It’s a car. It’s a boat. No, It’s Aquaduck! Come on, you all know I had to start with that.
The Aquaduck is Australia’s first amphibious vehicle and is an iconic way for tourists to explore a city on a relaxing land and river tour.
With a friends’ wedding just around the corner, I, along with a small group of her friends and family, hopped aboard the unmistakably adorable duck-like bus as part of her hens activities and chilled out on the amphibious vechicle as we took in the sights of the glittering Gold Coast on the 1hr City Tour & River Cruise.
Waiting To Duck Off
Arriving at the Aquaduck desk in downtown Surfers Paradise with a few minutes to spare, I wondered where the gang was. I asked the lady at the desk where the facilities for unloading bowel movements were, but she told me that I wouldn’t make it in time. Gulp. Asking if there was one such thing aboard the Aquaduck, she said, “No”. Goody. Who doesn’t love doing something with no facilities when they need to go and can’t go just before they do. Oh boy.
Right on the dot, my old school buddy (and bride-to-be), her sisters and her friend arrived just as the bus was about to go. Her friend disappeared, and we waited a couple of minutes for her. Where did she go, you ask? She went to the loo after asking the other lady that was there where they were. ARE. YOU. FREAKING. KIDDING. ME! Luckily, nature wasn’t calling too bad, but empty bowels, people! It’s important!
Ride ze Aquabus? All Aboards.
Hopping about the delightfully designed, high-sided, open-aired Aquaduck, the seating around was neat and clean. It closely resembled the inside of a regular bus, minus the windows and had some seats facing forward, while some were facing outwards parallel to the window. That’s where my buddy, her buddy, one of her sisters and I sat, while her eldest sister and son sat on the forward-facing seats nearby. Adorably, there were also bright yellow stuffed Aquaducks soft toys hanging from the ceiling too.
After a quick safety briefing and being told we would be gazed upon like celebrities and we should wave to the folks waving to us, we set off.
We did. They… They did not. The reciprocal waving action was notably naught. It was more like a slow glare tracking us as the oversized amphibious vehicle mosied on down the road like, “What the hell kind of thingie-ma-bob is that.” The absence of waves as we waved at them was like silence at the end of a comedy show. Yeah, tough crowd that day.
Sights From The Land
Heading out through Surfers Paradise was a bouncy affair. It’s fun if you dig that kind of thing. If you don’t, and it makes your belly churn, you might be in trouble. But if seasickness gets you reaching for the puke bag and you prepare advance and brought seasickness tables, they’ll probably suffice.
For me, though, I thoroughly enjoying mmm-bopping down the road. It made taking photographs of any usable quality a shutter-bug nightmare, but sometimes fun requires a trade-off.
Driving by, there were some lovely views of the Gold Coast’s iconic beach waterfron with the ocean was glistening like jewels under a spectacular, mild, cloudless mid-winter day in the distance.
Hitting The Water
After bounding through Surfers like pimps in a pimpmobile, we arrived at the ramp by the Sundale Bridge and transitioned into the Nerang River. It was pretty smooth, and in no time at all, we were living out the childhood rubber ducky in a bathtub scenario, only with a much better view.
The tour guides informed us about the lifestyles and the rich and famous who had settled on the Gold Coast’s spectacular canals as we drooled over the mega-rich houses lining them. One even had a canon that they could blow people to smithereens with. I mean, I’m sure it was “not usable”, but you never know. You never know.
In the background, the Gold Coast’s spectacular highrises towered towards the sky as the sun reflecting in the window complimented the glistening waters of the river.
While gently maneuvering around this beautiful coastal inland city, the friendly lady onboard started calling out the names of the kids she collected beforehand and let them drive the boat, while the captain/driver took a powder.
My pal and bride-to-be’s nephew got to have a turn to be captain of the Aquaduck and did a stellar job navigating the waterways. They also allowed my buddy to take the wheel because she was a special guest, but they instantly regretted it. It almost turned into a scene from the Titanic. You know the one where the ship is ass up in the air. I’m just kidding. She did great.
Back On Solid Ground
Time seemed to pass by fairly quickly, and soon it was time to say farewell to the lovely river that yielded such a beautiful view of the Gold Coast and head back to solid ground. On the ride back, the tour lady told us about the numerous movies filmed here with more coming to town to do some shooting, some of which are prolific, like the last Pirates Of The Caribbean.
Before long, we were back at the shop front, where we disembarked the adorable duck-like vessel and where the bride-to-be got a souvenir photo and her sisters son got a duck. I jumped aboard that train and got myself one too because I’m a souvenir hoarder and gave no trucks about being too old to have a duck.
Riding the Aquaduck provides the unique experience of riding an amphibious vehicle. If you try that with your car, it’s going to sink. It’s the age-old adage of “Don’t try this at home,”
It also provides the dual experience of getting a guided tour of the Gold Coast’s tourist mecca, Surfers Paradise, where you learn about it and feel its energy, in addition to seeing island mansions and luxury yachts that line the waterways on a relaxing river cruise. And of course, there are stunning panoramic views of that unbeatable Gold Coast skyline from the water to enjoy too.
The land portion of the adventure is beaches and buildings, but it’s also bouncy as all hell. It’s not good for photography and bad for people with motion sickness. However, if you have a tendency to get seasick and packed some tablets for the wavy gravy portion of the tour, then popping some of those pills will probably help with the drive.
The river part was all about gazing at the properties of the uber-rich and hotels that make up the spectacular skyrise. It’s a lot calmer out here and much easier for snapping up shots of the gorgeous architecture lining the river, but that is, of course, dependant on the day.
The atmosphere was also a lot more relaxed as you get out of the city, and it was lovely the crew allowed the kids to drive, and great that they let my buddy take the wheel too. Both of them got some captains caps and a certificate of their accomplishment to take home too, which was nice.
From the outside, the Aquaduck is unmistakable. Gorgeously designed and kept in pristine condition, the amphibious vehicle turns heads wherever you go the same way supercars do. The approving audience is a bit different. But it does make you feel like a celebrity, even though the celeb is Aquaduck itself.
The inside is clean and well kept too, and while the seats are more akin to train seats, and it’s a fraction on the crowded side, it’s no confining. The open cabin allows for fantastic viewing, while the roof supports are far apart and non-intrusive to the experience.
While it’s fantastic that there’s no glass there with smears, scratches or smears all over it to mess up the view, I surmise that it might get uncomfortably hot. We went in winter, and on this particular day, it was a little on the warm side. I was breaking a bit of a sweat. With South East Queensland’s summer temperatures averaging in the 30s, this could be quite the sweaty armpit affair if you did go at the bookends of the calendar year.
The Aquaduck land and water adventure took an hour to complete, and it was a fair amount of time to be out and about exploring the city from the road and the river. It didn’t feel like it “happened in a blink. It happened in a flash. It happened in the time it took to look back,” and it wasn’t like, “God, when is this going to end.”
Staff & Crew
The staff and crew were friendly and likeable. The only thing I was annoyed with was that the lady telling me I won’t make it to the loo before the tour left, so I didn’t go. Then, when my friend and her sisters and friend arrived a few minutes later, her friend went after asking the other lady. Lucky, it didn’t turn into a dire situation.
Aside from that little snafu, they were lovely and polite.
The shop for Aquaduck is right in the heart of Surfers Paradise, a street over from Cavill Mall. That means it’s hectic as hell there. Parking in a city is never a fun venture, but one of the most affordable places to park is at Bruce Bishop Car Park, a short walk away.
Bruce Bishop car park also caps out at a reasonable price for a day, so it’s also a good option if you want to hang out around Surfers Paradise before or after your delightful Auaduck tour.
Who Would It Interest?
Riding the Aquaduck is a delightful way to explore the coastal city that is the Gold Coast. Families with young children would delight in riding such a cute, lovely and unusual vessel. The kids would also thoroughly enjoy driving the boat too.
People from out of town who are time-poor and would love to learn about the Gold Coast and see it from the land and the water would enjoy this dual river and road tour in a realxing way.
*Names and faces of lovely people I went with not shown to protect their identity.
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