I've had some pretty enjoyable on-water times in my life but a few days aboard Lake Monduran's new houseboat with wife Denise has really put some thick icing on the cake. We gained an insight into luxury boating, enjoying high levels of comfort and a serene environment. There were no vehicles, no planes or trains, no sirens and no barking dogs.
But it was fun driving the big lady too. The ease of operation made cruising up or down the dam at a leisurely 6 knots in the big 42 footer a very laid back and totally stress-free affair while the stability on the mooring removed any sensation of being afloat. And there was no roughing it thanks to a very luxurious finish and a long list of appointments designed to offer the utmost comfort.
Denise and I were very interested in the fishing as Lake Monduran is producing barra up to 1.3m in length these days. I positioned the houseboat well up the lake's main arm, around 15km from the wall at the White Rocks mooring. Such was the tranquillity of the area that in the mornings that we would be fishing for anything up to 45 minutes before the sound of the first outboard was heard. In the evenings we would still be working snags long after the last craft had departed.
Finally, when we'd had enough of an evening we'd head back to enjoy a hot shower and change of clothing, nice cold drinks and a meal prepared on the kitchen's four-burner BBQ or gas stove. Then we'd talk over the day's events while listening to the onboard stereo system. It does sound tough, doesn't it!
Houseboats on barra lakes aren't new of course. Lake Awoonga's fleet of houseboats have proven so popular that bookings run continuously, as will almost certainly be the case with Lake Monduran's craft once the word gets out.
Each lake’s geography makes them vastly different boating experiences. Awoonga, which is a wide basin, can be as rough as Moreton Bay in strong winds whereas Lake Monduran, being long and skinny with large side bays is far less affected by bad weather.
To take advantage of the more protected arms of Lake Monduran there are a number of strategically placed moorings set up to offer completely sheltered anchorages. The idea is that the party can decide on what they want from their time onboard and the houseboat management team will advise the appropriate mooring with a GPS course to follow en route.
Day trips are a viable option for corporate or business groups. A skipper can be supplied to drive the craft while they enjoy the pleasure of a run up the lake without a worry in the world.
Denise and I enjoyed everything about the houseboat. We caught fat barra on the fly rods during the day, spotted satellites at night before turning back the bed covers to enjoy an unbelievably soothing night's sleep. Denise puts far more effort into her fishing than I do and worked plastics from the aft deck of the houseboat at night but only caught catties for her efforts – croaking barra I called them.
This houseboat was purpose designed for use on Lake Monduran's sheltered waters. It's a catamaran style craft 13.25m long, 4.5m beam and draws 30cm. Stability is exceptional: at the mooring it's hard to believe one is actually in a boat. Power is provided by paired Yamaha 25hp four-stroke outboards linked to hydraulic steering.
The layout is, well, like a house. Roof and wall panels are foam filled for best insulation and sound deadening while all external decks are coated in non-skid material. Up in the bow area, adjacent to the helm, there is a classy kitchen/dining area with a table that seats up to 10 yet folds down to make up a double bed.
At the back of the room there is an impressive solid timber bench top with a sink and four-burner gas stove to port and a 220L gas fridge to starboard – a very efficient addition that freezes barra fillets overnight. Twelve volt lighting is standard throughout the craft.
Aft of the kitchen and dining area are three separate bedrooms, each fully screened against insect intrusion and provide ample airflow on warm nights. Sliding doors make the rooms completely weather proof if necessary.
The bedrooms are spacious. The forward and aft most bedrooms are set up with double beds and the central one is equipped with four bunks. Right astern is the bathroom with a (gas) hot water system and marine toilet. Fully enclosed companionways run the length of the craft as well. Parents with small children need not worry about the youngsters whatsoever. This is a secure craft; there is no chance of leaving unless one opens either the fore or aft gates and these gates come with cross-bolted locks. Outside the bathroom a wide deck offers ample room to tie up small craft.
While anglers will doubtlessly make up the majority of hirers the houseboat is great for anyone. Everyone from water skiers to folk who just want to enjoy some time away from civilization can enjoy it.
The twin Yamaha four-strokes start at the turn of a key and while nothing happens fast with this grand lady it does happen and I found her to be quite responsive to the wheel. Best of all is that a license to drive a powerboat is not required to operate the unit, yet much assistance is given before departure. Before you are able to hire the houseboat the staff will ensure that all features are explained and that safety gear and the like are brought to your attention. A full compendium of features, contact phone numbers, the operation of the craft's VHF radio and other important matters are aboard the craft.
Fully qualified staff will instruct drivers of the craft with procedural and operational matters to make hirers completely comfortable before the anchor is weighed. Alternatively, for a small fee the craft can be driven to a chosen area at a hirer's request while the party take in the scenery or rig up tackle along the way. Once secured on a mooring the driver will depart via a small craft that's in tow.
Other handy services include rubbish removal, ice top ups if necessary or even tackle replacement services. The staff are only a telephone call away.
For new anglers to Lake Monduran the affable Adrian Kampf, resident Lake Monduran guide, will be glad to assist with tackle, tactics, and assist you with that first barra. Adrian will take beginners out for a half or full day charter or even longer to ensure they have the best chance to get their dream barra. He also has a wealth of knowledge for bird watchers and nature lovers – he knows where every eagle or osprey's nest is on the dam, where colonies of water birds are tucked away and where an awful lot of barra like to spend their spare time as well!
Anglers don't necessarily need their own small craft because a range of suitable boats is available for hire at the lake Monduran campground office. These are can be tied onto the houseboat until required for use.
LOCATION: Lake Monduran and Lake Monduran Holiday Park are around 20km north of Gin Gin on the Bruce Highway. The turn-off is well sign posted.
FACILITIES: Holiday Park main office, kiosk, tackle and food store. Hire boats available. Black water dump point available.
THE LAKE: A large body of mainly sheltered water with many arms holding large stands of dead timber. The main basin is ideal for water sports and the other areas are suited to fishing. The entire lake is ideal for just enjoying nature at it's best. An S.I.P is required to fish. A formed boat ramp, plus an unofficial ramp are in current use. The main fish are barramundi, bass, and perch.
THE HOUSEBOAT: An entirely new venture. Sleeps up to 10 in comfort. Cruises at 6-8 knots and is a pleasure to drive. Finish is of extremely high standard and with all comforts provided. Stability of the catamaran style craft is exceptional. Ideal for families – youngsters cannot leave without assistance.
HIRE RATES: The current rates are exceptionally good value for a 42 footer that sleeps 10: from $360 per night off peak (holiday) season.
CONTACTS: Rob or Kelly at Lake Monduran Holiday Park: telephone (07) 4157 3881 or email on --e-mail address hidden--