Minor Updates April 2014
here in November 2011, to live and work and go to school. This is what we know.
Mooring / Marinas / Docks / Anchoring
The city of
Brisbane is about 12 nautical miles upstream
from the mouth of the Brisbane
River. The channel is
well marked and easy to enter at night if you have to. The current is quite
significant, running about 3 knots either direction at times. So go with the tidal flow. The current seems
to lag slack tide by about 1 hour. (Notes to which bank of the river something
is located on will always assume you are facing upstream)
As you head
upstream you will pass the container terminal and coal docks. We’ve anchored at the side of the channel
just upstream of the coal docks (across from the tugboat docks) when the
current is not right to get upstream. It’s a bit noisy from the coal loading
operation but better than fighting a current. It has also been a useful staging
area to stop when heading out during shorter winter days when the tide hasn’t
been right for an early departure
Rivergate Marina is
just downstream of the Gateway
Bridge. It has a customs
dock if you are arriving directly from overseas. Not well serviced by any public transit. It’s a long way from the city proper but
could be useful if you’re storing your boat and going for a visit overseas or
Dockside Marina is located on Kangaroo Point,
left side of the river just before the Story Bridge.
It has space for transients but limits liveaboards. Friends paid ~$1000/month for a 47’ mono with
liveaboard fees in 2012.
Manly: A ~1
hr. train ride away from Brisbane
is the big marina in Manly. Popular with
folks passing through or looking to sell their boats. There is also a small marina in Redcliff,
about a ¾ hr drive from Brisbane
to the North.
upstream of the Gateway
Bridge is an anchorage on
the right hand side of the river. Usually 4 – 6 boats there. There is a nearby Citycat terminal adjacent
to Northshore Riverside Park
with a beach but as it is the last terminal in the system it does not get as
regular service to the city. Good option
if you don’t want to be in the heart of the city. There is Colmslie Recreation Reserve park on the left bank with a dinghy
seem to anchor in many places, outside of the main channel as you head further
upstream, but you’re sort of in the suburbs and there is less point to doing
(Central Business District): You can anchor upstream or downstream of the pile
moorings on the right hand side of the river. You can also anchor on the left
hand side of the river opposite the CBD. Some rental moorings are located there
but we don’t know who owns them. Most seem to be occupied with long term
boats. Don’t anchor in the channel as
you will get told to move by the Police or ferries will come quite close to “encourage”
you move closer to shore. There is a
large shoal upstream of the pile moorings, close to the Captain Cook
Bridge. Holding is
‘adequate’ because the bottom is soupy mud. I would not say it’s great and
would definitely try to be on the boat if strong summer thunderstorms are
forecast. I would not plan to leave the boat for an extended trip away from Brisbane anchored here.
Avoid power cable crossing just downstream of pile moorings. Signs on shore are partly obscured
Garden Point Pile Moorings: these are operated by Brisbane City Council. 4
parallel rows of about 60 moorings are available for short or long term stay.
Minimum stay is 1 week. A mooring is free if no boat is between the piles. A rope tied between 2 adjacent piles
indicates that spot is taken; just the boat occupying it is away for awhile.
People do leave the moorings for short sailing cruises and then return. Dinghy dock, showers, and coin laundry
ashore. You’ll need a $20 key fob purchased from a city employee mid – day Wednesdays
to get access to shower and laundry. Otherwise just get other residents to let
you in until you get a key fob. $70/week; $280/month. These are popular and tend to fill up as
transient cruisers start arriving in October; though spaces do open up mid
summer as people come and go. Lots of
permanent residents. Right in the CBD so
a great location! Ferry wakes used to be
worse but now the City Cats reduce speed to 12 knots as they pass. And they stop running just after 11:30 pm.
pick a time of slack water to enter the moorings and secure yourself. High slack is easier than low slack because the
mooring rings will be more easily reached.
Have a dinghy handy to help act as a tugboat if there is any wind.
current in the CBD is usually about ½ hr – 1 hr after “Brisbane Port
Office” high tide (except if there is an active flood of course)
bends of the river can make it slightly confusing to know which way you’re
going until you’ve explored the city a bit.
The CBD is on a narrow triangular peninsula that is only about 6 blocks
wide at some spots. The Botanic Garden
forms the S end of the Peninsula. Numerous bridges link the city to the
surrounding suburbs on the south side of the river.
(the Go Between) is a toll bridge and the others are all free. There a few toll tunnels around and under the
city but you don’t save much time using them except at the busiest rush hour
times – so most people avoid them.
The Story Bridge
is the old steel truss bridge you will pass under as you enter the CBD. The Captain Cook
Bridge is next, linking
the Botanic gardens with the Gabba – and it’s too low for most sailboat
masts. The pedestrian bridge immediately upstream is even lower at 11.4m.
are small, confusingly named and numerous.
There are something like 190 mini suburbs that make up greater Brisbane, all managed by
the Brisbane Council. So someone may say
they’re from Yeronga but not know where Hemmant is, about 10 km away.
Fuel / Propane / Kerosene:
Marina has the only fuel dock on the river (reasonable petrol / gasoline, but expensive
diesel when compared to land based petrol stations). There are 2 petrol stations in Fortitude Valley (Shell/Matilda) that are about a
10 minute bus/bike ride from the CBD or 20 minute walk.
update: Just downstream of Dockside Marina is Mobray park. It has small dock which has a 5 minute time limit. Walk through the park and across the street to the BP station. Easiest place to get fuel by dinghy.
also a petrol station on the right hand side of the river near the West End
Market (see Food) You tie your
dinghy up to the abandoned restaurant dock, walk under the underpass or over
the busy 6 lane road and get fuel from the station there. All petrol stations seem to sell diesel.
Fuel Discounts: Grocery stores offer discount fuel savings on
your receipt with your purchases ($0.04/litre for $30 purchase up to sometimes
$0.30/litre for $200 purchases). But only at selected Shell/Coles or
Caltex/Safeway Woolworth branded petrol stations. Useful if you’re buying lots of
fuel i.e. a car rental. Not all Shell or Caltex stations honour supermarket
coupons and this will be marked on the pumps.
Propane can be obtained at Bunnings (see Hardware) but only on a bottle exchange
basis. OK if you use steel cylinders, not so useful if you use aluminium or
composite. About $20 for a 20 lb / 9 kg exchange.
be filled at Barbeques Galore in the Woolangaba (“the Gabba”) neighbourhood. Australia uses
North American connectors, however they use the bleed screw on the side of the
bottle to slowly fill a tank from a larger tank without actively pumping it
into a cylinder. So it will take longer
than you expect.
They have a frequent
filler card – after 5 fills you get 1 free. However price for a 20 lb bottle fill is about
$30 – so it made more sense for us to get 1 cheap steel cylinder and keep
exchanging it while we are here.
update: BBQ Galore lowered prices for a fill to about $20 but no frequent filler discount.
Kerosene can be purchased from Bunnings for those still
in the dark ages of marine cooking and lighting.
is the Brisbane
area integrated bus/train/ferry system.
It extends out quite far – easily 1+ hour train journey north / south. Get a $10 (refundable) plastic “GoCard” from
7-11 stores. Get a “concession” card if
you’re a kid or “senior” card if you’re old. Kids under 5 are free. Top up the
card with cash at 7-11’s, main train
stations, or online with a credit card automatically. Using cash on buses is about 30% more expensive
so it makes sense to get a card. If you register your card, you can transfer
the balance to a new card should you lose your old card. So register your card
based on time of day and distance travelled.
has the distinction of having one of the most expensive transit systems
anywhere. A single zone (basically
within the CBD and nearby outskirts) peak hour fare is
$3.28 / off peak $2.63. $3.53 / $2.83. This is a short bus journey.
are automatic with your GoCard. Just remember to swipe on and OFF each bus or
train or ferry. If you forget to swipe
off the system will charge you a much larger amount. You can call them and plead your case if your
card is registered. They seem pretty
good about refunds if you spot an error.
If you do a
round trip within a 1 hour limit you will only be charged one fare.
- You can transfer up to 3
times across all zones.
- You have 6 hours to complete
- The final trip of the journey
must start within 3.5 hours of when you started the first trip.
- There is a 1 hour time limit
- Make 9 trips in a 1 week
period (M-Sun) and further trips are free. Useful for commuters. Dept of Unintended Consequences: Smart
commuters that have long distance expensive fares to get into the city will
hop a cheap fare city bus for 1 stop on M/T/W lunch break and so have free
rides on Th/F J
all part of the system. The smaller
slower monohull ferries operate close to the CBD and a few cross river
routes. Some of these monohulls are painted
red and are known as CityHoppers – and they are free! Useful for crossing the river from the CBD to
Kangaroo Point or getting to various parks.
They run every ½ hour. The
Citycats are much faster and go further up and down the river. A nice river tour for yourself or visitors is
to take a Citycat downstream and return to the same CBD dock – you only are
charged for a 1 zone fare. There are
sometimes pamphlets on the ferries which give a history of Brisbane’s river sights.
Can be useful
to get further away – Manly, Redcliffe, the Brisbane Entertainment
are found in the CBD, Airport and Fortitude
Valley. Fortitude Valley
have a few ‘no name’ outfits that are cheaper than the big
Avis/Thrifty/Europcar. We’ve found the
best deals with either http://www.eastcoastcarrentals.com.au/
East Coast Car Rentals or www.alphacarhire.com.au Alpha. Book online in advance for better
rates. Book well in advance if
you are planning to rent a 7 passenger mini van around school holidays. They
sell out as we found when we wanted to share a van with cruising friends
very expensive in the CBD except after 10pm evenings when it’s free or weekend
rates in the parking garages. Smart and thrifty cruisers park in Kangaroo Point
where it is free after 5 pm and on weekends and take their dinghy or free ferry
to the Thorton St ferry dock to get the rental car.
rented a 4 pax camper van to explore the outback. It was not new and the engine was tired but
for $63/day it was a good deal. Burned
about 11 L/100 km of fuel. www.awesomecampers.com.
expensive if you’re used to 3rd world taxis! A CBD – Airport fare is around $45. It costs
more to go from Airport – to CBD because drivers add their $3 airport toll to
your fare. Before 7 am and after 7 pm
taxi fares increase further. If you phone for a cab there is yet another extra
charge. There are many taxi stands around the CBD, probably because the fares
are high enough to justify taxi drivers spending a lot of time waiting around
UPDATE: We found out that a taxi from nearby Fortitude Valley with 2 adults and 2 kids was cheaper than bus fare for all of us. About $7-8 before 7 pm.
Airtrain runs from the CBD and other stations to the airport and takes 20-25
minutes. Relatively convenient but it doesn’t run after 10 pm. It’s also more
expensive than the regular train, about $16 each way but drops you right to the
terminals (International and Domestic – they are different stops)
Brisbane airport only has 1 runway so it’s
common to have delays in mid-late afternoon flights when it gets busy.
Flights to Sydney are often around
$100 one way if booked well enough in advance. About 1-1/2 hours.
Long Distance Trains
If you have
a large family it may be cheaper to take a train to Sydney than fly because sometimes children
are just $1 each. Adults are ~$90.
Duration is about 14 hours however.
Food & Drink
Food is expensive in Australia –
especially things that North Americans would expect to be cheap. Blame it on the high cost of farm labour as
almost all produce is grown in the country.
Supermarkets: Right in the CBD are the 2 giants of Ozzie
groceries - Woolworths (Edward and Queen
Street) “Woolies” and Coles (Queen Street
Pedestrian Mall). This particular Woolies
is a bit bigger but they are fierce competitors. If you’re going to stay in Australia
awhile check out their rewards program to get airline miles.
Aldi is a cut price grocery store chain with
limited selections and off brand canned/dry goods. Not found in the CBD but you’ll save a bunch
of money if you’re provisioning to head offshore again. One is found in the nearby suburb of Newstead
on Anne St.
Costco is supposed to be building near Brisbane sometime in mid-2014.
Farmers Markets: Wed in
the Square beside the Library (George and Queen St) there is a farmers market. Produce is cheaper than the grocery stores
ESPECIALLY if you show up around 5 pm when the market is shutting down and they
want to sell it rather than pack it up.
Suddenly everything is $2/kg or $2/bunch...
big market that is relatively easy to get to is the bigger West End
Market. Food, clothing, crafts, food,
music and alternative lifestyle people and stuff. It’s more funky and more fun. Further upstream from the CBD (about 10-15
minutes by planing dinghy) or a 10 minute bike/bus ride away. Held in Davies Park
every Saturday. Closes down starting
around 1:00 pm. We park our dinghy at
the left bank rowing club docks and nobody seems to mind; get there early and
you won’t have to climb around the locked gates to get to the dock. Across from these docks is the abandoned restaurant
where you are near a petrol station (see Fuel)
Specialty food stores – Fortitude
Valley has Indian/Mexican/mini Chinatown, the CBD has some Chinese/Korean stores,
etc. You’ll have to explore!
BWS (Beer Wine Spirits) is one of the bigger
chains with several outlets in the CBD including one beside right beside
Woolies. Better deals can be found
slightly further away at Dan Murphy’s. The closest one is in Woolangaba (the
Gabba) over the Captain
are all the streetside sushi places where you can get 2 big sushi rolls about
$4-4.50. Scattered through the CBD
cheapest are fast food joints like
MacDonalds (“Maccas”) and Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King but an Aussie company
had already trademarked the name here so they had to change the name). Maccas on Albert St and Hungry Jack on Queen St.
Pizzas – Eagle Boys in Fortitude Valley
will deliver for about an $8 fee. Cheap Tuesdays are the day to save money on
your pizza cravings. Gluten free crusts
Regular restaurants – sigh. We don’t frequent these too often
because they are so pricey, and frankly Australia service is somewhere
between indifferent and incompetent. We sometimes get a Groupon coupon to save
some money. Fortitude Valley
has more interesting ethnic food choices, but the CBD does have some cheaper
Asian restaurants and a surprising number of Korean BBQ joints.
Mitre 10 Hardware – 165
Elizabeth Street in the CBD. Small but packed. Expensive but convenient if you run out of
something and don’t fancy a visit to Bunnings
Big W – department store like Kmart, upstairs in Macarthur Center at Edward and Queen St.
Meyer Center – big shopping mall in Queen St. pedestrian
mall. Lots of stores including a big
fabric store and the odd Japanese store where everything is $2.80 (like a US
dollar store but of course with slightly inflated prices because it’s Australia)
Bunnings – Hudson
St in Albion. Pretty close to Albion
train station and a few bus lines.
Bunnings are similar to Home Depot or other large US hardware stores.
Electronics – JB HiFi, Dick Smith, and Harvey Norman all
compete. Officeworks also sometimes has
better deals than these guys too.
Amazon – if you need a 120V power tool, it’s often
fast and cheap to order from Amazon.
Most of their affiliates won’t ship to Australia but Amazon themselves
will for many goods.
Online shopping – due to the high cost of Australian goods
(software, cameras, shoes, books, marine hardware) it is often cheaper to buy
mail order from the US or Hong Kong. If you
keep the value of the order < $1000 Aus, you won’t be charged any GST. We were not charged any duties / brokerage
fee from Amazon purchases and shipping was cheap. If the online company does not have a direct
path to Australia
shipping will be costly
Op Shops – Salvos or Vinnies (we would call them the Salvation
Army or St Vincent de Paul) thrift stores in Fortitude Valley
have good selections of used clothing.
IKEA – our favourite Swedish retailer of meatballs and
housewares is found in Logan,
a good ½ hour or so to the south by car, but reachable by train and 1 km walk.
Whitworths – is the biggest fish in a small pond of
online and retail store marine chandleries in Australia. They’re the closest to Brisbane CBD on Sandgate Road near
the Bunnings store. Bus is easiest
but you can take your fast dinghy down the river and up Breakfast Creek and tie
on the right bank at higher tides. It’s
about a ½ hr ride away.
Bias Boating – another online and retail chain we’ve
used. None of these chandlers dominate
the market or have as big a selection as West or Defender. Marine gear in Australia is often 2x the price of
North American goods with the exception of some safety equipment like EPIRBs
and inflatable lifejackets which can be good deals
Bitter experience lesson:
If you buy a replacement Australian EPIRB make sure it can be coded to
Sailmakers / Riggers – are mostly found some ways from
town. Haven’t had need to use them so no
- Divetek. Service, compressor oil, parts. www.divetekoz.com
- cheapest I found were through these guys. http://www.ausfilters.com.au/
I bought a case of 12 in anticipation of lots of motoring in SE Asia.
If you have
an unlocked GSM phone just buy a SIM card from the many providers. Cheap unlocked phones at lots of electronic
truly does have the best national network and they know it so their rates are
considerably higher. If you’re sticking
to the settled parts of the country you can think about skipping them and
choose somebody else.
We use Amaysim for pay as you go ($0.15 min /
talk $0.12 / text) phone service. Optus, Virgin, and Vodafone are the other big
3 – all have stores in the Queen St. Mall.
Some have free calling to 1 or more other phones so this might be useful
if you mostly call another family member. Get recharge vouchers at 7-11 or
Woolies or phone stores.
available in Brisbane State Library (a 20 min walk from CBD), in a hot spot in
the Botanic Gardens, at a few Maccas, and the CBD Public Library (but you’ll
need a library card – see below). Also
Judith Wright arts center in Fortitude
3G data –
all the phone companies sell 3G dongles with pay as you go plans. We are heavy internet users (Diane is often
on the computer many hours a day working
on Facebook) and up until
recently we on a $79 Telstra “casual plan” with 12 GB of data / month. This is a lot of data IF you are not
streaming movies, doing big downloads etc.
switched to a different system – it uses “WiMax” technology. Its coverage supposedly includes the river
beside the CBD but it varies a lot between spots in the moorings. The high river bank might block some of the
signal. We get great speed and a boat 2 spaces away gets good but not great
speed. The advantage is that is much
cheaper - $79 for UNLIMITED data each month (we have watched a lot of videos
and haven’t hit any caps yet). $39 / 10
GB for those not so greedy as us.
drawback is that is only available in some portions of major cities – so if
you’re travelling around a lot it won’t work; you might think of going with a
pay as you go with one of the other 3G phone companies.
State Library is a reference library not a borrowing library so not much fun
for borrowing books but a nice place to get internet or spend a rainy
City Library (on George St)
is pretty easy going about giving out library cards – if you have an
address. They accepted a marina receipt
from Dockside Marina as proof of residence.
have government Medicare and also usually have 3rd party health
insurance to help cover more than the basics.
We are required to have medical insurance for our 457 working visa but
we pay up front and get reimbursed. Our family rate is about $260/month. So was our friends on Totem with 3 kids but they paid more for a higher coverage type of plan. Ours covers hospital visits, Drs visits, but no
prescriptions unless associated with hospital stays. This is typical of what we have been paying
for some basic services:
Dr. Visit -
$65-70 for short consultation (15 mins).
Insurance remimburses us $36
Dermatologist very thorough skin cancer check - $135
- $100 - $140. Insurance came up with
Chest X ray
- $70. Insurance reimbursement was $65 or so.
easy and fast to get appointments as well. Doctors are pretty good about
keeping some space in their schedules for same day urgent appointments we have
found. We go to Tenerife Family Doctors (#60 City Glider bus route, 76 Skyring
Terrace in Gasworks complex)
Dentists – are expensive. The only cheap option we have found is the
Queensland School of Dentistry near the CBD.
For uncomplicated cleaning and exams these are much cheaper than the
full doctors – and they are supervised pretty carefully. We’d recommend them after several visits.
They're expert in contact lenses and took tons of time with me. I have really odd eyes due to lots of myopia and PRK laser treatment when young. Got me 20/20 corrected vision for the first time in 25 years. Highly recommended.
- we order online from China :) Quite cheap, 3 week delivery, frames tend to fit a bit small but the price can't be beat. www.zenioptical.com
- we order online from the US because prices are about 2/3 of cheapest Oz online stores. Here's one but shop around, things change: http://www.bestpricecontacts.com/
Attractions / Things to Do
Koala Sanctuary – well worth the 45 minute bus ride and the admission fee. Plan
to spend a ½ day or so there. See lots
of Australian fauna. Watch Tazzie Devils eat dead baby chicks if you’re
luck. Hand feed kangaroos and cuddle
koalas. Lots of fun.
(Gallery of Modern Art) – Southbank, free
Museum – small but free
Brisbane City Hall – take the manual elevator tour to the clock tower high above
free sand bottom pool, cheap movies nearby.
5 minute planning dinghy ride to the dinghy dock there (3 hr limit).
Fortitude Valley swimming pool – $5 but heated in
near Gold Coast: Dreamworld, Movieworld, Seaworld, Monkeyworld (ok I made up
that last one)– if you’ve been to Disneyland these might seem overpriced and
underwhelming, but if you go mid week when it’s not school holidays they won’t
be busy. Check for deals and coupons
bikes and dinghies go missing from the dinghy dock area with depressing
regularity. If you get a bike, use a decent U lock. My beater bike disappeared
with a cheap cable lock. Just about anything lockable seems to deter dinghy thieves.