Love Brisbane: Staying Afloat in the Brisbane River - GoBoat - Visit Brisbane

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Love Brisbane: Staying Afloat in the Brisbane River - GoBoat

GoBoat has been a steer-your-own adventure for Jonathon Rodgers.

GoBoat Australia is proof it takes more than COVID-19 and flooding to scupper the self-skippered boat experience on the Brisbane River.

The Australian-owned company brought the Danish GoBoat concept to Canberra in 2017, launching its Brisbane operation as a pop-up in Kangaroo Point in April 2021 before moving to its permanent Breakfast Creek location 12 months later.

The Danish-designed picnic boats have caused quite the splash in Brisbane with their Insta-worthy looks, sustainable credentials (fibreglass hulls made from recycled PET bottles and powered by quiet, state-of-the-art electric motors from Germany) and accessible DIY fun.

GoBoats can accommodate up to eight people and are pet-friendly so even the family pooch can get among the good times on the water. People can also BYO their picnic food and drinks to enjoy on board while they putter around the Brisbane River.

National Operations Manager Jonathon Rodgers says Brisbanites, and groups of girlfriends in particular, have embraced GoBoats from the get-go, thrilled by the ability to access the water and see the river and the city from a different perspective.

“We opened the Brisbane business earlier than expected and the demand was already there – we had an outstanding launch response and continue to see the fleet booked out most weekends,” Jonathon says.

“During COVID, boating took off in popularity – people still want to have fun and enjoy the water and GoBoat offers a safe, easily accessible outdoors activity with a maximum of eight people on board, no boating licence required and online bookings.

“GoBoat primarily focused on the local market, so we weren’t badly affected by a lack of interstate and international tourism. In fact, Brisbane exceeded our expectations even as we come out of COVID.”

After navigating the ebb and flow of COVID restrictions, the popular picnic boat fleet sustained significant damage during the recent floods that saw some of the boats washed away at Breakfast Creek.

Jonathon says a boat from Canberra has already been relocated to Brisbane to keep with demand while the damaged vessels are repaired on the Gold Coast, and he hopes to have a fleet of more than 10 boats back on the water by winter.

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“GoBoat contributes to the vibrant Brisbane scene by making the waterways more accessible to people – it’s not a tour, it’s your experience and how you make it,” he says.

“On a sunny Brisbane day, there is nothing like that postcard-perfect picture cruising under the Story Bridge, and we hope to make GoBoat into a must-do Brisbane experience.”

With more than 10 years’ boating industry experience, including a three-year stint as a crew member on a 55m superyacht sailing around the world, Jonathon is buoyed by the continued growth of GoBoat as part of the increased interest in recreational boating and outdoor leisure activities available in Brisbane.

In the leadup to hosting the 2032 Summer Olympics, he hopes the City infrastructure damaged in the floods will be rebuilt to accommodate more commercial-based activities on the Brisbane River and shore up GoBoat to expand to two locations to meet demand.

Propelled by his own lifelong love of being on the water, Jonathan says the best part of his role is seeing customers’ faces when they return from a GoBoat experience.

“Our company motto is ‘millions of happy memories,” Jonathon says. “Being on the Brisbane River on a brilliant day is a pretty good workplace to have and share with others.”


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