One of the great lines in the childrens’ classic ‘The Wind in the Willows’ is Ratty exclaiming to Mole that “there’s nothing better than messing around in a boat”.
Well, we’re not claiming to be the River Thames and a talking rat may not do much for our tourism image, but the lower reaches of Melbourne’s Yarra River certainly offers plenty of options for messing around in boats.
With the weather improving and with plenty of onshore options to slake thirst and satisfy hunger, here is our selection of how to mess about on the water during spring 2018.
Melbourne Boat Hire is an obvious starting point. Captain your own vessel or hire a skipper with the boat so that no-one has to be ‘designated driver’. You don’t need a boat licence; just a few navigational instructions as you head off and a bit of common sense as you join the throng of recreational boaties enjoying the water. BYO food and drink, or just get the company to provide you with everything. You’ll be surprised how cost-effective it can be when you split the cost among a group of family or friends.
What’s the next best thing to cruising the canals of Venice in a gondola ? Sorry, we can’t provide the 800 year old architecture, but neither does a Yarra River gondola trip come with the oppressive crowds, the smell and the horrendous cost of the Venetian experience. Venice on the Yarra is probably the most unique way to experience the Melbourne skyline from the water. Each gondola carries just two people, complete with refreshment to suit your taste and budget. Some of the worlds celebrities have experienced Melbourne on these gondolas or on its beautiful sister vessel, M.V. Melburnian
To the other extreme, if your idea of a memorable trip along the Yarra involves food, beverages, music and maybe a bit of fancy dress, then the Melbourne Showboat offers a year-round calendar of on-water frivolity. A bit of burlesque perhaps ?, how about some blues music ?, or maybe just a sunset cruise on Victoria Harbour aboard the beautiful old converted Sydney Harbour ferry.
A few other ideas for messing about in boats…
If you want to combine sightseeing with some physical activity, then Kayak Melbourne offers plenty of scope. The Moonlight Kayak Tour is its most popular, and they even offer a Yoga Sunrise Kayaking experience
Those more advanced in years, or sedentary in temperament, might just settle for punting on the lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens. “But it’s not the Yarra” I hear you say …well, actually it is, in a way, because part of the ornamental lake in the gardens is the original course of the Yarra River, before it was straightened and its banks were raised around 1900, to reduce flooding in the city.
And finally, for the ultimate ‘look’ in special event photography, the Yarra River Precinct can even offer you a replica 1950s classic wooden speedboat. It’s not available as ordinary transportation, but imagine using it for those very special wedding pics, complete with the stunning backdrop of Melbourne city skyline? Even if your hubby doesn’t look like George Clooney, at least you’ll feel like George and Amal cruising on Lake Como !