Boating with Kids in Melbourne - From Sailing to Rowing on the Yarra

  • Family

By: Claire Halliday, ellaslist

In a city with so much water, it’s recommended that all Melbourne kids learn to swim. But what about learning how to stay safe on the water, as well as in it?
With both a Bay and a major river, we’re spoilt for choice and if your children are interested in operating boats of any type, you really can take your pick, depending on their age and your budget.
Here are some of the ways you can introduce your children to boating life and see if they have their sea legs, with a handy list of some of the best boating activities for kids in Melbourne.

Learn To Sail On Albert Park Lake

Are you ever too young to learn to sail?
According to the experts at The Boatshed – the largest Victorian training centre for sailing – there is a range of courses available to suit a range of ages.
Tackers 1 is the first port of call in the sailing lesson process. If your children fit into the aged 7-12 years old camp, they can learn the basics here, in a 20-hour course, spread over five days.
Kids sail in pairs and all children need to bring clothing, closed toe footwear and hat, change of clothes and footwear, a towel and a snack lunch. A windproof and waterproof jacket and some sailing (or bike or golf) gloves are also handy.
From there, the progression is to higher levels and a world of tips and techniques that help young sailors prepare for solo sailing, with some added speed.
Once kids have worked their way through three different levels of the ‘tackers’ classes, they can graduate to become Green Fleet members and really learn the ropes.

What You Need To Know

Albert Park is the head location for this kid-friendly program but if you live elsewhere, check out the list of locations on their website, to see if there is a chance for your child to learn to sail closer to home. Other venues include, Flinders, Portland, Apollo Bay and Anglesea – and more.
Phone: 9686 2571
Address: 3 Aquatic Drive, Albert Park
More information: visit the website

Learn To Sail at Williamstown Yacht Club

Williamstown Sailing Club is a registered Tackers Training Centre
(the courses are as detailed above), which means, if you’re out in the west, your kids can still learn to sail responsibly, thanks to strict guidelines and programs set out by Yachting Australia.
It’s a choice between lake and sea that will be guided by your own home address – and your willingness to travel in the pursuit of having your children understand the difference between starboard and port.

What You Need To Know

For children at the younger end of the age group, parents are expected to stay on site – and if they can help out a little, even better.
Phone: 9397 4135
Email: [email protected]
Address: Williamstown Sailing Club, Stevedore Street and the Strand, Williamstown
More information: visit the website

Learn To Row On The Yarra

If your children are over the age of 13 years old, they might love to try their hand at rowing on our iconic Yarra River.
This rowing school teaches beginners the basics in staying afloat – and then adds some technique to give them some speed.
The Sunday morning sessions run for two hours and in all weather.
If the children are still interested after they’ve got a handle on the oar control, they can step up to more advanced tuition and decide whether it’s something they might like to pursue – either recreationally or competitively.
It’s something parents and teenagers can do together – perhaps a new family hobby is just around the (river) bend…

What You Need To Know

If you’re after an intensive burst of rowing education, look out for school holiday programs at the end of each term.
Phone: 0415 803 032
Address: Rowing School Victoria, 164 Alexandra Avenue, Toorak
More information: visit the website

Studley Park Boathouse

This is less about learning any life-long skills and more about doing something fun as a family, that the kids will remember. If yours are young enough to sit in a rowboat and look around (and old enough to not wriggle so much they fall into the water), then this is the boating adventure for you.
The venue is beautiful for starters – an iconic slice of Melbourne history that comes complete with a lovely café and Devonshire tea. You can take it ‘to go’ and head out on the water, with lifejackets (remember the sunscreen on hot days) to meander along the river and then back again before your time runs out.
Don’t be fooled – rowing with these cumbersome oars is not so easy.

What You Need To Know

Weather permitting, boat hire is daily (except Christmas Day) between 9am-5pm.
Phone: 9853 1828
Address: Studley Park, Kew
More information: visit the website

Lilydale Radio Yacht Club

This is a yacht club with an important difference. The radio-controlled yacht might be on the water but you stay dry on the shore, with the control.
Race days are each Saturday, with events that starts at 9.30am and continue until 1pm. The community feel of the club is a friendly one and a weekly barbecue is a relaxed way to finish – and enjoy a sausage or two.
Although the serious radio-controlled craft enthusiasts tend to be adults, a lot of kids are involved with their parents as a family hobby.

What You Need To Know
Address: Boat Ramp – Lillydale Lake Reserve, Lilydale
(Approx 40 km from the Melbourne CBD)
Prices: Membership to the club is affordable – with a family (2 adults, 2 children) just $75.To race, there is an attendance fee of $2.
More information: visit the website

TIps to Keep Everyone Safe


"Know the law before you leave shore" is the catchcry of Maritime Safety Victoria, and their website has everything you need to know. Lifejacket laws are actively enforced, and infringers can be penalised for not adhering to the rules.

Every child aged 10 and under must wear a lifejacket at all times they are in an open area of a vessel, and the Marine Safety Act requires that a master of a recreational vessel or a hire and drive vessel must ensure this.

Sun protection

Australia's messages of sun safety have also changed since we were kids - and Slip, Slop, Slap has had a bit of a makeover. In a boat out on the water (which reflects the sun's rays) it's incredibly important to shield yourself and your children from UV damage. 

The new slogan is slip, slop, slap, seek, slide:

  • Slip on sunprotective clothing;
  • Slop on some sunscreen;
  • Slap on a hat;
  • Seek shade;
  • Slide on wrap around sunglasses

It's important to reapply sunscreen every two hours and spend as much time as you can in the shade.


Hydration out in the sun is hugely important, so ensure there is enough drinking water on board to keep everyone comfortable for the duration.

First aid

Insect repellent is also handy to have with you as you are on a boat with children, so keep some in the first-aid kit you also should definitely bring or have access to.

Physical safety

Safety on the water is a little different to safety on land, and it's vital that kids know how to behave to keep everyone out of harm's way.

Before you leave the dock, identify the boat’s “captain” and explain that it is important that we follow the captain’s directions and rules whilst we are on the boat.

The captain will explain to everyone what is acceptable and what is not, and how everyone can physically keep safe by properly balancing the boat, keeping their hands and feet inside the boat at all times, and to resist the urge to run around on the slippery deck!


Boating with kids can be enormous fun and give them skills for life. And where better to do it than Victoria's beautiful waterways?