Nautical but Nice in Brisbane

Words by Dorian Mode

Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane reception area

Confession. I don’t believe in Friday the 13th. Superstitious nonsense. But there’s always that nagging feeling. It’s the same reason I don’t deliberately walk under ladders. Or go out of my way to frighten black cats.

In penning these ‘adventures in dentures’ everything is dandy. But this time we’d booked flights to Brisvegas on Friday the 13th. I recall my mouse hovering over the Jetstar booking page like a wasp, before clicking to confirm. Of course, Friday the 13th Jetstar pilots decide to strike – apparently $228,000 per annum is not enough dosh for these impoverished sky-jockeys. Anyway, we simply re-booked on Virgin. Jetstar gave us a full refund. No biggy. So if this there is impending industrial action hovering over your holiday like the Sword of Damocles, I suggesr you simply re-book on an alternate airline (sure, it’s more expensive) but you should be refunded (maybe check first). So, aside for this hiccup, I had a great trip.


When my Uber driver drops me off at Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane, reception can’t find my booking. However, it’s explained there are two Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane. Who knew? So I wheel my bags down to the Adina where I’m staying. No biggy. It’s still Friday the 13th, I shrug.

Adina Apartments is a stunning heritage hotel

Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane, George St, is a stunning heritage hotel. And regular readers will glean that I do love a heritage hotel. They have a kind of soul. With its biscuit-coloured sandstone facade, the hotel was the erstwhile Queensland Government Savings Bank. Today, it’s one of the major heritage buildings of Brisbane.
The lobby features the original timber entrance doors, marble stairs, marble paneling and a detailed plaster ceiling. There’s a great cafe to find a cake downstairs and a serene lap pool to lose it upstairs. Moreover, it’s in a spanking location for seniors. Everything is in walking distance. If you have a suite, there is a Coles Express and BWS on your doorstep. And there is the Boom Boom Room in the basement: a night-club for which I’m too old and too unfashionable to attend. But around the corner, a charming antique centre and second-hand bookshop, which is more my speed.

Lose those extra kilos in the lap pool at Adina Apartments

Threading through the scrolling bougainvillea, I happen upon City Beach. Remember Brizzie is set on the river. The beach is miles away. So clever types created a man-made beach at Southbank. It’s rather wonderful, with its gentle soundtrack of squealing children and chirping tropical birds. I regret not bringing the togs but console myself that I look crap in bathers.

City Beach is a man-made beach at Southbank

I keep strolling until I find what I’m looking for: The Maritime Museum (located at the far end of Southbank – the ferry stops almost at the doorstep). Regular readers may note that I am somewhat of a maritime buff. Indeed, I’m currently restoring a vintage putt-putt on my front lawn. The museum is excellent, with a superlative display of old lighthouse paraphernalia and yarns about their keepers. They have even shipped an old lighthouse to the museum. I love the displays on immigration (my wife and I are descendants of British immigrants) and the lives of people who lived and worked on these ships. I could easily spend half a day at the museum.

Threading through the scrolling bougainvillea

However, the highlight is visiting the WW2 frigate HMAS Diamantina (or The Dementia as I call it because I can never recall the name). HMAS Diamantina is the world’s last remaining River Class frigate from WW2 – and one of Australia’s three remaining naval vessels to have served in the global conflict. Interestingly, it’s one of the world’s two remaining ships to have hosted surrender ceremonies (the other is USS Missouri which is on display in Pearl Harbour) when the Japanese finally capitulated. I thrill in weaving through the maw of the shark-grey ship and exploring the cabins and various inner workings of the old vessel – savouring the nautical aroma of rust and ageing diesel. I spy signs everywhere warning of asbestos. I’m sure sailors were more worried about torpedos in the early 40s.

A vintage speedboat at the Maritime Museum

Embarking the Diamantina I enjoy HMAS Forceful – a steam-powered sea-going tugboat. She worked at her homeport of Brisbane between 1926 and 1970, berthing ships and assisting nearby casualties during World War II. She was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in early 1942 as HMAS Forceful, until returning to commercial service in October 1943. Preserved as a museum ship, she was sinking until some kindly fund-raising folk saved her from the riverbed.

Interestingly, the site itself is a museum. The heritage listed South Brisbane Dry Dock is one of the last remaining vestiges of the colony of Queensland. For the first 70 years of settlement (1820’s to 1890’s) Queenslanders were almost entirely dependent on maritime transport for freight and passengers.
Psst, for less mobile seniors the majority of the museum has disabled access. Ramp or lift access is available to all exhibition spaces within the main museum building and to the grounds (although rough ground in places). There is no disabled access to HMAS Diamantina.

The CityHopper ferry is great and it's absolutely free

The following day, I visit the Museum of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery. Again, all situated in Southbank and only a short – free – yes free! – Cityhopper ferry stop from the doorstep of the Adina Brisbane – ahem…George St, that is.

Fast Facts
The Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane is heritage-listed and artfully restored with a classic yet contemporary design. Located on George Street, the ground floor lobby space celebrates the building’s Art Deco origins. A senior friendly walk from Queen Street Mall and Queen’s Wharf or a brief stroll or ferry ride will find you in among buzzing Southbank’s cool bars, restaurants and parklands. The free City Hopper Ferry to Southbank’s museums, galleries and Maritime Museum, is right on the doorstep at North Quay