The Showboat Story

A Vision That Came True!

What began as a vision of rekindling the romance of the 1800’s has now become a spectacular & unforgettable memory in the minds of over 6 million customers. Cruising the Australian waters since 1987, the journey of the Sydney Showboats hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

An 1800s paddlewheeler tribute, the Showboat Story is a tale to be told...

Showboat icon
1954

The “Showboat” Idea

The concept of a “Showboat” dreamt up in the mind of a young lolly boy with a fascination for water and entertainment, as he watched and marvelled at the Manly Ferries.

“It was here that I was first introduced to the Showboat. What an impression she made on a young 13 year old!”

Making The First Move

The visionary Brian Gray began planning his ideas, travelling and researching to give conviction to the dreams he’s always had. The idea of a Showboat was conceived and Gray’s lifelong dream was soon to find its roots in reality.

“On occasion, I couldn’t help but look at my situation and have a laugh—here I was, a bloody plumber that was having to become an expert on the staging and production of a cabaret show!”

Sydney Showboats
Leading up to 1987
Harbour Ballroom
1987

Touching Base

In mid-November 1987, the Showboat finally arrives in Sydney, just in time for the 1988 Australian Bicentennial Celebrations in January.

“The Showboat arrived in Sydney mid-November, 1987.”

All’s Well That Ends Well!

With an unexpected turn of events - custom confusions, trading tiffs and a fairly empty calendar; things started looking up after one year of Sydney Showboats being out on the harbour in time for the Bicentenary celebrations, sometimes catering for up to 300 people while running like a well-oiled machine.

“Geez, it was tough in those days. But the situation turned around almost overnight. I couldn’t believe the speed of the turnaround and we were finally on our way.”

Show girl
1988
Sydney Showboats
1994

Showboat 2.0

In 1994, Showboat II was launched successfully out on the harbour to meet the rising need of luxury cruising experiences in Sydney!

“Showboat I had become very successful and I couldn’t keep up with demand—in around 1994 I saw the need for a new boat.”

Two Million Guests

In under a decade since its inception, Sydney Showboats had brought a smile on the faces of over 2 million guests - Numbers are for the records, but the Showboat memories continue to entice new patrons.

Showboat Interior
1996
Sydney Harbour
2001

A New Home

The Sydney Showboat was moved to King’s Street Wharf, where it sits to this day.

“It became my project to convince the government that commercial shipping was diminishing and that lost revenue could be replaced by the commercial aspects of what we were doing.”

Over 6 Million Happy Customers

With over 30 years of cruising experience, Sydney Showboats continues to grow.

“We are not the biggest, but we are the best and we give our customers an opulent experience. We are completely booked during the season.”

Showboat
2019

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