Doggone it, now pooches can set float on GoBoat Canberra

Glynis Quinlan 24 September 2018

GoBoat Canberra business developer Jon Balzanelli and Garran resident Becky McFarlane with Buster, Rufus and Big Mac. Photos: Glynis Quinlan.

If you think our four-legged friends sometimes have it a bit ‘ruff’ and miss out on the fun then let’s have a round of ‘appaws’ for GoBoat Canberra which is welcoming pooches aboard if they want to set float with their owners.

‘Big Mac’ the bulldog, ‘Buster’ the blue heeler and ‘Rufus’ the parson russell terrier are among the range of Canberra dogs to take to the water in one of the popular self-drive electric picnic boats since GoBoat started promoting the fact they are ‘100% doggo-friendly’ earlier this month.

Other pooches to take the plunge (but hopefully not literally) have included kelpies, sausage dogs, German shepherds, poodles and more.

The cuteness factor is ‘pawsome’ given that the pooches get to wear their own life-jackets, which come in a variety of sizes. There is even a pirate’s hat lurking around for the swash-buckling breeds.

The fur-children get to ride for free, although there does need to be more humans than dogs.

Rufus the parson russell terrier and Big Mac the bulldog take charge of the boat while kept safe by their life vests.

Recently, there has been at least one dog enjoying a GoBoat each week but those numbers are likely to dramatically increase given that Canberra dog-owners have been ‘going mutts’ about the ‘oppawtunity’ on social media.

GoBoat Canberra owner Nick Tyrrell said there was strong demand last season from people wanting to take their dogs on the picnic boats.

“Although our answer was ‘yes’ we just never promoted it. We love puppers so I wanted to make sure that this season everyone knew their doggo was very welcome,” said Nick, who is also Big Mac’s owner.

The three dogs looking very comfortable with the self-drive picnic boat!

GoBoat Canberra business developer Jon Balzanelli said the dogs who embark on the adventure always seem to enjoy themselves, although some of them aren’t thrilled about the dock they have to traverse on the way to the boats because it is unsteady.

Jon going boating with the three dogs.

“Dogs are really part of the family and we want to bring that into our business as well,” said Jon, who owns Buster.

Becky McFarlane of Garran took her dog, Rufus, on a boat in June (before the idea was promoted) and was back again with him last week. The main problem in June was the cold weather but Becky said “we just got to snuggle”.

“It was the first time he had been on a boat or seen a boat.

“He had fun – he was enjoying himself,” said Becky, adding that he looked very cute in the photos.

Doggy treats seem just the thing on a picnic boat.

GoBoat Canberra was launched last November, with our city becoming the first location outside Europe to experience the self-drive electric picnic boats which seat up to eight people.

Since then, GoBoat Canberra has proved to be very popular with people wanting to enjoy their own boating experience on Lake Burley Griffin without the need for a boating licence.

“Last season more than 10,000 people came on a GoBoat and we were only open from November,” Nick said.

“This year we’ve got an extra two months, because we opened after winter on 1 September.

“We’re also extending our opening hours over summer, after investing in extra batteries for the boats which will allow them to run for about 50 per cent longer.”

Anyone interested in going on a GoBoat – and perhaps taking their pooch on-board – should contact GoBoat Canberra on 02 6100 7776 or email For more information go to

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