Premium function venue and cafe to bring Marion Mahony’s legacy to Regatta Point

James Coleman 22 December 2021 16

Dining in the Marion. Photo: Grand Pacific Group (GPG).

We all (kind of) know the story of how Canberra came to be.

Australia needed a new capital city, so the design was opened up to the world as a competition.

Walter Burley Griffin, a budding architect in Chicago, submitted his detailed designs and the next thing he knew, he was in Canberra, helping bring them to life.

But Walter wasn’t alone.

READ ALSO: Pop-up wine bar brings rural winery to Lake Burley Griffin this summer

2021 marks the 150th birthday of his wife, Marion Mahony, and a number of exhibitions and events here in Canberra have celebrated the part she had to play in making out city what it is today. There will be more than a party, though, as a new function centre and café will open at Regatta Point, called – quite simply – The Marion.

Regatta Point render

A render of The Marion at Regatta Point, as it will look from the outside. Image: Grand Pacific Group (GPG).

The 180-seat capacity function centre and café will sit on the prime piece of real estate at the heart of Canberra and promises a unique venue for weddings, celebrations and corporate events.

Having welcomed the Canberra and Region Visitor Centre to Regatta Point in 2016 and completed the upgrade of the National Capital Exhibition in late 2018, the café was the only remaining portion of the building awaiting a transformation.

READ ALSO: Femininity not forgotten in Ancient Greek blockbuster at National Museum of Australia

Construction on The Marion began in July 2020 and was expected to be completed in November 2021, but COVID-19 delays pushed it deep into 2022.

It will be the first interstate venue for the Grand Pacific Group (GPG), which has been on the scene for 19 years and are the masterminds behind several well-known Sydney restaurants, including The Blue Room at Bondi and The Tea Room in Sydney’s QVB. They were looking for an opportunity outside NSW when Lake Burley Griffin caught their eye.

GPG approached the National Capital Authority (NCA) with their plans to revitalise the space with a building that honours Canberra’s matriarch.

The Marion’s marketing manager Emma O’Sullivan says Walter’s long-time creative collaborator has gone largely undocumented and unrecognised.

“We credit her by naming the stunning lakeside vantage after her. In addition, there will be a smaller, more accessible yet delicious café that will be open within the building, which will be named The Walter. We want to continue to celebrate this marriage of minds but highlight Marion in a bigger way than she has been honoured before.”

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony. Photo: File.

H&E Architects were commissioned with the design, and the building’s importance wasn’t lost on them either.

“Marion Mahony was an incredible architect in her own right,” architect Hames Sharley says.

“As a woman beginning her career in the 1890s, being able to stand on her own two feet was no easy task for Mahony, despite her clear talent.”

The floor plan includes several dining spaces and a café, with indoor and outdoor options for both. There will also be a dance floor, bar and private ‘bridal room’ for special occasions, all with sprawling views over the lake.


The dining room under construction in early December 2021. Photo: National Capital Authority (NCA).

The menu is still under wraps at the moment, but Emma assures that with some exceptionally talented chefs coming from top restaurants in Sydney and overseas, we can expect great things. The last few months have seen the management team scouting local growers and wineries to highlight.

“The approach will showcase the best of what Australian producers have to offer with honest, unpretentious dishes that are super delicious,” Emma says.

GPG is tight-lipped on the exact opening date for the restaurant and café, but the development page on the National Capital Authority notes that the current program should see it open by early May 2022.

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16 Responses to Premium function venue and cafe to bring Marion Mahony’s legacy to Regatta Point
Lauraine Hampton Lauraine Hampton 3:20 pm 27 Dec 21

What an amazing idea.I t will be beautiful placed at Regatta Point.

Lorraine Weinman Lorraine Weinman 11:48 am 27 Dec 21

She was an amazing artist, and I think she won the competition for Walter.

    Sean Hogan Sean Hogan 11:17 am 28 Dec 21

    Lorraine Weinman she definitely did. All those famous watercolours of the early scheme were her work, and when you're charged with doing all the leg work, it's inevitable that a lot of her own ideas went into the scheme.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:31 am 27 Dec 21

Any car parking there yet?

That’s the overriding factor why no one goes there.

    nealg nealg 12:23 pm 27 Dec 21

    Typical negativity from you, do you ever have anything positive to say about things in Canberra? When was the last time you were there? There are hundreds of car parking spaces in the area, many also for buses. You say no one goes there, on what evidence do you base that? Certainly not my experience.

    Maya123 Maya123 12:03 pm 29 Dec 21

    I cycle there. Plenty of places to park a bicycle, even it’s it’s only a street post.

Lynn Nicholas Lynn Nicholas 8:17 am 27 Dec 21

Great that this tired and under utilised space has been given a revamp. However, I’m guessing it will be a high end establishment with high end prices

    Lynn Harden Lynn Harden 10:57 am 29 Dec 21

    That was my first thought too. Its been an irregular coffee and lunch stop with friends and dogs (on the deck). I hope its not priced out of common sense.

Andy Wiford Andy Wiford 6:10 am 27 Dec 21

Why do we call them Marion Mahony and Walter Burley?

Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 5:41 am 27 Dec 21

She was an amazing artist, her renders are stunning. Do I think a cafe is a fitting tribute? Not really, sounds like ticking a box rather than true apreciation, workshop studio spaces wouls be more appropriate.

Deborah Fulton Deborah Fulton 10:02 pm 26 Dec 21

Finally doing something productive and worth visiting on that site 👍🏼

Sally Tregellas Wodzinska Sally Tregellas Wodzinska 6:48 pm 26 Dec 21


Kate Mccooly Kate Mccooly 6:29 pm 26 Dec 21

Hmmm, This site is where I'd like to see an international standard theatre and performance space and I'd welcome discussion or comment.

    Peter Hislop Peter Hislop 10:18 pm 26 Dec 21

    Kate Mccooly Well said. I'd welcome a professional standard recital hall anywhere in Canberra. Regatta Point is a good starting point for a discussion. The current two venues are 80 seats and 1400 seats, so there's a huge gap in the 400-500 seat range.

    Kate Mccooly Kate Mccooly 11:39 am 27 Dec 21

    I'd really like to see something bigger, for ballet and opera companies, orchestras etc. CBR is the nations capital and I reckon we should have something to rival the SOH for instance. No reason it could not hold a a mid sized recital hall as well.

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