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Experience Brisbane River

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published March 9th 2015
River City Life
Experience Brisbane River

Brisbane calls itself the river city, and Brisbane River connects the city and inner suburbs and is the focus of cities main attractions. Here are some of the great ways to experience the river.

Brisbane River
Brisbane River


The Brisbane river has changed a lot of the history of the city. Originally it was the focus for boats coming into the city with what is now South Bank being the last of the city ports to be transformed from dockland in the 1980s. It is for this reason that many of the great historical buildings around Brisbane are near the river.

On Foot

Unless you have the rare ability to walk on water, you will need to stick to the footpaths. Brisbane river has an extensive network of riverside footpaths extending from Teneriffe to Toowong and West End with paths on both sides of the river around the city.

Walkway by Brisbane River
Walkway by Brisbane River


Some of the most popular walks include New Farm to the city via the newly rebuilt Riverwalk where you walk out over the river. Another is from Kangaroo Point to South Bank along the cliff tops. This gives the best views in the city.

Walking under the freeway by the river
Walking under the freeway by the river


Kangaroo point is also where you have the Art and the River walk with artwork both on the top of the cliffs and along the river path.

Art along the river
Art along the river


By Bicycle

Trying to see Brisbane by bicycle makes a lot more sense than going on foot, as you can cover more in much less time. Much of the best of Brisbane is connected by riverside bike paths that are fun to ride by themselves and take you to some great locations.

Kangaroo Point
Kangaroo Point


Most of the tracks are shared paths, which means cycling by the river is most suited for a relaxed tour than as serious exercise, though the path from the city out to Toowong now has separate paths for riders and pedestrians and is part of the popular city loop, which goes from the city along the river to the University of Queensland, then across the river by the Eleanor Schonell Bridge and back to South Bank or West End by one of the many bike paths that go along the roads.

By Ferry

Brisbane's ferry network connects all the way from Hamilton to University of Queensland's St Lucia campus, though you probably don't need to do the whole journey, it is a popular option for tourists. The friendly ferry staff are happy to help out any visitors to Brisbane.

The free CityHopper ferry
The free CityHopper ferry


Most tourists jump on the free red city hopper ferry service that covers the inner city part of the river. It is more of a way to get around the city for tourists while seeing some sites.

Brisbane CityCat Ferry
Brisbane CityCat Ferry


It can be better to take the blue CityCat ferries. These will take you don't to places worth visiting like New Farm, Teneriffe and Bulimba.

Kayaking

If you really want to experience the river you want to be close as possible to it. Kayaking or stand up boarding is a popular option for adventure minded visitors to Brisbane.

Stand up paddlers on Brisbane River
Stand up paddlers on Brisbane River


Riverlife both hires kayaks and provides tours. One of the most interesting is the night kayaking, where you paddle down to the story bridge and back at night.

Kayakers on Brisbane River near University of Queensland
Kayakers on Brisbane River near University of Queensland


While the Brisbane River is not exactly the most appealing river to kayak in, it certainly has the spectacular and varied views. Kayaking the river is not just for tourists but also attracts many locals as well.

Cruise

There is nothing more touristy than a river cruise, especially if you can see the exact same thing from a ferry for a fraction of the price. Yet a great cruise will include commentary, food and entertainment and Brisbane offers a number of cruise options.

River City Cruises
River City Cruises


River City Cruises provides the basic cruise experience with 1 and a half hour morning and afternoon cruises. Kookaburra River Queens focuses on lunch, dinner cruises with jazz on the weekend lunch time cruises and a live cabaret on some of the dinner cruises. A great tourist or family option is to take a Mirimar cruise to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Cabaret Kookaburra Cruises
Cabaret Kookaburra Cruises


There are also disco cruises and other floating entertainment, on a regular and semi regular basis.

Get a view

Despite the great river views, there is not a lot of roof top or dining options with views of the river. Some of the best are Eagles Nest Rooftop Bar at Kangaroo Point and Kangaroo Point Cliffs provides great views of the rive. The Cliffs Cafe on the top of Kangaroo Point Cliffs is a great place for coffee and a snack, but it closes at 5 pm.

View from Kangaroo Point Cliffs
View from Kangaroo Point Cliffs


Other great views of the river come from the bridges that crisscross its length. I love the sunset views from Victoria Bridge that crosses from the casino to the Culture Centre.

Sunset view of Brisbane River
Sunset view of Brisbane River


Otherwise you need to head up Mt Coot-tha to have more of a bird's eye view of the city and how the river passes through it.

Helicopter flights

If you really want a bird's eye view, consider a helicopter flight. Now there are options for flying in a helicopter with or without doors on. Of course none of these flights are cheap, with a 20 minute flight starting at $119 per person.

Bell47 Helicopter Experience
Bell47 Helicopter Experience
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