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.



  1. 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. . .

  2. 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 –

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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?

  7. 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!

  8. 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…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s