Sydney seaplane service proposed for Lake Burley Griffin

Ian Bushnell 7 December 2020 131
Sydney Seaplanes

Sydney Seaplanes is proposing to operate three return flights between Rose Bay and Lake Burley Griffin daily. Photo: Facebook.

Seaplanes could soon be landing on Lake Burley Griffin if a proposal from a Sydney company gets off the ground, and the Chief Minister is on board.

The National Capital Authority has announced that Sydney Seaplanes will stage a demonstration flight from Rose Bay next week on 15 December with a Cessna Caravan to test the idea.

The experienced flier, which also operates on the Great Barrier Reef, has been keen to establish a Canberra connection for years, last floating the idea in 2007, and has been in talks with the NCA for about a year.

It envisages three return flights a day – flights for business, tourism and leisure. The Cessna can carry 10 passengers but the company’s larger aircraft can take at least 15.


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Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the demonstration flight was a positive first step to unlocking a great product and experience for Canberra.

”It will assist shaping perceptions of the city, appropriate use of the lake and will give visitors a unique way of engaging with Canberra and the many other great things to see and do in our city,” he said.

NCA Chief Executive Sally Barnes said the regulatory agencies see no impediment to establishing the service, but the proposal had raised many questions about how it would work.

”We figured the best way to actually test the concept was to do a demonstration flight – one only – and then after that we’ll do community consultation around the terms and conditions of the licence, where they’ll land, where they’ll tie up, and what other sorts of equipment they’ll need,” she said.

These maps show proposed land and take-off routes into and out of Lake Burley Griffin. Images: NCA.

Ms Barnes said the demonstration flight would land in Westlake near Springbank Island, and motor to a jetty near the National Museum of Australia.

It would take off over the lake towards the Airport or over the National Arboretum.

Consultation would consider issues such as including noise, refuelling, landing and take-off requirements, public safety, impact on the environment, heritage and infrastructure needs.

Ms Barnes said the company was very experienced and already operated in sensitive and busy environments, particularly Sydney Harbour where there are 20,000 boats (around 52 per square kilometre).

She said the company believed that there was a real market for a quick hop to Canberra, with the trip to the Lake only taking an hour, cutting out travel time to Sydney Airport, parking and taxiing.

”So it’s literally for some people wanting to come to Canberra for businesses purposes door-to-door in an hour,” she said.

”You’re coming right into the city, you’re leaving Sydney from an area where people can get to just as easily if not more so than the Airport, and you’ve got one hop.”


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She hopes that eventually the company would develop packages with the national institutions and tourism operators.

”It has huge potential for 2021 post-COVID recovery,” Ms Barnes said. “It could be a real bonus to the national capital.”

The NCA has been moving to broaden the scope of how the Lake is used and the idea fits with this.

”We’re open to bringing people to Canberra, open to making the national capital more accessible, open to making it a bit more surprising , and making people take a second look at the opportunity,” Ms Barnes said.

She said the idea deserved to be taken seriously.

”Let’s do a demonstration, see if it can work, and can add to the flavour of the national capital,” Ms Barnes said.

”Until you actually see it, I think it’s difficult to imagine what it is and what an impact it might have.”

If the demonstration flight shows that the service could work on the lake, in depth consultation on the proposal would likely begin in the New Year.

Sydney Seaplanes was approached for comment.


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131 Responses to Sydney seaplane service proposed for Lake Burley Griffin
Chris Gabriel Chris Gabriel 8:46 pm 10 Dec 20

There is no way I would get in a plane intending to land on LBG - just a gentle breeze creates vicious chop, particularly when it bounces of the vertical shore line walls.

    Vic Hughes Vic Hughes 10:46 am 11 Dec 20

    Chris Gabriel Having learned to sail on LBG I agree. Plus the wind direction can change 180 degrees in a minute.

    Grant Cary Grant Cary 11:32 am 11 Dec 20

    Vic Hughes

    I had friends that water skied on LBG early one day not knowing.

    The 512 big block did make a little noise.

    No charges laid.

Allan Davis Allan Davis 8:25 pm 10 Dec 20

What a load of rubbish. This will last all of a few weeks before it’s canceled...

Phillip Hopkins Phillip Hopkins 7:24 am 10 Dec 20

I try hard to not be a downer but..no, just no.

Gus Higuma Gus Higuma 6:33 pm 09 Dec 20

Isn’t the airport like 5 minutes up the road

Ric Hingee Ric Hingee 4:18 pm 09 Dec 20

There goes the neighborhood.

Anna Lauren Morell Anna Lauren Morell 8:31 am 09 Dec 20

Daniel Bolton not quite as exotic as the north right?!

Guy Speake Guy Speake 7:52 am 09 Dec 20

Those take-off and landing zones are right in the busiest recreational parts of the lake. So, no thank you.

Jason Waddell Jason Waddell 5:56 am 09 Dec 20

And the amount of the lake they would need to zone off for sole use of the gimmick... Sydney can keep it... the lake is a peaceful and open space, how about we maintain it.

Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 8:49 pm 08 Dec 20

Given 2020 nothing would surprise me. Wow will bring an extra 45 tourists a day using their larger aircraft. A coach bus can hold around 58 passengers. Which one is a greener option?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:51 pm 08 Dec 20

This is more likely to be another option for Canberrans wanting to escape to Sydney than for those travelling south. Rose Bay is not overly convenient to the CBD (all those traffic lights and congestion on New South Head Road etc.) and the people who live in that part of the world don’t need to catch a little plane to Canberra to send messages to the people they hire to run the country for them.

Teang Pao Teang Pao 7:05 pm 08 Dec 20

Oh no, our beautiful nature is being used for man's pleasure.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 6:45 pm 08 Dec 20

I look forward to being near the lake.

Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?
Is it a shopping trolley?

Well it’s still faster than a locomotive.

Let’s fix the Canberra Sydney rail line before this below average idea.

Rob Tux Rob Tux 6:31 pm 08 Dec 20

Rich transport ... fix the problems with our services first ! Is the alp for the workers ?

    Rob Tux Rob Tux 7:50 pm 08 Dec 20

    Brent Hutch who is going to pay for the seaport ? The effects of the sea port ? Plus the surrounding access to the seaport ?

    Rob Tux Rob Tux 8:11 pm 08 Dec 20

    Brent Hutch casa requirements for refueling, maintenance/breakdown / navigational lighting and other equipment just to start with !

Acton Acton 5:24 pm 08 Dec 20

How will a seaplane see and avoid small sailing boats, rowers, paddle-boards and kayaks which use all parts of the lake?
How will lake users hear or know of an approaching plane about to land or take off, particularly on a windy day?
How will small craft get out of the way of a descending seaplane?
How will a seaplane avoid small craft that stray into its path upon landing?
LBG is a busy place. Far better to consider the long straight stretch of the Molonglo River behind Fyshwick, or even Lake George.

Matthew James Matthew James 4:23 pm 08 Dec 20

Excellent idea. It might also put pressure on ticket prices at Canberra Airport, which wouldn't be a bad thing.

However, a sea plane isn't fast and Sydney is a fair distance away, so maybe they should use a flying boat like a Catalina or a Sunderland instead...

Vickie Trainor Vickie Trainor 3:52 pm 08 Dec 20

This is why I left Canberra, too many NIMBY’s and naysayers. How many of you have read and understand the proposal. If my understanding is right the answer is none, as it’s still in concept stage. Canberrans - have an open mind for once.

Keir Malpas Keir Malpas 3:40 pm 08 Dec 20

Put the operations down near the GG's residence. That means only a couple of people will be affected by the noise!!!!

Joanne Poels Joanne Poels 2:57 pm 08 Dec 20

We sure need some tourism here. Maybe give it a trial run. Born and bred here, we need to keep up with the times , we are after all the CAPITAL of this country

Jana Nicholson Jana Nicholson 2:06 pm 08 Dec 20

Ahahaha whattttt Karina Armonde

    Karina WL Karina WL 6:20 pm 08 Dec 20

    Jana Nicholson IM NOT against it 🤔

    Armonde Sivkoff Armonde Sivkoff 9:35 pm 08 Dec 20

    Jana Nicholson Nar dude it’s old timey travel fun

Jack Palmer Jack Palmer 1:59 pm 08 Dec 20

You know how people say that Americans use anything but the metric system? I think Australians use anything other than high speed rail.

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