According to Martin Brennan, it’s easier to get a car park out the front of White House than it is to snag a permanent mooring spot along the Brisbane River. But when you’ve got an idea that’s too good to ignore, you’re more than happy to play the waiting game. Martin and his wife Donna are the owners and operators of The Prawnster – a floating restaurant that dropped anchor in mid August. Inspired after a visit to famed Cairns-based seafood spot Prawn Star, Martin became enamoured with the idea of opening his own watercraft eatery – one that similarly specialised in wild-caught seafood sourced from Queensland waters. Upon returning home, Martin began scouring the local market for a vessel that he could use to showcase some of the trawler-fresh seafood available on our own doorstep. Soon he discovered Del Fuego – a deep-sea prawn trawler that was originally built in Deagon in 1971. Measuring in at 50 feet and 40 tonnes, Del Fuego had spent much of its life operating along the coast of Far North Queensland, prowling the waters near Mackay for aquatic morsels. Although getting on in years, the boat was beautifully maintained. Once Del Fuego was purchased and brought south, Martin undertook a nine-month renovation process, which saw the trawler’s sorting tray removed in favour of a sturdy timber table along the centre, a new fibreglass deck, kitchen equipment and a prep area. The next step – securing a mooring from which The Prawnster could operate – proved to be the most difficult. Due to a limited number of free spaces and a lengthy approval process, it took the Brennans 15 months to obtain a suitable spot – but in the end they managed to snag a beauty. The Prawnster is berthed at Dockside Marina at Kangaroo Point – a breezy strip of the Brisbane River that sits opposite the bustling New Farm boardwalk.
When it comes to the menu, fresh seafood is clearly the hero. Martin and Donna are keeping the selection narrow and simple, with a less-is-more approach to presentation that lets the product do the talking. The Prawnster is working with top-notch trawlers that operate out of Mooloolaba, Scarborough, Bundaberg and Mackay, obtaining the kind of wild-caught bounty Del Fuego was once responsible for sourcing along Queensland’s coast. Hauls are delivered daily, and includes scores of Moreton Bay bugs, Coffin Bay oysters, Tasmanian salmon and, of course, Mooloolaba king prawns (lots of them). Guests can sit down to a seafarer’s bounty of varying sizes, opting for a simple prawn platter or going all in on a mixed feast, which boasts natural oysters, salmon sashimi, bugs and serves of large and medium prawns (served with lemon wedges and a selection of sauces). Those eager to take the sea home with them can order batches of prawns to takeaway, including endeavour prawns, king prawns and jumbo tiger prawns. The Prawnster is BYO-friendly, although Martin and Donna are currently applying for a liquor licence – keep your eyes peeled soon for a small selection of tinned beers and a couple of whites and reds.
The Prawnster is now open to the public! For booking details and operating hours, cruise on over to the Stumble Guide.