One of the iconic tourist attractions in Brisbane is the City Cat ferries. They are the perfect way to see the city from the Brisbane River. They are particularly popular during the autumn to spring period of the year when many southern visitors come to the city on holidays.
These ferries are catamarans and are painted in the colours of local sporting teams as well as one being painted to depict the history of the local indigenous people.
The City Cats move up and down the river from the University of Queensland in the west to Hamilton North in the east not far from the river mouth and Moreton Bay. The return journey takes just over two hours. You can sit in the open areas at the front and rear of the City Cats or sit comfortable inside a large spacious cabin and watch the river as it meanders through the city of Brisbane.
Simply riding the ferries up and down the river is alone an enjoyable experience. You will see many different styles of homes, boats of all types plying up and down the rivers plus many small cross river ferries. There are many places where you can catch the ferry and they arrive every 15 minutes during most of the day.
Along the way, you will sail under many bridges, pass through the central business district, cruise pass the City Botanical Gardens and New Farm Park with its rose gardens and, at Hamilton North, see the twin Gateway bridges as they soar high in the air to allow ships to pass upstream. Here, too, you will watch many planes land or take-off from the nearby Brisbane Airport.
If you are into dining, there are several precincts where you can leave the city cat to get a meal. These precincts are spread along the river from Park Road, Milton to South Bank; Howard Smith’s Wharf under the Story Bridge; Oxford Street, Bulimba; Brett’s wharf at Hamilton and at the last terminal at Hamilton North.
If you want to entertain your children along the way, then stop at South Bank. Here there is a beach with a pool patrolled by lifesavers; the Maritime Museum; The State Art Gallery plus the State Museum. This is also the venue for the Performing Arts Complex.
On the opposite of the river to South Bank is the main city business district with its city mall with its many shops as well as the casino.
If you want a special treat, catch a City Cat going down river just before dawn to see the sun rise over the lower reaches of the river. Even more spectacular is to ride the city cat from Hamilton North up the river as the sun sets. You will see the city skyline with Mount Coot tha in the background change colour and as the night falls the coloured lights of the city will excite you.