Freelance copywriter and blogger. Avid dog owner, living in East Brisbane. If you like my articles please hit subscribe or 'like' at the end of the post! To hire me visit www.contentwriterbrisbane.com.au for a range of copywriting services
Published October 30th 2012
Flying fox cruises you'll go batty over
The team of Wildlife Queensland volunteers aboard the Batty Boat cruises are all too happy to pose for a picture and answer any bat-related questions.
One of Brisbane's most unique wildlife experiences doesn't involve visiting a zoo or wildlife centre, but boarding a stylish riverboat in the late afternoon and cruising up the Brisbane River to Indooroopilly island to see vast colonies of the flying fox leave their camps at sundown. Batty Boat cruises, which are organised by Wildlife Qld, aim to raise money to conserve and educate people about the importance of the flying fox which have seen their numbers decrease in recent years. While bats are often misunderstood and feared, the flying foxes play a crucial role in the forest ecosystem through long distance pollination and seed dispersal.
We boarded the comfortable river-boat 'The Neptune' for our very own Batty Boat cruise, excited for what was ahead of us, on a recent Sunday afternoon. The Neptune is a large fully equipped vessel which would be perfect to convert as a houseboat, should anyone have the riches. The flat upper deck allowed for seating of around 30, while the downstairs saloon area featured restaurant style tables and chairs, not to mention a fully equipped bar. Combine any experience like this with the fact that I can also get a drink as well as a light meal and I am a very happy man.
The on board bar serves reasonably priced drinks and light meals
The trip up to Indooroopilly island takes an hour and a half, and despite being only 6km from the CBD, the numerous bends in the Brisbane River means the distance up the river is around 22km, traveling considerably further upstream than the City Cat's do. If you've ever wanted to get a different perspective of Brisbane this is the way to gain it. Along the way we passed the University of Queensland, the Queensland Tennis centre at Tennyson and passed under the Walter Taylor Bridge where buried gold was recently found. Passing by some of the most exclusive addresses in Brisbane in Fig Tree Pocket and Chelmer, the cruise makes you feel like you could be in a completely different 'river town' of sorts. I had romantic thoughts spring to mind as I imagined I was on a voyage of discovery at sunset like some kind of modern day Mark Twain. As we adventurously cruised along the Brisbane River I could have been miles away from the suburbia that lay just behind my line of sight.
The Walter Taylor Bridge near Indooroopilly Island at sunset. Could the beam of sunlight be pointed to the location where buried gold was recently found?
Along the journey we were treated to commentary about the history of Brisbane settlement and how different the river and vegetation would have looked as first settlers of Brisbane more than two centuries ago. As well as the informative commentary, wildlife carers on board had brought orphaned baby flying foxes which had come into care after their mothers are caught on powerlines or barbed wire. Only weeks old these tiny flying foxes were so cute that my heart melted with their tiny fox like faces and oddly human-like hands. On each Batty Boat cruise volunteer Wildlife carers will be on board with orphaned bats to answer any bat-related questions, and pose for a picture.
The orphaned baby flying foxes on board the cruise were cuter than Christmas.
At about 6.20 we met sundown with our arrival at Indooroopilly Island. While the first bats were initially slow to leave their roosts soon enough the bats took to the sky, some with their babies clinging to their mother like an undercarriage. Fly out numbers were not particularly high on our trip, and like all wildlife it can be unpredictable. What we did see however was around 100 bats flocking together and leaving their nests in search of fruit and blossoms. While the light was low and the bats too far away to get a decent picture, the possibility of bats diving to drink from the river and flying fox numbers of up to 100,000 ensures you're never quite sure of the spectacle you will see on a Batty Boat cruise.
Almost Sundown... Just before the bats came out to play
What you can be sure of is a completely unique wildlife experience and an educational glimpse into the flying fox and an understanding of why these creatures need protection. All proceeds from the cruises goes directly towards bat conservation and help to support Queensland bat carers. The cruise and insightful commentary is delivered while you relax to a leisurely cruise up the Brisbane river and return to the dazzling city lights after sunset. All cruises have reasonably priced food and drink for sale as well as bat and flying fox related merchandise.
Batty Boat cruises run between October and March. To book and for cruise times visit Wildlife Queensland Website. Tickets start at just $16.00.
I was lucky enough to join a Batty Boat Cruise back in March and it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon/evening. What a gorgeous way to see our beautiful river and to watch the fly-out on dusk was amazing. The cruise was informative and seeing the gorgeous babies was wonderful (but then again I love bats/flying foxes).
I would highly recommend this trip - we enjoyed a glass of wine on board and watched the sunset. There were plenty of kids on the cruise and they all really enjoyed it too - and it would be a great thing to do with visitors - really different.