Australia marina developments ramp up to meet demand

Marina in beautiful coastline

Maryanne Edwards, GMBA representative for Australia and New Zealand, sheds light on current marina developments in Australia and how investment is shaping the future.

As Australia sails onwards, now midway through 2023, there’s an air of positivity across the industry. Fears of Covid-19 lockdowns have disappeared over the horizon and Australian boat owners are looking to the future with renewed enthusiasm for the freedom boating provides. Yacht and recreational boat sales have remained strong in Australia, and superyacht sales continued to boom globally throughout 2022 and now into 2023.  There is considerable investment taking place across Australia in the marina sector to ensure Australia is well placed to meet current and future demands for their discerning domestic market and the ever-growing international superyacht traffic.

Investment in the marina sector was highlighted recently with listed alternative asset manager MA Financial taking a dive into the buoyant marine sector with the A$225 million acquisition of Sydney-based Balmain Corporation’s d’Albora Marina portfolio. The d’Albora Marina assets, comprising ten properties in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, will seed a new investment vehicle to be known as the MA Marina Fund, indicating that MA Financial plans to grow its investment in the sector.

Here, we provide a snapshot of the many developments in marina infrastructure and the continued investment in this industry sector from both the private and government sector with valued input from Suzanne Davies, CEO of the Marina Industries Association (MIA) and David Good, CEO of Superyacht Australia.

The Boat Works

Australia’s marine industry

Marinas in Australia are major providers of outdoor recreation contributing significantly to Australia’s economy. It is estimated that there are 296 marinas in Australia. With the new developments, and continued investment by both the private and public sector, the number of marinas is set to increase over the next few years, putting Australia in an enviable position in terms of its marina offerings, across all states.

The latest Australian marina industry data estimates that marinas generated A$732 million in revenues and employed approximately 26,000 persons. Marinas spent about $184 million on capital improvements, with 88 per cent of marinas investing in upgrades.

Suzanne Davies, CEO of Marina Industry Association and MIA president Andrew Chapman are positive about the long-term future for marinas as key activity hubs for recreational boating, tourism and related leisure activities for local communities. The association’s continued focus on quality standards and their continued commitment to providing valuable industry data and education services to their marina operators is seen as extremely valuable for the industry. 

Chapman comments in regard to the latest data provided by the MIA, that the findings indicated inadequacy of supply in many locations around the country. The data shows that strong occupancy rates and waitlists have continued to grow over the last decade despite an increase in storage spaces.  Chapman says: “This bodes well for the future of our industry as it indicates further opportunity, particularly given the increasing pipeline of new vessels on order from manufacturers – they are all going to need somewhere to store their boats.”

Superyacht berth demand rockets

Commenting on berthing facilities for the superyacht market, David Good, CEO Superyacht Australia, says: “Marinas will meet this demand as it is steady predictable income when they do, however there is a lag behind where boat sales have been and what berths are available. The 24-35m market has been very popular but there are not enough berths for these vessels in the locations they wish to go. Whitsundays for example was fully booked last year for winter and this year continues to operate at capacity. There is a lack of berths available in places like Perth and Sydney for these vessels, which according to sales brokers is limiting the size of vessels they can sell. If there are no berths, then where will the owner berth the vessel? It’s a chicken and the egg story. But I am confident the market will meet demand. The Spit Masterplan on the Gold Coast is encouraging more superyacht berths to be developed and the marina developers are certainly meeting this demand in what has been announced so far.”

For international visiting vessel, there are also challenges: “Many marinas are concerned about occupancy statistics and therefore do not have berths available for the casual international fleet,” Good continues. “This is particularly noticeable in Sydney, which has gained a reputation for not having any berths available during summer. If we are to meet this demand, marina owners need to focus on yield and not occupancy to have berths available for international vessels that may only stay for two to three months, they also need to charge a high casual price to get a return on this infrastructure.”

Current marina developments in Australia

Coral Sea Marina Resort

Coral Sea Marina goes from strength to strength with the owner, Paul Darrouzet, continuing to invest in state-of-the-art facilities. Coral Marina was one of the first marinas receiving Superyacht Ready accreditation, successfully meeting the suitability criteria of the marina’s infrastructure to accommodate superyachts, accessibility for superyachts, security measures and service availability.

New developments in the last 12 months include:

  • In-berth bunkering on the superyacht arm.
  • Upgrades to the fuel wharf to include an additional high-flow diesel pump to accommodate the demand for fuel from the larger yachts.
  • An on-site superyacht storage facility has been added.
  • Power upgrades to some of the 30m berths up to 125amps.
  • Functional fitness gym added to the guest/ crew lounge.
  • Resort refurbishments including room upgrades, upgrades to the pool area and introduction of waterfront cabanas.
  • Future developments include additional power and marine infrastructure upgrades being scoped for the 40m berths.

Jones Bay Marina (NSW)

Jones Bay Marina has recently received council approval for an upgrade. This move will address the shortage of marina berths for large vessels in Sydney Harbour and see significant capital poured into the harbourside marina over the course of the year. The investment will see a raft of essential upgrades including the installation of new floating pontoon berths and a custom-designed floating office; improvements to power and water supply; and essential upgrades to the marina’s amenities block and change rooms.

Sanctuary Cove (QLD)

Sanctuary Cove Boat Show seen from the air - marina with pontoons

Southeast Queensland’s luxury destination, Sanctuary Cove, has become the home of superyachts with the launch of its new A$3.5m Pier C development, adding a further 31 berths to the marina and taking the destination’s superyacht berthing capabilities to 39 in total. The Pier C development by Mulpha is the next stage in Sanctuary Cove’s 2023 strategy to address the growing demand for permanent and transient superyacht berths in the Sunshine state. It comes after the destination completed its $10m marina expansion in June 2021, which saw the addition of 61 new berths and the first undercover berths in the southern hemisphere. The construction of the marina was undertaken by Superior Jetties. Sanctuary Cove Marina has received its Superyacht Ready accreditation.

The Boat Works (QLD)

The Boat Works marina and refit yard Australia

The Boat Works is set to double in size with a further A$30 million investment and work has already begun. The Boat Works is another Superyacht Ready marina, adding Gold Anchor accreditation and Superyacht Ready status to its credentials. This facility has become an industry leader in the services and facilities it provides to the ever-growing superyacht fleet visiting Australia and the gold coast

Shellharbour Marina (NSW)

This marina opened early this year and development continues, which will ultimately include 270 berths, a dry stack, fuel, and boatyard (75-tonne lift).  It is being managed by Ben Schooley.

Pelican Waters (QLD)

Marine Holdings Australia (MHA) will open a marina and dry stack on the Sunshine Coast. A much-needed facility for this region.

GCBoatyards Coffs Harbour (NSW)

This new boatyard in Coffs Harbour features a 75-tonne marine travel lift and an expansive new hardstand area.  It is now up and running.

Martha’s Cove (Victoria) & The Spit (NSW)

marinas in australia

With recent developments at Martha’s Cove in Victoria, D’albora continues to invest in the marina industry with ten marinas across three Australian states. The Spitboatyard re-development also by D’albora opened in January, offering a new 50T Crib Point Straddle Carrier. 

Southport Yacht Club (QLD)
The South Port Yacht Club with support from the Queensland Government delivered a new superyacht berth at the South Port Yacht club constructed by Superior Jetties.

It is stated that this superyacht berth is the largest floating megayacht berth in Australia. Facilitating vessels up to 130m in length.

Marina Mirage (Gold Coast QLD)

Marina Mirage has recently developed its marina to include a floating beach club and swimming pool. It is understood there will be a total of 76 premium berths accommodating vessels from 12 to 70+ meters constructed by GC Marine.

Mariners Cove / Main Beach Superyacht Marina (Gold Coast QLD)

Plans for the new, A$480 million-dollar avant-garde lifestyle precinct at Main Beach on the Gold Coast have been unveiled by two leading Melbourne developers, Pelligra Group and Giannarelli Group. 

The world-class development will include a six-star branded hotel, floating beach club, high-end retail including over 5000sqm of food and beverage and a white glove superyacht marina located on the Mariners Cove marina and retail centre and spanning approximately 105 metres along the Broadwater between Marina Mirage and the Southport Yacht Club.

The prime landholding comprises over 4ha of land and seabed combined. This will have the capacity to house around 70 luxury superyachts, each one up to 45 metres in length. Passengers will be given full access to the adjoining six-star hotel facilities, with Rolls Royce golf buggies to shuttle passengers to and from their yachts. The marina will also include the already established helipad for guests arriving to and from domestic and international airports and a high-grade fuel station that will accept vessels up to 65 metres in length. Paul Sorrell, a well-known marina industry manager has been appointed as GM. 

Southport Spit (QLD)
A luxury development for the Southport Spit on the Gold Coast worth almost A$94 million has been revealed including apartments, retail, public spaces, and a 52-berth marina. The proposal was put forward by Queensland-based property group Gordon Corporation and is expected to support more than 400 new jobs at the Southport Spit. The proposal also includes a 52-berth marina that includes three superyacht berths.

Port Coogee Marina (Perth WA)

Stage three of this marina was completed in October 2022. The A$5m project included additional 69 berths (up to 25 metres), Stage four being progressively constructed will take the marina to over 250 berths. The development also included an extensive boardwalk, customer lounge etc. This project is using Bellingham Unifloat systems. 

Marwong Point Marina (NSW)

This marina was sold to the owners of Bobbin Head Marina – creating the start of the Empire Marinas Group.  Darren Vaux is managing director and current ICOMIA President.

Koolewong Marina (NSW)

Koolewong Marina features 50 spacious floating berths from 12m up to 30m, suitable for cruisers, yachts and multihull vessels. All berths offer shore power and fresh water, with three-phase power available to larger vessels.

Royal Perth YC (WA)

A total of 372 berths either full floating or fixed, which can accommodate vessels up to 28 meters. Berths are accessible 24 hours a day and each berth has shore power and water.

Sandringham YC (Victoria)

Sandringham Yacht Club has undertaken boatyard works installing a new Boatlift Straddle carrier.

Mackay Marina (QLD)

A nib wall is being constructed which will provide a safer harbour for small and pleasure craft along with the commercial fishing vessels, reducing the risk of damage.

The A$10.5m construction will offer greater protection to the marina during weather events, in particular from the northerly direction. The size of the vessels able to access the marina will remain unchanged with superyachts and large vessels up to 50m still be able to access the marina. This project received grant funding from the Australian Government and is in partnership with The North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation.


Global Marine Business Advisors is a group of 19 marine industry experienced professional, located on five continents and nineteen countries. The key focus for GMBA is to provide support for marine industry businesses across a variety of disciplines and sectors.

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