Fairfield Boathouse is a place where time appears suspended. Lazing on the picnic tables with the conversation of friends eddying about, I savour the sunny afternoon. Even the dalmatian at the feet of the neighboring table is sprawled out with his sleepy eyes resting above his front paws.
My lazy mind drifts towards the waters’ edge, and the wooden row boats. A memory swirls towards me: the sound of water slipping off the oars before they are dipped back into the water and the boat glides forward. Hubby rows along the Yarra River, there are green eucalypts with white trunks above and muddy brown water below. The Wintery sun reaches down to warm my face. Bliss…
Over the last century, Fairfield Boathouse has been the scene of many happy days for Melburnians. It has occupied its current location since 1923, having moved higher up the riverbank from its original site to avoid flooding. After becoming rundown, it was restored about 25 years ago. The restoration is true to the original English boating house design. You can have Devonshire tea on the verandah if you wish to partake in the English theme. Food is otherwise basic, and as it can take a long time to arrive (service is a bit chaotic), you might prefer to bring your own picnic. There is also a BBQ facility in the park.
The boats are hand built skiffs, and are replicas of English pleasure boats from the 1800′s. The boat hire fee ranges from $32 -$38 for an hour, depending on boat size. It is slightly cheaper if you are hiring them for half an hour. Canoes and kayaks are also available for hire. Prices are on the website. There is no need to book ahead. Fairfield Boathouse is open from 8.30am on weekends and public holidays or 10am on weekdays, and closes at dusk.