Howard Smith Wharves (HSW) has quickly become a Brisbane icon since launching in late 2018. Now it’s set to get even better, with the Queensland government funding the construction of three new pontoons at the precinct.

The $5.5 million project was announced on Saturday, with tourism minister Kate Jones saying describing it as an “absolute game changer” for Brisbane. One of the pontoons – set to open by the end of the year – will provide direct ferry service to North Stradbroke Island.

For many Brisbane locals it will be a much easier and faster way to get to the island, compared to driving to the ferry terminal at Cleveland, located 30 kilometres from the city centre. According to the government, the new service will take just 40 minutes.

“This new river terminal will mean you can have a drink or something to eat at a restaurant, jump on a boat and be relaxing on an island within 40 minutes,” Jones said in a statement.

HSW CEO Luke Fraser said the pontoons will add to Brisbane’s river-city appeal.

“HSW is excited to be working with the state government to deliver this essential infrastructure, which will play an important role in unlocking the tourism potential of the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay,” he said.

Ferries between HSW and North Stradbroke Island are set to commence by the end of 2020. The other pontoons will open soon after.