Review: Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary are a true-blue Aussie experience

This cruise up the mighty Brisbane River from the city to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has been a cherished activity for locals and visitors for several decades. Climb on board for a truly quintessential Australian experience. Review: Marianne Diaz

Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with Mirimar Cruises
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  • Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with Mirimar Cruises
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Cruise the mighty Brisbane River on this amazing day out from the Queensland capital. These Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary include entry to the renowned wildlife park.

Tour name: Koala and River Cruise
Runs: Daily
Departure point: Cultural Centre Pontoon on the boardwalk, State Library, South Bank
Departure timeBoarding at 9.30am for a 10.00am departure
Duration: 5 Hours (approx.)
Inclusions: Return cruise and entry to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Best price guarantee: If you find this tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book this tour with The Big Bus tour and travel guide.

I close my eyes and tilt my face up to the sun.

John Williamson is singing about Cootamundra Wattle in the background. I can hear the gentle lapping of the Brisbane River against the hull of our cruise boat, the Mirimar II. About the only thing that could possibly make this moment any more Australian would be koalas. Welcome aboard the famous Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with my hosts Mirimar Cruises.

The breeze whips up as we move away from the pontoon at inner-city South Bank and under a series of bridges: William Jolly, Merivale and Go Between, each with its own special significance.

Much of Brisbane’s history has been played out along the banks of this river and the commentary on board the Mirimar II gives a compelling account of the facts and mysteries over the years. Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary have always been popular and having ferried passengers along the river to the sanctuary for more than 70 years, Mirimar Cruises are as much a part of the river’s heritage as anything else!

Moving away from the city, these Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary pass Moorlands – a beautiful colonial residence with an intriguing past. Nestled between the river and the Wesley Hospital, Moorlands was built by the widow of Patrick Mayne, a butcher and popular public figure who supposedly confessed on his deathbed to a murder!

We cruise past the iconic Regatta Hotel, where Merle Thornton (Sigrid’s Mum!) chained herself to the public bar in 1965, insisting she be served a drink and thus kicking off the women’s liberation movement in Brisbane.

Passing the Indooroopilly Island Conservation Park – and one of the largest flying fox colonies in Australia – we soon reach the more affluent suburbs of Brisbane. Huge mansions with long jetties and magnificent gardens abound. It’s difficult to believe that most were inundated by muddy water in the devastating flood of 2011.

Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Image courtesy of Mirimar Cruises

Further along the river we pass under the Walter Taylor Bridge – a unique suspension bridge. Unique because the bridge was built with accommodation in the abutments for the toll keeper, and also because the builder – Walter Taylor himself – took out a mining license when he discovered gold-bearing quartz during the bridge’s construction. Not to look for gold mind you, but for the sole purpose of ensuring that no one else could meddle with the bridge and mine the site. Today the heritage-listed bridge could literally be sitting on a gold mine!

Pulling up alongside the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary landing, I’m struck again by that feeling of ‘Australian-ness’. As I climb the steps and enter the sanctuary I finally figure it out. It’s the smell of eucalyptus. Not your typical zoo, Lone Pine is one of the few places in Australia where it’s legal to cuddle a koala – and with over 130 on site, a lot of eucalyptus trees are needed!

After patting a few kangaroos, an extremely docile emu and visiting the wombats, cassowaries and wallabies, I head for the Koala Presentation to learn more about our furry friends.

Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Image courtesy of Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Next is the Free Flight Raptor Show. Not only do we see an eagle, barking owls and falcons up close, but with some intricate teamwork the trainers have the birds flying directly over our heads. Unlike our other Aussie feathered icon, the magpie, thankfully these birds don’t swoop and attack people!

Time for lunch and we head to the Sleepy Koala Café. Within a minute of sitting down I find myself next to a very friendly bush turkey. Once he departs we tuck into lunch, until we hear a rustle. It’s then I realise that the eating area has indoor eucalyptus trees encircling the tables – complete with more koalas!

The day ends and we head back on board the Mirimar II for the return trip into town. Passengers are offered a chance to head up front and steer the boat, and many take up the opportunity.

Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Brisbane River cruises to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Image: Photodune

As we approach the city we’re joined by a flotilla of sail boats and canoes. It’s a colourful end to this amazing Aussie day out.

Marianne travelled as a guest of Mirimar Cruises and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. 

Additional images: Bigstock


About the writer

Marianne Diaz is a research scientist by day and a freelance travel writer by night! She’s travelled to Sri Lanka to explore her children’s part-heritage and embarked on nerd-travel – travel for research to Japan, Bloomington, Chicago and Boston in the U.S. Her main aim is to get to the Italian Aeolian Islands one day with her whole family to check out the other half of her kids’ heritage (and her own). Marianne’s favourite travel love is exploring history-laden country towns, and the unique and intriguing landscapes of Australia. She believes there really is no place like home.

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