Thursday, 24 January 2013

Boatbuilders Yard - relaxing on the waterfront

Discovering new areas in Melbourne can feel like going out of town.  My mum had read about the Boatbuilders Yard and suggested we got there for lunch to celebrate her birthday.  For so long Melbourne has turned its back on the Yarra River that runs through its centre.  Over the last decade or so, the city has started to appreciate its waterfront.  The cafe is just one of the many appearing in central Melbourne on little known riverside areas.

It is located in a part of Melbourne called South Wharf.  I've never heard of that area before.  Yet it is an area I have visited.  I have been to the Polly Woodside tall ship (above) many years ago as a child and seen Bob Dylan play on the grassy area outside Jeff's Shed (as the locals call the Melbourne Exhibition Centre).  The Boatbuilders Yard is tucked away by these two landmarks. 

Its website noted that table bookings were not required as there are over 500 seats.  That is one huge cafe.  Yet it is cleverly designed with lots of partitions that create many small spaces.  You can sit at the bar on tall stools, on soft chairs inside, on wooden benches outside, on deck chairs by the kids sandpit.  Take your pick.

It was a nice day so we sat outside.  The first thing we ordered was chips to nibble while we decided what to eat.  The orders come with a round disc (see above) that buzzes when your food is ready.  We then ordered lots of nibbly plates to share.

Most colourful was this dip platter.  The bread was good and my mum and my sister Fran were singing the praises of the goats cheese before we even started on the dips.  We also had crispy sweet corn and capsicum fritters with a very spicy jalapeno salsa and arancini with a dark tasty mushroom filling (my favourite).

Fran also decided to order some Pimms.  It was my first time that I have tasted it.  (It wasn't in fashion in my student and travelling days when I spent more time in pubs.)  It looked stunning and was refreshing but tasted a bit too much of cucumber for my liking.

Sylvia was quite cold by then and we were all ready for a walk.  First we ordered ice creams.  Sylvia had a strawberry one and my dad and I had chocolate.  They were most delicious eaten on decking facing onto the Polly Woodside.  Then we headed off for a walk as far as DFO, marvelling at how many other cafes were to be found along the walking track. 

Boatbuilders Yard
23 South Wharf Promenade
South Wharf
Tel: 03.9686.5088


  1. waterside icecream = sounds like bliss!

    1. Thanks Lisa - it is just the way to spend a lazy summer's day

  2. Those buzzing disc things never fail to make me jump when they buzz. They give a very disconcerting start to my eating experience!

    That cafe sounds quite remarkable with its 500 seats yet separated areas, and I do have fond memories of the riverside sections of Melbourne (although I don't think I have been to the Boat Builders Yard). It sounds like a lovely day out.

    1. Thanks Kari - I don't mind the buzzing disc but they always look a bit space age to me. I think this cafe is quite new but if you go to the polly woodside it is just beside it

  3. Sounds like it was a lovely lunch. I don't go to South Wharf much because it is out of the way. Those chips look good.

    1. Thanks Caeklaw - it is a bit out of the way - but if you are in a car it is easier than trying to park nearer the city - and it feels less like you are in the middle of a big city and more like you are looking over it which is nice for relaxing


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