21 April 2024

Things are about to get steamy on Lake Burley Griffin

| James Coleman
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The paddleboats were withdrawn from service on the lake in October 2023, but they’re coming back. Photo: Capital Paddle.

It has the ring of an April Fool’s Day joke, but it’s now halfway through the month and the idea for a floating sauna on Lake Burley Griffin hasn’t gone away.

In fact, the National Capital Authority (NCA) has signed a licence agreement with Providence NDR, the same company that operates one on Lake Derby in Tasmania.

The reality is only three months away. The NCA is reviewing Providence NDR’s Works Approval Application and will soon invite members of the public to have their say on the design plans.

READ ALSO New temporary Visitor Centre opens doors at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

The ‘Floating Sauna Lake Burley Griffin’ is expected to open around July and provide a “range of experiences”, including a one-hour sauna (with an optional cold plunge) from $45 per person.

It will be based at Yarralumla Beach East in the lake’s West Basin.

The NCA floated the idea in September last year when it issued an official ‘Request for Proposal’ and named Acacia Inlet and Yarralumla Beach as possible locations.

woman entering a sauna

Lake Burley Griffin’s floating sauna will be operated by the same company behind Floating Sauna Lake Derby in Tasmania. Photo: Floating Sauna Lake Derby.

“Floating saunas combine the relaxation and wellness aspects of saunas with the extraordinary experience of being afloat on water,” the NCA said.

“One of their primary advantages is the stunning, ever-changing scenery they provide, offering picturesque views of natural landscapes, waterways, and skylines.”

It listed Helsinki, Stockholm, Seattle and Vancouver as cities where floating saunas “offer a memorable and versatile leisure and wellness option for both spa enthusiasts and adventure-seekers”.

Providence NDR will hold the initial floating sauna licence agreement for three years, with the option to extend it for two more years.

The sauna will be located at Yarralumla Beach where the annual Winter Solstice Nude Charity Swim is held. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

All in all, it was described as “an extraordinary opportunity to enliven Lake Burley Griffin”.

This was also shortly after the NCA had signed off on regular Sydney and South Coast seaplane flights to and from the lake and officially welcomed ‘The Jetty’ to the mix of cafes and eateries along the formerly caffeine-deprived ‘bridge-to-bridge’ walk.

READ ALSO Flights of fancy over City Hill give government plenty to think about

Further proof the NCA isn’t done with its enlivening projects is the fact paddleboats are also making a comeback.

The fleet of 12 was in a state of disrepair – having been on the lake since the 1980s – and the NCA withdrew all from service in October last year while “exploring options to showcase the boats as a treasured part of Canberra’s history and heritage”.

It’s now calling for proposals from operators to “restore, maintain and operate” the boats ahead of next summer.

It’s expected the paddle boats will be based at Regatta Point Beach and operate a minimum of four-to-six months a year.

Paddle boats have been on the lake for over 50 years, and this fleet has operated since the 1980s. Photo: Capital Paddle.

“We’re calling for experienced operators to come forward,” Federal Minister for Territories Kristy McBain said.

“There are 12 paddle boats that are in storage as part of that tender. There might be some maintenance or new paddle boats required. We want to work with somebody to re-establish this fantastic pastime and get another commercial use back on Lake Burley Griffin.”

Federal Member for Canberra Alicia Payne added, “I know that one of my favourite things as a child growing up in Canberra was to go out on the paddle boats, and I was very sad to see them off the water last year, so I’m really pleased that we’re going to be getting this started again”.

The request for proposal on the Federal Government’s AusTender website closes on 30 April.

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What’s happened to the planes???

The city is boring, unless you like the look of different shades of concrete. Are they pushing ideas to try and keep the city alive?

Hmm have a sauna then jump into Lake Burley Drain – think not.

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