At first thought, taking three little kids onto a houseboat didn't really seem like a great idea - could we really stay for a week confined in a smallish boat with 3 very active kids? Well, we decided to do it anyway! We had wanted to visit Fraser Island for a long time now - for those that don't know, Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and is world heritage listed (as well as being amazingly beautiful) - so what better way to visit than by houseboat!One of our first concerns was what to pack, it's not like we could just duck off to the shops to pick up some groceries (although we did manage to do this), however we have done a bit of camping previously so this made it a little easier. The boat that we hired was a 45 foot houseboat which accommodated us comfortably as well as giving us plenty of room for storage and a bit of room for the kids to move around. A quick hour long session with one of the skippers gave us enough information on operating, navigating and most importantly, anchoring the boat and we were on our way!
We left from the little fishing village of Tin Can Bay and we had 5 nights to explore this amazing part of the country - we had arranged a little excursion at Kingfisher Bay Resort in the north of Fraser Island and we had two days to make our way up there! Anchorages were marked out on the map - they are dotted along the coast and most are within calm waters. We allowed plenty of time to arrive at each point so that we could anchor-up early and explore our surrounds (as well as allowing plenty of time to relax and do a little fishing)! The houseboat was equipped with a small tender so that we could explore the coastline and get onto dry land from time to time, although for the most part we were quite content to stay on our boat!
We made it up to the resort in time for our excursion, stopping off where-ever we saw something of interest - there are a couple of shipwrecks along the way which the kids were really intrigued with, so they were definite stopping points! We weren't staying at the resort - we just joined a large number of other boats that were anchored nearby. The resort was very generous in opening up its facilities (restaurants, bars and swimming pools, there are also small shops as well) to the boaties so it was understandable as to this being a popular anchorage.
Fraser Island was beautiful! It's a little difficult to get around - no sealed roads here - but we had booked the taxi service to pick us up and take us to one of the most picturesque natural places that we have seen. Lake Makenzie is a freshwater lake on the island with perfectly white sand beaches, surrounded by thick forest. Driving across the bumpy sand roads in our 4 wheel drive taxi it was hard to imagine that a place like this could exist, but it was simply magnificent, and it was a highlight on our little trip!
Our houseboat holiday was a fantastic adventure - for all of us! We imagine that it must have been quite surreal for the kids as it was amazing for us parents! In general the waterways were nice and quiet and the waters were smooth - fantastic for our first adventure on the water, and being able to relax for a day at the resort made for a special treat off the boat as well! We got to see turtles and dolphins (but sadly no dugongs), lots of fish and crabs, even some bioluminescence on the surface at night-time! The kids kept well entertained throughout the week even though they were a little confined and we're sure that they have some fantastic memories!
Where is it: Tin Can Bay, about 3 hour's drive north of Brisbane
What's it all about: A really special encounter with some beautiful dolphins!
How can I join in: The dolphins come in every day at around 7am, so head along to Barnacle's Café for this wonderful experience!
Tell me more: Tin Can Bay is a quiet and small town about 3 hour's drive north of Brisbane, in the Fraser Coast region, with a really big drawcard - the opportunity to see wild Australian Humpback Dolphins swim right up to the beach! Almost every day and with amazing punctuality, the dolphins arrive and swim around in the shallows - and they've been doing this for over 50 years! The beach area that the dolphins know is within the boundary of Barnacle's Cafe. If you want to enter the water with the dolphins, there is a small entry fee of $5 (which goes toward sustaining this wonderful experience) and for another $5 you will be provided with a fish to hand feed to a dolphin! It really is a great experience for all ages - even our toddler got in the water and she loved it, and so did our oldest boy, who is generally unfussed when it comes to animals! The dolphins frolic in the water for over an hour so there's lots of opportunity to see them, however the feeding is limited, so to be assured of this opportunity make sure you arrive early!
Amenities: All amenities although a little basic! 👍👍👍
Cost: A reasonable price for a unique experience! 👍👍👍
Parking: Plenty of parking available! 👍👍👍
Access: Not too much of a problem, however it can get a little crowded over holiday periods! 👍👍👍
Best for: A great experience for all ages! 👍👍👍👍
Wildlife: It's all about the dolphins, however you will see lots of cheeky cormorants who will try to steal your fish and maybe a pelican or two! 👍👍👍👍
Summary: For those of us that love nature, this is a must-do experience! It's a simple morning out with almost guaranteed results - we're looking forward to doing it again! 👍👍👍👍
Hints: If you have the opportunity, plan around the holiday season as it can be quite busy!
Brisbane Family Explorers