As the warm sun lights up the vivid stripes of the striking red cliffs along the Murray River, we glide past them in slow motion, bringing a scene worthy of a screensaver to life. The captivating scenery keeps our travel group glued to one side of two storey glass houseboat we’re aboard, filming, photographing, and just soaking it in. It’s truly spectacular.
The landscape fades from one scene to another, the ancient cliffs giving way to the dense greens of eucalyptus scrub, reflections of barren trees rising from the water in picture perfect submerged forests, the odd group of campers on the shores, stoking their campfires for the night.
We’re on board Drift, a luxury houseboat which is based at Renmark. The 12-berth accommodation is unlike anything on the river, forming a striking silhouette on the water. Its aerodynamic build turns heads as we travel up-stream. We’ve booked a 3-night stay aboard, and have spent every minute wishing it was longer.
Built by an architect, the million dollar houseboat is every bit as glamorous as the photos suggest.
Floor to ceiling windows on both floors, make it the ideal viewing platform for soaking in the best of the river. Now the waters have receded after the recent once-in-a-lifetime floods, the area is flush with birdlife, and its former beauty has returned in abundance. It’s a spectacle you can view from your bed, the shower, or the lounge. Every room on the boat in fact.
Downstairs is a gorgeous light-filled room from which you can captain the boat, with a day bed to accommodate anyone wanting to keep you company while you motor along the river. Behind that, 6 bedrooms, 4 with 2-way ensuites, and a third bathroom at the back. Beyond that is a small deck at the rear of the boat, with a tall bar table and 4 chairs for those wanting a break out space. It also offers a glimpse of the kayaks that RiverFun Houseboats organised for us. Definitely an add-on worth getting.
Upstairs, a glamorous living area invites you to make Drift your new home for the duration of your trip. A luxe lounge room with deep green velvet couches draw you in to sit in front of the modern stone-bed gas fireplace, or to watch a movie on the large screen TV. DVDs are supplied, or you can just curl up on the couch and read a book while the river passes you by. The slow tranquil pace you move along at, brings with it ultimate relaxation.
In a separate living space, the large kitchen bench overlooks a gorgeous dining area, adorned by striking artwork, and thoughtful touches. Rustic wooden tables sit together in a square format, or can be moved into a long table configuration if you’re feeling fancy. Two large fridges and 2 large esky’s outside mean there’s plenty of room for all your food and drinks.
Stocking up in Renmark to support the local traders before you board is encouraged, with plenty of great businesses offering up products worth trying. Grab some 23rd Street Distillery Mulberry or Violet gin before you go, some macarons from Zynski Bakes, or an incredible gourmet hamper from Singing Magpie Produce. We recommend the super glam Singing Magpie chocolate rainbow gift box, sticky quince syrup and the sticky quince figs.
Beyond the dining room is a large undercover outdoor deck, which draws you out to the water. It’s home to a roomy spa, BBQ area and outdoor lounge room. It’s also where our group inevitably ended up each night, gazing up at the incredible stars that the Riverland is known for.
The winter sun works magic with the glass-filled boat, making the living area a truly comfortable place to spend your day, as you soak up the warmth.
In the warmer months, an abundance of air conditioning vents will combat the heat, with retractable blinds strategically located throughout the rooms aboard. No detail has been overlooked.
For those wanting to really get that authentic river experience, each night when you moor the boat on the riverbank, you can set up a campfire (outside of the fire season) and sit amongst the trees while you enjoy nature at its finest.
Amongst the beauty of the landscape is a tangle of exposed tree roots and collections of river swept debris lining the banks, with the echoes of floodwater apparent in the shadows of mud wrapping the bottom of each tree trunk. The tapestry of ancient trees, damaged remains, stoic bush land that refused to be compromised, and fresh new growth create a juxtaposition showcasing that life goes on.
It’s a moment in time unlike any other, and one that needs to be experienced. Plus of course, the Riverland still needs your support.
While the price tag may initially hold some people back from booking, with a group of 12 people, prices can start from a low $135 per person per night, and for such a bucket list experience, it’s well worth every penny.
More info: Click here
Distance from Adelaide: 3 hours to Paringa
Price: From $4,750 for 3 nights, off peak (plus fuel)
Capacity: 12pax including children. Should you need to accommodate more people, Riverfun Houseboats have multiple vessels you can add to your convoy!
Bring Nespresso coffee pods for the coffee maker, along with sugar if you want any. The kitchen is fully equipped with all the gear you’ll need to cook up a storm, however you need to bring your own condiments.
There’s a great bluetooth speaker system upstairs but not downstairs, so if you want music while you’re at the helm of the boat, bring a small bluetooth speaker. Download your playlists before you come, as internet reception can be patchy.
There’s big wonderful towels for the shower, but you’ll need your own beach towels if you want to use the spa or river.
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