Newcastle's Queen's Wharf Tower to be demolished in 2018

Newcastle City Council has voted to demolish Queen’s Wharf Tower next year, ending 30 years of “lewd jokes” over the landmark’s unfortunate shape.

The circular observation tower will remain open for six months to allow residents a final chance to climb its 180 steps and enjoy the view.


But in the middle of next year it will be dismantled, much to the relief of the council’s interim chief executive officer, Jeremy Bath.

Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many cities around the world that have placed a 30-metre-high phallic symbol in their most prominent public space.

“There really is no other way to describe the Queen’s Wharf Tower other than as an embarrassment to the city,” Mr Bath said. 

“I look forward to not having to answer the inevitable question of ‘why’ from guests and visitors when they first see the tower. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many cities around the world that have placed a 30-metre-high phallic symbol in their most prominent public space.”

Mr Bath expected the building’s removal to make “headlines around the world” and give Newcastle a chance to promote itself again as a more forward-looking city.

“The tower is often the subject of lewd jokes and negative reports from visitors, and it’s certainly not a positive reflection on Newcastle as a modern city and a host city for major events.” 

The tower has been prominent on the city’s skyline since Queen Elizabeth II opened the cluster of buildings named in her honour during Australia’s bicentenary celebrations in 1988.

But a maintenance bill of $1.6 million over the next four years and its lack of wheelchair access, not to mention its shape, have contributed to its demise.

Mr Bath said the tower was often the target of vandalism and anti-social behaviour and was the council’s “most complained about” asset.

The council has released renderings of Queen’s Wharf without the tower and plans to seek feedback on how the space should be used.

Cr Kath Elliott (Ind) said after Tuesday night’s council meeting that the council should have consulted the community before deciding to level the tower.

Regular Newcastle Herald columnist Paul Scott, a lecturer at the university’s school of design, communication and information technology, wrote in 2015 that the tower served as “little more than a public urinal”.

“The revitalisation of Newcastle provides the perfect opportunity to lop off the embarrassment that both locals and visitors know as ‘the big penis’,” he said.

Newcastle property developer Keith Stronach called two years ago for not only the tower to go but also the entire Queen’s Wharf complex.

A comment from Brisbane’s “Tom P” on travel website Tripadvisor is typical of visitors’ reactions to the building: “Yes, the tower is a bit of an eyesore, smells, and is pretty rusty. However, the views from the top (or near to the top through the bars) are excellent.”