If you’re looking for one of the best weekend getaways around the protected waterways of southern Moreton Bay, consider hiring a houseboat.
Houseboats are spacious with all the creature comforts of a fully equipped kitchen with cooktop, oven and fridge, shower, flush toilet and separate bedrooms. They also give you the distinct advantage of being able to move location whenever the mood takes you. It’s bit like ultra-luxury camping; maybe glamping.
Houseboats vary in size, from boats capable of accommodating 6 guests, to those that can cater for 12 guests. Most have an upper deck equipped with outdoor furniture and BBQ/cooking facilities. A boat licence is not required to drive one.
We hired the smaller of the fleet from Fantaseas Houseboat Holidays, the Wavebreak, for a Friday through to Monday long weekend.
Best Weekend Getaways Queensland – Northern Gold Coast
If you’re into fishing, boating or kayaking the northern Gold Coast offers one of the best weekend getaways Queensland has. Because of the short driving distances involved, it’s also one of the best weekend getaways from Brisbane.
The rivers around the northern Gold Coast are the Coomera River, Pimpama River and the Nerang River. The Coomera and Pimpama rivers provide access to South Stradbroke Island and southern Moreton Bay islands.
The Coomera and Pimpama rivers have plenty of good anchorage points for overnight stays; and also gives houseboats the ability to get up into the channels and waterways of Coomera, Cobby Cobby, Eden, Crusoe, Kangaroo and other smaller islands.
We cruise the Coomera River, as the pickup point for our houseboat was Hope Harbour.
Here’s a short video of the houseboat experience, courtesy of Fantaseas Houseboat Holidays.
First Night – Coomera River
We arrive at the floating office of Fantaseas, and Trent does the necessary pre-departure briefing. It’s comprehensive and shows how to operate the houseboat, how to use the charts and maps and so on.
It’s pretty much go-anywhere; however, there are some areas that are off limits for obvious safety reasons, such as Jumpinpin Bar area, Gold Coast Seaway and private marinas.
We head off to anchor along the northern branch of the Coomera River between Wasp Creek and Bullock Head Creek. It was windy during the late afternoon, and it took me a bit of time to get used to the houseboat moving around on the anchor.
Once my brain got used to this very normal behaviour it was time to sit on the top deck and enjoy the quiet of the beautiful evening; watching the full moon rise over Coomera Island.
Second Day – Coomera River
We are keen kayakers, so we bring out boats along with us. Rather than launch from the houseboat, we tow the kayaks with the tender to a small section of beach next to where we were anchored.
Tied up the tender, get ourselves sorted and paddle along Wasp Creek. This creek cuts right across Coomera Island, linking the northern and southern branches of the river. It’s an easy paddle of about 4.5 kilometres return through pristine mangroves.
As with Bullock Head Creek, these places are tidal. Depending on the tides, parts of them can be dry during the low water. Best to pick times around the top of the tides.
There is some boat traffic using Wasp Creek, mostly tinnies and jet skis. The creek is speed limited, but don’t rely on all people to pay attention to this limit. Some won’t. Keep your eyes and ears open.
We get back to the beach, tidy up the kayaks and get set to tow them back to the houseboat. During the time we have been paddling, the tide has dropped about half a metre. What I didn’t realise is the firm sandy beach gives way to a soft, muddy bottom. Marise is piloting the tender, and my entry into the boat is less than elegant so to speak.
Back on the houseboat with the kayaks stowed on the top deck, it’s time to relax for the rest of the day.
A black helicopter comes and goes a couple of times through the afternoon, and we realise it’s probably Mick Doohan (5 times 500cc motorcycle world champion) who lives around this part of the world. Pretty good to have sporting royalty for a neighbour, even if it’s only for a day or two. ?
Evening comes on, and it’s time for a BBQ dinner on the top deck. The day boat traffic has eased to zero, and we again have the place to ourselves. A glass of port, then off to bed to sounds of water quietly lapping the hull of the houseboat.
Day Three – Move to Santa Barbara
Marise takes the helm of the houseboat and we cruise down to the mouth of the Coomera River; just for a look. It’s pretty busy, being a Sunday.
We turn around and head back up the north branch to our final destination near Santa Barbara. It is great to be able to share the houseboat experience with family, with Clyde and Amelia joining us for lunch.
Towards evening, the weather closes in with light rain. We lay down on the double bed and take in the million-dollar views, staying warm and dry.
Day 4 – Return to Hope Harbour
Monday morning we’re up early to pack up our gear before heading back to Hope Harbour. It’s a pleasant trip back, where we are met by one of the team from the houseboat hire company to take us back into the harbour.
Best Weekend Getaways – Final Thoughts
We enjoyed the whole houseboat experience. We’ll holiday this way around the waterways of the northern Gold Coast for the foreseeable future, because it is one of the best places for long weekend getaways we know.
The flexibility offered by houseboats works well for us. We will stop at a location, explore the minor waterways and creeks via kayak and then move on.
In general, we don’t think it’s too big a claim to state that houseboat holidays can offer one of the best weekend getaways Australia has to offer. We also would like to think it would have to be one of the best girls’ weekend getaways around as well; if a bunch of friends want to get away from it all.
We do a lot of camping, and it’s great. However, this is a whole new experience; and for us exploring and experiencing the waterways around the northern Gold Coast and southern Moreton Bay make it one of the best places to go for a weekend away.
If you’re interested in fully off-grid camping, here are some of our camping gear reviews to help you.