The Brisbane River is the longest river in south east Queensland, Australia, and flows through the city of Brisbane, before emptying into Moreton Bay. John Oxley was the first European to explore the river who named it after the Governor of New South Wales, Thomas Brisbane in 1823. The penal colony of Moreton Bay later adopted the same name.
Early travellers along the waterway admired the natural beauty, abundant fish and rich vegetation along its banks. From 1862 the Brisbane River has been dredged for navigation purposes. The river served as an important carriageway between Brisbane and Ipswich before a railway linking the towns was built in 1875. By the late 1920s, water quality in the river was significantly deteriorated. The river contains excess nutrients, hydrocarbons, pesticides, bacteria and is murky.
The river travels 344 km (214 mi) from Mount Stanley. The river is dammed by the Wivenhoe Dam, forming Lake Wivenhoe, the main water supply for Brisbane. The waterway is a habitat for the rare Queensland lungfish, Brisbane River cod and bull sharks. The largest ship built on the river was the Robert Miller. The 66,000 tonne vessel became un-moored in the 1974 Brisbane flood. While not the highest experienced along the river since European settlement, this flood was the most damaging. Major floods also occurred in January 2011 and multiple times during 1893.
Extensive port facilities have been constructed on Fisherman's Island, now known as the Port of Brisbane. There are 16 major bridges that cross the river. The Clem Jones Tunnel, opened in 2010, is the river's first underground crossing for road transport. The CityCat ferry service collects and delivers passengers along the inner-city reaches of the river.
Brisbane River's source is located in the Great Dividing Range, east of Kingaroy. It then makes its way south, past Mount Stanley, and townships including Moore and Toogoolawah before being joined by the Stanley River, just south of Somerset Dam. The river runs from there into Lake Wivenhoe, created by the Wivenhoe Dam. Beyond the dam, the river meanders eastward, meeting the Bremer River near Ipswich, then making its way through Brisbane's western suburbs, including Jindalee, Indooroopilly and Toowong. The river is travelled upon by CityCats and other ferries in Brisbane, winding its way through the city centre.
Water from the highest point in the catchment has fallen from Mount Langley in the Conondale Range, 868 m above sea level. The Brisbane River then flows past wharves including Pinkenba Wharf and Portside Wharf, past Bulwer Island and Luggage Point through the Port of Brisbane and into southern Bramble Bay an embayment of Moreton Bay.
The river has several important ecological areas where remnant populations of mangroves exist; these include areas around drainage culverts, in Breakfast Creek, New Farm, a small preserve at the city bend, near the Queensland University of Technology and around the shipping terminals at the river's terminus into Moreton Bay. These mangroves have recently become classified as protected nature reserves. The noxious water hyacinth weed is still growing in stretches between Fernvale and the Mount Crosby Weir but only poses a minimal risk to drinking water supplies.
The waterway is a habitat for the rare Queensland lungfish.
Brisbane River cod:
The freshwater reaches of the Brisbane River once supported a unique species of cod, the Brisbane River cod, which was similar to Murray cod and closely related to eastern freshwater cod and Mary River cod. Unfortunately this unique native fish became extinct somewhere between the 1930s and 1950s due to habitat degradation and overfishing. The river has been restocked with cod from the Mary River.
The Brisbane River is home to a very large population of bull sharks, thus swimming is not advised due to the dangers imposed by this predatory fish. Ipswich City Council warns against swimming as far up as Colleges Crossing. There have been three recorded shark attack deaths in the river (1880, 1901 and 1921), and one other unconfirmed death of an Aboriginal boy in 1862. The shark can be aggressive, grow up to 3 m in length and is unusual for a shark species because it can inhabit water containing less than 50% seawater.
The Brisbane River hosts numerous events including the Riverfestival, Riverfire and the Brisbane River Classic fishing competition. Many schools and clubs use the river to conduct rowing regattas on Milton Reach. Sailing regattas are also held on this reach as well as the Hamilton reach.