Sydney seaplane service proposed for Lake Burley Griffin

Ian Bushnell 7 December 2020 133
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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133 Responses to Sydney seaplane service proposed for Lake Burley Griffin
Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 8:12 pm 07 Dec 20

But yet no powerful motors on the water to fish on? Flogs

Peter Norton Peter Norton 8:01 pm 07 Dec 20

Park run at Coombes wasn’t allowed to coexist for 90 mins per week with the horse trail network. How can this coexist in the busiest part of the lake for rowing and sailing? Will the sports have to change their race and training courses to accommodate this?

    Peppi Wilson Peppi Wilson 6:38 am 08 Dec 20

    Peter Norton yes, this is the real concern. If it stops the lake being used by the masses, for the benefit of a few, it’s a no from me. Which is sounds like it would if they are looking at multiple flights a day. We also seriously need to be reducing our carbon footprint, not expanding it

Jim Roy Jim Roy 7:57 pm 07 Dec 20

Georgie Georgie you’ll love this

Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 7:54 pm 07 Dec 20

Yet another ridiculous ACT Government thought bubble. We really do have a history of stupid.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 6:01 am 08 Dec 20

    Stephen Esdaile yet it’s being negotiated with the Feds. It’s their lake.

    Shan Badowski Shan Badowski 7:22 am 08 Dec 20

    Why stupid exactly? Balloon flights offer beautiful views, this is just a version of that.

    Naomi Horobin Naomi Horobin 10:51 pm 08 Dec 20

    Shan , checking calendar to see if it is the 1st April ...

Chris Hodge Chris Hodge 7:54 pm 07 Dec 20

It’s doomed. The SUPER WINGER SET over in Yaralumla that lost Canberra the GMC 400 and Summernats will Pooh-Pooh it and it’ll make just one flight ...

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 7:48 pm 07 Dec 20

I give it two weeks before the snobs in Yarralumla complain about the noise. Just like they did with the supercars.

David J Le Roy David J Le Roy 7:44 pm 07 Dec 20

Courtney Jason ... it is Rose Bay

Julia Ross Julia Ross 7:27 pm 07 Dec 20

What happened to petrol engines not allowed on the lake?

Tim Williams Tim Williams 7:21 pm 07 Dec 20

Wait for this to not get final approval from some part of the Fed Govt and A Barr whinge that it’s the Fed Liberals against him!

Justin Watson Justin Watson 7:16 pm 07 Dec 20

I've come here to read the complaints and it has not disappointed! Seriously some people will go off about anything without reading what the proposal is! That said The ACT government has no say on this, but it doesn't stop the whingers. This is purely an NCA and the business who made the propositions decision.

    Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 7:55 pm 07 Dec 20

    Justin Watson 'and the Chief Minister is on board'.

    Tramcar Trev Tramcar Trev 8:33 pm 07 Dec 20

    Stephen Esdaile yes.... Maybe rainbow coloured aircraft. But guess what the Feds control the lake and what happens on it.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 6:03 am 08 Dec 20

    Justin Watson so you don’t have an issue with the main sailing basin becoming restricted to sailboats?

    Lee Welling Lee Welling 1:23 pm 08 Dec 20

    Elroy Jones "Fortunately most of the complainants are in their twilight years and may not live to see the first take off." Have you done a survey, or are you indulging in a bit of Trumpist stereotyping?

Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:10 pm 07 Dec 20

So let me see, the part of the lake that is mainly used by sailing craft will be excluded from the main sailing part of the lake, sounds about right.

Paul Evans Paul Evans 6:55 pm 07 Dec 20

This is something that the LNP would suggest to keep one or more of their cronies in business.

Anura Samara Anura Samara 6:53 pm 07 Dec 20

This is a great idea. We need the lake to be part of the centre of our city, rather than some 'pristine' icon which is never touched.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:12 pm 07 Dec 20

    Anura Samara sailing craft use it all the time, fishermen use it all the time, rowing clubs use it all the time. It’s used a lot.

    Teena Sullivan Teena Sullivan 7:16 pm 07 Dec 20

    Anura Samara I don’t agree. You can’t use power boats or water ski but you can land a plane? Totally ridiculous. I’d rather see those types of activity first.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 7:21 pm 07 Dec 20

    Anura Samara just hope none of my taxpayers dollars are used to fund any of these expensive flights. No motorboats have been allowed for leisure- where money becomes involved, the rules change.......

    Ruth Lee Martin Ruth Lee Martin 7:32 pm 07 Dec 20

    Anura Samara you’ve never been out in the lake in the mornings - it’s actually quite crowded with boats.

    Anura Samara Anura Samara 7:59 pm 07 Dec 20

    Margaret Freemantle it’s inevitable that some will be involved to attract business. Governments do that all the time.

    Anura Samara Anura Samara 8:01 pm 07 Dec 20

    Ruth Lee Martin my point is that it needs to be accessed and used by more Canberrans. But our city design has meant it’s effectively disconnected from where people live, work and play. Kingston is a great development to turn that around - I look forward to more.

    Shane Miller Shane Miller 7:15 am 08 Dec 20

    Hardly pristine lol.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 11:01 am 08 Dec 20

    Anura Samara we don’t want businesses that just cater to the elite few. Canberra is a place for all of us.

    Phil James Phil James 4:44 pm 08 Dec 20

    and will continue to be. these planes make multiple flights a day out of rose bay on sydney harbour, a significantly busier water way than canberra and everything works fine

Angelina Macie Angelina Macie 6:46 pm 07 Dec 20

They won’t allow speed boats or jet skies on the lake because of the noise. Imagine how noisy seaplanes would be.

    Leigh Brady Leigh Brady 11:02 pm 07 Dec 20

    A sea plane landing 3 times a day is a bit different to speed boats (plural) for several hours.

Glenn Beaumaris Glenn Beaumaris 6:40 pm 07 Dec 20

How much will Mr Barr's interest in this increase my rates?? Looks like it will be for the very few, rather than the majority.

    David Santo David Santo 9:04 pm 07 Dec 20

    Glenn ummm if anything this will bring in more corporate tax dollars... how would this initiative raise your rates exactly?

    Glenn Beaumaris Glenn Beaumaris 10:21 pm 07 Dec 20

    David who's paying for the infrastructure on LBG??

    Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 8:40 pm 08 Dec 20

    All the corporate tax dollars will go back to NSW. Owned and operated out of NSW so don’t see how the ACT government will see anything.

Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 6:38 pm 07 Dec 20

I thought that powered vehicles weren’t allowed on the lake because of the wash breaking down the walls. It was why motor boats aren’t allowed

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 6:56 pm 07 Dec 20

    Janet Ilchef except for the motorboats which are allowed 🤔

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 11:09 pm 07 Dec 20

    Todd Hepworth nothing, the planes will go around the boats, just like they do in all the other places they fly to/from.

Michael Ryan Michael Ryan 6:25 pm 07 Dec 20

Careful, the elusive Nessie may be harmed, or forced into hiding...

Tony Webber Tony Webber 6:23 pm 07 Dec 20

As long as it's an electric plane🛩🛩🛩🛩

    Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 6:44 pm 07 Dec 20

    Tony Webber sorry seaplanes are about the slowest most inefficient plane of all... those big floats can’t defy physics...

    Tony Webber Tony Webber 6:47 pm 07 Dec 20

    Craig Elliott sarcasm mate sarcasm!!!!!

David Brown David Brown 6:18 pm 07 Dec 20

That is even worse than water skiing. It will require a section of the lake to be set aside for the exclusive use of the very few.

    Ian K. Ward Ian K. Ward 6:29 pm 07 Dec 20

    David Brown sorry you won’t Rose Bay is a lot busier then the lake and they have No problems !

    David Brown David Brown 6:32 pm 07 Dec 20

    Ian K. Ward I don’t know if you noticed that Sydney Harbour is a commercial waterway. Ferries, water taxis, ocean liners, tankers and yes, seaplanes.

    Lake Burley Griffin is a small lake with swimmers, yachts, canoeists, wild life. Keep your seaplanes in Rose Bay.

    Anura Samara Anura Samara 6:52 pm 07 Dec 20

    David Brown No it won't. We did the seaplane flight from Moruya and the river was in constant use - the pilot just adjusts the pattern and approach for the other river traffic.

    David Brown David Brown 7:18 pm 07 Dec 20

    Anura Samara How does the pilot avoid a platypus? What about a kid on a sailboard? Will pelicans become road kill?

    As I recall, the Moruya River is open to water skiers and speed boats. That puts it in an entirely different category to the lake.

    Mark Whithear Mark Whithear 7:50 pm 07 Dec 20

    Yeah let’s leave it vacant just in case someone has some fun....,

    David Brown David Brown 9:19 am 08 Dec 20

    Elroy Jones That is a very selfish comment. I do not want a privileged few to spoil the lake for the majority.

    David Brown David Brown 9:23 am 08 Dec 20

    David Santo It is designed for use by a privileged few. The vast majority of lake users will be severely disadvantaged.

    Anura Samara Anura Samara 3:11 pm 08 Dec 20

    David Brown I chatted to him during the approach and afterwards. He said that they just monitor all movements on the water and time their landings to cater to it. He doesn’t commit to a landing until he knows he has clear water ahead of him. If we had regularly scheduled services on the lake, the difference would be that other users would know the predictable schedule and probably be required to avoid the landing zone during those times.

Anandi Venkatesh Anandi Venkatesh 6:12 pm 07 Dec 20

Revati Venkatesh so much better than the Murrays bus🤪

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