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Yarra River Business Association

13 Jul 2017

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Looking for the reset button for river businesses

As a modern business association, we tend to be forward looking most of the time, but it pays to take a look backwards from time to time.

We were recently looking at photographs of Southbank from 30 years ago and were astonished at the changes. It continues to change every month. A new park in Riverside Quay by Mirvac and City of Melbourne is underway. The imminent refurbishment of the promenade itself is well overdue and, of course, the start of our new linear park along Southbank Boulevard later this year should transform the precinct.

However, where things have not changed in 30 years is on the water. Apart from the provision of a bit of public berthing infrastructure installed for the Commonwealth Games (now 11 years ago), the scenario is almost identical to 1987. Is it any wonder that we lag far behind most water-based cities of the world.

The fault does not lie with the river operators. They have been surviving for decades within a highly regulated, restrictive environment that emphasises what rents and fees can be squeezed out of them, rather than one that ensures an excellent on-water customer experience.

The Yarra River Business Lunch on July 14 will, hopefully, provide an opportunity to hit the reset button for the river. We will meet and hear from the new CEO of Parks Victoria, Matthew Jackson. Matthew has a business and nature-based tourism background, so let’s hope his tenure marks the beginning of a new, business-friendly era on the Lower Yarra.

The first sign of this new era may be the new floating pontoons to be installed in front of the Southgate complex. This was secured from the State Government by the Yarra River Business Association, with co-operation from the Melbourne Passenger Boating Association. After 20 years of complaining, visitors to the Southgate Promenade will at last be able to access and exit vessels safely and comfortably.

Winter in Melbourne has gone from a season where there was little to do, apart from the footy, to the point where July school holidaymakers are spoilt for choice. The ice slide is back on Southbank Promenade, Fed Square has rolled out an even better ice rink and associated activity this year, and thanks to the partnership between Vicinity Properties (DFO) and the restaurant group Hospitality One, the western end of South Wharf Promenade has been transformed into an undercover ice rink and toboggan slide.

The Yarra River Business Association is always on the look-out for new members to help swell its ranks and make its networking even more beneficial. If you think you could be better plugged into your local business community, please drop a line to the executive officer at, and we’ll send an information pack.

John Forman - President

Yarra River Business Association

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