7 November 2023

The Jetty on Lake Burley Griffin is Canberra's marquee location for summer

| James Coleman
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Andrew Barr and Glen Collins

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and The Jetty co-owner Glen Collins enjoying a Bentspoke. Photo: James Coleman.

There was a time when there was hardly a coffee to be found along all 5 km of Canberra’s bridge-to-bridge walk, but the National Capital Authority (NCA) estimates there is now one available roughly every 700 metres around Lake Burley Griffin.

And that’s before we get to the beer and fried chicken options.

The Jetty opened on Queen Elizabeth Terrace in the summer of 2021 as a series of vans and trailers from several local businesses, including Bentspoke, Fricken Chicken and Moku Music – all tied together with “pretty much just a tent”, constructed on the planks of the Jetty itself.

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Glen Collins and co-owners Jane Collins, Dean Ratsch, Rena Judd, Bailey Smith and Ben Alexander – who are also the names behind The Dock on the Kingston Foreshore – were awarded a $100,000 ACT Tourism Project Development Fund grant to replace the tent with a 50-by-20-metre marquee later that year.

The result is described as the first structure of its type in Australia, and The Jetty cracked open the beers to celebrate with government, business and media representatives during an official opening ceremony earlier this month.

The Jetty

The Jetty on Lake Burley Griffin. Photo: James Coleman.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr described the new-look venue as offering “the best view in Canberra”.

“It’s a very significant space for the nation, and people should be able to enjoy it. What I think we’ve got here is a really clever, innovative, well-designed partnership between a number of local businesses, the Territory Government and the Australian Government.”

Glen Collins said the grant funded “a good 25 per cent” of the cost of the marquee and said they’re now in good stead for the looming summer (and the return of Skyfire).

“We see ourselves being here for a decent amount of time … putting Canberra on the map as a place you can enjoy a beer on the water and enjoy some live music while you do.”

people inside a large marquee

Inside the marquee, described by The Jetty as the first structure of its kind in Australia. Photo: James Coleman.

Words like “activation” and “life” were bandied about during the speeches at the ceremony, so it’s clear The Jetty is the pit-stop passers-by desperately wanted.

“This is a great place to enjoy hospitality in Canberra,” Bentspoke CEO Jonathan Ward said.

“We hope there’ll be a great summer, with no rain and perfect 33.5 degrees every day, which is the best temperature for drinking beer!”

Every Saturday during spring, the Little Burley Markets takes over the Terrace with various stalls and pop-ups. Director Alex Webb said The Jetty gives people “somewhere to go” afterwards.

“The whole area is seeing a burst of life. The markets bring a lot of people to really create a hive, and now they’ve got somewhere to go. The area is holding people here.”

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The Jetty will let a number of other organisations use the marquee, too, including Rise Above Capital Region Cancer Relief and Water Polo ACT.

Water Polo ACT CEO Matt Turnbull said all the lake needs now is more water sports.

“Certainly, we’d want to activate the lake by playing water polo in it one day,” he said.

“I was actually just checking the area and making sure there were no shopping trolleys in it.”

The Jetty

One of the best views in Canberra. Photo: James Coleman.

NCA CEO Sally Barnes assured him there were no trolleys in the lake, and instead described it as Canberra’s “jewel in the crown”.

“We want people to come down with their friends and family and enjoy the environment and feel proud of Canberra and show Canberra off to their friends,” she said.

She confirmed the NCA was evaluating a tender for a floating sauna on the lake, and that the first seaplanes weren’t far away from landing.

“We’re always open to a great idea.”

Region enquired about a floating gym to match but was told this is unlikely. Something about “risk” if a weight is dropped too hard.

The Jetty, on Queen Elizabeth Terrace, is open from 7 am to 4 pm, Monday to Tuesday; 7 am to 9 pm, Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 7 am to 10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday. Visit the The Jetty for more information.

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Not The Mama3:03 pm 08 Nov 23

It’s sooooo uglyyyy – We are talking about a plastic and aluminium TENT that sits right in front of the view to some of Canberra’s most beautiful buildings housing our national institutions… I don’t mind a cafe/pub being there, but the quality of the building and the architectural value needs to be much higher to match the surroundings.

Hmm… it’s exactly what it’s meant to be. It does its job, a simple temporary space for folks to gather and enjoy a nice day. It does not need to be an architectural marvel. It seems some people just like to complain.

Capital Retro9:41 am 08 Nov 23

“She confirmed the NCA was evaluating a tender for a floating sauna on the lake, and that the first seaplanes weren’t far away from landing.”

Re the floating sauna, I just checked but today is not the 1st April. There must be hallucinatory mushrooms on the menu somewhere.

And the headwinds challenging the seaplanes between Sydney and Canberra must be strong.

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