22 May 2019

Is the triathlon under threat from a proposed Canberra Aqua Park?

| Tim Gavel
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Triathlon ACT runs events and training from the popular Tarcoola Reach site on a regular basis. Photo: Supplied.

Triathlon ACT has been running events and training at Tarcoola Reach for many years. Photo: Supplied.

I am all for more activity on Lake Burley Griffin if environmental impacts have been considered and if it does not impact on existing users.

Currently, the most active sports on the Lake are the sailing clubs, rowing, dragon boating, canoe and kayak paddling, and triathlon.

But Triathlon ACT believes its activities could now be under threat if the proposed Canberra Aqua Park goes ahead on the planned site on Tarcoola Reach on the Black Mountain Peninsula. The proposed site is south of the Radford College rowing shed.

The Aqua Park involves an inflatable obstacle course anchored to the lakebed on Tarcoola Reach. This is the same piece of land used by Triathlon ACT for events and training for the past 30 years.

The reason why this piece of lake real estate is so valuable to water-based activities is simple; the water quality is better here than many other locations on Lake Burley Griffin with the impact of blue-green algae minimal.

So it has become one of two areas on the Lake used for triathlons. The other site is Rond Terrace. And the sport of triathlon in the ACT is experiencing significant growth with participation up by 66 per cent for the period between 2014 and 2018.

The time frame proposed for use by the Canberra Aqua Park group is November through to April, which also happens to be the time when the area is used by triathletes.

I have also spoken to Rowing ACT about this proposal. They are concerned about the proposed location of the water park with their main worry being overcrowding on the site. Car parking is already at a premium during regattas on weekends in the summer months with three rowing clubs having bases at the Peninsula.

The whole issue again raises questions about suitable locations for sport around the Lake because of the differing quality of water. Triathlon ACT has suggested the Canberra Aqua Park group have another look at Weston Park, West Basin or Yarralumla, areas already considered but rejected by the Aqua Park proponents.

Triathlon ACT is concerned that if the Aqua Park goes ahead from November this year it will cut the number of triathlons in Canberra by 50 per cent, which would effectively threaten the viability of the sport in the ACT. It would also prevent triathlon training, especially for novices, in the summer months at the Black Mountain Peninsula.

Also under threat according to Triathlon ACT would be the ability to stage major events such as the Australian National Triathlon Championship races and the National Youth and Junior Series events.

It will now be up to the National Capital Authority to adjudicate with Triathlon ACT prepared to fight to keep their sport at this location. The NCA is seeking public feedback with public consultation submissions closing on 3 June. Click here for more information and to provide feedback.

I can fully understand the NCA’s push to activate the Lake but all users need to be considered.

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The area should be protected for earless dragon boating.

Can’t we do both ? except the swim section of the triathalon would become a kind of water-based obstacle course…

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