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Published February 8th 2022
An educational journey from history to high rise
In the absence of a yacht and Queenslander yachting friends, we recently booked a cruise on the Lady Brisbane. It was an excellent decision. We enjoyed it so much I thought I'd share the whole experience with you.
The boat leaves at 9am, on cruising days, from Bretts Wharf Plaza. Since we're not locals, we were slightly confused about the departure point but figured it should be in the vicinity of Bretts Wharf ferry terminal. Turns out it leaves from the adjacent Recreation Hub pontoon.
The boat arrived at the pontoon at 8.45am and 31 excited cruisers boarded in anticipation. Our captain, Mark, welcomed us on board and told us something of the history of the vessel.
The Lady Brisbane was built very close to our departure point, at Bulimba, in 1972. She originally cruised around The Great Barrier Reef then Hayman, Daydream, South Molle and other Whitsunday Islands. She has been owned by Captain Jim Kelly for around 26 years.
We heard more of Lady Brisbane's past life as we cruised downstream through the Port of Brisbane towards the Pacific Ocean.
I felt wistful as we passed the empty international cruise terminal and the brand new, never used terminal that was built immediately prior to the pandemic. I made a wish for both to be returned to service this year or next.
It's always enjoyable to see things from a water perspective, don't you agree? Passing under the Sir Leo Hielscher bridges and then past a paper mill and a sugar refinery provided visions I hadn't seen before.
James took his turn at the helm, shared storytelling duties with Mark and spent time below deck rustling up delicious treats in the galley. You'd have to be impressed by someone baking fresh muffins for 31 guests on board a boat.
As we enjoyed sipping coffee and nibbling on muffins we passed by islands large and small. Mark told tales of Indigenous and convict history. James rejoined us from below and elaborated on the tales with nature facts and other interesting information.
Somewhere in the vicinity of South Stradbroke island, we saw a number of abandoned vessels in various stages of decay. Mark named this stretch of water 'Death Valley' and explained sad scenarios of boats that had sprung serious leaks or run aground and were eventually left to sink. Apparently, it just isn't financially nor practically feasible to save them.
All too soon, we approached Marina Mirage, the end of our cruise journey. Pleasantly satisfied by food, drinks, sights and stories, we disembarked. Some guests were to join a coach on the return journey to Brisbane. Others, like us, were to remain on The Goldie.
I loved it that this wasn't a 'posh' cruise. Rather, I felt it was a 'real' experience on a charming old boat crewed by authentic types who clearly enjoy what they do and like to share a story or two. A day spent on the Lady Brisbane is a day I highly recommend. You'd best check the website for upcoming cruises.