What's happening at Edwardes Lake Boathouse?

The latest information about the Boathouse at Edwardes Lake Park

The history of Edwardes Lake and the Boathouse

Edwardes Lake Park, nestled in Reservoir, boasts a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. Originally a quarry site, it was transformed into a recreational space in the 1920s, featuring a man-made lake for boating and swimming. Over the years, the park has evolved into a much-loved community hub, offering playgrounds, picnic and sheltered areas, and walking tracks. Its serene ambiance and diverse facilities continue to attract locals and visitors, embodying over a century of leisure and relaxation.

The Boathouse at Edwardes Lake Park stands as a historic landmark dating back to the park's establishment. Originally used for boating activities, it remains an iconic feature of the park but has stood unused for several decades and requires a significant capital investment to enable it to be used as a venue for dining or general public use.

This current Council see the potential in this venue and is committed to delivering the Boathouse back to the public and park users.

 

What’s happened so far?

Over the last 20 years, attempts to redevelop the Boathouse as café, restaurant, arts centre, or community hub have been unsuccessful with the most recent Expression of Interest process taking place pre-Covid.

In 2021, as part of the adoption of the Council Plan Action Plan 2021-2025, Council committed to updating Edwardes Lake Boathouse with the aim of finding a commercial operator to bring it to life as a venue or business. 

For this site to be successful, it needs to attract an experienced operator who has the vision to provide a venue that compliments the idyllic surrounding and is a place of destination for Darebin residents and park users.  We understand that to be attractive to commercial operators, the option to serve both food and alcohol would be important for sustaining a viable business.

While undertaking due diligence for this project in 2023, council officers identified that the original gifting deed of the land to the Council included a 1916 restrictive agreement which limits the sale or distribution of alcohol from the Boathouse. We are currently working to remove these limitations before committing any capital or seeking expressions of interest from restaurant operators. This has been a challenging task but is progressing well.

 

What’s next?

Edwardes Lake Boathouse was most recently discussed at a Special Council Meeting on 2 February 2024 and again at a Special Council Meeting on 12 February 2024.

At these meetings it was decided that as part of the 2024/25 budget process a report is to be developed exploring how we can progress towards finding a commercial operator to bring the Boathouse to life as a venue or business or refurbish it as a community space. The report will include:

  • The option of calling for expressions of interest in 2024 for operators of the venue on the basis that they would invest in any necessary works to the building.
  • The option of refurbishing the Boathouse to become a council-run community meeting space that can be booked by local groups for meetings.

     

You can watch the recording or view the outcome of the meeting on the Council & Committee Meetings page

At this time, our 4-year Capital Works Program includes $350,000 to invest in the Boathouse to support a long-term lease arrangement in the 2025-26 financial year. Improvement works will include toilets, air conditioning, plumbing, new windows and doors to the deck, and deck extension.

We will continue to update this article as the Edwardes Lake Boathouse project progresses.