Harbour Esplanade

Places Victoria’s ambition for Harbour Esplanade is for it to be a place of increased national significance and one of the great post-industrial waterfronts anywhere in the world.

Harbour Esplanade should be the primary public space in Docklands – a fine boulevard for promenading, providing an opportunity to experience elements of Melbourne’s rich industrial ports heritage and a place to welcome and guide the public through the sub-precincts of Melbourne’s Docklands and central city.


  • Community feedback in 2014 on the future of Harbour Esplanade was incorporated into the Harbour Esplanade Master Plan.
  • Construction to realise the master plan is planned to begin in early 2016 after the City of Melbourne resolved to grant Places Victoria a planning permit on 2 June 2015.
  • The next stage is planned to include the reinstatement of two wharf sections either side of Central Pier and development of green open space between the wharfs and tram tracks.
  • During the next 10 years the master plan is planned to be realised in stages, subject to further planning permits and available funding. 

Stage one - complete

Stage one was completed in 2011. Work included realigning the tram tracks, creating dedicated pedestrian and cyclist paths and planting Norfolk Island Pines.

Stage two - underway 

Stage two involved removing four raised concrete wharves on Harbour Esplanade which, at more than 100 years old, had reached the end of their economic life. This work is now complete.

To bring life and activity to Harbour Esplanade during its development, Places Victoria has funded Hortus, a glasshouse with an edible plant installation, cafe and outdoor environment.

The project has been delivered by Utopian Folk, which links the professional and creative worlds of contemporary Melbourne art gallery Utopian Slumps and Folk Architects, and has been delivered with in-kind support from local companies assisting with the design, construction and fit-out. 

Stage three and beyond - in planning 

The Harbour Esplanade Master Plan is a framework for the future development of a flexible, adaptive and changing event space by the water. It includes an eight-metre-wide waterfront promenade spanning the length of Harbour Esplanade and seven key zones:

  • An Urban Plaza Zone at the southern end of Harbour Esplanade including a green area and improved east-west connections and crossings for pedestrians
  • An Exhibition and Events Zone, with flexible spaces that can be activated for events and exhibitions. This area will include some buildings and the potential for restored heritage sheds or elements of heritage sheds
  • A Water Transport Zone, making provision for a future ferry terminal
  • A Central Entrance and Service Zone, providing a key entry point to Central Pier and a flexible area for transport services during events
  • A Recreation Zone at the northern end of Harbour Esplanade featuring a water play space for families, a green area and improved east-west connections and crossings for pedestrians. This area will also include some buildings and the potential for restored heritage sheds or elements of heritage sheds, however views from LaTrobe Street to the harbour will be protected.
  • A Heritage Vessel Zone, making provision for heritage vessels to be moored in the harbour
  • An Active Street Edge Zone which will see the improvement of the eastern street edge in front of Etihad Stadium

The Harbour Esplanade Master is informed by community feedback from engagement in 2014. The community will continue to have the opportunity to provide feedback on future stages of Harbour Esplanade’s redevelopment. 

Download the Harbour Esplanade Master Plan Overview

Download the Harbour Esplanade Master Plan (this file is 19MB and has also been divided into three documents for easier downloading: part 1, part 2 and part 3)

Download the Harbour Esplanade Community Engagement Summary


Central Pier

Places Victoria is the custodian of the historic Central Pier on behalf of the Victorian Government and the people of Victoria. The 350 metre extension into the waterways of Victoria Harbour is almost 100 years old and, together with Harbour Esplanade, forms the centrepiece of Docklands.

In 2006, Places Victoria entered into a lease agreement with Corporate Events Australia and The Atlantic Group, which saw the historic sheds on Central Pier restored for function spaces, offices and restaurants. The lease ensures that the use of Central Pier is maximised in the short to medium-term while providing flexibility to develop a long-term vision for the development of the area.

Central Pier’s Shed 9 is now one of the largest event spaces in Melbourne and Shed 14 is home to the Woolshed Pub, the artisan bread house Mill & Bakery, Italian eatery Va Bene and cocktail bar Alumbra.

Places Victoria’s long-term vision for Central Pier is for it to become the most significant public water site in Victoria – a lively, interactive public hub at the centre of Docklands that will become a major destination for residents, workers and visitors of Docklands.