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You know summer is near when Arbory Afloat starts kicking again. Every year the whopping Yarra River bar is completely rebuilt and reopens with a fresh look inspired by a balmy international spot.

In the past we’ve seen the 69-metre-long pontoon kitted out to evoke Palm Springs, the French Riviera and Italy’s Cinque Terre region. Last year’s Miami Vice theme even included a little pink-and-aqua pool on the upper deck.

This year, in light of the current mood, the team is aiming for something simpler and more relatable: Aussie beach culture – which is fitting, given the fact that domestic travel is the only kind of possible holiday on the cards for the near future.

In another appropriate kitschy Australiana touch, this year's staff uniform (and face masks) were designed by Melbourne-based musical duo Client Liaison.

Afloat's pizza range has been bolstered and it's joined by newcomers such as lobster spaghetti al cartoccio. The full menu is still being finalised, but expect jazzed up takes on Aussie classics. For drinks, there’s the usual roster of summer-friendly cocktails with a particular focus on Piña Coladas.

The big draw is upstairs on the second level – an eight by 2.5 metre pool, around which you’ll find double bay beds with custom manoeuvrable shades that can be positioned whether you want to hide from, or be mates with, the sun. That hasn't reopened yet – it's just downstairs for now – but it's coming soon.

You'll still be able to book out cabanas this year too. They can be transformed from a lounging day bed for about eight people into a dining area, thanks to a pop-out middle section. The cabanas are fully enclosed with lights and fans, and awnings can be opened or shut depending on the desired level of privacy.

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Updated: May 27th, 2021

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