Is Brisbane a River City or a Coastal City?

March 12, 2020


This is a common argument between our fluvial and coastal teams, as both challenge for bragging rights for the most important extreme weather process.  There are good arguments for both, but we will let you decide who has the better argument. 


From the flood team: Clearly it’s a river city, dominated by fluvial processes – rivers and creeks.  It sits on the banks of the longest river in South-East Queensland, which is around 350km long.  From an extreme-weather perspective, significant rainfall events have driven our largest inundation events – river floods – think 1893, 1974, and 2011.  Brisbane is named after the Brisbane River (not the other way round) and the CBD is located over 24 km upstream of the bay, which arguably isn’t the coastline anyway! So clearly, Brisbane is a River City…


From the coastal team:  Well perhaps Brisbane City is on the river, but what about the coastal suburbs of Brighton, Shorncliffe, Wynnum, Manly and Lota which are all influenced by storm tides and wave overtopping?  Not to mention that Moreton Bay is definitely the coastline - and its tides have a significant contribution to river flooding even in Brisbane City.  Speaking of historic events, the 1893, 1974 and 2011 floods of Brisbane were actually the effect of tropical (and ex-tropical) cyclones.  Our coastal team also like to point out the range of coastal structures you can find throughout Brisbane’s bayside, just like the Manly marina breakwater shown above.


Or maybe this just demonstrates the fact that Brisbane is a sub-tropical city, with a diverse interaction of waterways and coastline – and that’s what is special about Brisbane!

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