Kookaburra River Queens Paddle Wheelers

Cruise the Brisbane River in style!

Kookaburra River Queens welcomes you aboard Brisbane’s truly unique icons. Enjoy the spectacular and memorable experience of our luxury cruise aboard authentic paddlewheelers.


As you take in the best views Brisbane has to offer, enjoy the changing city sights by day or night.

Whether it’s for a romantic seafood dinner, wedding or a corporate conference for executives, Kookaburra River Queens can tailor events to your every whim and desire. Combining elegant dining, live entertainment and undeniably the most breathtaking views of Brisbane, your Kookaburra River Queen experience will be one you will never forget!


The Kookaburra River Queen Paddlewheelers are true icons of the Brisbane River, based on the Mississipi, and Murray River Paddlewheelers and celebrate Brisbane's greatest asset - our river.

The vessels were aptly named because the Kookaburra is a native Australian bird that is never seen to drink water – a prophecy that all boat owners would hope to emulate!

Confident that Brisbane was ready for "something nostalgic, old-fashioned and different” the Kookaburra Queens were born. Millkraft Thompson Boatyards built Kookaburra Queen. She was the first wooden paddlewheeler built in Australia in the last century. Launched in 1986 and 1988 respectively, the Queens were crafted mainly from Queensland timbers, the 100 foot keels from ironbark, the sheathed hulls planked with oregon and spotted gum and the decks made from white beech.

After playing a major role in the popular World Expo 88, the vessels have become a part of Brisbane’s river scape for over 20 years. Both tourists and locals alike have been enjoying a unique view into the inner-city reaches of the Brisbane River.

Weighing a whopping 270 tonnes each, the 30 meter paddlewheelers are powered by two 450 horsepower engines and were designed to operate as closely as possible to the original steamers.

Both vessels were built using shipwrights’ techniques dating back to the time of Noah's Ark!  Each panel has been individually shaped using steam and every nail was hand nailed to ensure quality of craftsmanship.

The Kookaburras were taken over by Captain Jim Kelly of Brisbane Cruises, in November 2007. Extensive restoration is mostly completed on Kookaburra Queen, and underway with Kookaburra Queen 2. Work completed includes slipping and hull restoration, new hydraulic motors, paddle and rebuilding of decks with waterproof  modern materials, yet still retaining the classic timber craftsmanship inside the ships.

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