious dinners. Put the crew to work and cook up a feast, or head south to Swan Reach and collect your own personal chef for the evening.
Best of all, Murray Entertainer is replete with large solar panels, which significantly lower noise levels (not to mention cost) so you can indulge the senses undisturbed.
Houseboat from: $3000 for three nights.
Ideal for: up to 10 people.
The Great Escape
If you’re hankering for adventure on the open waters, look no further than Great Escape. Six bedrooms have access to the surrounding decks, so you can spring straight out of bed and into action as soon as the sun’s up.
The vessel had a major facelift in 2015 and now sports a new kitchen, 50-inch flat screen TV, and a jacuzzi on the top deck. Stern-side, there’s room for open-air dining while overlooking the swim deck.
Real thrill seekers can hire jet skis and wake boards from Freedom Boat Hire in Murray Bridge to get an incomparable adrenalin fix.
Houseboat from: $3400 for three nights.
Ideal for: eight-12 people.
Seize the day on Carpe Diem
For those who like the finer things, this boat was built in 2016 and was architecturally designed to the highest standards.
With an open living layout, this vessel has a massive curved 65-inch LED television, and a deluxe stereo system with bluetooth capabilities. It can sleep 10 if you make use of the rear lounge sofa bed.
There's two bathrooms, a deluxe kitchen and barbecue as well as air-conditioning; and everything, including the 2 x 135hp Mercury Verado engines, is powered by either solar panels or a quiet diesel generator.
Houseboat from: $3600 for three nights
Ideal for: six-10 people.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are at Adelaide Airport.