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“The opportunities are here right now”: Behind the scenes with Rivergate Project Director Brett Bolton

Taking responsibility for the end-to-end strategic management of a $200 million expansion is no easy feat, but if anyone is up for the challenge, it’s Brett Bolton.

As Project Director, Brett has been at the helm of the expansion since its inception – from conducting initial market demand research, through to developing feasibility business cases, supply and construction tenders and business mobilisation. A large part of his role also involves working with all levels of government to achieve support and funding solutions to finance the project.

With experience managing complex developments for a range of ASX-listed and privately owned marinas in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand, Brett says each project has taught him something applicable to Rivergate’s expansions.

“Every marina project is unique, with lessons learnt on every development on how best to deliver new infrastructure while managing complex daily operations in a competitive marine environment,” says Brett.

With Rivergate winning council approval for the $200 million expansion earlier this year, Brett says there’s never been a better time for the east coast of Australia to have the capacity to lift vessels up to 3,000 tonnes.

“The opportunities are here right now, the market is here right now, and it’s only growing,” says Brett.

“The global superyacht fleet is predicted to increase in size by more than 30% in the next 10 years, Australia’s Defence Force is building and mobilising many vessels to patrol in the Pacific region, and commercial vessels are also getting larger and increasing in number.

“Superyachts are only part of the picture; there are hundreds of large commercial vessels and Defence vessels which struggle to get lifted on the east coast of Australia due to the lack of heavy lift shipyards. If you’re over 300 tonnes, it’s difficult to get a yard slot.”

Aside from the superyacht boom, the 2032 Olympics opportunity is knocking on the marine industry’s door. With the type of facilities proposed in Rivergate’s $200 million expansion, Brisbane could attract hundreds of visiting superyachts that would provide close to $2 billion in economic output.

“The State Government’s Superyacht Strategy has identified that 200 superyachts are predicted to visit Brisbane and Australia for the Olympics generating $1.8 billion in economic output,” says Brett.

To take hold of this opportunity, the State Government will need to invest and partner with private businesses like Rivergate to ensure we have sufficient infrastructure and services to match the demand.

“If we are smart about it, these investments will last well past the Olympics and continue to deliver great returns as legacy infrastructure into the future.”

The east coast refit industry is already feeling the pinch of not having enough infrastructure to lift vessels over 300 tonnes. If projects such as Rivergate are not launched soon, the world’s growing international superyacht fleet could begin to turn its back on Queensland at the expense of billions of dollars in revenue.

“Rivergate has recently tried to get two vessels lifted with a 1,200-tonne slot unavailable until mid-2023, and an 850-tonne slot not possible until November 2022. We are currently turning away millions of dollars of work annually with hundreds of SMEs and the Government worse off in terms of income and taxation revenue.”

Despite this restriction in lifting capacity, it’s the reputation of Rivergate’s refit and shipyard facilities that continues to attract superyachts and other vessels for maintenance, repairs, and overhauls.

“With deep water 24-hour access, five-minute travel time to the airport, and being located below the cyclone belt in a temperate climate ideal for year-round works, Rivergate is supported by the world’s best (in the opinion of many yacht captains) marine trades and project management expertise,” says Brett.

“Further to this, it has a global brand recognised as one of the best refit yards in the world.”

Key elements of Rivergate’s expansion include:

  • A 10-fold increase in lifting capacity to 3,000 tonnes and up to 90m
  • An innovative $35 million syncrolift shiplift and vessel transfer system
  • New hardstand space, sheds and berthing to service multiple large vessels at the same time
  • A Trade Centre for Excellence, which would be home to a new 5-storey purpose-built facility featuring marine industry training rooms, offices, café, crew accommodation and crew recreation facilities.

With the Development Approval now in place, Rivergate’s expansion is shovel ready and waiting on government support to get under way.

To learn more about Rivergate’s expansion plans, visit