Elizabeth Quay inlet with the Perth CBD in the background.

Elizabeth Quay is a mixed-use development project in the Perth central business district. Encompassing an area located on the north shore of Perth Water near the landmark Swan Bells, the precinct was named in honour of Queen Elizabeth II during her Diamond Jubilee.[1][2][3]

The project includes construction of an artificial inlet on what was previously the Esplanade Reserve, and modifications to the surrounding environs including Barrack Square, with the project opening nine sites for potential development.[4] Completed facilities were initially projected to include 1,700 residential apartments, 150,000 square metres (1.6 million square feet) of office space and 39,000 square metres (0.42 million square feet) of retail space.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel upon completion, viewed from Elizabeth Quay Bridge.

Planning Minister John Day and Premier Colin Barnett turned the first ground at the Esplanade Reserve on 26 April 2012,[5][6] and Barnett announced the name "Elizabeth Quay" on 28 May 2012.[1] Construction of the inlet and associated infrastructure were completed in January 2016, ahead of the Perth International Arts Festival and Fringe World.[7] The quay was officially opened on 29 January 2016.[8] Construction of the associated buildings will be completed at varying times thereafter, with the first – The Ritz Carlton Hotel and an adjacent residential tower – opening on 15 November 2019.[9]


The Elizabeth Quay precinct is centred around an artificial inlet that opens to the Swan River at its south. At the eastern side of the mouth of the inlet is an islet, which contains the Florence Hummerston Kiosk (which hosts a hospitality complex), the Bessie Rischbieth statue and a playground, and is connected to the eastern shore by a short bridge and to the western shore by the longer Elizabeth Quay Bridge, a pedestrian and cycling bridge which spans the mouth of the inlet.

On the eastern shore are 24 public short stay moorings for recreational boats, as well as the Meet Our Australian Sailor sculpture on the south-eastern shore near the islet. The eastern side contains a 28-storey Ritz Carlton hotel and an adjacent residential tower, as well as two smaller buildings containing food and beverage outlets. The north shore, designated "The Landing", features the sculpture Spanda at its centre, with a carousel immediately west of the public artwork. Directly north of The Landing, across Geoffrey Bolton Avenue which bisects the area from west to east, is the 19-storey Nine The Esplanade office tower development (under construction as of August 2023), with the 29-storey Australian headquarters of Chevron Corporation located in the north-east of the precinct.[10] To the north-west, adjacent to the Nine The Esplanade development, is an empty lot yet to be developed as of August 2023; this lot has been slated for the future 56-storey Fifteen The Esplanade mixed-use development.[11]

The western shore features the Elizabeth Quay Jetty for Transperth ferry services to South Perth as well as commercial moorings. To the north-west is a shaded water park and play area and a building containing public toilets and a food and beverage outlet, with the mixed-use EQ West development consisting of two towers (52-storeys and 25-storeys, under construction as of August 2023) taking up the rest of the precinct to its west and south-west. The art piece First Contact stands on the south-west shore, near the western entry to the Elizabeth Quay Bridge.

Announcement and construction

Construction works in November 2013

In February 2011, Premier Colin Barnett and Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi confirmed plans for the project and funding which included $270 million from the 2011/12 state budget.[12] The total government outlay would be $440 million with $134 million recovered from property sales to developers.[citation needed]

The project created significant changes to adjacent features such as Riverside Drive,[13] Barrack Square and environs.[14] Other nearby sites such as Supreme Court Gardens and Langley Park were affected through changes in use or additional use. Nearby heritage listed Lawson Apartments and the Weld Club were affected due to pile driving and obstruction of views.

Construction works in October 2015

The JJ Talbot Hobbs memorial, a feature of Anzac Day ceremonies for over sixty years, was relocated to the entrance of the Supreme Court Gardens. The Esplanade Kiosk, built in 1927 in the Federation Arts and Crafts style, was dismantled and rebuilt, brick by brick, as a kiosk on the island feature in the new inlet.[15]

While some of the trees in the reserve and surrounding areas were retained, the Moreton Bay Figs along Barrack Street were removed and replaced with London plane trees.

Construction works of buildings on east side of Elizabeth Quay, in May 2018

The State Government identified project returns in the order of $1.7 million on the sale of real estate sites to commercial developers, with the whole development projected as a $2.6 billion investment opportunity.[16] There was debate on the speculative nature of the estimates.[17][18]

The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority[19] launched a publicity campaign for the development, with the slogan "The river. The city. Together again."[20][21] and also had a range of panels on screens surrounding the development site repeating anecdotes about the former esplanade area, as well as text of the material found on the website, and other public relations material.

On 21 April 2012, the MRA released new design guidelines for the development and called for submissions on a second amendment to the Metropolitan Region Scheme.[22] The Minister for Planning granted approval for public comment on the redevelopment scheme and amendments, and the Metropolitan Redevelopment Board approved the Draft Perth Waterfront Design Guidelines.[23][24] MRA chairman Eric Lumsden made comment on the MRA role in the process.[25]

Looking east across the Esplanade Reserve in February 2012 prior to construction commencement


ARM Architecture were the architects on the development. Urban planner Richard Weller was a lead consultant.[26] Weller also had made comment in his book Boomtown 2050 about the development as an experiment on bringing in new high rise development in the CBD.[27]

The Perth firm Hocking Heritage Studio has identified its involvement with the project.[28][further explanation needed]

Leighton Contractors and its parent CIMIC Group, were awarded the principal construction contract in December 2012.[29] Construction included a new inlet, associated roads, parks, promenades, and an island with connecting bridge within a 10 hectares (25 acres) parcel of land. The contract value was $210 million as at 31 December 2012.

Opposition campaigns

Ritz-Carlton hotel

Following the announcement, the proposals created extensive public debate and opposition due to its supposed failure to sustain respect for heritage, and potential risks to the ecology of the river.[30][31][32][33][34][35]

At a "Foreshore Forum" in 2011, organised by the History Council of Western Australia,[36] speakers examined the history and heritage of the site, and expressed concerns about the way in which the heritage aspects of the site were to be interpreted. Speakers suggested that a thorough archaeological examination of the site for European artefacts associated with the early commercial maritime activities and later recreational bathing activities on the site should be included as part of any digging for the proposed inlet.[37] Subsequent discoveries during the excavation process have included a set of timber poles and timber "steps", consistent with pier construction of the 19th century and the formwork for the Barrack Square retaining wall.[38][39][40]

A protest against the waterfront plan outside Parliament House on 13 June 2012

Concerns were raised about the impact on the Perth road network resulting from the diversion of Riverside Drive traffic around the new inlet.[41][42][43]

As part of the proposed works the Graham Farmer Freeway had additional lanes installed in the Northbridge Tunnel to encourage motorists to bypass the city. The Royal Automobile Club raised early concerns that loss of the emergency lanes might affect emergency response times.[44] Although a tunnel, either under the inlet, or as part of one of the suggested alternative schemes, has previously been dismissed, the suggestion that a tunnel might be built at some time in the future has not been totally dismissed.[45]

A lobby group named "City Gatekeepers" headed by urban planner Linley Lutton was formed to oppose the plans. The group described the plans as being "badly flawed" and forced through without opportunity for public consultation or comment.[46] Between 500 and 2000 people (depending on the source of the crowd estimate)[47] attended a protest rally organised by the group on the Esplanade on 26 February 2012.[48] Kate Doust, MLC, presented two petitions against the development, one with 8667 signatures and a second with 662 signatures, to the Western Australian Legislative Council on 6 March 2012.[49] A third petition, containing 1,117 signatures, was tabled on 29 March 2012. The City Gatekeepers also released a number of alternative concept designs, one of which included a landbridge over Riverside Drive, and all featuring the retention of all or most of the Esplanade, based upon the heritage values of the site.[50]

Similar comments have been made by other planning and design professionals and by the Western Australian Policy Forum.[18][51]

CityVision also released a number of alternative plans.[52]

Supporters of the project noted that the parcel of land was reclaimed from the Swan River in the 1930s,[53] leading to questions of its heritage value as a decades-old predominantly grassed area and road.


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Water quality in water park

Less than a month after its opening, the water park was forced to close in February 2016 due to widespread contamination with the bacterium known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.[54] The approvals for opening the park in January were rushed through with special powers and lack of testing, as reported when the park re-opened in December 2016.[55]

Since 2017, the water park has been operated and maintained by Royal Life Saving WA, which checks water quality daily, and performs a deep clean once a year.[56]

Water quality in inlet

A proposed triathlon leg to be swum in the inlet was cancelled in March 2016 due to high levels of fecal bacteria.[57] During the 2012 planning top water experts and experienced river users had commented about the poor flow in front of that section: "...the stretch of the Swan River in front of the city was the worst flushing part of the entire system. ...There was an old timer who came by when we were in the boat and said, 'Jorg, why are they building this thing over there? When I was a kid all the garbage used to collect in that corner'." Similar comments were published from long-time cruise operators in the region.[58] The inlet was officially excised from the river so is only subject to monthly water testing by a private contractor, in contrast to the government weekly testing of the main river water.[59]

View of the Florence Hummerston Kiosk with the Perth CBD in the background

EQ West development

The design and placement of the southern tower of the EQ West development in the west of Elizabeth Quay has been criticised by the Bali Memorial Association for disrupting a key design element of the Bali memorial in Kings Park. The memorial, which was built in 2003 and designed so that a shaft of sunlight would fall between two columns and illuminate a plaque with the names of 16 Western Australian victims of the 2002 Bali bombings at sunrise on the anniversary of the bombings on October 12 each year, had this aspect of the memorial disrupted as the 52-storey building gained height and began to block the intended sunlight as it continued construction in 2022.[60]


The Esplanade Busport and Esplanade railway station were renamed as the Elizabeth Quay Bus Station and Elizabeth Quay railway station shortly after the Quay's opening in January 2016.[61]

Transperth runs ferries between Elizabeth Quay Jetty and Mends Street Jetty at South Perth,[62] and an electric ferry service operates between Elizabeth Quay ferry terminal and Claisebrook Cove.[63]

A cable car to Kings Park has been allowed for in the plans, although this is not included in the initial phase.[64]

Public art

Several pieces of public art adorn Elizabeth Quay, which include:

See also


  1. ^ a b "Redeveloped waterfront name unveiled". ABC News. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  2. ^ Cardy, Todd (2012). Perth Waterfront precint (sic) will be called Elizabeth Quay – PerthNow. Published 28 May 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  3. ^ About Elizabeth Quay Archived 10 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Map of Elizabeth Quay". Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  5. ^ Trenwith, Courtney (2012). Work begins on $440 million Perth Waterfront projectThe Sydney Morning Herald. Published 26 April 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  6. ^ Perth waterfront works commence – ABCNews. Published 26 April 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  7. ^ "A Bridge Closer to Elizabeth Quay Opening". Archived from the original on 24 December 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Elizabeth Quay, Perth CBD's new $440m showpiece, finally opened to public". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 January 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Perth's Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel open for business". The West. 15 November 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Chevron moves into new WA headquarters at Elizabeth Quay". The West. 2 April 2023. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  11. ^ "Lot 5 Elizabeth Quay". Brookfield Properties. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  12. ^ "Latest Perth waterfront redevelopment gets a cash boost". WAToday. 15 February 2011.
  13. ^ Extra freeway lane to ease congestion – ABCNews. Published 4 March 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  14. ^ "Barrack Square transformation gets green light". Metropolitan Development Authority. 24 January 2012. Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  15. ^ Florence Hummerston finds new home at Elizabeth Quay Archived 19 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Published 11 November 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  16. ^ Perth Waterfront Project Overview Information Sheet Archived 22 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  17. ^ Thomson, Chris (2012). Waterfront secrecy slammed – One Perth. Published 5 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  18. ^ a b An Ugly, Stupid Idea—the Perth Waterfront Archived 27 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine – WA Policy Forum. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  19. ^ "Act and Scheme". Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. 24 January 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  20. ^ "About Perth Waterfront". Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. 5 April 2012. Archived from the original on 11 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  21. ^ "Perth Waterfront [advertisement]". The Weekend West. 14–15 April 2012. p. 58.
  22. ^ Perth Waterfront design guide revealed Archived 3 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Published 21 April 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
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  24. ^ The West Australian, 25 April 2012, page 44, Classified advertisements – Notification of proposed Amendment No.2 to Redevelopment Scheme 2 and Draft Perth Waterfront Design Guidelines
  25. ^ The West Australian, 25 April 2012, page 21 Perth's transformation depends on careful planning
  26. ^ "Leading landscape architect Richard Weller to head Urban Design Centre". The University of Western Australia. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  27. ^ Section pages 355–359 for Perth's New Waterfront with a sub-heading A 'Sky City' test case, and images from 'Ashton Raggatt McDougall' on pages 354,355,358-359 which collectively represent an earlier design scenario. See also 'Vertical Scenarios' 313-353 to understand the general argument for vertical developments, and also pp. 138–139 for newspaper clipping extracts regarding resistance to high rise development in Perth circa 2007–2008 Weller, Richard; Weller, Richard (2009), Boomtown 2050 : scenarios for a rapidly growing city (1st ed.), UWA Publishing, ISBN 978-1-921401-21-3
  28. ^ "Perth Waterfront: Department of Planning". Hocking Heritage Studio. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  29. ^ "Elizabeth Quay". CPB Contractors. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  30. ^ Thomson, Chris (2010). Heritage showdown dogs Langley Park – OnePerth. Published 5 November 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  31. ^ Bannister, Brooke (2012). Perth's waterfront development debate – 720 ABC Perth. Published 21 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  32. ^ Thomas, Beatrice (2012). Splash pool in waterfront vision[permanent dead link]The West Australian. Published 23 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  33. ^ Thomas, Beatrice (2013). Waterfront quarrel over land value Archived 1 July 2012 at archive.todayThe West Australian. Published 2 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  34. ^ Mullany, Ashlee (2012). Architects challenge foreshore plan – PerthNow. Published 18 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  35. ^ Extract from Hansard [ASSEMBLY — Tuesday, 28 February 2012] p357c-359a Mr Michael Sutherland; Mr John Day; Mrs Michelle Roberts; Speaker
  36. ^ "More than grass: exploring the Esplanade". History Council of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  37. ^ Gaye Nayton (6 January 2012). "Foreshore treasure: The potential archaeology of the buried Port of Perth" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  38. ^ Anthony Deceglie; Peter Law (8 March 2014). "Historic find: Work stopped on Elizabeth Quay after wooden beams dug up". Perth Now. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  39. ^ Alyesha Anderson (25 September 2014). "Discovery of potentially historic stairs stops work on part of Elizabeth Quay waterfront project". Perth Now. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  40. ^ "HARBOUR AND RIVER IMPROVEMENTS". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 18 August 1905. p. 2. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
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  42. ^ Traffic Chaos Archived 18 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine – thecitygatekeepers. Retrieved 24 March 2012
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  44. ^ Harvey, Ben and Alex Massey (2011). Waterfront traffic woes surface Archived 22 February 2011 at the Wayback MachineThe West Australian. Published 17 February 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2012
  45. ^ Parker, Gareth and Beatrice Thomas (2011). Lib MP urges tunnel under river inlet Archived 18 July 2012 at archive.todayThe West Australian. Published 10 November 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2012
  46. ^ "Our Objectives". thecitygatekeepers.com.au. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
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  49. ^ Petition against waterfront presented to Parliament – WA Business News (subscription-only content). Published 6 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
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  52. ^ Perth Waterfront Proposals – CityVision. Published 7 January 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  53. ^ "RIVER RECLAMATION.". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 25 May 1934. p. 23. Retrieved 5 March 2012
  54. ^ "Department knew of bacteria week before water playground shutdown: report". ABC News. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  55. ^ "Trouble-plagued Elizabeth Quay water park reopens". ABC News. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  56. ^ "Annual deep clean for BHP Water Park at Elizabeth Quay". 26 July 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  57. ^ "Perth Triathlon Nixes Swim Over Really High & Really Gross Bacteria Levels - Pedestrian TV". Pedestrian TV. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  58. ^ "Drainage set to be Quay issue | Community News Group". Community News Group. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
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  60. ^ "New skyscraper blocks light hitting as intended on Perth's Bali bombing memorial". ABC News. 30 October 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  61. ^ Smart names for Elizabeth Quay stations Archived 16 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine Minister for Transport 12 November 2015
  62. ^ Hayley Roman (1 February 2016). "Elizabeth Quay ferry services welcome first rush-hour commuters". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  63. ^ "Daily Service". Little Ferry Co. Archived from the original on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  64. ^ "The designs and ideas behind Perth's new waterfront". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  65. ^ "Spanda". Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  66. ^ "First Contact". Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  67. ^ Stephen Bevis (16 December 1015). "Giant bird comes home to roost at quay". The West Australian. Retrieved 2 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  68. ^ "Bessie Rischbieth Statue". Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority. Retrieved 2 February 2016.

Further reading

31°57′27″S 115°51′25″E / 31.9575°S 115.857°E / -31.9575; 115.857 (Elizabeth Quay)