Right as Melbourne emerged from its sixth lockdown, Arbory Afloat was raring to reopen for its sixth consecutive season – signaling that summer is just around the corner.

In 2020, the huge floating bar, which usually takes inspiration from international destinations, became an Aussie beach club. But this year it’s going back to its roots.

“[We’re] taking Melburnians to the Turquoise Coast of Turkey,” says Arbory’s marketing director, Georgie Larkins. And with each new theme comes a completely new look for the two-storey bar and eatery on the Yarra. “All the furniture and upholstery has been reimaged.”

This year it’s dominated by aqua, honey and pistachio hues, with 80-year-old olive trees (brought in from Swan Hill) a more literal nod to the Turkish Riviera. Meanwhile, tasselled umbrellas and thatched roofing add to the Mediterranean-beach-club vibe.

One notable mainstay, though, is Afloat’s rooftop pool, which is set to reopen for swimming as restrictions ease. But even if you’re not getting wet and wild, it’s the perfect backdrop for a boogie; there’ll be daily live DJ sets from now until it shuts up shop in autumn.

Spearheading this year’s food offering are Turkish-born chefs (and siblings) Nada Thomas and Salim Gafayri. Highlights include tombik – a style of doner kebab where shredded lamb is stuffed inside a fluffy, house-made flatbread along with chips and salad – and balik ekmek, a popular street food that swaps lamb for grilled fish and pepperoncini.

Plenty of vegetarian and vegan options round out the menu – from red-lentil kofte and saganaki drizzled with grape molasses to slow-roasted whole eggplant layered with almonds, bulgur and fresh herbs. There are also Mediterranean-inspired pizzas with toppings such as tomato, burrata, Tulum cheese (traditional Turkish goat’s cheese) and pomegranate molasses, and spiced ground lamb with lemon, sumac and onions.

Across two bars, there are eight cocktails on tap including a Turkish Delight Sour flavoured with rose liqueur, rosé vermouth, sour cherry and Davidson’s plum, plus “strong” Turkish teapot cocktails. There’s also another edition of Arbory Afloat’s exclusive pink gin, created in collaboration with Four Pillars. “We’ve partnered with them to make a pink gin for the last three years,” says Larkins. “This one has rosewater flavours through it.”

Arbory Afloat
2 Flinders Walk, Melbourne

Mon to Sun 11.30am–late