Updated: Aug 1, 2019
Your local Boat Storage Operator's guide waterskiing and wakeboarding in the Brisbane River.
Unbeknown to most Brisbanites, there is a water-sports mecca snaking (literally) its way through our glorious city. The humble Brisbane River consistently serves up glorious waterskiing, wakeboarding and bare footing conditions. Glassy water and quiet stretches are in abundance, as are an excellent selection of boat-ramp infrastructure stretching the entire traffic able distance of the river.
Where do you ski in the Brisbane River? These are our three recommendations:
OUR TOP PICK: Karana Downs
Karana Downs or 'KD' as its affectionately known, is located as far upstream the Brisbane River as boats are able to safely navigate. The boat ramp and recreational facilities are all reasonably modern, as the previous infrastructure was washed away in the 2011 floods. Situated in Kookaburra Park, the single vehicle capacity boat ramp angles with the flow of the river, allowing for stress-free boat loading/unloading. The sandy beach immediately next to the ramp means you can even set up a quick shade and BBQ on the shore, and ski in and ski out at your own leisure. Riverwise at KD you'll find several kilometres of near-straight reaches that stretch between Anstead and Karalee - You can literally ski in a relatively straight line from the Kholo Creek junction, past the Bremer River mouth right up to the Moggill Ferry.
Live in Ipswich? No worries! This same great passage of water can be easily accessed via Riverside Park Boat Ramp in Karalee.
Why do we really love Karana Downs? With the river being naturally low-set among rolling hills, the water is well-protected from the wind, meaning more chance of flatter water, particularly in windy Brisbane summer afternoons. We also like the tranquil back drop that only the more rural parts of Brisbane/Ipswich can provide.
Water well-protected from wind = good skiing conditions
Scenic mountainous/farmland back-drop
Wide stretch of river to allow safe tubing
Excellent Park Amenities (Including Toilets!)
Long straight stretch between
Low amount of boat traffic
Petrol Station situated close-by
Circa-45 min drive from Brisbane CBD
Single trailer capacity boat ramp
No pontoon (although does have sand beach adjoining the ramp)
The Popular Choice: Jindalee
Being one of the most modern ramps out there, its not surprising that Jindalee is the first choice for most Brisbane River skiing enthusiasts. Featuring a 3-trailer-wide ramp, access pontoon and ample parking, this centrally located ramp is only 20 minutes drive from the CBD. It gives prime access to several different stretches of the river, which deliver a wide choice of angles to run. Head upstream and you'll find yourself navigating through a few different bends, until you pass Centenary Rowing Club, onto what we nicknamed 'the Jail-House stretch' - aptly named due to its close proximity to Wacol Correctional Centre. This stretch provides one of the longest, straightest reaches in the Brisbane River - ideal for longer endurance runs, and typically has better protected water than the other nearby reaches - not to mention the sparse scrubland backdrop!
Central Location - easy to get to from the CBD
Modern large capacity boat ramp
Large Pontoon for easy passenger loading/unloading
Good amenities in adjoining park
Multiple Petrol Stations nearby
Boat ramp can get busy with traffic
Car parking limited
The Underground One: Long Pocket @ Indooroopilly
Nestled right in the back corner of Indooroopilly, Long Pocket boat ramp tends to fly a bit under the radar for the majority of the boating crowd. Situated opposite Indooroopilly Golf Club on Meirers Road, Long Pocket gives direct access to the desirable Tennyson reach of the Brisbane River. We like this particular stretch as its wide, straight and gives you the opportunity to ski under the historic Walter Taylor Bridge at Indooroopilly. Not to mention the opportunity to check out some of the river-front palaces along King Arthur Terrace in Tennyson!
Quiet Boat Ramp
Easy access from Inner-Western Suburbs
Good skiing available down the Tennyson Reach
Water has a higher level of salinity being further downstream
Only one straight stretch to utilise
Large amount of rowing-boat traffic from UQ rowing club
Rather isolated boat ramp location
Others to Consider West End
Situated behind the Pauls Milk Factory, this ramp provides the closest access for a cruise through the CBD. Wouldn't recommend for dropping in for a ski, as city cat ferry traffic makes for choppy water.
This is a small capacity ageing boat ramp that allows launches directly into Breakfast Creek. Accessed via Sandgate Road in Albion, it gives quick access to the Bulimba/Hamilton stretches of the river. We wouldn't recommend this as a skiing destination due to heavy city cat traffic, and little protection from the wind.
1 of 2 Boat Ramps provide by Ipswich City Council. Easy to access from the Ipswich Motorway however the ramp is ageing and with the lack of pontoon/natural beach its somewhat difficult to pull up with a boat.
Is it too cold to ski in Winter?
Answer: Lets be honest, no one likes jumping into water waters, however the concept of 'Brisbane winter' is a loosely used term. With balmy 25 degree days not uncommon, theres still opportunity for pearler winter afternoons on the Brownsnake. The reward is beautiful glassy water, due to the traditional lack of wind in winter time. To avoid that initial jolt of water chill, we'd recommend investing in a wetsuit/heater top - you can pick up one that will do the job for around $100 from the good people at Waterskiers World in Moorooka. (If you are super-keen on the early morning winter runs, then perhaps consider a full steamer-style wetsuit)
Are There Sharks in the Brisbane River?!
Complex answer: Yes, there is a population of Juvenile Bull Sharks in the Brisbane River, but considering the following facts: 1. There hasn't been a recorded shark attack on a human in the Brisbane River since the 1940's
2. The general belief is that Juvenile sharks grow and prosper in the protected fresh waters of the river, before making their way downstream and out to Moreton Bay (meaning theres not a lot of ones big enough to take down a human getting around)
3. It is believed bull sharks tend to stick to the bottom of the river by day, only rising to the top to feed at night (in particular dawn and dusk)
4. When you are waterskiing, you normally only tend to be in the water for short periods of time, during which there is only small amounts of movement, with minimal splashing. We feel a waterskier resembles more a floating log than a tasty meal for a bull shark.
So, make up your own mind - but ski at your own risk :)
Psst! Did we mention our boat storage facility is only a 5 minute drive to Jindalee Boat Ramp, as well as being on the way to Somerset and Moogerah Dams? We should probably also mention that we have complimentary wash bay facilities?
Thanks for reading,
The team from Autohouse Storage