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As a water lover, a visit to Docklands in Melbourne is an absolute must. This exciting waterfront location has become one of Melbourne’s social and cultural epicentres with good reason, growing significantly over the past 20 years. By 2025, the area will be home to around 20,000 people and continues to evolve in each stage of its development.
Here are a few more interesting facts about Docklands, Melbourne:
- It has over seven kilometres of waterfront
- At 190 hectares in size, it holds 44ha of water
- Docklands is actually bigger than Melbourne Central Business District
- There are over 72 public and 262 private marina berths
- Starting construction in 1997, in 2020 it is 60% complete and has had over $10 billion invested privately
- Docklands is well known for its public art, with 35 public art installations throughout the area
(Source: Docklands Directory)
Along with connecting to the beautiful Yarra River that flows through Melbourne’s CBD, it’s easily accessible by the SkyBus route from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, is within the free tram zone around the city and is walking distance to the hub of Melbourne. The recently renamed Marvel Stadium is perfectly positioned, standing proud to welcome anyone arriving by water and ideally situated for its sporting and major events.
Check out our public Google Maps list highlighting the location of each of these activities – great for being handy on your phone for when you explore…
With its waterfront vibes, here are 21 water-themed reasons to love Docklands, Melbourne:
1. Waterfront Dining, Cafes, Restaurants and Bars
Looking for somewhere to eat or drink with a waterfront ambience? Fresh food is abundant, with stunning views over the water, whilst catering for every type of cuisine your taste buds should be tempted by. A few local favourites are:
Berth – situated over the water at NewQuay Docklands, spectacular city and waterfront views are on offer with floor to ceiling windows. Perfect for that romantic occasion in one of Melbourne’s premier waterfront dining venues.
Cargo – Cargo in Docklands offers a casual and dynamic eating experience with a smile
Renzo’s Bar – good Italian food with sprawling views of the waterfront
For a full range of dining ideas, check out the City of Melbourne’s guide to dining in Docklands.
2. Accommodation in Docklands, Melbourne
As Docklands continues to grow, so do the array of accommodation options that offer waterfront views. The best bit is that you don’t need to pay premium prices to get a great view from some accommodation, slightly set back from the main waterfront area.
Here are a few of our favourite accommodations in Docklands Melbourne with great water views:
Quest Docklands – we have personally stayed here and loved it! Great value for money, modern, clean and professional. It is slightly set back from the waterfront; however, rooms with water views and balconies are available.
The Sebel Residences Melbourne Docklands – another great value for money water view accommodation located along the NewQuay Promenade. Perfect for any reason to stay at the Docklands.
Docklands Private Collection – Digital Harbour – fantastic location, good value for money and water views with lots of facilities available onsite.
3. Take the views in from above
Situated in the Docklands District, the Melbourne Star, standing at an impressive 120 metres tall, is the perfect way to take in the views of the entire Docklands area. This really is the jewel in the sky above Melbourne Docklands. Providing a spectacular LED display of over 16 million light combinations, this is a true Melbourne experience.
4. Floating donuts
Take one of these electric Aqua Donuts for a spin! With a gas BBQ station, round picnic table and room for up to 10 people, this is the perfect way to enjoy a float around Docklands. As they run on electric with a maximum speed of 9kph, there is no need for a boat licence, just photo ID.
5. The World’s first floating Tram
Get on the water in style with this unique floating tram ride, cruising around Docklands and the CBD. Take a scenic trip along the Southbank Precinct to Herring Island, cruise the Yarra right up to the gorgeous Anglers Tavern for a riverbank lunch or enjoy the infamous Sunset Fish ‘n’ chips cruise to Melbourne’s hidden secret, Williamstown. This is one boat experience you’ll be sure to remember! And hard to find anywhere else!
6. Catch a ferry to Portarlington or Geelong
Leading the way in daily travel between Melbourne, Geelong and the Bellarine regions, Port Phillip Ferries sail 365 days a year for both commuters and leisure travellers. With state of the art, modern vessels, check out their cruise times, pack a bag and spend some quality time in Portarlington or Geelong. The ferry ride is just magical and a perfect way to explore other parts of Melbourne.
7. Cruise the river
Jump onboard with Melbourne River Cruises and take their 1 hour Ports & Docklands cruise to see the highlights of this area from a waters edge perspective. Head out under the impressive Bolte Bridge and Westgate Bridges into one of the busiest trading ports in the Southern hemisphere. It’s quite impressive!
8. Self-drive boat hire
How does a luxurious boat hire sound? Hire your own elegant signature eco-friendly electric boat with Melbourne Boat Hire and take in the many beautiful sights along the banks of the Yarra River at your own pace. The choice of 2 vessels can carry up to 10 or 12 people with full shade and windows to protect from the sun and wind. We love this idea as it is hard to find a boat rental with such good protection from the elements!
2 or 4-hour self-drive hire options available depending on how far you want to explore!
Vessels are also available skippered and for private functions.
Video credit: Melbourne Boat Hire
9. Be the Captain for the day
Looking to hire a boat with different sizes available to suit your needs? Boat4Hire vessels range from a small Polycraft Challenger to the impressive Mustang 28 Sports Cruiser. Boat4Hire also offer boat licencing and practical courses to give your confidence a boost, as well as the use of all the safety and fishing equipment you may need.
10. Stay overnight on the water
Hire Boat4Hire’s beautiful Mustang 28 Sports Cruiser overnight and stay overnight on the Docklands water at NewQuay Marina. Sleeping 3 to 4 people, this unique experience comes equipped with kitchen and bathroom facilities, fresh water tanks, safety gear and plenty of entertainment space on deck. This is sure to be a night you won’t forget for a while!
11. Be entertained Showboat style
Book your ticket on board the Lady Cutler Melbourne Showboat and enjoy an exciting night out, whilst cruising the city skylines and surrounding areas. Multiple cruises are available from themed dance cruises to sightseeing cruises with brunch and dinner included.
12. Enjoy a little bit of magic
Magic Charters modern catamaran is available for onboard sunset cruise dining and afternoon high tea. Or why not hold for your own private function in style? Public cruises depart at weekends and are a perfect way to relax and enjoy the Docklands and surrounding areas.
13. Get On A Boat
Where Amsterdam meets Melbourne! These Dutch-inspired electric vessels are rocking Melbourne’s waterways and are located just a short distance away from Docklands. Stable and easy to drive, there is no excuse not to try these user-friendly boats. No boat licence is required.
14. Hop onboard a water taxis
Trams not doing anything for you? Book a Melbourne Water Taxis and indulge in a professional limousine style service with convenient drop-off and pick up locations around Docklands and the CBD. Want to spend more time on the water? They also offer packages and private charters.
15. Be a part of an ultimate luxury boat club
Why buy an expensive boat with all the additional costs when you can be a part of Melbourne’s members-only luxury cruising club, Pleasure Cruising? For a monthly fee, you can use any of the fleet available at Docklands, enjoy your time out on the water, then hand the keys back! And no experience is necessary as full training is provided.
16. Pet-friendly picnic boats
Jump onboard with GoBoat Melbourne and create your own unique experience. Located at Sandridge Wharf, just outside of the Docklands, these electric Scandinavian inspired boats are perfect for special occasions, romantic nights, chilling with friends or just spending time with the family. Pets welcome!
Boats are available from 1 to 6 hours, and no boat licence is required.
16. Soak up the waterfront atmosphere
Take a stroll around the open space within Docklands, and you’ll be amazed at what you can find. Chilled out by day, buzzing by night, enjoy the contemporary art sculptures waiting to be discovered along the art trail or walk its artistic bridges to see what’s on the other side waiting to be explored; all with the majestic Bolte Bridge in the backdrop.
17. Enjoy Marina life
Docklands is home to Victoria Harbour which encompasses several different marinas, including NewQuay, NewQuay West Marinas and Melbourne City Marina. Sit back and watch as day cruises come and go, beginners try their luck at hiring their own, eco boats glide elegantly past and massive superstar superyachts dock as they take your breath away.
18. Ice is water, right?
Visit Docklands District not only for the open-air spaces and laneways but also because it is home to O’Brien IceHouse! Enjoy a casual session, skating lessons, themed events, special occasions or even join the Hockey Academy! Make a day of it, by soaking up the chilled (literally) vibes where ice meets the water’s edge.
Docklands District offers a range of shopping, dining and entertainment.
19. Ride a dolphin!
Artvo Gallery takes the opportunity to enjoy art at a whole new level! Ride a dolphin whilst a jetski is chasing behind you, surf waves like never before (balance not really required!), have an enormous humpback whale leap over you or ride a donut through turbulent rapids! All without getting a single bit wet!
Check out their Instagram page for a look at their 3D interactive art gallery!
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20. Arrive in style and enjoy free short-term berthing
Guests at Melbourne City Marina can enjoy 4 hours of free berthing amongst the 31 visitors berths available. Top up with facilities available or why not stay longer with competitive rates available for overnight visitors.
Left your superyacht at home? No need to worry; you can sit back, relax and brush shoulders with those who decide to come in and dock theirs at the marina! How about this for a view?!
21. Take a moment to enjoy the backdrop
Docklands, day or night, is absolutely stunning on the eye! Its magnificent modern and innovative designs stand honoured as you take in the views. But it’s not just this view that is enticing you to fall in love with this vibrant city. Through the gaps and over the stadium, you can see glimpses of Melbourne’s CBD inviting you to come to their playground too and see what’s on offer!
Whilst you are in the area, don’t forget to pick up the Docklands Directory brochure available from Tourist Information Centres or some hotels foyers. If you can’t get your hands on a hard copy, check out the latest information on their directory website.
What is your favourite thing to do in Docklands? We would love to know in the comments below? Or do you have another favourite thing to do in Melbourne?
Water loving British girl who moved to Australia and seriously caught the travel bug! Loves to explore and share destinations that inspire others to spend more time on the water and in the great outdoors. Typically, you’ll find her on a boat or next to the ocean, often in a daydream!