My experience with Australian river cruises was something of a mixed bag. When our kids were young, my wife and I took them on a “Crocodile Cruise” on the Daintree River in far north Queensland.
The tropical setting was exotic, the little riverboat was appropriately atmospheric, and breakfast — including frontier-style Billy tea — was included.
The only problem: there were no crocs. Well, we did spot one baby croc toward the end of the day, at which point everyone on board started madly snapping pictures, none of which produced a clear image of the elusive reptile.
On the other hand, the boatman did allow our son, Grael, to play captain and steer the ship for a while, and we met some nice people onboard.
Our guest writer today, Sam Hoffman, lives in Australia and describes his top five river cruises there — none of which includes the Daintree — but he does rave about a Jumping Crocs cruise along the Adelaide River that sounds like a much better bet.
But in all truth, I’m such a fan of river cruises that crocs or no, I’d be glad to take any of these, which run the gamut from peaceful to educational and adventurous, and from Queensland and New South Wales to the Northern Territories and Western Australia.
Here’s Sam’s list of his top five:
By Sam Hoffman
The Hawkesbury River Cruise
River Hawkesbury cuts across most of New South Wales, with nothing more than deep forest along its banks. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, head for a Hawkesbury River cruise — just an hour north of Sydney — which allows you to sit back and enjoy the deep green forest views.
You can also fish, watch for birds, or even swim in the shallow sections of the river.
And by taking your river cruise on the The Riverboat Postman — Australia’s last official water-run postman — you can also learn about how riverside communities maintain their century-old traditions of getting parcels and posts by riverboat. The Riverboat Postman has been used in order to deliver mail in remote areas between Spencer and Brooklyn since 1910.
Its motto, “About a hundred years behind the times,” says it all.
Jumping Croc Cruises
On the other hand, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush on your next cruise, you will love The Jumping Croc Cruise, where terrifyingly massive crocodiles jump out of the water to catch birds, their prey of choice.
Besides the crocs, other — perhaps more enchanting — features of the Top End Adelaide River include viewing exotic fishes, majestic caves, and the Adelaide river’s turquoise water.
The Adelaide cruises range from one hour to all day and leave near Darwin in the Northern Territories.
The WOW Wilderness Cruise
While The WOW Wilderness cruise isn’t technically a river cruise, since the Walpole-Nornalup River in Western Australia is just an inlet off the ocean, it’s still quite an adventure and educational as well.
On this cruise through the Walpole Wilderness marine park you’ll have a chance to sample exciting natural attractions such as the spectacular moody beaches along the inlet.
Noosa Everglades Discovery Cruise
There is no better way of savoring Southeast Queensland than taking The Noosa Everglades cruise. The Noosa River cruise starts just a half hour from Noosa, a beautiful coastal town.
The river even has some lakes situated on it, including Lake Cooloola, Lake Como, Lake Cootharaba, Lake Cooroibah, and Lake Weyba.
While visiting the so-called ‘river of mirrors’, you will head deep into Australia’s Cooloola National Park. Along the Noosa, you will see everything from pelicans perched on boats and thick forests to rudimentary camps once used by loggers.
The Murray River Cruise
No Australian river cruise is as exciting as the The Murray River cruise. The Murray is the third longest navigable river in the world, right after the Amazon and the Nile in length. This nature’s gem is also known as the ‘’Food Bowl of Australia’’, since it serves as a water supplier to up to 1.5 million households.
Trips on the Murray River are designed to evoke memories of past expeditions, offering you the opportunity to ride on paddle steamers on the mighty river. While on this cruise, you will see Echuca — a legendary port that was used to transport wool to Melbourne — eye catching red gums that line the river banks, and a plethora of flora and fauna.
The Murray runs from Queensland to South Australia via New South Wales and Victoria — one third the length of the continent. It’s an appropriate way to cap your tour of some of Australia’s most cruise-worthy rivers.
Author Bio: Sam Hoffman is a writer living in Australia.