Yesterday’s lunch was underwhelming for a variety of reasons I’d rather not detail in this post. For the weekly photo theme of WATER, I’ll just share some pics I took and a bit of Johannesburg history, courtesy of Wikipedia.

My laughing child. Isn't it sad that, as 'grown ups' we can't do this sort of thing, for fear of losing dignity? I want one of these bubbles!

The Randburg Waterfront was originally built in 1994, and consisted of a large oval of shops and restaurants surrounding a lake in a natural depression in President Ridge in Randburg, fed by the Jukskei River. Shop fronts were constructed to have nautical theme, and the artificial lake had a motorised fountain system built-in, which would give evening synchronised light and water displays to the score of classical and contemporary music. The Waterfront was plagued by several delays in building, and the intended completion date of the complex was pushed back several times; when the official opening day came around, several visitors complained that many stores were uncompleted or not fully furbished.

Crowds of people, wherever I looked, all trying to get a free lunch out of the exhibitor stands.

The Waterfront suffered a decline in visitors after 2000, and as a result some of the many restaurants and small shops were forced to close. Addressing this slump in business, the Waterfront owners, Gray Property Trust, identified several issues leading to the economic downward spiral of the centre. These issues included a too-high restaurant density, insufficient retail space, clubs that encouraged drug abuse (most notably the since-closed infamous Morgan’s Cat Nightclub), and – ironically – the large body of water itself, which effectively separated the restaurants from each other and had, by 2000, begun to smell rancid.

My brandy & blue cheese fillet. Nice, but cold, at Babylon Again.

Gray Property Trust invested R80-million (approx. $12.5 mil, €10.4 mil, £7 mil) in refurbishing the ailing complex. An active decision to make the Waterfront a more ‘active retail experience’ prompted the redevelopment to greatly reduce the size of the artificial lake to a large central pond, which still features the musical fountains – drawing large crowds for the shows at 7pm and 8pm daily, as well as a meandering artificial river on the southern side. The area previously occupied by water was made into a grass park, which was then carved up by numerous walkways, and the centre of which a formal flea market was constructed.

Our guest's fish platter. It looked average, but he was polite and pronounced it very good.

The nautical theme of the Waterfront was replaced in favour of a Bohemian-cum-English commons feel, the idea of which lent itself to the complex’s new name; The Brightwater Commons.

I couldn't fault the oysters ...

Today, the centre is active and busy, with various events such as live bands and concerts ensuring a respectable number of visitors.


49 Comments Add yours

  1. adeeyoyo says:

    I’ve only been there once or twice but was not at all impressed. Don’t remember the names of the restaurants which is not surprising.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Life is too short, adee, I have now – finally – learned my lesson.

  2. Sounds like fun to me. I plan on doing all those types of fun things with Zoë. I love doing those things that will embarrass our son Matt! The more public, the better! 😀 I’d love floating and bouncing around in those big bubbles . . .and I will as long as Hubs isn’t with me – he would just sit and watch and have the ambulance number memorized, certain that it would be needed for me at any moment!

    He might be right, but at least I’ll go out having a blast! I’m not too much for being sensible. . .

    1. theonlycin says:

      You go, Paula! Lucky Zoe 🙂

  3. Tandy says:

    I have not been there since the renaming 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Don’t waste your time 🙂

  4. bluebee says:

    Your daughter looks like she had a whole heap of fun! 😀 This conjures up long-past days of the long lunch when I used to work in Randburg – it’s great to hear that it’s had a revamp –

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s become a tourist trap, good for the tennants, I suppose.

    2. I’ve played with these, awesome fun 🙂

      1. theonlycin says:

        Lucky you 🙂

  5. thysleroux says:

    my last visit there was in 1997. Good photos Cin.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Thys 🙂

  6. johnlmalone says:

    I’m glad the centre has been reinvigorated. It looks a fun place to be. We hear a lot about crime and violence over there but little of the good stuff so your blog is providing a valuable counter position

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks John, it has the potential to be a great country, if we could only wipe out the corrupt politicians.

  7. Tilly Bud says:

    Interesting! Now do Eastgate 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      I am forced to do Eastgate twice a year, to have O Bunn’s pointe shoes fitted. I hate it … grrrrr 😦

  8. getting rid of the smelly lake was a good idea, the water flow through it was insufficient to keep it healthy, it was just a man-made stagnant cesspool

    It is far nicer than it was, but not my favouite place, I’m there a few times a year as it’s convienent between myself and several friends

    1. theonlycin says:

      The thing is, the kids love it there, so … what can one do?

  9. ps – I also want those bubbles, but they won’t let adults go and play in them

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m investigating … want to buy myself one 🙂 I’ll let you play on it 🙂

  10. colonialist says:

    Would like to see the new version. The old one seemed to me to have insufficient water, so I suppose I will be even more disenchanted now.

    1. theonlycin says:

      There are some enchanting little duckies that are pleasant to watch 🙂

  11. colonialist says:

    I take it you deleted a first version? Gave me endless fun, trying to follow the link!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, I pressed publish by mistake, before I had loaded the photos, sorry!

  12. nursemyra says:

    The bubbles look like great fun. And who can say No to oysters? Certainly not me

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m a shameless glutton when it comes to oysters 😉

  13. Didn’t even know they changed the name – shows how long ago I was there and what a pity your lunch was underwhelming.
    A set of those balls would be a blast on the flat waters here.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oh well, I shouldn’t have expected better. xxx

  14. yadayadafishpaste says:

    I would have loved to give those bubbles a go! How do you get onside of it…? Must be very surreal lying on the water (and yet not in the water) like that… Sorry the day wasn’t quite what you might have hoped… Hopefully today is better, yes?

    1. theonlycin says:

      There is a long zipper on the side. You get in when it is deflated, they zip it up and inflate it with a pump.

  15. Beautiful light, Cindy…what a lovely place.
    Hope you’ve fully recovered your whelm balance. Sounds like it was pitching and yawing a bit there…

    1. theonlycin says:

      My whelm is back as it should be, Kate 🙂

  16. nrhatch says:

    Perhaps you would have enjoyed your lunch more after a romp in one of those bubbles? 😉

  17. earlybird says:

    I want a bubble too… they look amazing fun!

    1. theonlycin says:

      We have a very large swimming pool, I could run about like mad 🙂

  18. souldipper says:

    Enjoyed seeing some of the home turf you see, Cin.

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s one of the best things about blogging, Amy, these glimpses we get of other people’s worlds 🙂

  19. slpmartin says:

    Well at least I won’t have to waste time if I ever get to SA with that one. 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      I have much better places to show you, Charlie 🙂

  20. izziedarling says:

    Cin – I love your stories, so descriptive and interesting. The food didn’t do much for me as it obviously didn’t impress you. One thing, though, Cin – WE CAN GET IN THOSE WATER BUBBLES – to hell with dignity!

    1. theonlycin says:

      You said it, girlfriend! 🙂

  21. Interesting place. Thank you for telling about it. The City of Toledo, Ohio, had a waterfront retail called Portside Festival Marketplace with restaurants and small stores. It suffered many problems getting started, and I think it’s been converted to something else now. When it first started, the entire city was excited by it. It was my favorite place to go for lunch. Blessings to you…

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’ll have to Google it, Carol, you have me curious 🙂 xxx

  22. Angeliqueca says:

    silly question maybe…but how does one put creamed spinach and pumpkin on a seafood platter?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Don’t even get me started …

  23. Krokodil says:

    Maybe more for fear of breaking bones than the loss of dignity…

    But I want one too!

    1. theonlycin says:

      If you find out where we can get them, let me know 🙂

  24. Tokeloshe says:

    The bubbles are great for photos!

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