Bumper crowds turn out for the Melbourne Boat Show as tills ring for local businesses 

Brendan Rees

The Melbourne Boat Show in Docklands has been hailed a huge success after crowds of about 30,000 turned out for the four-day event.

The show’s organiser, the Boating Industry Association of Victoria (BIAV), said pent-up demand from two years of COVID cancellations had contributed to the record crowds, which tripled their expectations. 

“We are very pleased with the overall event,” BIAV’s chief executive Steve Walker said, noting it also provided a boost to local shops, cafes, and restaurants, but “very importantly, a lot of our exhibitors got really good value out of it”. 

“The appetite for boats and boating lifestyle is growing,” he said. 

The 60 exhibitors who lined up at NewQuay Promenade said the event had provided a “great vibe” to the precinct and was the “best Melbourne show for many years”.

Visitors were spoiled for choice with activities ranging from on-water boat displays and trials to waterfront boat displays, a marketplace, musical entertainment, a seafood cooking demonstration, a Welcome to Boating Hub for new people to boating, and more.

The boat show also saw the Ice Hockey Australia National Championships at the O’Brien Icehouse held on the same weekend of October 22-23, as well as the World Supercross Australian Grand Prix at Marvel Stadium – delivering a much-needed economic stimulus for Docklands in its post-pandemic bounce back.   


Docklands Chamber of Commerce executive officer Shane Wylie said all three events were a big win with local businesses seeing a positive uptick in trade. 


“Restaurants were at capacity, and it had such a friendly vibe,” he said. 

“It was such a sight to see the entire promenade filled with boats and traders and what a glorious vision with the Enterprize [Melbourne’s tall ship] moored up at Cargo and Berth.”

“Pedestrian counts were enormous and truly translated to increase retail spends. We hope the event stays in Docklands permanently.”

Rachel Crook from The Yacht Sales Co said they had enjoyed a strong show with a consistent flow of visitors. 

“We will be back next year and are definitely happy to have the Melbourne Boat Show back on the calendar,” she said. 

MY Marine’s Theo Rozakis was also upbeat, saying, “We’re really happy, it had a great vibe, a lot of buyers, and even on Saturday morning when it was raining, they kept coming.” 

“The local businesses seemed to get a boost also. It looks like a good future model.”

The BIAV will complete an event review, consult with the industry and work towards a boat show plan for 2023 that will be best for exhibitors.  

Asked whether the boat show would return to Docklands next year, Mr Walker said it depended on their financial model but noted, “We like the on-water component and the outdoors”.

The Ice Hockey Australia National Championships also attracted a “huge following of fans” at the O’Brien Icehouse with the Victorian women’s team taking out gold while the Victorian men’s team won bronze.  

President of Ice Hockey Victoria Maureen Black said the tournaments went “very well” with the Icehouse being “so accommodating, as we had a lot of people and equipment coming through the venue constantly; they opened up all available spaces for use to utilise”.

“We had both tournaments’ dinners at Urban Alley Brewery restaurant [at the District Docklands] which were just wonderful serving so many people all at once. Hoyts bought Ben and Jerry ice cream samples to hand out on the final day; they also donated movie tickets and Costco donated some chocolates,” she said. •


Captions: The Melbourne Boat Show brought a huge economic boost to Docklands.

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