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Day Tripping to Brisbane - Koala and River Cruise with Mirimar Cruises

Home > Sunshine Coast > Day Trips | Family | Girls' Day Out | Kids | Unusual Things to do
by Elaine (subscribe)
Impromptu adventuring, exploring our backyard and then putting pen to paper, hoping to entice you to try one, if not all, of our escapades, is my true reward!
Published September 26th 2019
Jam packed value for money outing
Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Brisbane City, all sparkly in the sun! Photo copyright Elaine de Wet


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.

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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!

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Your river transport awaits!


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:

1. Koala and River Cruise on Mirimar II

What can we expect on the Koala and River Cruise?

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Convenient location in South Bank to board the Mirimar


Departing from a convenient location i.e. South Bank and leaving the city behind on a totally laid-back cruise to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Enjoy lighthearted commentary - with some historical facts thrown in - as your transport option glides smoothly along Brisbane's waterfront and onto the leafier surrounds of suburbia
Treat yourself to some homemade morning teas, lunch and snacks from the onboard cafe (optional extra, which can be ordered when booking tickets online)

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Homemade morning tea treat, well ... half a treat!


Three hours to explore Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Duration approximately 75 minutes

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.

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Kurilpa Bridge - Kurilpa is the indigenous name for place of water rats


2. Cruise the Brisbane River on the Koala Express

What can we expect on the Koala Express?

A fun, extra speedy boat ride to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Express! It's only 40 minutes travel time
Zoom along Brisbane's waterfront, catching glimpses of leafy suburbs with waterside mansions
Depart from Cultural Centre Pontoon i.e. South Bank
No time for the full commentary, however, the captain might slow down at a few iconic places for photo taking opportunities
Choice of adding entry into Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary plus a discounted return trip

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Leafier surrounds of suburbia


The Koala Express times are subject to change, so please be sure to double check when booking.
One way cruise on the Koala Express, with NO entry to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary starts at $20 for children aged between 3 and 13; concession/student $32 and adults $35. Pre-purchase your Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary daily pass e-tickets online here to receive a 10% discount.

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.

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
City Cats are a very popular mode of public transport in Brisbane


Some pointers on 'where to park'; 'when to leave home' and what fabulous sights to look out for on the Koala and River Cruise:

Our departure time from South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon was for 10.00am. We left our home on the Sunshine Coast 90 minutes earlier, ensuring an easy 'Sunday drive' to Brisbane.
Whole day Sunday parking for $17 at Stanley Place Car Park proved to be a convenient location for boarding the Mirimar II.
The Brisbane River is crossed by fifteen major bridges - can you believe that! The very contemporary looking Kurilpa Bridge was completed in 2009 at a cost of sixty-three million dollars.

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Merivale Bridge, with the William Jolly Bridge in the background


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.

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
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.

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Wesley Hospital in the suburb of Auchenflower


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.

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
The iconic Regatta Hotel is very worthy of a visit when in Brisbane


University of Queensland (UQ) is one of Australia's leading research and teaching institutions and is ranked in the top 50 universities in the world!

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
St Lucia residents have the privilege of using UQ's sporting facilities


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

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Eleanor Schnell Bridge aka the Green Bridge


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.

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
QLD Tennis Centre in Tennyson


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.

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
Locals enjoying the Brisbane River


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!'

Day Tripping to Brisbane, Koala and River Cruise, Mirimar Cruises, Brisbane River, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, must-do experience, 75 minute cruise, informative commentary, historical facts, every day except Christmas Day and ANZAC day, Koala Express, South Bank Cultural Centre Pontoon, Stanley Place Car Park, river city, city of bridges, Merivale Bridge, Kurilpa Bridge, William Jolly Bridge, Gas Stripping Tower, heritage listed, West End, Wesley Hospital, Auchenflower, iconic Regatta Hotel, Coronation Drive, Toowong, University of Queensland, Green Bridge, Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, water sports, bull sharks, longest river, a definite 10/10
In next to no time, we had arrived at our destination


Writer's Verdict:
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.
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Why? For a laid-back upriver cruise and an opportunity to see some wild animals
When: Mirimar cruises are scheduled every day of the year except for Christmas Day and ANZAC Day
Phone: 61 (0) 412 749 426
Where: Brisbane River, Brisbane, QLD
Cost: Return trips start at $48 for children aged 3 to 13, students and/or seniors $65 and adults $80 | Price includes entry ticket to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Your Comment
What an excellent way to enjoy Brisbane!
by Barry (score: 3|1296) 16 days ago
Sometimes we miss the things that are closedt to us.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|7178) 17 days ago
This is definitely a must do for your bucket list. What an experience not too be missed!
by sjdod (score: 1|23) 16 days ago
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