A houseboat on the Hawkesbury is one of those classic Sydney getaways everyone has thought about doing. But how does it actually work, do you need to be a practised mariner, and what’s it like? Able Hawkesbury River Houseboats have been renting houseboats since the 1980s and can rent you everything from a kayak up to a luxury houseboat for ten people. You don’t need any kind of licence to pilot a houseboat; you’ll get a full briefing on how to use it before you leave the marina, and they’ll also explain how far you are permitted to go in each direction (it depends on what size boat you rent). Banish those Cape Fear thoughts: staying on a houseboat is a wonderfully serene getaway, perfect for fishing, swimming (the larger boats have ladders into the water), and national parks to stop off and explore. Along the river you can also find opportunities for waterskiing and wakeboarding, golf courses, native birds and animals to spot, and more. If you don’t feel like leaving the houseboat they can organise catering for you, or a local fisherman to deliver a batch of freshly caught prawns.
So what are the houseboats like? There are ten different models and the smallest, an Aquavan 2-4 berth, has two couches that convert to double beds, cooker and barbecue, fridge, shower/toilet and small bow and stern decks – it’s easy to handle and a lot of fun for two people (or three-four who don’t mind a squeeze). That one starts at $420 for a night and $950 for six nights. At the other end of the scale is the Five Star Luxury Spa, which has five double bedrooms with ensuites and TVs; a heated ten-person deck spa; kitchenette with dishwasher; loungeroom, laundry, air conditioning, barbecue, and outdoor stereo system. That one will starts at $3,980 per night or $6,860 for six nights. Like everything, prices are seasonal, and the longer you stay the better the deals. 3008 River Rd, Wisemans Ferry 2775. 02 4044 0364.