Over the past 30 years, there have been various attempts and trials to introduce water sports such as jet skiing and water skiing on Lake Burley Griffin.
As a topic for talkback, callers fell into two very distinct groups. Some felt the lake was ceremonial and should be free of motorsports. Others believed it would liven up the under-utilised body of water in the middle of the city.
The only motorised craft permitted to use the central portions of the lake are the ferries, the water police, the ‘tinnies’ used by rowing coaches and officials, sailing rescue, and boats used for functions or parties.
I was a supporter of allowing motorsports on the lake at the time because I felt the lake was being under-utilised with very little activity beyond sailors, swimmers, paddlers, paddle boats, dragon boats and early morning rowers.
The argument from those in the motorised water sports fraternity was that there was no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to use the lake for their activities as well.
Amid tight restrictions, water skiing had a trial run to the east of the lake about 15 years ago as the sport looked to expand beyond the Molonglo River.
Jet skiing also appeared on the lake for a short trial run in the central basin but was seen more as a novelty than anything long-term.
Both trials didn’t appear to create too many issues, but neither proceeded beyond the trial stage because of concerns over the impact on the lake and surrounds.
The Heritage Management Plan for the lake, as I understand it, seeks to minimise the noise levels and the disruption to the water surface.
But while I once supported the expansion of motorised water sports on the lake, I now believe the moment has passed, especially as passive activity on the lake has increased markedly over the past decade or so.
The influx of dragon boats, in particular, and their relocation to the eastern section of the lake makes it impossible for co-existence with water skiers. Like much of Canberra, everything has its place, and the rowers and sailors now happily occupy the western section of the lake.
The small, motorised tourist boats, which have been introduced in more recent history, and the ferries, have little impact on the surface water or the surrounds.
There is also the housing development closer to the lake to consider, which wasn’t there when the campaign for motorsports was in full swing.
The impact on the residents of Clare Holland House also needs to be considered.
For these reasons, I believe the time has passed to introduce sports such as jet skiing on the lake. It might have been possible 15 years ago, but there is now simply too much activity on Lake Burley Griffin to warrant such a move.