Houseboats at Lake Eildon
Lake Eildon is the only inland waterway in Victoria where houseboats are permitted to operate.
It is Goulburn-Murray Water's (GMW) role to control and manage houseboat operations, including water quality and other issues associated with over 700 houseboats. GMW must also ensure that allocated water is available for irrigators and other downstream users.
The Water (Recreational Area) Regulations 2023 (legislation.vic.gov.au)governs GMW’s development and management of public access and recreational use of its managed land and waterways.
The Water (Lake Eildon Recreational Area) (Houseboats) Regulations 2013 (the Regulations) came into effect in June 2013.
Why have houseboat regulations?
To ensure the long term sustainability of houseboat operations on Lake Eildon it is essential to have regulations which control and manage houseboat operations in the Lake Eildon Recreational Area.
Who is affected by the regulations?
- All licenced houseboats;
- All new houseboats; and
- Existing houseboats that require a transfer of licence.
12-month extension to current regulations
The Water (Lake Eildon Recreation Area) (Houseboats) Regulations 2013 were scheduled to sunset (expire) on 12 June 2023 and have been extended by another 12 months.
The Minister for Water and Premier approved the proposal to extend the current regulations given the need to undertake an additional consultation and testing work program to ensure that the remade regulations are fit for purpose. So the remade regulations are now scheduled to commence in June 2024 with exposure (draft) regulations to be available for public consultation later this year.
Wastewater technical studies
The December update indicated the outcome from an independent consultant’s report on the technical and economic feasibility of greywater intervention options currently available for use on Lake Eildon. They found there was not enough data to understand how effective some devices would be at removing pollutants and harmful pathogens (bacteria and viruses) in houseboat greywater as well as how they would perform in terms of amenity and practicality (e.g. noise, odour, power draw).
Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) has engaged consultants with water quality expertise to help address these knowledge gaps through engaging with houseboat industry representatives and other stakeholders and developing a testing program for potential greywater interventions.
The consultants have also been identifying potential changes to the regulations for blackwater management to bring them up to date given they have been consistent for many years. The proposed changes are relatively minor, mostly aimed at reflecting the changes in technology for toilets on new houseboats.
Social research with Monash University
In late 2022, researchers from Monash University held an online workshop with houseboat owners in early December to explore ways to reduce food waste in houseboat greywater.
The work is summarised here and builds on the survey and interviews undertaken in 2021 (2021 snapshot report) and will help inform approaches for reducing water quality impacts from houseboats.
The houseboat owners in the workshop provided valuable feedback on practical options to reduce food waste from entering greywater like using small food waste bins and paper towel to remove food waste from dishes before washing as well as installing sink strainers. Food waste could then be disposed of into organic waste bins that would be located at key locations at marinas.
Recreation Area Regulations Update
The Recreation and Community Values team in DEECA have recently released for public consultation exposure (draft) regulations for all recreational areas managed by water corporations under the Water Act 1989, including Lake Eildon.
The regulations will replace the current Goulburn-Murray Water by-law and apply to all recreational users of the lake, including all recreational boaters, fishers and campers. These regulations will support the continued safe enjoyment of water storages by the public while protecting their many values.
The exposure draft of the regulations and other materials are available from Engage Victoria. More information about the development of the regulations is available via this link or through contacting the project team at email@example.com
Use the Private Houseboat Licensing Form (opens in a new window) for:
- Applications to Licence, Operate or Leave a Houseboat within the Lake Eildon Recreational Area
- Restricted Term Licences for Lake Eildon
- Applications for Transfer of Houseboat Licence
- Applications to upgrade or alter existing houseboat
Other related forms:
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Houseboat Licence Fees
Table of annual houseboat licence fees for 2023/24
||Description of licence
||A trailable boat able to be transported without the need for a Vic Roads permit (upgradeable) - Maximum size 10m x 3.5m
||One enclosed level, non trailable (not upgradeable) - Maximum size 10.6m x 4.5m
Two or more enclosed levels (upgradeable) - Maximum size 10.6m x 4.5m
Houseboat with one enclosed level (upgradeable) - Maximum size 13.7m x 5.5m
Two or more enclosed levels (upgradeable) - Maximum size 13.7m x 5.5m
One enclosed level (upgradeable) - Maximum size 15.2m x 6.25m
Two or more enclosed levels (upgradeable) - Maximum size 15.2m x 6.25m
One enclosed level (upgradeable) - Maximum size 18.3m x 7.25m
||Two enclosed levels (not upgradeable) - Maximum size 18.3m x 7.25m
||Special - commercial vessel - Maximum size 20m x 8m
Houseboat dimensions are inclusive of all structural components which includes walkways, duckboards, ski platforms, handrails, bumpers/buffers, eaves & motors. Any part of the vessel that protrudes outside of the maximum allowable category dimension must fold or retract within the allowable category dimensions.
Note: The Corporation currently defines categories by the houseboat dimensions and the number of enclosed levels. An area is considered an enclosed level when three or four sides are constructed of a solid material, i.e. aluminium, glass, perspex, or any other cladding or material.
Application, inspection and transfer fees for houseboats (2023/24)
||Application fee for initial houseboat licence
||Inspection fee for both single and multi-deck houseboats at Eildon
Inspection fee for both single and multi-deck houseboats at other locations
||Fee for transfer of houseboat licence to another person under regulation 12
Application fee for restricted term licence
General houseboat information
New Houseboat Licence Labels
Recent changes to the houseboat regulations have repealed the requirement for GMW to issue houseboat licence labels. Please be advised that you will no longer receive a label upon receipt of payment for your annual houseboat licence.
Houseboat Compulsory Inspection Program
GMW's houseboat inspection program was introduced to ensure compliance with the Regulations and to ensure that over a period of time, effluent issues that have the potential to threaten water quality and human health are minimised or removed. The program has now been in operation for ten years and has seen the majority of boats on Lake Eildon inspected. The outcomes of the inspections have ranged from some boats getting the ‘all clear' to others being removed and replaced by a new vessel.
GMW is reviewing the management of waste services across all its 16 water storages. There have been some concerns with the management of the bulk rubbish associated with houseboats at Eildon. The service provided by GMW is for the removal of domestic household, or in this case, domestic houseboat rubbish. It is clearly evident that bins are being used to dispose of "hard" rubbish in the form of renovation materials, carpets, television sets, lounge suites, mattresses etc.
The cost for the service and the number of bin clearances have increased dramatically over the last 2 to 3 years and the problem has evolved without an increase in the number of houseboats on the lake.
GMW asks that operators and owners take responsibility for their waste and ensure that only domestic rubbish is placed in the bins provided. Please ensure that cardboard boxes are crushed to ensure maximum space for rubbish within the bins.
Houseboat owners should consult with their club or marina operator for all hard rubbish removal and containment requirements. GMW will monitor the bins over the current boating season and will make recommendation on changes to the present process should current practices continue.
Camping and Fires
Fires and camping are not permitted in any area around Lake Eildon, except in the designated camping areas. Unregulated campfires are not only a potential hazard for bushfires, but also pose a risk to water quality along with discarded rubbish from camping activities. To minimize these impacts, Parks Victoria provides defined areas where camping and fires are permitted. Visit Parks Victoria website, opens in a new window or phone 131 963 for further information.
On days of declared Total Fire Ban, please refer to the CFA's Can I or Can't I? brochure , opens in a new window.
Motorbikes and Off Road Driving
Off Road driving and trail bike riding is only permitted on formed roadways that are above the lake full supply level and open to the public. All vehicles must be roadworthy, registered and you must be fully licensed. Off road driving and trail bike riding is not permitted on the exposed areas of the shores or the lake bed or in the National Park.
Protection of Foreshore Vegetation
With lake levels now returning to areas where considerable natural vegetation re-growth has occurred, houseboat operators may experience some difficulty in accessing popular mooring areas around the lake. Boat owners are reminded that native vegetation is protected and must not be removed.
Boating and Events on Lake Eildon
GMW works with Transport Safety and the Victorian Water Police to ensure that boaters on all storages enjoy safe boating. Please ensure that you refer to boating information signage at boat ramps before entering the waterway.
There has been a significant rise in applications for events across the storages as our water level rise to full or near full. GMW the Victorian Water Police and Transport Safety are designing a process to stream line and ensure maximum safety measures are in place for all approved events.
It is a requirement that application and approval process must be managed by GMW prior to any organised event taking place.
GMW wishes to remind owners of their responsibilities when bringing dogs onto GMW recreational areas. There has been past reports of dogs attacking wildlife and also being a nuisance to other boat owners. When a dog is within a GMW recreational area they must be:
- Under proper control on a leash; and
- Effectively restrained from causing injury or annoyance to people, damage or interference to property and disturbance or injury to wildlife.
Parks Victoria have also asked us to remind all visitors that dogs are prohibited within all of Lake Eildon National Park with the exception of the Parks Victoria camping area at Jerusalem Creek.