Brisbane River (Queensland, Australia)

Brisbane River

Queensland, Australia

The Brisbane River quickly became home to me during my Australian travels in the Summer of 2011. It was home to the HMB Endeavour, upon which in May I was a volunteer tour guide and crew member while it was in port at the Brisbane City Center and during its circumnavigation voyage leg from Brisbane to Gladstone. I found the river as it flowed through Brisbane to be a hub of cultural activities from outdoor recreation, panoramic scenery, cultural events, to botanical garden goodness. It was also a hot spot for transportation to and from work while I was living in Manly West and the West End. The Brisbane River is the longest river in southeastern Queensland, flowing through the metropolitan hub of Brisbane before it empties into the Moreton Bay. It was named after Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales, in 1823 by John Oxley who was the first European to navigate and explore the river. Its mouth at Moreton Bay did however get visited by Captain Cook, Matthew Flinders, John Bingle and, William Edwardson, all whom failed to discover the river. After the river was given this name, so was named the penal colony that once habitated the lands where metropolitan Brisbane now stands. This amazing river will astound you with beauty and richness as it is a major waterway between Brisbane and Ipswich. The River from afar in its contrasted beauty shimmering reflections of skyscrapers and modern architecture unfortunately is quite murky, dark, and polluted within its depths. It comes from Mount Stanley, 214 miles away, dammed at Wivenhoe Dam to form Lake Wivenhoe which is the water supply for the city. The river is known to be abundant with the rare Queensland lungfish, Brisbane River cod, and bull sharks. The river has 16 major bridges crossing it, as well as the Clem Jones Tunnel which was built in 2010 to go underneath it . It is a hub of activity as personal watercrafts, large ocean vessels, ferries, yachts, and historic ships travel this waterfare. The River sees alot of commuter traffic on the River CityCat.

The largest ship ever to be built on the river was a 66,000 ton beast done so by Robert Miller, though was un-moored by the 1974 Brisbane flood, one of the most devastatingly damaging floods in the river’s history. The River historically flooded severely numerous times in 1893, 1974, and most recently in January of 2011. The river has expanded its port facilities, especially that on the historic “Fisherman’s Island” which is now known as the “Port of Brisbane”.

The Brisbane river is fed from the Brisbane Mountain Range that is east of Kingaroy. The River proceeds south past Mount Stanley, through the Moore and Toogoolawah townships where the Stanley River meets with the river, then runs into Lake Wivenhoe, eastward to merge with Bremer River, on into Brisbane including Jindalee, Indooroopilly, and Toowong. Within Brisbane, the River goes under the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, a quarry area that is a scenic spot for the River, and a popular location for parties, drum circles, and other outings. The River is also fed by other tributaries besides the above such as Breakfast Creek, Moggill Creek, Bulimba Creek, Norman Creek, Oxley Creek, Lockyer Creek, Cressbrook Creek, Cooyar Creek, Cubberla Creek, Wolston Creek, Woogaroo Creek, Goodna Creek, Six Mile Creek, Bundamba Creek, Pullen Pullen Creek, and Kholo Creek.

Pre-contact, the river was very popular among the Aboriginal peoples of the Turrbal nation as a location for fishing and fire stick farming. After Contact, with explorations by Captain Cook, Matthew Flinders, John Bingle, and William Edwardson of the area, first being missed by them. It was however discovered by Western settlers in 1823 when convicts sailing from Sydney on a timber retrieval mission to Illawarra were blown north by a storm stranding on Moreton Island. They escaped by making it to the mainland after going south of the Brisbane River. As they were heading home north back to Sydney, they discovered the river, by walking upstream along its banks for almost a month before making their first crossing at “Canoe Reach” where it junctions with Oxley Creek by stealing a small canoe from the Aborigines. At the same time, John Oxley was sailing into Moreton Bay looking for the prime location for a new convict settlement when he discovered the stranded men. In 1823, the river was named after Sir Thomas Brisbane the then governor of New South Wales and saw its first settlement in 1824 on its shores. The first private wharves were built in 1848 and then the first shark-proof river baths established in 1857 at Kangaroo Point. River dredged in 1862 for navigation requirements. Because of the early settlement of Brisbane water quality deteriorated to a level that several public baths could no longer source water from the river. Even to the 1930’s the water was remarked as clear, and swimming in the river was still very popular. But as Brisbane grew, the river clarity worsened and became likened to a sewer and waste dump. A River walk was established and restoration of the river was seen in the later end of the 20th century. Even by 2000, the Brisbane River did not meet environmental standard guidelines. In 2008 river quality still not seen healthy with murky waters and no longer recommending swimming in the waters. In addition, bull sharks have made their home in the river causing much more dangers, being home to numerous shark attacks and deaths.

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