FEATURE: Why Brisbane Powerhouse is about to become an even stronger river hub

Words by Fiona Maxwell, CEO Brisbane Powerhouse


Someone said to me once that "when you go to Paris, you don't write home and say I saw the Eiffel Tower". Because that's what everyone does.

You’re more likely to say, "I found this café that only French people were at." And I think that's what the Brisbane Powerhouse is for people visiting Brisbane.

It’s become a part of Brisbane’s lexicon that residents will at least once in their life say the words “we should take them to the Powerhouse” when they have family and friends visiting from outside the city.

And that’s just the way we like it.

The great thing about the Powerhouse is that it’s a unique experience, and that we do bring visitors from interstate and overseas to truly experience the river, the park and our temperate lifestyle.

In just over a year the Brisbane Powerhouse will celebrate its 20th year as a cultural keystone for Brisbane’s residents, and their visitors, alike.

The Brisbane River, and the Powerhouse’s connection to it both physically and historically, is particularly salient. And that connection is about to become even stronger thanks to the installation of one of the first River Hubs. 

Becoming a cultural anchor between the city and the bay

The Brisbane Powerhouse’s feet are firmly in the river. And it’s about to become even moreso.

It sits on Humbug Reach but few people know the name. Long before the Powerhouse was here this point on the river was significant for Indigenous people. When the Powerhouse was built to power Brisbane's light rail, the relationship to the river became critical because the coal came in on coal barges.

It's designed to cope with flooding and all sorts of tidal events. Of course it has seen, and has withstood the 1974 flood, the 2011 floods, and all manner of inundation in between.

But the crazy thing about Brisbane is that up until now there were so few opportunities where, in a tourist or private craft, you could moor along the river. The Brisbane River is this amazing kind of squiggle that carves back and forth through our city, so it seems logical to want so much more connectivity.

So that’s why we’re extremely excited to see the River Hub be installed just in front of the Powerhouse - one of the first River Hub pontoons on the waterfront.

It will have three big piers. One will be for tourism craft, and quite substantial tourism craft. You will be able to get on a boat from the Powerhouse and shoot out to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or the cruise ship terminal, or connect to island ferries.

The second pier will be for motorised private craft, and we're hoping that some of our neighbours across the river, with the stunning yachts, might just drop by for coffee occasionally. The opportunity for more boats to come down the river and moor in front of the Powerhouse would be stunning.

The third pier is for the passive craft, those human-powered things. We've seen the success of Riverlife - there's such demand and interest, so canoes and kayaks entering from this part of the river will be just wonderful.

Even more opportunities to connect the city all the way to the bay

When more of these River Hubs are in place, as well as more private moorings, we'll see river taxis or even river Uber help connect more people to the city, the river reaches and further out to the bayside.

The connectivity to the cruise ship terminal will be an incredible opportunity for visitors to fully embrace what the river has to offer. It will also create a natural gallery that showcases artists and works along the river, which the Powerhouse is particularly excited about.

And besides all that, having a fully connected river and bayside that encourages a showcase of culture as much as it does food and our envious outdoor lifestyle is something to which most river-based businesses and attractions can aspire.