A cruising restaurant, Laguna Belle, began sailing the Noosa River in 1976. The double-decker boat was designed to look like a paddle steamer. It had a rear paddlewheel but this did not provide any propulsion. Her original owners, the Coopers, held a competition to name the vessel. Mrs H. Osgood won the prize of $25 (a bit over $150 today) for creating ‘Laguna Belle’ and she donated her winnings to the Noosa Coast Guard.


Lagune Belle cruising the Noosa River, late 1970s

Despite Laguna Belle’s shallow draught, its skipper, Fred Cooper, was affectionately nicknamed ‘Captain Sandbank’ by his patrons as he had a tendency to run aground. Cooper blamed the many mishaps on the silting-up of the river. His wife, Gwen, was hostess.

At Wharf

Lagune Belle moored at Neptune’s Wharf, late 1970s

Laguna Belle Seafood Cage With Bill Mayne

Bill Mayne at Neptune’s Wharf, circa 1982

The Coopers sold the business to Bill Mayne in 1982 but it was not the success it had been previously. Laguna Belle was later moved to Mooloolaba (after several attempts to get out of the Noosa River mouth). But the business did poorly there and the ship was also damaged by fire. She returned to Noosaville as a floating restaurant but no longer cruised the river (having once again running aground coming back over the Noosa bar).

Laguna Belle changed hands several times before being decommissioned in 1994, towed up river and abandoned. In 2002, she was cut up as part of Clean Up Australia Day, contributing 6 tonnes of waste and 12 tonnes of rusting scrap metal.

(r30) Laguna Belle Operating Near Noosa River Mouth

Lagune Belle cruising the Noosa River, early 1980s