Murray River Houseboats

Take it easy

A houseboat is the perfect way to experience the mighty Murray River. Spend time with family and friends or just escape from life in the fast lane with the ultimate low speed holiday.

Cook a barbecue as you cruise past a uniquely Australian vista of limestone and ochre coloured cliffs, majestic river red gums and abundant birdlife.  

Houseboat on the Murray River, Bow Hill, South Australia

Dangle a line while you cruise. Swim off the deck. Find a sheltered spot to stop for the night or pull ashore at a secluded sandy riverbank for a picnic. A houseboat holiday makes days feel like weeks. Sit back and watch the world go by.

A boat for every budget

Houseboats in South Australia are some of the most luxurious in the world and more akin to five star hotels.

Some of the luxuries on offer include spas, jacuzzis, ducted air-conditioning, dishwashers, king size beds, sun decks and entertainment units - you can even hire a private chef to do the cooking for you.

Add a canoe, ski boat, or hire a dinghy, and you will have everything you need to enjoy a houseboat holiday in South Australia.

Costs and availability vary according to the season, so make sure you book in advance. Search now for a houseboat to hire.

A floating holiday house

Staying on a houseboat is like staying in a holiday house, except this one floats. You'll need to bring your own food and drinks, but most other things are already there.

All the standard safety equipment is on board too. You'll find lifejackets, buoys and floatation aids, plus a two-way radio to use in an emergency.

New to houseboating? No worries!

All you need to "captain" your own houseboat is a standard driver's licence.

You'll get full tuition before you depart, including information on river conditions, boating rules and mooring spots.

Water users are reminded to familiarise themselves with the various channel and hazard markers used in the river prior to their visit.

Transport SA’s Recreational Boating Safety Handbook is a vital tool for all boat users. It’s available for free by visiting

Upstream or down?

With hundreds of kilometres of Murray River to explore in a houseboat, the hardest part will be deciding where to start and which way to go.

You’ll find good charts and maps in The Murray River Pilot (Renmark to the Coorong), Murray River Charts (upstream from Renmark) and the SA Waters Atlas and Guide.

These books are also available at the local Visitor Information Centres. They’ll also help you find the perfect picnic spot or a sheltered stopover to pull ashore for the night. Cook your catch and enjoy a sunset campfire.

Murray River, Lakes and Coorong

There are plenty of lovely downstream spots along the Murray River and they’re perfect if you’re in the mood to play or pause.

If you’re starting in Mannum, head to the Mannum Dock Museum first to learn about the river’s rich history.  

Swan Reach is renowned for its towering cliffs, including Big Bend, which boasts the tallest cliffs along the entire length of the Murray River. Walker Flat is also a popular mooring spot for houseboats, whose passengers enjoy iridescent sunsets over the dramatic cliffs.

Bowhill is a small riverfront settlement and is only a short distance from Mannum. With boat ramp access, Bowhill is a popular location for watersports.

For help booking a houseboat for your holiday, visit the Houseboat Hirers Association website.


Renmark is a great place to start your Riverland houseboating holiday with several houseboat fleets based in the town. Among them is the very first houseboat fleet ever to operate on the Murray River - Liba Liba.

There’s 362 kilometres of waterways explore in the region and it boasts the oldest lock and weir system along the river, starting with Lock 1 at Blanchetown to Lock 6 at Murtho (above Renmark).

The locks are well-maintained with good facilities and information for visitors. Locks 2, 4 and 5 at Taylorville, Bookpurnong and Paringa have barbecue facilities and are ideal spots to stop for a picnic. For boats and houseboats it takes 20-25 minutes to pass through the lock’s gates.

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