With the riverfront Queen’s Wharf being unveiled in Brisbane next year, we share everything you need to know about this city-changing development.
Celebrity chefs. Riverfront views. Fresh Queensland produce. Five star hotels. Nightlife that makes the most of paradise-grade weather. The new Queen’s Wharf development, opening on Brisbane’s riverfront this year, will change the way locals and visitors eat, party and relax. Set across 12 hectares of pristine Brisbane waterfront, the multi-billion-dollar project is the kind that only comes along once in a lifetime.
We’ve already been given a sneak peak thanks to Brisbane’s newest riverfront bar, Will & Flow, but Queen’s Wharf has oh so much more in store for us.
In anticipation of the Queen’s Wharf final unveiling in 2022, we spoke with The Star’s Chief Casino Officer for Queensland, Geoff Hogg, about when and how it will all come together.
What can Brisbane expect from Queen’s Wharf?
Along with our consortium partners, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Far East Consortium, we want our $3.6-billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane integrated resort development to deliver a scale, diversity and quality unlike anything we have for locals and visitors in Queensland today.
Over an incredible 12 hectares of state-owned and currently underutilised land, it will transform our city with a wide range of offerings. This will include new riverfront space; an unmatched dining precinct comprising fine-dining hatted restaurants, celebrity chefs, and pop-ups; a signature arc-shaped building with a sky deck positioned 100 metres above William Street and designed to offer spectacular 360-degree views of the river and city; a moonlight cinema; a ballroom, exciting nightlife and entertainment; local and international retail brands; and world-class hotels, including Australia’s first Rosewood, The Ritz-Carlton, and the Dorsett Hotel.
Our multi-billion-dollar investment is designed to embrace the local spirit and characteristics of Brisbane as a ‘river’ city, with proximity to a range of attractions including golden beaches, lush hinterland, and rural and outback areas.
Do you think Brisbane was overdue a precinct like Queen’s Wharf?
Brisbane has often been cast as the ‘underdog’ when compared to the likes of Sydney and Melbourne. However, in recent years, the city has started to shake off that persona and become a real contender for one of the world’s most liveable, culturally diverse and progressive cities bursting with economic activity.
Our Queen’s Wharf development is part of a new wave of transformation, with more than $15 billion being invested into the city to build major tourism and infrastructure assets that will drive significant domestic and international visitation. At some point around 2022 or 2023, we believe international borders will open up again, so we expect to see visitation levels rise around six to 12 months later. With Queen’s Wharf Brisbane expected to open from late 2022, we’ll be well-positioned to take advantage of this influx.
In what ways will Queen’s Wharf embrace Brisbane’s open-air lifestyle?
The iconic design of our integrated resort merges world-class architecture with heritage buildings in an exciting new precinct that will showcase the city’s subtropical lifestyle through the use of outdoor and open spaces. It will also support a range of outdoor activities including kayaking, cycling and running routes.
Some of the design’s highlights include new plazas, a moonlight cinema, shaded laneways, heritage gardens, riverfront activation, 12 football fields of public space, and seamless integration between the CBD and South Bank through the build of the pedestrian-only Neville Bonner Bridge.
Some of the public spaces have already been built, comprising the revitalisation and reopening of 500 metres of underutilised public space along the Brisbane River’s edge. This involved:
- Constructing a 450-metre pedestrian-only “Mangrove Walk” featuring an Indigenous message trail with interpretive signage; a series of lookouts and art installations; and a waterfront food and beverage venue that has since opened as Treasury Brisbane’s new Will & Flow overwater bar.
- Constructing a 4,000m2 inner-city recreation area beneath the Riverside Expressway known as “Waterline Park”, featuring outdoor exercise equipment and table tennis tables; subtropical landscaping; and a striking art mural.
- Upgrading the first 500-metre section of the existing Bicentennial Bikeway to separate cyclists and pedestrians with a three-metre-wide cycle path and a two-metre-wide pedestrian path plus improved alignment.
How is Queen’s Wharf honouring Brisbane’s Indigenous and European heritage?
Our Queen’s Wharf Brisbane consortium is committed to working on cultural aspects of the development with the Traditional Owners of the Land, Queensland Elders, the local Indigenous community, and the wider Brisbane community.
For example, a cultural centre will showcase Indigenous and European heritage with interactive exhibits. We have also established a public art plan that has helped inform and shape the commissioning of public art, which incorporates both Indigenous and European art. The dedicated pedestrian boardwalk, Mangrove Walk, features interpretative heritage and integrated storytelling elements such as an Indigneous message trail and Indigenous totems sandblasted along the walkway.
In regards to European artwork, Waterline Park showcases a colourful art mural by Australian artist Alice Lang. Some of the remaining art pieces include Australian artist Emily Floyd’s The Kingfisher, a statue of the kingfisher bird known to live amongst mangroves and nearby forests.
How are the existing heritage buildings being integrated?
Queen’s Wharf is recognised as the birthplace of Brisbane’s European history, and it has one of the greatest collections of culturally significant heritage buildings and places in Australia, dating back to the early 1800s.
As part of our game-changing development, all of the precinct’s heritage buildings and places will be repurposed and reactivated for public use. By sensitively revitalising these ‘jewels’ of the precinct, locals and visitors alike will have the unique chance to explore both the Aboriginal and European history of Brisbane through a variety of food and beverage, tourism, and retail experiences, which will breathe new life into a largely underutilised part of the city.
For example, the Treasury building – currently housing the Treasury casino – will transform into a high-end department store and part of The Ritz Carlton hotel. This will involve closing the existing casino completely, with a new one opening in the new development’s iconic arc-shaped building.
What restaurants, bars and entertainment spaces can we expect?
Locals and visitors will get to savour the best of Queensland’s unique produce through an array of 50 new restaurants, cafes, and bars. Imagine succulent Hervey Bay scallops, tender Rockhampton beef, and deliciously juicy mango from the state’s Far North – all mouth-watering Queensland ingredients.
The precinct will be designed to suit every taste and budget; people will get to choose everything from fine-dining hatted options to celebrity chefs, bars and grills, and pop-up market stalls.
Where possible, we will use the best and freshest produce grown by Queensland farmers to create authentic experiences for our guests.
What about Queen’s Wharf, personally, are you most excited about?
Over time, and through developments like ours, I’d like to see our city’s reputation well and truly cemented as a leader in well-connected and innovative precincts, delivering faster and more convenient public transport, a place where the locals are viewed as Australia’s friendliest and most welcoming, and a city buzzing with excitement because there is something to do 24/7.