House boat hire in Australia is a unique holiday experience and in North Queensland a leisurely trip aboard a Hinchinbrook houseboat is a great way to explore one of the best fishing spots in Australia.
The environment around the Hinchinbrook Channel area between Cairns and Townsville is extraordinary but really only known to fishermen.
However with two houseboat rental companies in the area it is possible to rent a houseboat and cruise for a few days along the channel and down the many mangrove-lined rivers.
It is an incredible experience, whether you’re holidaying with family or a group of friends.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]before you set sail[/headline]
Tide times dictate when you can depart so you need to make sure you check these when booking your houseboat. This obviously determines how early you need to arrive at the marina to load up your food, fishing gear and bedding and receive a briefing.
Before you are allowed to set off you are also given an overview of all navigation equipment, how to use the private VHF radio channel and a quick lesson on how to read the maps of the Hinchinbrook Channel.
You don’t actually need a boat licence to drive a houseboat but you do need to undertake the compulsory briefing.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]the houseboats[/headline]
There are two houseboat operators in the Hinchinbrook area:
- Hinchinbrook Houseboats has 5 different vessels that all depart from Cardwell
- Hinchinbrook Houseboat Hire has one houseboat that departs from Lucinda. While each houseboat is a little different in design they basically offer the same thing.
We went with Hinchinbrook Houseboats on the Lucinda Dawn. It has four bedrooms so it sleeps 8 people quite comfortably. Two of the rooms had bunk beds and the other two had single beds that could be pushed together to make a double bed for couples.
We had to take our own bedding and my advice is to take a quilt to lay on, as the mattresses are covered in a thick vinyl cover for protection but not that soft to sleep on when you only cover it in a thin cotton sheet.
Our room had glass sliding doors out onto the back deck so we could watch the sunrise as we lay in bed, which was wonderful.
The houseboat also had two bathrooms and a spacious living area with lounge/dining and a large fully equipped kitchen.
Plus we had a rooftop deck with a barbecue which was a great spot to sit late in the afternoon.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]exploring Hinchinbrook Channel[/headline]
Stretching 50 kilometres from Oyster Point to below Cardwell and Lucinda, the Hinchinbrook Channel is made up of large open waters with lots of smaller mangrove-lined rivers running off it.
It is protected by the Hinchinbrook National Park, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and it is thriving with wildlife both on land and in the water.
We saw dolphins, turtles, baby sharks, stingrays and in one of the inlets we even saw a large saltwater crocodile.
We spent most of our time fishing off the back of the boat. We also successfully caught loads of crabs in the crab pots we planted in the mangroves.
In the evenings we fished in the moonlight, listening to the sounds of fish jumping out of the water, crocodiles swishing about in the mangroves and birds calling out to each other.
The only downside was the sandflies.
There are thousands of them living amongst the mangroves so not even our insect repellent could deter them.
Unfortunately having to lay anchor in a calm, mangrove-lined inlet means sandflies come with the territory but don’t let that put you off you.
A Hinchinbrook houseboat holiday is an incredible experience. It may not be the cheapest way to travel but if you want a unique holiday that you won’t forget, then a houseboat holiday should definitely be on your list.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]travel nq fast facts:[/headline]
- Take long pants and long sleeved tops to wear to protect against sand flies
- The closest airport to Lucinda and Cardwell is Townsville (both within 2 hours drive). Cairns is a slightly further drive (2 hours and 15 minutes to Cardwell and 3 hours to Lucinda)
- For more information on Hinchinbrook Houseboats call them on 07 4066 8007 or go to their website at www.hinchinbrookhouseboats.com.au
- Hinchinbrook Houseboat Hire can be contacted on 07 4721 0668 or go to their website at www.hinchinbrookhouseboathire.com.au