5 river journeys in Brisbane

THE Queensland capital, Brisbane, is often referred to as the river city, thanks to the way the longest river in the south east corner snakes and coils itself bend by bend through the city before emptying into Moreton Bay. Sharing geography with a river does mean the city suffers from time to time as the 2011 city floods demonstrated, but Brisbanites still continue to embrace the river for recreation, transportation and fitness. From boats to bike and walking paths here are some of the ways Brisbanites get out and enjoy their river.

City Cat and ferries

The Brisbane River is crisscrossed by a variety of ferries and boats, including the Council-run City Cat services. While the ferries are provided for commuters, they are also an excellent tourism service, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to experience the city from water level. The City Cat runs from the University of Queensland all the way to Northshore Hamilton stopping at key spots along the way throughout the city. Many locals use them to get to work, to cross the river rather than drive around, and to avoid the hassle of parking at key locations. The other service worth checking out is the free CityHopper running half hourly and stopping at North Quay, South Bank 3, Maritime Museum, Thornton Street, Eagle Street Pier, Holman Street, Dockside and Sydney Street. Simply hop on and hop off taking in the sights.

The CityCat plies the Brisbane River. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Bikeways and shared pathways

Over the years the Brisbane City Council has developed a number of bicycle friendly zones and dedicated paths for bikers and walkers. These can be viewed on Google Maps by selecting bicycling in the traffic dropdown list. The river routes from the city out to the University of Queensland and beyond are some of the most popular rides in the city. The Council has also developed a public bike share scheme called CityCycle with 150 stations across the city with more than 2000 bikes at your disposal.

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Cycling on the Brisbane River. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com


Australians believe in outdoor picnics and barbecues and in Brisbane there’s an ample number of these provided all along the river. Those above and below the Kangaroo Point cliffs are particularly scenic with excellent views over the city and around the bend to either Southbank or the Story Bridge. Southbank has barbecues and a variety of picnic tables and grounds. The Botanic Gardens, New Farm Park and Orleigh Park are other excellent places to go. In summer and for holidays barbecue spots can be at a premium.

Barbecue at Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com


The Brisbane River is a 344km watercourse and about 140km of this can be safely paddled with facilities along the way including picnic shelters, toilets and boat ramps. Unfortunately no camping facilities are available along the river anymore, however there are plans to develop some sites. Most paddlers break up the expanse into three, 40km days: Wivenhoe Pocket – Kholo Bridge, Colleges Crossing – Fig Tree Pocket and Fig Tree Pocket – River Mouth. Craft can be rented from Rosco Canoes and Kayak.

Colleges Crossing, a popular canoe spot on the Brisbane River. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com


If you are keen to camp within sight of the river, the best option is at Wivenhoe Dam, above the spillway. This is a popular camping, fishing and boating recreation reserve and is not far from the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.

Wivenhoe Dam. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

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