The leaseholder of Brisbane’s former floating restaurant site at Milton still wants to reopen the venue despite it once again being damaged by floods, as the debate about which level of government should act over the site reignites.  

In the recent south-east Queensland floods, the Brisbane River swept debris into the former restaurant pushing the floor of the site upwards and partially onto the bikeway. 

The site has been vacant since the floating restaurant was swept down the river and crashed into the Goodwill Bridge in the 2011 floods.

The main building, which remained at the Milton site, was inundated as authorities told the owner to let it sink during the floods more than a decade ago, and has since been vacant.

The leaseholder of the site, Ken Allsop, had planned to reopen and operate a restaurant from the venue this year, and now is calling for government-funded cranes to move the building so it can be fixed and reopened.

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Drift restaurant floating down the flooded Brisbane River and smashing into a bridge on January 13, 2011.(ABC News)

Mayor takes swipe at state government

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner posted on social media calling for an end to the “decade-long Drift restaurant debacle” after the shell of the old restaurant was pushed onto the bikeway during the recent weather event.

an image of the restaurant on a bikeway surrounded by debris
Drift was partially pushed onto the Bicentennial Bikeway during the 2022 floods.(ABC Radio Brisbane: Antonia O’Flaherty)

Minister hits back

But Transport Minister Mark Bailey responded on social media saying the mayor had approached him yesterday to ask for the state government to help remove the former Drift restaurant off the Bicentennial Bikeway.

“I responded last night that I’m happy to work with BCC to assist,” he said.

Mr Schrinner told ABC Radio Brisbane he thought the best thing for the site was to be “demolished and start with something different” but said he thought Mr Bailey would work with the council to help address the issue.

An image of the back of the damaged restaurant on Brisbane river at milton
The leaseholder of the site still has plans to reopen despite the damage.(ABC Radio Brisbane: Antonia O’Flaherty)

Leaseholder calls for cranes to move restaurant

Despite the damage the site suffered, Mr Allsop still has planned to open a floating restaurant at the site.  

Mr Allsop said he was calling for either state government or local government to fund cranes to move the site off the bikeway and onto poles, so it could then be rebuilt as a floating restaurant.

He said work had already been done to reopen, with plans to fit out the restaurant in March this year.

He said he was still waiting for a payout for his claim as part of the 2011 flood victim class action.

Former floating restaurant drift on river with grafitti on sails
The former floating restaurant has been vacant since 2011.(ABC Radio Brisbane: Antonia O’Flaherty)

In 2021, the Queensland government and state-owned operator SunWater agreed to pay 2011 flood victims of a class action $440 million, half of the compensation owed, after a 2019 NSW Supreme Court decision found the Wivenhoe Dam had been carefully managed. 

State-owned dam operator Seqwater appealed the decision that it was liable for the remaining 50 per cent of the liability for damages, and later won the appeal in 2021. 

But flood victims, represented by Maurice Blackburn, have sought special leave from the High Court to overturn that decision.

‘It’s a bit of an eyesore’, says Premier

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told a media conference today the Mayor and Transport Minister had scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue tomorrow.

“We need a solution for this,” she said.

“It’s been sitting there for a long, long time, and it is a bit of an eyesore so let’s work through it and come up with a solution,” she said.


A Department of Resources spokesperson said the Brisbane District Disaster Management Group (DDMG) was coordinating the management of the safety issues around the former riverside Drift restaurant.

“The coordinated effort also involves Brisbane City Council, Maritime Safety Queensland and the current lessee of the site,” the spokesperson said.

“The department is responding to all requests from the DDMG to help find a resolution to this matter.”

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