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Gold Coast Ferry Trial

The City of Gold Coast, together with local business Ferry I, are proud to launch the city’s first public ferry service called HOPO.

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Gold Coast Ferry Trial

Illustration showing ferry service locations. Click to enlarge

The City of Gold Coast, together with local business Ferry I, launched the Gold Coast's first public ferry service called Hopo on 8 December 2019.

The two-year Hopo ferry trial links key destinations with initial ferry stops at:

  • Sea World at Main Beach
  • Broadwater Parklands at Southport
  • Marina Mirage at Main Beach
  • Home of the Arts (HOTA) at Surfers Paradise
  • Appel Park at Surfers Paradise.

The new ferry service delivers public transport and tourism benefits to the city. It’s part of our transport plan to ensure the Gold Coast is a connected city where people regularly make sustainable travel choices.

We have been working in partnership with the State Government, the Gold Coast Waterways Authority, Maritime Safety Queensland, Water Police, Marina Mirage and Sea World to develop the ferry service. 

Gold Coast Waterways Authority, in its support of the ferry trial, has entered into an agreement with the City to allow the service to access its pontoons at Appel Park in Surfers Paradise and at Broadwater Parklands, Southport. As part of the agreement, the Gold Coast Waterways Authority is contributing $175,000 towards upgrades of the pontoons.

With nine times more waterways than Venice, it makes perfect sense to provide Gold Coast locals and visitors the option to travel around our city while enjoying our beautiful waterways. The new ferry service will provide a range of benefits to our community including:

  • more ways to get around our city
  • a unique waterway travel experience for locals and visitors
  • better access to our waterways and key popular Gold Coast destinations
  • greater public transport choice with a new sustainable transport offering
  • frequent and reliable trips.

Sharing the pontoons

The waterways and pontoon sharing rules won’t change with the introduction of the new ferry service. It’s important to be aware of other waterway users, stick to the speed limits and be courteous when sharing the pontoons.

About the ferry service

The City has engaged Ferry I to deliver the trial ferry service called Hopo for two years from December 2019.

The local business has been providing cruise experiences on the Gold Coast waterways since 2005. They employ more than 80 local staff and operate up to 14 cruises each day.

Hopo means hop-on, hop-off, and as the name implies will offer all-day unlimited, as well as single-use ticket options for travellers.

For information about ticketing, timetables and fares visit the Hopo website or call 07 5655 3528.

Pontoon upgrades

Commencing: late October 2019
Completion: December 2019

Construction is underway at three public pontoons at Southport Pier (Broadwater Parklands), Appel Park public pontoon (Surfers Paradise) and HOTA public pontoon (Surfers Paradise). These works are required to make the facilities more accessible to ferry users, providing equitable access for people with a disability.

Work will vary at each pontoon location and is weather dependent. There will be localised disruptions to pontoon use as the works are carried out.

General construction information for pontoon upgrades:

  • Pontoons will be expanded at each location, increasing the mooring area for vessels.
  • An additional elevated vessel boarding platform will be constructed at each location for larger vessels.
  • Works are scheduled for Monday to Friday, 6am to 6pm.
  • Some night works and weekend works may be required.
  • Some noise is expected, with piling works required for up to three days at each location.
  • Commercial and recreational users are advised to use alternative pontoons during the works period.
  • No land-based impacts are expected at Appel Park and Broadwater Parklands.

HOTA Public Pontoon, Surfers Paradise

  • A new shaded waiting area with seating and lighting will be provided for egressing passengers adjacent to the gangway entrance.
  • The connecting footpath will also be upgraded as part of the works.

Your patience during this time is appreciated.

Plan your day – download a map of alternative public pontoon locations below:

Public jetty and pontoon locations map (PDF 1.18 mb)

Speed limit exemptions

City of Gold Coast continues to monitor the ferry service, and work with the operator and key stakeholders to try to ensure the ferry becomes a permanent transport option for the Gold Coast.

We have identified an opportunity for ferry services to increase travel speed between the Sundale Bridge and Cronin Island. This speed limit exemption has the potential to:

  • provide faster journey times for passengers between HOTA and Marina Mirage
  • improve the timetabling of services allowing an additional daily run
  • improve the service – if more vessels are introduced these scheduling efficiencies will lead to simpler timetables.

This exemption would apply to the section of the Nerang River running south from James Overall Park (approximately 300 metres south of the Sundale Bridge) to Harry Bond Park (opposite the tip of Cronin Island). The ferries would adhere to posted speed limits along other sections of the route.

A wash trial to test the energy wake of the Hopo ferry will be undertaken on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 March 2021 to help inform the application for a speed exemption.

Representatives from Maritime Safety Queensland, the Gold Coast Waterways Authority and the Queensland Water Police will be in attendance at the wash trial.

Visit our Ferry trial project resources page to learn more. 

Get involved

We encourage you to get involved and have your say on the proposed speed limit exemption. The City will take written submissions from 11 March to 16 April 2021 via email and mail.


ATTN: Gold Coast Ferry Trial
City of Gold Coast
PO Box 5042

When making a submission remember to include your name, email and location on the Gold Coast, provide background/rationale for your comments on the proposal and include the date of submission.

For more information, contact the project team on 1300 GOLD COAST (1300 465 326) or email

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