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Diary of a Myall Lakes House Boat Weekend

This is an account of our weekend on the 45’ Houseboat “Gemini” from Luxury Houseboats Bulahdelah.
The weekend was with myself & wife and our 2 kids aged 10 & 8 (boy & girl).

Thursday 19Riverth Feb 2014.

Not even three hours North of Sydney’s western suburbs and we arrive in Bulahdelah, the location of Luxury Houseboat Hire around 12:30pm. We will be on the water within 1.5hrs. We are warmly welcomed by Sandra & Chris. Sandra makes sure we have all the essentials. You can tell she has been serving customers for many years. It was nice to be welcomed. After loading on our bags and food, Sandra arranges for some ice in the ice boxes provided. A quick trip back into Bulahdelah with the kids to pick up some bait and ice creams; if the fish aren’t biting ice cream fixes everything! Back to the boat and now it’s Chris’ turn to take us all over the boat and what to do. The emphasis being on what to do; not what not to do. Chris was excellent and made us feel confident and capable. You shouldn’t worry if you have never been on a house boat before or any boat for that matter. Chris leaves you feeling as though you could skipper an ocean liner after his briefing. He points out all the best spots on the map and tells us not to hesitate calling him should we run into any issues. By 2pm we are pushing back from the jetty and we are under way.

Chris joins us onboard for the first 15 minutes ensuring we navigate the first few turns of the Myall River that 2 hours later will have us into the lower Myall Lakes area. After cracking a few jokes and Chris double checking I was paying attention to his instructions he was jumping off the house boat “Miami Vice” style into a tinny that had been following us and like that we were on our own. Our adventure had begun.

The Myall River gently works its way through a mixture of pasture lands, with cows and their calves standing on the banks, and thick scrub which was a haven for bird life. An impressive large sea eagle swept down from one tree and took up residence just ahead in another.  As we glided past he pumped out his chest looking quite impressed with himself. Within 2 hours, we came to the mouth of the river and into the southern part of the Myall Lakes. Chris thought that heading north for about an hour towards the car ferry at Legges Camp would be a good place to spend our first night. By 5pm we were at our destination and we had a choice of 4 permanent moorings which meant we didn’t need to practice our anchoring skills. Within minutes of mooring it was into the water for a swim. The water was perfect. The kids had a great time jumping off the boat. I tried my hand at fishing. The ice cream eventually won out! Dinner tonight was simple. We had Tacos sitting on the bow of the boat. It was peaceful andreflections quiet. A quick clean up after dinner. Then we played a game of UNO with the kids. Kids then went to bed while the wife and I had a chance to read a chapter of our books and have a wine. Not a bad first day. Sleep was welcomed.

Friday 20th February

The night was extremely calm. At one stage I got up to take a look at the stars and couldn’t believe how still the lake was. The morning greeted us with little cloud cover. Bacon & Eggs on the bbq was on the menu. It was then we thought we might be a loaf of bread short for the weekend. We only had 2 and were pretty sure this wouldn’t last. Especially when the kids couldn’t resist feeding the ducks. Fortunately we were moored right next to Legges Camp. A tourist park with a great little restaurant and kiosk attached. We had a small tender with a little outboard. I jumped in with the kids and made our way over to the jetty to grab ourselves another loaf of bread. FYI Legges Camp has a great kiosk if you need to stock up or have forgotten something like batteries, wine or if you had too much wine Panadol!

By 10am we had left our mooring and we were headed for Johnsons Beach, about an hour further north. Chris had said this would be a good spot for the kids as the sandy area was a good spot for exploring and a bit of beach cricket. On the trip to Johnsons Beach we were busy spotting families of black swans looking graceful on the lake. As we pulled up to Johnsons Beach it was time to practice our anchoring skills. Mentally ticking off all of tips Chris gave us we were successful first go. I was pretty proud of myself. A short 15m off the beach. Time for another swim. The water is just perfect. Fresh and clean. I tried my hand at fishing again. This time I caught a tiny bream. Progress I thought. We had sandwiches for lunch and while we were eating, a goanna had made its way down the beach to have a drink at the edge of the lake. We were also treated to a fly over by a fighter jet from Williamstown RAFF base that was doing exercise over the lake. The kids got a real buzz out of that one!

After lunch a bit more swimming with the kids and then a chance to let them do some fishing. They each caught a tiny bream and they both thought that was pretty good. A quick ride in the small tender we had with the houseboat and then we decided to pull up anchor and head to a more protected stretch of water for the evening. We found this in “Dolly’s Channel”. Again we had a choice of moorings and we were amongst plenty of bird life that appeared to think Dolly’s Channel was the place to be. By 6pm the bbq was flashed up again and steak & sausages were on the menu with corn, potatoes and salad with some salt & pepper calamari for starters. After a great meal we quickly cleaned up and headed up to the top deck of the houseboat and caught one of the best sunsets we have ever seen, with some ice creams in hand! We took some great photos. Night time meant showers and then a game of Disney Monopoly our 8 year daughter had brought with us. I know why she bought it. She cleaned us all out of cash!

Before the kids went to bed we checked outside and the most amazing sky was on display. They say the stars in the outback are special, but I have to say the Milky Way reflecting on a still Myall Lakes is simply magnificent. We were all mesmerized as we
stared off into space. With no other lights around the scene was too good to be true. A memory that will stay with me forever. Kids off to bed and a chance to crack a nice bottle of champagne we had brought with us. A few more chapters of our books and it was time to call it a day.

Saturday 21st February

I was up early. Again it was still and quiet. A perfect start to the day. I made myself a coffee and decided to try my luck again with the fishing rod. This time I landed an eel hanging about the reeds close to the shoreline. He put up a bit of a fight but I managed to land him. The young fella was up by now and couldn’t resist a photo opportunity. We managed to safely release the eel back into the lake to fight another day.

flatheadBreakfast this morning was cereal and toast. Something quick as we decided to pull up our mooring and head back south again to “Professors Cove”, a little place we saw on our way north. On this trip the lake was a hype of activity. There were sea scouts our in canoes heading back from an overnight camp and there were plenty of water skiers and families out on their boats. When we made it to Professors Cove I came in a bit too quick. The wooden pole used to pick up the mooring rope didn’t stand a chance and it met its fate. Snap! Good thing there was a spare one on board. I guess this happens pretty regularly. We managed to grab the mooring a second time. Again the kids were keen to grab their fishing rods and try again. Not much luck here and the kids were keen to return to Legges Camp where they enjoyed the swimming on the first night. No sooner had we arrived back at Legges and picked up a mooring were the kids jumping overboard and spending hours in the water. Lunch was some chicken kebabs cooked on the bbq and some salad. Sitting in the sun with a beer and my book seemed like the best way to spend the afternoon. I did this while joining the kids jumping off the houseboat from time to time. Again the water was perfect and by 5pm we had worked up quite an appetite. Tonight on the menu were salmon fillets and salt & pepper prawns on the bbq with salad. The fishing was again not very successful. Thankfully the ice creams we had made us forget that. The people on the houseboat on a mooring just across from us pulled in some nice flathead over the course of the afternoon. I guess it helps if you know what you’re doing! But you have to have a go all the same. Another game of UNO with the kids tonight before bed. They were both very tired.

Sunday 22nd February

Our last day on the Myall Lakes. I was up early and my early morning coffee was spent soaking up the absolute peace of the lake. The weather was a little overcast and an early morning shower ensured a cool start to the day, but that was the last of the rain. The family were sleeping in. The smell of bacon & eggs on the bbq soon got them up. We didn’t have to have the boat back until 4pm so a lazy start to our Sunday was perfect. With breakfast done and all cleaned up, one last swim was on the agenda. It was still cool but the water is just far to inviting. I can’t explain how great the swimming is. The water is fresh and you don’t have to concern yourself with anything lurking in the depths. No stingers, no sharks.

The kids wanted to watch a movie after swimming. The LCD/DVD player was ready to go and the changing view outside the houseboat was an exceptional distraction. Movie over it was time to make the 3 hour journey back to Bulahdelah. There was a bit of wind across the southern part of the lake. It made for a fun ride that the houseboat handled well. By the time we hit the mouth of the Myall River it was nice & calm again for the remainder of the journey. Some ham & salad sandwiches for lunch on the run home. A couple of phone calls to check in with the Marina and we were greeted close to home by both Sandra & Chris. This time it was Sandra’s turn to take over the Miami Vice role as she leapt on board and took over the helm to guide Gemini into the dock. I’m glad it was Sandra. A tight squeeze into the dock was made to look easy. Our weekend had come to an end.

We will be back. If you want a genuinely great family holiday, one where you spend quality time with each other, then this is it. The kids weren’t missing the TV. They packed plenty into 4 days out on the water and both declared it their best holiday ever. If you plan your meals over your time out on the water you won’t go without. We ate like kings. There are plenty of easy access moorings out on the lake. We only had to drop anchor once and that was no drama with Chris’ great tips. The water way is simple to navigate. The channel markers are easy to spot and reference against the map and as the Myall Lakes are not affected by any tides you don’t need to worry about getting stuck on any sand banks. If you are into your water sports, the houseboat would be an excellent base for your weekend so that you don’t need to concern yourself with getting off the water at the end of the day. You could ski till sunset. We will be sure to tow our Bayliner next time.

A big thank you to Chris & Sandra. You run a great operation and made us feel very welcome and capable. Your hard work shows in the way you present your boats. We look forward to seeing you again soon.                  

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