For a different kind of holiday, have you ever considered hiring a houseboat? Houseboats are available for hire in many places round Australia, and quite often there’s dog-friendly houseboats available. So, for a fun holiday on the water with you pup, check out these options. And don’t miss my tips on dog etiquette on houseboats.
Dog-Friendly Houseboats on the Murray River, South Australia
By far the greatest number of pet-friendly houseboats available for hire in Australia are located along the Murray River in South Australia. The mighty Murray slowly flows for 650km through southeast South Australia, perfect for a houseboat holiday.
Two great dog-friendly houseboat hire companies not far from Adelaide are Griffens Marina in Blanchetown and Foxtale Houseboats in Morgan. Both are located just under 2 hours northeast of Adelaide.
Three of the five houseboats hired out by Griffens Marina welcome dogs onboard: Scallywag, Scamp and Adventurer. Both Scallway and Scamp have four berths, while the larger Adventurer accommodates up to ten. Bring along everything you need for your dog, including a bed and some old towels to dry off your pup. Dogs are not allowed on furniture or in the bedrooms, it’s preferred they stay out on the deck area to minimise dog hair throughout the boat.
Foxtale Houseboats advertises itself as the pet-friendly fleet, so I believe dogs are allowed on all four of their houseboats. Though they do clarify that when they say pet-friendly, it doesn’t apply to llamas or snakes! Most of their houseboats have five bedrooms, perfect for larger families or groups of friends.
If you head further afield to Renmark and Paringa in the Riverlands region, 3hr northeast of Adelaide, there’s plenty more dog-friendly Murray River houseboats to choose from.
One option is Riverfun Houseboats. Pets are permitted on a selection of their houseboats by prior arrangement. Enquire directly to find out which of their 11 houseboats are currently pet-friendly and get the okay to bring your pet along. One houseboat that has recently become dog-friendly is the recently upgraded Murray Explorer, a classic Murray all-ensuite cruiser with five bedrooms, sleeping up to 10.
At Wilkadene Above Renmark Houseboats, all three of their boats are pet-friendly, although pets are only allowed on the outside decks. The Elly-Mae has six berths, while the Amazon Star and Outback Star accommodates up to 10. Enquire in advance for permission to bring your pup along.
More houseboat hire companies located in Renmark/Paringa that allow dogs on board include:
- Liba Liba Houseboats: Only outside, at the manager’s discretion
- Renmark Houseboats (formerly Warriuka): Small dogs only, at the manager’s discretion
- River Murrary Houseboats: At the manager’s discretion
- Magnum Houseboats: At the manager’s discretion
For more information on holidaying in the Renmark area with your dog, check out this great pamphlet put together by the local tourism centre.
Also, keep in mind that much of the Murray River is bordered by national park here, the Murray River National Park. Luckily, dogs are allowed on a leash in the Paringa Paddock section and Lyrup Flats, in between the towns of Renmark and Berri. But dogs are not allowed in the sections further downstream or on Bulyong Island.
Another Cute Option…
While not a standard houseboat, I also had to share with you another dog-friendly boat hire option in South Australia.
River Wren at Murray Bridge, just 1hr east of Adelaide, has a fleet of six petite riverboats for hire. With beds for six passengers, these cute boats are ideal for couples or small families. Two pets are allowed on each boat, including inside. Based on prior reviews, it’s best to reduce the reduce the number of people on the boat if you’re bringing along a dog, especially a larger breed, otherwise it can get quite crowded.
Dog-Friendly Houseboats on the Murray River, Victoria
Further upstream, the Murray River forms the border of New South Wales and Victoria, before it crosses the border into South Australia. So, is it possible to hire a dog-friendly houseboat along this stretch of the Murray River? Luckily, there’s two dog-friendly houseboat hire options on the southern Victorian bank of the river.
Mildura Houseboats is not surprisingly located in the Victorian town of Mildura. Their award-winning houseboats are stunning! Some even include spas onboard. For a list of their pet-friendly houseboats, check out this page. Currently they offer five dog-friendly houseboats, ranging from six berths up to 12 berths, two with onboard spas. Make sure you arrange to bring your dog onboard in advance, and enquire about their rules.
A second houseboat company that permits dogs onboard is All Seasons Houseboats, also located in Mildura. Pets are allowed in selected houseboats, generally some of the smaller boats. Enquire directly to find out your options, plus any conditions and fees that apply.
Did you know that the border between NSW and Victoria lies along the southern bank of the river, meaning that the Murray River itself is within NSW?
Dog-Friendly Houseboats in NSW
Across New South Wales, there’s a range of river and lake destinations that offer houseboats for hire. So where can you hire a dog-friendly houseboat in NSW?
One of the most popular houseboating spots is the Hawkesbury River, on the northern edge of Sydney. However, thanks to being surrounded by national parks, which in some cases include the waterways, none of the local houseboat companies permit pets on board. The only exception is for guide dogs, in special circumstances.
However, I have managed to located two companies hiring dog-friendly houseboats in NSW. Firstly, consider heading to Forster on the crystal-clear waters of Wallis Lake, 3.5 hours north of Sydney. Forster Houseboat Hire is pet-friendly under certain circumstances. With two sizes of houseboats for hire, sleeping up to six or ten people, request approval in advance to bring your pup along, plus enquire about any extra fees that may be applicable.
Heading further north to the Queensland border, Berger Houseboat Holidays in Tweed Heads has a dog-friendly houseboat. Due to regular requests, they permit pet dogs aboard the Wanderer, a six-berth houseboat. They recommend that only pets up to 15kg are brought on board, due to room restrictions. Call directly to book and find out the rules, letting them know you have a pet. Note that a cleaning fee may apply for pet bookings.
Dog-Friendly Houseboats in QLD
It’d be great if I could share with you a dog-friendly houseboat option in Queensland, as there’s plenty of demand for people to take their pets on houseboats. However, I haven’t been able to uncover any dog-friendly houseboat hire companies. I’ve read reports online that this is due to health concerns by the authorities. It’s best to head south, whether just across the border to Tweed Heads or further south.
Dog Etiquette on Houseboats
So, you’ve booked a dog-friendly houseboat for a holiday and packed everything you need, including your dog’s bedding, bowls, leash and some old towels. But what about looking after the essential “business” of your dog?
While houseboats obviously have toilets onboard for humans (even multiple ensuite bathrooms on larger boats), for four-legged guests you’ll need to resort to different options. The easiest solution is if your dog has been trained to use puppy pee pads. Just pack enough for your holiday and put them out for your dog to use, ideally in a sheltered corner of the outdoor deck.
However, if your dog refuses to go on anything except grass, you’ll have to go ashore to look after their needs. Most houseboats will come with a tender for trips ashore. Specially take your dog ashore in it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, or moor up on the bank. During the day, go ashore for outings, taking your dog along. Ask the hire company for their recommendations.
Onboard the boat, following the rules stipulated by your houseboat company. While some companies permit dogs inside their houseboats, others only permit dogs on the outside deck. Clean up any hair that your dog sheds, before returning the boat, as well as any “accidents”.
Be aware that sound travels further on the water, so if your dog barks at night they might disturb other houseboats or even nearby land owners. It’s best to tie up your dog at night, if they’re sleeping outside, in case they spot something interesting in the water.
When you head ashore, keep your dog on a lead unless you’re in an off-leash area. In the Murray Region, be aware of the plentiful livestock and native wildlife, plus keep an eye out for snakes in the warmer months.