Queensland: Four Months in Manly

Published 8 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Manly, (not to be confused with a town of the same name near Sydney) is eight miles south of the mouth of the Brisbane River and is one of the largest yacht harbours in the Southern Hemisphere with about 1,700 boats. It is a good place for cruisers to leave their boats to go traveling.

It is split into four separate marinas. By and large, the liveaboards here are not cruisers but Australian people who choose to live on a boat rather than a house, and so the atmosphere is a bit different to normal cruiser anchorages/marinas.

At the north end and closest to town is the Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club (but it is also a marina). At the time of writing it was full with a very long waiting list.

Next is Wynnum Manly Yacht Club. It has no shore facilities and so while you might get a berth there you cannot live aboard ruling it out for most cruisers.

Next is the East Coast Marina (the only place locally to get LPG). There are some contractors here and a small eatery but this closes mid-afternoon and so there is nowhere to go in the evenings without going into town (a ten-minute walk). All of the staff I met were extremely friendly and helpful but many of the pontoons are in a poor state of repair with reports of power failures.

Lastly, there is the 700 berth Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron which welcomes visitors and where all of the pontoons are brand new. There is not much of a price difference between these last two except that the RQYS charges an additional monthly access fee of AU$100; you may get an exemption from this for two months on a reciprocal membership basis depending on your home yacht club. The shore-based facilities are the first rate albeit the men’s ones by the haul out yard are “overused”. There is a superb clubhouse with bar, snack bar, and pucker restaurant. This is where I stayed.

Yacht Services

Firstly, Val, who runs the marina office at the RQYS, will fall over backward to help. The travel lift drivers are punctual and highly professional.

I can report first hand on a number of the contractors all of whom were a pleasure to have aboard and work with.

David Glen is a shipwright and does skilled woodwork.

Jason at JSA is a general maintenance man running a first-rate team who will do sandblasting, painting, polishing, general repairs, propellor work etc.

Arthur’s Seadog Marine are the mechanical and engineering specialists offering high-quality skilled work.

John Moore is a very experienced yacht broker and sailor. If you are thinking of selling he will advise on all import procedures and can do valuations which will be accepted by Customs.


The town of Manly itself is small but has everything. Doctor, dentist, off-license, butcher, baker, supermarket, post office and more coffee shops and eateries than you could count.

Muir Marine is the very competitive local chandlery owned and run by a father and son team with a number of able and experienced helpers.

Transport is good with trains running twice every hour. It takes about 40 minutes to get to central Brisbane. The two stations (if you are at EC or RQ) are equidistant at about 1K away – going to Lota you do not have to walk uphill but you miss the town. Buy a Translink card and save 35% on fares. Brisbane International Airport is about 30 minutes away; a taxi is your only real option at around AU$60.

For mobile ‘phones and 3/4G Vodafone coverage is poor especially along the east coast; try Telstra.

Manly harbour itself is far enough down into Moreton Bay to give you any number of cruising options from day sails to a week or so away. And, of course, it is south of the cyclone belt.

Anthony Swanston

SV Wild Fox


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