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Riverlee breaks ground at Seafarers Rest


Often on the receiving end of criticism for its lack of natural beauty, Melbourne is so much more than cafes, restaurants and world-class cultural experiences. In fact, as a city, Melbourne has a rich maritime history which revolves around the Birrarung-Yarra River. It is this history that well-known developers Riverlee, in collaboration with Fender Katsalidis, Oculus, CARR design and ODO have taken inspiration from for their latest development, Seafarers Rest. 

On Thursday 11 April, Lord Mayor Sally Capp, together with project collaborators Melbourne-based developer Riverlee, the City of Melbourne, 1 Hotel and landscape design practice OCULUS celebrated the official groundbreaking and construction commencement of Melbourne’s newest public waterfront park, Seafarers Rest. 

With Melbourne’s status as the ‘garden state’ under threat as the population grows by one million people over the next decade, the thoughtful design and creation of large green spaces in urban centres has never been more important. The stakeholders behind the development of Seafarers Rest have leaned into this challenge. 

Enriching city landscapes embedded with history

Once completed later this year, the public park will occupy 3500 square metres of land running alongside the Birrarung-Yarra River, forming a key link in the City of Melbourne’s Greenline Project. It will offer Melburnians and tourists alike expansive open lawns connecting the river promenade via new pathways, alongside a designated play area for children and four-legged family members. 

Inspired by the maritime legacy of the area, the park’s design embraces its industrial roots with features like rope swings, timber seating reminiscent of shipping crates, and curated local maritime artefacts from the Offshore and Speciality Ships Association (OSSA). These elements serve not only to celebrate Melbourne’s port legacy but also to engage visitors in reflection and discovery, offering unique learning opportunities.

Riverlee development director David Lee says the construction of Seafarers Rest is the final piece in the urban renewal of the Seafarers precinct, creating accessible green space and enhanced connections. 

“Seafarers Rest and the broader precinct marks a transformative milestone in the rejuvenation of Melbourne’s Northbank,” Lee says. “Together with the City of Melbourne, we’re revitalising this underutilised and forgotten urban space, reclaiming it as a safe and vibrant green haven for all Melbournians and visitors to enjoy.”

In addition to the creation of a “vibrant green haven”, the project has enabled the restoration and redevelopment of the heritage-listed Goods Shed No.5. Beginning in 2019, Riverlee restored the shed’s iconic travelling crane, relocating it to the eastern end. 

This relocation was a powerful symbolic gesture that deliberately embedded history into the new development by positioning the crane in a location where it could serve as a beacon for visitors to the $600 million mixed-use precinct. When complete, Seafarers Rest will be home to 114 hotel-branded residences and 277 hotel rooms by 1 Hotel & Homes Melbourne, a new eco-luxury lifestyle brand for Australia.

Creating connections between people and the environment

Lord Mayor Sally Capp welcomes the groundbreaking as an important step towards transforming the north bank of the Birrarung-Yarra River.

“The Greenline Project will transform Melbourne’s riverfront from Birrarung Marr to the Bolte Bridge – while creating thousands of jobs, attracting waves of new visitors, and injecting millions of dollars into the economy,” Capp says. “Riverlee’s investment is a huge vote of confidence for this city-shaping project and the future of Melbourne.” 

OCULUS associate director Claire Martin adds: “We cannot underestimate the value of access to high-quality public space to connect people to each other and their environment, particularly in dense urban areas. Birrarung is a place of great importance and connection and it carries a lifetime of maritime stories too. We are thrilled to see this brought to life through this truly considered park design.”

Upon the completion of the Seafarers precinct in 2024, Seafarers Rest will be transferred back to the city to form part of the Northbank chain of parks, connecting through to Batman Park, Enterprize Park and Birrarung Marr, delivering on the City of Melbourne’s Open Space Strategy.

Photograph by Marie-Luise Skibbe. Renders supplied by Riverlee.

Check out SJB’s Parramatta River waterfront development from 2022


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