BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND – Riding bicycles into the heart of the city, a bridge climb and a picnic in the Botanic Gardens were just a few of the highlights that gave 20 Riviera owners and their families – to be known as Escapees for the weekend – an intimate view of Brisbane in early February.
The R Marine Crawley Brisbane River Escape began early on a Friday morning as the flotilla of 20 Riviera motor yachts gathered on the Gold Coast Broadwater at the mouth of the Coomera River.
A four-hour voyage through the northern reaches of the Broadwater, past Cabbage Tree Point, then into Moreton Bay past Russel and Peel Island, led the flotilla into the Brisbane River.
Phil Kaye and wife Carmel joined the flotilla in Moreton Bay off Cleveland near Peel Island. They had a bird’s eye view of the flotilla as it wound along the Brisbane River from the flybridge of their Riviera 43 Open Flybridge, Lady Soul.
“It must have been an amazing sight from the river bank,” said Phil. “We travelled line astern up the river and people came from all over to wave to us from the land.”
Mick and Joanne Walker were delighted with the sights of Brisbane.
“We wouldn’t normally go to Brisbane, and certain not on board our Riviera,” said Joanne.
The couple moved up from a Riviera 4400 Sport Yacht to a new 5400, The Ghost, late last year. This was their first R Marine event.
“The first of many!” exclaimed Joanne.
The flotilla arrived at the Dockside Marina close to the Story Bridge and the heart of Brisbane. They lunched in the Captain Burke’s Park right under the bridge.
Then it was time to explore the city or, for 20 intrepid adventurers, take the Story Bridge Adventure Climb.
“It was a great experience,” said Frank Newnham who, with wife Di, joined the Escape aboard their Riviera M370 Sports Cruiser. “We could see right through Brisbane, south to the Gold Coast and east to Moreton Bay. The Climb organisers encourage us to take it easy – climb for a few minutes and then rest and take in the increasingly spectacular view. Then climb further.”
After the return to Dockside, it was time for an “RMC Escapees’ Dinner” at The Landing, a restaurant and function centre just a few minutes’ walk from the marina.
Saturday morning was yet another adventure for many with a waterfront bicycle ride using the popular CityCycle system. Cycle “stations” are located throughout the city, including one convenient for the Escapees next to the Story Bridge Hotel.
“Johanna and her team were amazing” said Phil Kaye. “There are forms to fill in to access the CityCycles. Jo had them all filled in and submitted so we simply turned up and she allocated cycles to us. And off we went.”
The 20 cyclists rode along the river bank to the Southbank entertainment precinct and then over the Goodwill Bridge to the riverside Botanic Gardens where they were able to station the cycles.
Joanne Walker commented: “The weather could not have been more perfect for our bike ride.”
Phil and Carmel Kaye were so impressed with the bike ride that, immediately upon their return home, they bought their own bicycles.
Blankets were laid out on the lawns of the gardens and the R Marine Crawley team served a sumptuous lunch provided from the Botanic Gardens cafe, part of the heritage listed and fully restored Curator’s Cottage.
“It was a great spread,” said Phil. “Many of us brought nice cold drinks. It was a wonderfully relaxing afternoon.”
A ride on the Hopper Ferry took the Escapees back to Dockside and their motor yachts in time to freshen up and prepare for another Hopper Ferry ride and a special dinner, this time at Pony Restaurant in the Eagle Street dining precinct, preceded by drinks on the restaurant’s Dress Circle balcony overlooking the river, with the brightly-lit Story Bridge beyond.
Sunday arrived way too quick for many and the flotilla headed for home with a brief stop at Peel Island to indulge in swimming, eating, relaxing and observing the myriad turtles that were swimming in the shallow waters.
“It was a perfect day with perfect conditions,” said Joanne Walker. “The visit to Peel Island was another first time for us, but it’s our new favourite place.
“Yet, of all the wonderful experiences, simply being on board The Ghost was the highlight of the weekend for us.
“We absolutely love our Riviera and we look forward to what comes next.”