Located directly opposite the CBD of Melbourne, the once derelict area on the south side of the Yarra River was developed by the Victorian Government as Southbank in the late 20th century.
In the days of early settlement in Melbourne, routes to Port Melbourne crossed through the undesirable swamp or flat land along the River Yarra: City Road closely followed the track from Port Melbourne to Melbourne; and in 1854, the railway line followed the convenient ground from Melbourne to Port Melbourne. Early wharves, the building trades and some noxious industries later gave way to manufacturers' warehouses. When the bridge joining Spencer and Clarendon Streets opened in 1929, the wharves fell into disuse as port facilities were moved downstream. It was not until the 1980's that the Westgate Freeway was planned for freight to and from the ports circumvent Melbourne city. The Arts Centre Complex was opened in the 1980's and the Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct opened with 37 specialty shops, numerous restaurants in 1992.
Today Southbank buzzes with the 24-hour Casino complex; 350 gambling tables, 2,500 pokies machines, the Palladium ballroom, shops, restaurants, a 14-theatre cinema and space for over 8,000 parked cars. The spectacular 2,000 seat Lyric Theatre has excellent acoustics for live performances of opera, ballet and theatre. The Yarra Riverside walk is lined with interesting shops, and cosmopolitan cafes and restaurants overlooking modern fountains and Melbourne CBD. Adjacent is the Melbourne Convention Centre, with the Polly Woodside sailing shop and maritime museum along the South Wharf. All the fabulous attractions of Melbourne are on the doorstep of Southbank, or a hop and a skip away.