When we have first-time to Australia visitors, there's usually a burning desire to do the whirlwind tour of the whole of Australia, but of course, being local, we know this is really not possible … Australia is just too vast.
Recently when my niece was visiting, a day trip to Brisbane was on our radar. We wanted to share with her our local animal life, do a boat trip on the Brisbane River as well as getting a feel for one of Australia's prettiest and still reasonably uncrowded cities - my opinion. We have a standing family joke: 'we don't have time for the 15 minute Travel Tour - names omitted on purpose - but rather have our hearts set on the all-inclusive ten minute destination Travel Tour' ensuring we cover as much territory as we can, in the shortest possible time frame.
oopsie daisy, is the elephant bookend the right way up?
We chose a Sunday to do our day trip to Brisbane. If you live on the Sunshine Coast, you will know that Sundays are one of the busiest days on the Bruce Highway with travellers coming North to enjoy our pristine beaches. By choosing the Sunday, theoretically, we would be against the traffic … going and returning. And it worked like a charm!
Realising that time is of the essence, I did a bit of detective sleuthing in advance and discovered that there is actually a daily cruise to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which can be booked online. Would you believe it … this river cruise, from Mirimar Cruises, has been taking locals and visitors to Lone Pine for more than seventy years and is regarded as a 'must do' experience when visiting Brisbane. I'm literally gob-smacked as we lived in Brisbane for close on twenty years and in all that time, never once did I think about trying it out!
There are two Koala and River Cruise Options offered by Mirimar Cruises:
The Mirimar cruises are scheduled every day of the year except for Christmas Day and ANZAC Day. Prices for the Koala and River Cruise return trips start at $48 for children aged 3 to 13; students and/or seniors $65 and adults $80.
Kurilpa Bridge - Kurilpa is the indigenous name for place of water rats
We decided on the Koala and River Cruise on the Mirimar II. I was keen to enjoy an unrushed morning taking in the delightful sights and sounds of the 'river city' or aptly named 'city of bridges' from the water.
City Cats are a very popular mode of public transport in Brisbane
Looking back towards Brisbane City, along the Milton Reach of the river, river-farers can enjoy the Merivale Bridge and the William Jolly Bridge, slightly behind it.
The Gas Stripping Tower is a heritage-listed tower in West End that was built in 1912. The only one of its kind in Australia, this cast-iron tower was made in England and shipped out in sections to the South Brisbane Gas and Lighting Company in an effort to upgrade production facilities. The Gas Stripping Tower's main role was to strip raw coal gas of impurities - ammonia and coal tar - which were then drained and sold as ammonia liquor.
The heritage-listed Gas Stripping Tower in West End
Meandering further along the Brisbane River, the Mirimar glides past the Wesley Hospital located in the suburb of Auchenflower - I used to volunteer here when we lived in Brisbane! The Wesley Hospital is owned and operated by Uniting Care Health and has more than 500 volunteers who proudly assist in the day-to-day running of this modern-day hospital.
The historic Regatta Hotel on Coronation Drive in Toowong, that has been the place to meet family and friends since 1874. This iconic Grand Lady of the Brisbane River has withstood flood, fire and more than a century of change and is very worthy of a visit when in Brisbane.
The iconic Regatta Hotel is very worthy of a visit when in Brisbane
Better known as the Green Bridge, the Eleanor Schonell Bridge is a 390 metre long bridge which crosses the Brisbane River between Dutton Park and the University of QLD's St Lucia campus, connecting the UQ Lakes and Dutton Park Place busway stations
State-of-the-art Queensland Tennis Centre in Tennyson, on the outskirts of Brisbane, that hosts the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament every year in January. Lots of 'big' names in tennis have played on these courts.
Water sports have always been very popular on the Brisbane River - despite it apparently being full of bull sharks that swim up river to de-parasite. Luckily I've never particularly had a desire to show off my river swimming prowesses here.
Here's another fun fact: the 344km Brisbane River's indigenous name is Maiwar and it is the longest river in South-East Queensland, flowing through the city, before spilling into Moreton Bay.
We had no sooner boarded our laid back cruise - or at least it seemed like it - before arriving at our destination, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Our 75 minute cruise was over! The classic old saying is quite true: 'time sure does fly, when you're having fun!'
In next to no time, we had arrived at our destination
A definite 10/10! We absolutely loved our lazy cruise on the Koala and River Cruise meandering upriver to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and would quite happily do it again! Bear in mind, the price of the cruise at $80 per adult includes a Day Pass of $37.80 to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. For a full day of family fun or when entertaining visitors from afar, I would highly recommend this jam-packed, value-for-money Brisbane trip.
Keep a lookout for my follow-up article on the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.