Saturday, February 4, 2012

Space Age Modernist design "landed on a highway" - Hobart, Riverfront Motel

Standing on the Derwent River in the outer suburbs of Hobart on the Brooker Highway is an awesome mid century landmark that's hard not to miss due to the arching tubular steel design that towers over the main entrance of the Riverfront Motel.  The sculpture reminds me of the spaceships that were in many children's playgrounds around Australia.

The wonderful yellow painted steel arch design that forms part of the entrance to the Riverfont Motel is an inspirational design along with the 1950s motel. Of equal interest is the neon typeface advertising at the top of the arched structure.

The original interior spaces of the motel  (as pictured below) were lavishly designed in the Modernist style.. The ceiling design of the reception and the dining room features are stunning Post War design features and personal favorites.


  1. Love those photos! Australia barely had any motels in the 1950s, so the Riverfront Motel in Hobart had to help set the standards. The brick dividing wall, striped reception desks and vinyl padded chairs were classics of their era!

  2. I might be wrong but I think the metal archway was designed to straddle the road into Hobart (Main Road) for the Queen's visit in 1954?
    Love the historical photos

  3. Thanks for your comments. I have heard that the arch was designed for the Queens visit and moved the hotel at a later date, this is very interesting if this was the case. Surely there must be some historic photographs of the Queens visit showing the archway. Will have to investigate and find that out.

  4. I remember staying here the first night after we moved to Hobart, I think I was 10 and I was fascinated with that archway (I was really into War Of The Worlds at the time).


About the project

Join me (Thomas Ryan Photography) on a photographic project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism from the 1930's to the 1980's. The entire project gallery of 1000+ images and counting can be viewed on my website under art projects. I have been undertaking this project for over a decade.

My portfolio of commercial and art projects can be seen on my website and I can be contacted here as well. All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan Photography. Unauthorised use is prohibited. Contact me for all enquires

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