A sea of 150,000 tulips at Seafarers for the first day of spring

As Melburnians welcomed the first day of spring with glorious blue skies, a stunning display of over 150,000 tulips lined the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River as part of a large-scale zero-waste installation by sustainable designer and eco-warrior Joost Bakker.

The interactive public installation offered complimentary blooms to be collected free of charge in an effort to raise awareness about the epidemic facing local flower growers.

For the last four or five years, flower farmers have struggled to maximise their economic potential due to an industry facing headwinds; imported flowers now account for over 70 per cent of the market, meaning a lot of growers in Australia have gone out of business.

Unlike fresh fruit and vegetables, which by law must list the country of origin on its label, such labelling laws don’t exist for flowers, leaving customers stumped as to their origin. 

On Sunday September 1, as the morning sun rose above the Seafarers’ site, Joost Bakker, together with Flowers Victoria, Melbourne Market Authority and Riverlee, began unpacking the tulips and lining them along the waterfront and across Seafarers Bridge.

The beautiful display of red caught the attention of those meandering along the river, while others travelled far and wide to collect their complimentary tulips. Throughout the day, Joost, together with Flowers Victoria and the Melbourne Market Authority encouraged visitors to ask their florist, ‘is it locally grown?’ and to always #buylocal.

Also supporting the event was Melbourne’s renowned roastery St Ali Coffee in collaboration with Returnr, a stainless steel coffee cup that was available for a $6 deposit. 

The Seafarers site was specifically selected due to its waterfront location and heritage-listed Goods Shed No5, in addition to Riverlee’s commitment to urban renewal and vision to intertwine nature throughout Melbourne’s newest riverfront precinct.  sustainable, green building practices. 

For a site that has remained dormant for decades, almost forgotten following the increase in containerisation, it was amazing to see hundreds of Melburnians and visitors to the city stop by the Northbank site; a testament to what’s to come.

Riverlee would like to thank the following event partners; The Victorian Farmers Federation’s subsidiary Flowers Victoria, Melbourne Market Authority and the City of Melbourne.