Monday, February 25, 2013

Cruise from the Gold Coast to Brisbane? It's possible...

In early 2011 I had a couple of weeks off and decided I wanted to play tourist in my hometown of Brisbane.

After all, I spend so much time looking elsewhere for holidays that I often overlook what's on my doorstep. Initially I was looking at what cruises you could do along the Brisbane River. I did what you always do in situations like this and went to Google, typed 'river cruises Brisbane', and the website for Brisbane Cruises popped up. After a quick look around I stumbled upon the Brisbane to Gold Coast cruise - something I had no idea you could do - and in May 2011 I embarked on our first cruise. This was well before I started the Travel With Giulio blog, so I thought I'd do it again (I loved it so much!) and review it.

In fact, before I did the Brisbane to Gold Coast cruise, the thought of going on a 'proper' ocean cruise drove me to despair (stuck in the middle of the ocean with nowhere to get off!). However, I found that sitting on the Lady Brisbane, watching the watery world between Brisbane and the Gold Coast meander by, was totally relaxing. I thought that multiplying that onto an ocean cruise might not be a bad idea...and the rest is history, so to speak (see my Radiance of the Seas post).

I have discovered that this post runs slowly if viewed on Internet Explorer. It's best viewed on Google Chrome or Firefox (not as fast as Chrome).

Many Brisbane/Gold Coast people don't even realise you can cruise from one place to the other without heading into open sea. And this, for me, was a surprising cruise because I'm so used to driving between the two places that it's hard to believe, when you're cruising between the nearly 300 islands, big and small, that fill Moreton Bay, there's a combined population of around two million people living just a few kilometres away. You're surrounded by complete isolation out on the water.

The first few Brisbane to Gold Coast trips of 2012 fell on a Friday, with the return trip on the Saturday, so I decided to do the Gold Coast to Brisbane cruise and drive down on Friday afternoon and stay at the Crowne Plaza Gold Coast before the cruise.

After my night at the Crowne Plaza Gold Coast, I arrived at Marina Mirage - where the Lady Brisbane leaves from (if you're doing the Brisbane to Gold Coast cruise, she leaves from Brett's Wharf at Hamilton) - early so I could have breakfast there, in case breakfast ran late and I had to dash. I went to one place, First Avenue, an open air cafe in the middle of Marina Mirage, and stood looking at the menu (it was around 7.50am). I went to order breakfast and were told the kitchen didn't open until 8am!!! Seriously, who opens their kitchen for breakfast at the middle of a tourist hotspot?!

I had to meet for the cruise at 8.30am and said 'thanks but no thanks', and headed for the Sunset Bar and Grill, located not far from First Avenue and outside, with a view of the Marina. 'Sunset' was exactly what I was after - cheap and cheerful breakfast joint - and they served a fine breakfast (read review)

Marina Mirage, Gold Coast.

Before I get into the cruise proper, I have pixelated the faces of those on board with us (other than the crew). I didn't advertise the fact I was going to be posting a story about the cruise on the blog, so this is being done out of discretion and courtesy as much as anything.

The cost of the cruise (as of January 2012) is $95/person. This is exceptional value when you consider it includes the cruise, which lasts around six hours, morning and afternoon tea, a BBQ lunch cooked on board and then, when you get to your destination, a bus (supplied by Brisbane Cruises) that takes you back to where the cruise left from.

I'm going to let the photos do most of the talking in this blog post, and include much of the information in the photo caption.

This is NOT the Lady Brisbane. 
It was however, in the berth next to the Lady Brisbane at Marina Mirage.

The main outdoor area on the top level of the Lady Brisbane where everyone spent most of their time.

The main indoor area on the top level of the Lady Brisbane, with the
ship's bridge/wheel house at front (the outdoor area is behind me).

The downstairs dining area at the front of the Lady Brisbane.

The bar at the back of the Lady Brisbane - 
Beer (Carlton MID, XXXX Gold, XXXX Bitter, VB) - $5/can
Wine (red and white) - $5/glass
Spirits (limited) - $6
Tea/coffee - $2
Orange juice - $1.50
Soft drinks - $2.00
Chips (crisps)/chocolate bar - $2.50

The Gold Coast skyline looking across the Broadwater as we head north.

The iconic Gold Coast landmark, Sea World.

The safety drill happened soon after we left.

Once the safety drill was done, morning tea is served...muffins...and they're baked on board. 
There were had raisin muffins and cherry ripe muffins on this trip.
I remember having violet crumble muffins on my May 2011 trip.
Trust me, they're all good.

Some of the muffins left over after the hordes had
partaken of morning tea.

Morning tea done, the sight-seeing continues - admiring some of the
million dollar waterfront properties on the Sovereign Islands.

One of the other sights on the Broadwater - the Aquaduck, for one.

And another...a jet boat gives a group of tourists a thrill on the Broadwater.

Something a little more sedate...a BBQ boat.

Sailing on the Broadwater...


The Broadwater can be a busy place!

The Sir Henry Morgan makes its way to Tipplers Resort on a day cruise.

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If you like the photography in my blogs, it's because I am a professional photographer. My photos don't merely show something, they tell a story. And visual stories i.e. photos, are more interesting than pictures that merely show something. 

If you'd like to know how to turn your images into visual stories, I've published a book that takes a whole new slant on photography and 'translates' the art of taking photos into a language we all understand.

To read more about my book and see some of its 100+ visual examples, please click HERE.

***I use all the tips and hints from my book in every photo I take, including those in Travel With Giulio.

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The Lady Brisbane makes its way past Tipplers Resort where, if you're lucky, you'll
see wallabies along the beach in front of and close to the resort.

Just in case we weren't sure what country we were in (near Tipplers Resort).

Boats drop anchor at Tipplers Resort.

The Southport Yacht Club’s private retreat, Dux Anchorage, located on South Stradbroke Island.

While at the northern tip of South Stradbroke Island, boaties relax on the beach that
is a short walk over to the surf beach (literally a couple of hundred metres).
In the distance is North Stradbroke Island and, in between, the
notorious Jumpinpin bar.

Moving further north we come across someone having a nice, peaceful house-boating holiday.

As the Lady Brisbane winds through some of the 300 islands in Moreton Bay,
it gets quite close to the islands...this time it's Mosquito Island.

Checking out the view from up front of the Lady Brisbane.

Aah...lunch on the inside BBQ - steak and snags (sausages).

The salad bar - pasta salad, potato salad, Greek salad and green salad, with a selection of breads.

The lunch queue and the condiments table at right.

After lunch we keep meandering...this time past Russell Island, one of the few
inhabited islands in Moreton Bay.

Russell Island needs to get its power from somewhere...

A familiar sight on Moreton Bay - one of the car ferries heading between
the mainland and Stradbroke Island.

Then our destination - Brisbane - comes into view across the wide expanse of Moreton Bay.
To the left are the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges (formerly the Gateway Bridge).

The sight of Brisbane is the cue for afternoon tea - a delicious fruit platter and
some biscuits (along with a few muffins that had survived from morning tea).

We soon see the familiar sight of Fisherman Islands at the entrance
to the Brisbane River and the Port of Brisbane.

Entering the Brisbane River we get a good look at the Port of Brisbane on our left...

While on our right we see the planes taking off from Brisbane Airport.

We pass a cruise ship, the Pacific Dawn, as it heads out to sea on a 7-day cruise...

Then under the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges...

And then it was all over...well, the cruising part.
(the good ship Lady Brisbane docked at Brett's Wharf, Hamilton, Brisbane)

The last part of the journey - board the awaiting bus at Brett's Wharf that takes
us all back to Marina Mirage.

I hope you enjoyed my post and have a great cruise if you do book with Brisbane Cruises.

Bon voyage!


*If you cruised from the Gold Coast to Brisbane (or vice versa) as a result of this post, please tell me!

See and read about more of my cruise experiences/reviews.

Love photos of cruise ships (bigger than the Lady Brisbane)? Have a look at my 'Ship Spotting' photo gallery.

See my 'eat, sleep and see' page for more suggestions of things to do in Brisbane and SE Qld.

If you like what you have seen here, follow me on SOCIAL MEDIA for more fun, interesting cruise news and information.

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Brisbane Cruises were good to deal with. Judy, who I dealt with, was really helpful and responded to my messages - voice and email - quickly and efficiently. She even let me know they wouldn't be charging the credit card until a few days before the cruise (I'd booked a couple of weeks ahead). This was good because I realised I was going to need to get the bus back to the Gold Coast and rang them back and asked them to charge that to the credit card as well, which they did.

The one downside was when I got to Marina Mirage at the Gold Coast on the morning of the cruise and there was no signage or anything to let on where we should meet/assemble. Marina Mirage is quite big and there's a small shopping plaza and restaurants, as well as the actual marina. Instead, groups of people milled around and asked each other if they were going on the Lady Brisbane and we soon all herded together in a rag-tag manner. Then there seemed to be several stories about where we should meet and what would/should be happening. It was, in short, a bit of a dog's breakfast.

We all saw the Lady Brisbane arrive through the scores of berths and began to meander through the boats towards where we thought it would be. One of the crew eventually met us and it turns out the Lady Brisbane, which had done the Brisbane to Gold Coast cruise the day before, hadn't been given a berth overnight and had to drop anchor outside of the marina. This, it seemed, was why no one was there to greet us.

Still, Marina Mirage is a big complex and some sort of signage would have helped. Or at least some better directions as to where we should meet when we phoned, or even on their website. While locals might have an idea where to assemble, anyone not familiar with the Gold Coast wouldn't have a clue. It's not so bad if you're doing the Brisbane to Gold Coast cruise, as the wharf where the Lady Brisbane leaves from in Brisbane is out on its own and there's little chance of getting lost.

This last photo is one of the most boring ones I've ever taken, but this shows where you need to meet at the Marina Mirage. In short, walk through the shopping 'plaza' (it is very small) until you get to the restaurants and boardwalk, then turn left and walk until you see this (not very far).


All photos and text by Giulio Saggin (unless otherwise stated)
© Use of photos must be via written permission

1 comment:

michaelmaloney said...

It's good to see the life on the water coming back out of storage after a big scare with the floods a few years back. Hope it continues to flourish!