Studley Park Boathouse has been one of Melbourne’s most popular riverside destinations since its establishment in 1863. Now, after serving guests for 160 years, the heritage-listed site is entering a new era. Plans for a major revamp have been in development since its acquisition in 2020 by the Australian Venue Co (behind Melbourne bars and restaurants such as The Espy, Morris House and Prince Alfred Hotel). After closing to the public towards the end of last year, a transformative, $5.8 million renovation commenced last November.

Ten months later, the boathouse is back and ready for visitors again. Upstairs is the Conservatory dining room, with river views and sunlight pouring in through its floor-to-ceiling windows. Downstairs, you’ll find the Pavilion bar, which opens onto a large outdoor dining area and the new, multi-level waterfront deck. Meanwhile The Perch, the boathouse’s new cafe, will be serving daily takeaway and weekend brunch. There’s also a woodfired pizzeria and a pop-up gelato cart appended to the main building.

The interiors’ white timber and rattan furniture make the boathouse feel modern but inviting. Outside, the exterior has swapped out the distinctive burgundy roof for a shade of light grey, while the weatherboard walls have been repainted a fresh white with green detailing, allowing the building to blend in with the nearby eucalyptus trees and natural parkland.

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The approachable menu has a range of small plates, classic dishes, salads and woodfired pizzas, which will be available throughout the entire venue. Expect old favourites like a hand-crumbed chicken schnitzel topped with parmesan, capers and peppercorns. There’s also a salmon fillet with pickled fennel, orange, lemon and dill, and a battered local rockling with house salad and fries. Pizza choices include margherita, meatball with pickled onion and blue cheese, and a chicken and pesto with Meredith goat’s cheese and pine nuts.

The fully Victorian wine list prioritises wines produced within 100 kilometres of Studley Park. There are 16 drops available by the glass, as well as the new Boathouse Paddle, which offers five 50-mil pours accompanied by a virtual guided tour led by head of wine Matt Skinner, accessible through a QR code.

There are plenty of activities to enjoy outside too. Kayaks and canoes are available for hire, and for those wanting to enjoy both a boat ride and a beverage, there’s the “Row-sé” package, which includes a boat hire with a glass of rosé, followed by a woodfired pizza and gelato for dessert upon your return to the boathouse. Family activities are a big focus: there’s a program offering guided tours for kids, as well as gardening and pizza-making workshops. You can also look forward to live music from Friday to Sunday.

Studley Park Boathouse
1 Boathouse Rd, Kew
(03) 8563 0028

Mon to Thu 8am–9.30pm
Fri & Sat 8am–late
Sun 8am–9.30pm