Houseboats from hell: Wrecks and eyesores spoil iconic Noosa River view

The enduring appeal of a Noosa address has helped contribute to a growing problem for the iconic holiday hotspot – the proliferation of houseboats in varying states of disrepair on the Noosa River.

May 26, 2021, updated May 26, 2021
Photo: Rosie Emerson

Photo: Rosie Emerson

An estimated 200 vessels dot the river, many of them moored alongside multi-million dollar homes thanks to laws which allow them to stay where they are indefinitely.

Noosa Shire Council says the sheer number of houseboats on the river – most of them in the heavily trafficked lower estuary and some a pollution threat – has been a long term problem.

In a statement outlining how it is tackling the problem, the council says that some of the vessels become derelict if their owners abandon them, increasing their risk of breaking free of their moorings and either sinking or posing a threat to other boats.

“The current legislation allows people to anchor in the Noosa River and leave their vessels unattended at anchor indefinitely. Some boat owners abandon their vessels and they become derelict,” the council said.

“Vessels in poor condition detract from the visual appeal of the Noosa River, negatively impacting tourism.

“People can live on board on either anchored or moored vessels without approval and without the appropriate waste holding facility on board.

“Council has received complaints that people on vessels are discharging effluent into the river.”

Maritime Safety Queensland has removed several derelict vessels from the river as part of its “War on Wrecks” campaign.

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This wreck was removed from the river by Maritime Safety Queensland in July last year.

However, MSQ maps show clusters of vessels deemed “at risk” alongside exclusive Hilton Terrace and on other parts of the river.

The council has recently formed a “community jury” to examine issues involving management of the Noosa River, including the problem of derelict vessels.

“The management of the Noosa River, including the negative environmental  and amenity impacts regarding the proliferation of vessels in the river, has been a long term problem that is gradually worsening,” the council said.

“This is a complex issue with implications for both State and local governments as well as for the Noosa community. There are environmental, legal, social and financial considerations, among others.”

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