Awesome Brisbane Cruises for Families

Brisbane cruises for families

Winding its way through outer suburbs and looping around the CBD, the Brisbane River is both an iconic focal point of our city and a fabulous vantage point from which to enjoy Brisbane’s amazing sights. Cruising on the river, you can see natural features like the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, pass under the landmark Story Bridge, witness our local flora and fauna such as the colonies of fruit bats living in the riverbank mangroves, and get a glimpse into Brisbane past and present, from historic buildings like Customs House and the Treasury Casino to the towering high rises of the ever growing city centre. A Brisbane cruise can be the perfect way to relax and unwind, discover more about our beautiful city, see the sights or celebrate a special occasion. We take a look at some of the best Brisbane cruises for families.

View of the Brisbane city centre and Brisbane River

Kookaburra Showboat Cruises

These authentic paddle wheelers are icons of the Brisbane River. You can board these stunning vessels for their regular buffet lunch and dinner cruises or the more economical ‘cruise only’ service (usually with the option to purchase food or upgrade to the buffet onboard). These cruises run on most days aside from Mondays and Wednesdays. They also offer weekend lunch cruises, as well as cruises for special events such as Father’s Day, Riverfire and Christmas. There are also special packages for functions and weddings. The cruises depart from Eagle Street Pier in the city, and children under four go free (but must be included in the booking – one free infant aged 0-3 years per full paying adult).

Kookaburra Queen

Andrew Thomas from Shrewsbury, UK [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Mirimar Cruises

This popular Brisbane river cruise has been taking locals and visitors to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for over 70 years. The cruise includes a return narrated journey to Lone Pine and entry into the park, which is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary and one of the top tourist attractions in Brisbane. In Lone Pine, Brisbane Kids will be able to cuddle a koala, hand-feed kangaroos, feed the rainbow lorikeets, watch various animal shows and see a huge variety of awesome Aussie wildlife. The cruises depart from the city (Cultural Centre Pontoon) most days of the year. Miramar also offers charter cruise options for special events or functions. Check out for further details.

River City Cruises

River City Cruises offers a range of cruises on their boutique style vessel, departing from the South Bank Parklands. Their cruises include the Morning or Afternoon Cruise for sightseeing on the Brisbane River with informative commentary, a River City Fishing Tour, and the Discover South Bank Combo Pass which includes the Morning Cruise, a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane and lunch with a drink at a local tavern. Catering to up to 80 passengers, this boat can also be hired for private events. Visit for more information.

Brisbane Cruises

There are loads of great scheduled cruises run by Brisbane Cruises. These include the Brisbane to Gold Coast Day Cruise (with return coach to Brisbane), cruises exploring the Brisbane River, and trips out to Moreton Bay, Bribie Island, St Helena Island and Fort Lytton National Park. Brisbane Cruises also offers special event cruises for events such as Riverfire, the Melbourne Cup or private functions. Many of the cruises include refreshments and/or meals, and most depart from Bretts Wharf, Hamilton. For more information, visit

JPT Tours

For a more comprehensive commentated sightseeing tour of Brisbane, you could consider one of JPT Tours’ Brisbane City Sights Tours. There are several tour options available, usually combining a guided tour of city sights with a river cruise and a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane. For more information, check out

CityCat Tour of the Brisbane River

If you prefer to see the Brisbane River at your own pace, why not try a self-guided CityCat tour, using to help you. Simply hop on a CityCat, open the site on your mobile device and click through the chapter and terminal information on your journey for insightful spoken commentary as you travel.

A CityCat ferry on the Brisbane River

Whale watching cruises

During whale season, several whale watching cruises run from Brisbane to spot the beautiful southern humpback whales on their annual migration up the Queensland coast. These include Brisbane Whale Watching departing from the Redcliffe Jetty at Redcliffe, Tangalooma Resort Whale Watching Day Cruise departing from Holt Street Wharf in Pinkenba, and Whales in Paradise, departing from the Gold Coast but with scheduled free transfers from Brisbane. Check out our article on Whale Watching from Brisbane for more information.

Watching humpback whales from Brisbane

Our Explore Brisbane section has a multitude of ideas for wonderful things to do with your Brisbane Kids to discover more of the wonderful city and corner of the state in which we live. For more water fun, check out Fun on the Brisbane River and Whale Watching from Brisbane, and learn more about Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

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