Australian hardware


The City of Churches has other claims to fame besides spires and the best wine-producing region in Australia. In 1987, Adelaide became home to the country’s first purpose-built convention centre, which is now undergoing the second stage of a redevelopment aimed at reinvigorating the city’s economy. The completion of the first stage saw the opening of the West Building in March 2015 to make the centre more integrated with the city’s Riverbank redevelopmement, which includes the Adelaide Oval cricket ground, an entertainment precinct and Sahmri (South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute) where some of the country’s leading medical scientists are based. Since the opening of the West Building, 380 events have been hosted at the centre including the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards and Dreamtime 2015, Tourism Australia’s showcase of incentive travel services and products.

Work on the second stage of the centre’s redevelopment is due for completion in 2017. This is set to create “an innovative solution-focused space” that is flexible and able to attract organisers of large association events. This should be ready in time to welcome about 3,500 delegates for the Astronautical Society, which the city’s convention bureau is heralding as Adelaide’s biggest conference to date.

Adelaide Convention Centre’s expansion is seen as strengthening the city’s competitive edge in attracting international conferences, particularly those that harness the city’s medical research community and the lure of South Australia’s wine, produce and scenery for incentive groups from Asia. 


The closure of the centre at Darling Harbour in Sydney caused some consternation among organisers, but this is now ceding to a more upbeat outlook with the opening of the new International Convention Centre Sydney scheduled for December. 

The latter stages of ICC Sydney’s construction has become an event within itself with a 3D “fly-through” digital movie of what the interiors would look like commissioned and shown at industry events. 

There will be 70 event spaces allowing for three conventions to run consecutively, each with their own plenary, breakout space and catering areas. The ballroom is set to be the largest in Australia and designed to seat up to 2,000 guests; it will come with a balcony providing views of the harbour.

The centre’s CEO, Geoff Donaghy, commented that as the venue takes shape, it’s appearing more like its architectural renderings each day. “Along with three impressive theatre venues, ICC Sydney will be home to a 5,000 sqm open-air event deck, a 2,400 sqm multipurpose event space, a 2,000-seat ballroom and seven exhibition halls, all folding into the beautiful Tumbalong Park which will be expanded by 3,000 sqm,” Donaghy said.

Among the high-tech additions will be an 180m digital screen at the entrance to the ICC Sydney Theatre, one of the new complex’s core venues alongside convention and exhibition centres that open to enhanced public spaces. “By offering the ultimate experience, we hope to reinforce Sydney’s reputation as one of the most desirable destinations in the world,” said Donaghy.


An A$5.4 million refurbishment has been announced for the National Convention Centre in Canberra. In addition to general upgrading work over two years, technology including security systems, movable walls and lighting will be enhanced. In February, the centre is hosting the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, which is expected to bring 1,200 delegates. 

Meanwhile, designs have been put forward for the “Australia Forum” – a new convention centre for Australian Capital Territory. If approved, the facility will be built alongside the City Hall in the Civic area of Canberra. Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas’ design is based on the territory’s landscape such as the Brindabella Mountains and Lake Burley Griffin.


Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre is seeking to maintain a competitive edge after winning backing from the Victoria state government to expand the South Wharf precinct; this will enable the centre to bid for larger exhibitions. The centre’s management says it currently turns away nearly 20 per cent of new business opportunities due to lack of available space. Expansion proposals also include additional car parks and hotel accommodation.

Among the innovations at the centre is Open Space, which not only highlights cutting-edge content and speakers, but also modern convention facilities capable of letting conference audiences experience the latest in audio-visual and digital technology.

Another is SWME (South Wharf Meetings and Events) that targets the smaller meetings and event market, with sales executives managing each event, from enquiry and contract signing, through to event completion. SWME works with Hilton Melbourne South Wharf and MCEC to offer 52 meeting rooms for small-to medium-size events that require five-star facilities and service. 

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