Melbourne’s Best High Tea On The River.
High tea is always a special event. Combine that with a river cruise past Melbourne’s skyline, and you have something unique and truly memorable. Read on to learn where, how, and what you can experience high tea on the Yarra River.
I love having high tea and have indulged in a few worldwide. It always makes me feel pampered.
I love river cruises and find them incredibly relaxing. Having been on 15 cruises, I admit I am addicted to river cruises.
Bring the two together and I have an experience made in heaven.
What is high tea?
As offered by luxury hotels worldwide, high tea is, historically and traditionally, afternoon tea.
If we are going to be correct, what we call high tea – finger sandwiches, savoury and sweet pastries, cakes, and scones with jam and cream – is afternoon tea which became a tradition among the British upper class in the mid-19th century. It was a social event of a light meal of bite-sized food and never meant to replace dinner. Whereas, historically, high tea was a working-class evening meal consisting of hearty dishes of meat and vegetables served at the end of the working day.
Why do we call it high tea? Because it sounds fancier and means luxury hotels and the like that offer high tea can attract tourists.
Whether called high tea or afternoon tea, it’s all the same to me, and I will continue to seek it out wherever I travel. It’s the socialisation and food itself I seek, not the name.
A special occasion
The second Sunday in May is Mother’s Day in Australia. What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to spend it with my daughter? Her choice of celebration in 2019 showed just how well she knows me. My Mother’s Day treat that year was a high tea river cruise on Melbourne’s Yarra River.
Magic Charters in Melbourne operates the high tea cruise on the Yarra River. The two-hour cruise sails from Victoria Harbour, Docklands to Williamstown, Hobson Bay (return) on selected Sundays from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm throughout the year. Check their website for details and available dates.
Boarding was done incredibly efficiently by the crew. At the gangway, we gave our booking name, were given a table number, and off we went. Our table was upstairs, and while the boat holds up to 130 people, we were not crowded, with plenty of space between tables. I had held concerns that we might be required to share a table with strangers, and I did not want to do this as I just wanted to spend the time exclusively with my daughter. But tables were set for two, three and four people, with larger groups also accommodated.
High tea was catered for inside the boat, allowing for all weather conditions. However, floor to ceiling glass walls provided uninterrupted views as we sailed the Yarra River. There was also the option to venture outside on one of the three decks.
The tables were set with white linen tablecloths and napkins, ceramic crockery, water and glasses, silver cutlery, and finished with a red rose. It all felt very posh and added to my feeling of being pampered.
Our high tea was a relaxed experience, and the crew were efficient, friendly, and attentive. We even had the option to help the captain sail the boat – a spacious catamaran.
The serving of food was well-paced throughout the cruise. Magic Charters were not stingy over the amount of food, and all that was provided was delicious.
Leaving Victoria Harbour, you cruise under Bolte Bridge and historic West Gate Bridge, passing Melbourne’s industrial area before arriving at riverside parkland and fabulous views of Melbourne’s city skyline.
High tea menu
As soon as we were seated, we were offered sparkling white wine, which flowed throughout the cruise. Orange juice was an available alternative.
Tiered plates of hot and cold savouries were the first foods to appear on our table, consisting of finger sandwiches, rolls, pies, tarts and arancini balls.
The savoury menu was followed by tiered plates filled with warm scones, jam, and cream (plenty of cream) on the lower tier and various deserts on the top plated level. Deserts included tubs of panna cotta with raspberries, macaroons, chocolate brownies and cupcakes.
Tea and coffee were on offer continuously throughout the cruise.
Magic Charters can cater to some special dietary requirements, such as gluten-free and dairy-free. It is essential to advise them of your special dietary requirements when booking.
A note on cost
Magic Charters’ two-hour high tea cruise costs $118.00 per adult. However, booking Magic Charters’ high tea cruise, High Tea On The Sea, directly through their website reduces the price to $79.00 per adult, offering value for money.
Should you have a Sunday afternoon free in Melbourne, I recommend adding the high tea river cruise with Magic Charters to your itinerary for something different to do or plan for that special event, such as a birthday or Mother’s Day. This Melbourne high tea cruise is worth the experience.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Photos by Meg Speak.
Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. High tea or afternoon tea? If both were advertised on the same page at different venues, which would you be drawn to?
Like this post? PIN it for later!
Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.