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Watersports on Lake Burley Griffin

By Alexandra Craig - 7 January 2015 17

lake-burley-griffin-stock-060115

Ignoring the storms and rain from Monday night, it’s been pretty hot in the ‘Berra the last few weeks. I think that’s what they call ‘summer’. I wrote last week about swimming options in Canberra, focusing on Kambah Pool. The water talk got me thinking about Canberra’s lakes, what they’re used for and what they could possibly be used for.

You can swim, canoe, sail, and paddleboat on Lake Burley Griffin. You can also take a cruise on a double decker boat. However, you can’t take part in watersports like skiing, wake boarding, and jet skiing. I was interested to know why, LBG would be a pretty cool spot for spectator watersport, like a boat show or watersport expo.

The National Capital Authority says that waterskiing, jet skiing, wake boarding and hovercraft (I didn’t really know hovercraft were even a ‘thing’) are not permitted on LBG because: ‘These activities have been identified as likely to have a significant impact on the social and aesthetic heritage values of Lake Burley Griffin. The conservation policies in the Heritage Management Plan aim to conserve the social and aesthetic qualities of the Lake. The Heritage Management Plan promotes the ‘non-motorised’ recreational use of the Lake, and ‘minimizing the noise and disruption to the water surface’.

This is fair enough for everyday use of the lake by regular citizens, but – and I’m no ecologist so I’d love to hear from one if you’re reading! – surely annual events like watersport expos, or even something like the Red Bull Air Race wouldn’t have a big impact on the lake? A big event like that would bring a lot of people down to the lake and a lot of visitors to Canberra. We tolerate Summernats pumping fuel into our atmosphere for a week once a year, as well as all the burnout noise, how about we give the motorboats a go too?

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Watersports on Lake Burley Griffin
watto23 9:30 am 08 Jan 15

Skelinoz said :

Do not have an issue with power boats but the Jet Skiing community is like the Cycling Fraternity. 99% play by the rules but there is always the odd one that feels entitled to ignore the rules. Let Jet skis anywhere near that lake and the day will surely come where a jet ski has run over some poor soul and i guarantee it will be because the Jet ski is outside its designated area.

You can’t go banning things because there is a remote chance that someone will die. Otherwise driving, flying and many other activities would be banned. I don’t think its unreasonable to trial boats or a type of powered watercraft in a section of lake burley griffin. You could even put times on it, obviously every boat would need to be registered to use on the lake etc. If they really do help with the algae problems on the lake then I’d think some kind of limited trial to confirm this would be worth it. the other proposal of a swimming area integrated into the city to the lake plan is probably quite expensive, but the sooner we can get the lake healthier for use by all the better.

dungfungus 6:16 pm 07 Jan 15

Skelinoz said :

Do not have an issue with power boats but the Jet Skiing community is like the Cycling Fraternity. 99% play by the rules but there is always the odd one that feels entitled to ignore the rules. Let Jet skis anywhere near that lake and the day will surely come where a jet ski has run over some poor soul and i guarantee it will be because the Jet ski is outside its designated area.

I recall that in the 1980’s a rowing shell/skiff was run over by a power boat in LBG. The person in charge of the powerboat was a “Constable Someone”.

canberralyf 5:30 pm 07 Jan 15

watto23 said :

Maya123 said :

canberralyf said :

Maya123 said :

I hope power boats are kept off. Noisy and very DANGEROUS. Fast boats zooming about where others are trying to paddle often flimsy boats. You mention swimming is allowed. Yes, but it is very difficult to swim in the lake now because of boats. Try swimming out to an island without the danger of being hit by a sail boat. This has almost happened to me. Imagine what a power boat running over someone would do.

This is exactly the issue with that lies within the poweboat use debate on Canberra lakes.. ‘misinformation’. Maya123 do you realise that many high end ski/wakeboard boats are up in the market of $100,000?? and are actually quieter than a family sedan and far more quiet than many modified cars and motorbikes that drive on Canberra roads? not noisy.

Do you also realise wakeboarding and waterskiing happen at anywhere from about 30-50km/h?? hardly ‘zooming’

the thing that really gets me going in this debate is that there are plenty of other places in Australia where powered boats, non powered boats and swimmers coexist without issue. why is it that whenever the debate about powered craft on Canberra lakes is raised people forget this fact.

Power boats with water skiers already have their area. Swimmers and power boats cannot exist in the same area. Swimmers can’t even exit safely with sail boats. 30-50km/h would be horrendous for the swimmer hit by the propeller.

Well they could trial power boats in part of the lake, there are plenty of demarkation points like bridges etc. I think the area around the east basin could be trialled if they wanted to I’m not buying that motorised boats would stir the water up and prevent the algae blooms, but if there was evidence that it was indeed the case they could easily put bouys out to mark where power boats were allowed.

Watto, a waterski trial was done in the east basin back in 2006, the results are easily found by googling it, I would link it but the document is in rich text and opens as a download. Also, the results of the waterski trial last summer on lake Gininderra can be found here: http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/575916/Final-report-on-the-Lake-Ginninderra-water-ski-training-trial.pdf

Skelinoz 3:49 pm 07 Jan 15

Do not have an issue with power boats but the Jet Skiing community is like the Cycling Fraternity. 99% play by the rules but there is always the odd one that feels entitled to ignore the rules. Let Jet skis anywhere near that lake and the day will surely come where a jet ski has run over some poor soul and i guarantee it will be because the Jet ski is outside its designated area.

watto23 3:43 pm 07 Jan 15

Maya123 said :

canberralyf said :

Maya123 said :

I hope power boats are kept off. Noisy and very DANGEROUS. Fast boats zooming about where others are trying to paddle often flimsy boats. You mention swimming is allowed. Yes, but it is very difficult to swim in the lake now because of boats. Try swimming out to an island without the danger of being hit by a sail boat. This has almost happened to me. Imagine what a power boat running over someone would do.

This is exactly the issue with that lies within the poweboat use debate on Canberra lakes.. ‘misinformation’. Maya123 do you realise that many high end ski/wakeboard boats are up in the market of $100,000?? and are actually quieter than a family sedan and far more quiet than many modified cars and motorbikes that drive on Canberra roads? not noisy.

Do you also realise wakeboarding and waterskiing happen at anywhere from about 30-50km/h?? hardly ‘zooming’

the thing that really gets me going in this debate is that there are plenty of other places in Australia where powered boats, non powered boats and swimmers coexist without issue. why is it that whenever the debate about powered craft on Canberra lakes is raised people forget this fact.

Power boats with water skiers already have their area. Swimmers and power boats cannot exist in the same area. Swimmers can’t even exit safely with sail boats. 30-50km/h would be horrendous for the swimmer hit by the propeller.

Well they could trial power boats in part of the lake, there are plenty of demarkation points like bridges etc. I think the area around the east basin could be trialled if they wanted to I’m not buying that motorised boats would stir the water up and prevent the algae blooms, but if there was evidence that it was indeed the case they could easily put bouys out to mark where power boats were allowed.

Evilomlap 3:37 pm 07 Jan 15

I remember seeing some wacky early ‘artist’s impression’ drawings of the original ideas for what the lake was supposed to be. These were primarily cheesy images of families laid out on beach towels, kids building sandcastles, girls in bikinis water-skiing etc. Doesn’t really gel with the reality. Did they actually think a giant body of stagnant water in the middle of a city with a climate way too cold for swimming 9 months of the year wouldn’t become a green swamp?

Maya123 3:25 pm 07 Jan 15

canberralyf said :

Maya123 said :

I hope power boats are kept off. Noisy and very DANGEROUS. Fast boats zooming about where others are trying to paddle often flimsy boats. You mention swimming is allowed. Yes, but it is very difficult to swim in the lake now because of boats. Try swimming out to an island without the danger of being hit by a sail boat. This has almost happened to me. Imagine what a power boat running over someone would do.

This is exactly the issue with that lies within the poweboat use debate on Canberra lakes.. ‘misinformation’. Maya123 do you realise that many high end ski/wakeboard boats are up in the market of $100,000?? and are actually quieter than a family sedan and far more quiet than many modified cars and motorbikes that drive on Canberra roads? not noisy.

Do you also realise wakeboarding and waterskiing happen at anywhere from about 30-50km/h?? hardly ‘zooming’

the thing that really gets me going in this debate is that there are plenty of other places in Australia where powered boats, non powered boats and swimmers coexist without issue. why is it that whenever the debate about powered craft on Canberra lakes is raised people forget this fact.

Power boats with water skiers already have their area. Swimmers and power boats cannot exist in the same area. Swimmers can’t even exit safely with sail boats. 30-50km/h would be horrendous for the swimmer hit by the propeller.

Maya123 3:21 pm 07 Jan 15

James-T-Kirk said :

Maya123 said :

Try swimming out to an island without the danger of being hit by a sail boat. This has almost happened to me. Imagine what a power boat running over someone would do.

Isn’t the make closed often for ‘primary contact’ activities? Swimming is certainly primary contact, and you are putting your health at serious risk by swimming through the thick, green goodness that the lake is made from….

I would welcome the use of *anything* that stirs up the water to reduce the algae.

Either that, or a couple of thousand kg of granulated pool chlorine.

🙂

I wouldn’t swim in it when it is green. Swimming is banned then, as are boats. Imagine a water skier falling into that.

James-T-Kirk 1:30 pm 07 Jan 15

Maya123 said :

Try swimming out to an island without the danger of being hit by a sail boat. This has almost happened to me. Imagine what a power boat running over someone would do.

Isn’t the make closed often for ‘primary contact’ activities? Swimming is certainly primary contact, and you are putting your health at serious risk by swimming through the thick, green goodness that the lake is made from….

I would welcome the use of *anything* that stirs up the water to reduce the algae.

Either that, or a couple of thousand kg of granulated pool chlorine.

🙂

Holden Caulfield 12:54 pm 07 Jan 15

For limted use and organised events I think it would be great to see motorised activity.

As an example, a ski jump event maybe? It would be pretty cool to set up a jump near Rond Terraces where some reasonable spectator viewing could be set up.

LBG should be used and appreciated more Canberrans I think and if people aren’t going to enjoy it by walking/running/riding around it then having some other activity to attract punters from time to time is no bad thing.

canberralyf 12:30 pm 07 Jan 15

Maya123 said :

I hope power boats are kept off. Noisy and very DANGEROUS. Fast boats zooming about where others are trying to paddle often flimsy boats. You mention swimming is allowed. Yes, but it is very difficult to swim in the lake now because of boats. Try swimming out to an island without the danger of being hit by a sail boat. This has almost happened to me. Imagine what a power boat running over someone would do.

This is exactly the issue with that lies within the poweboat use debate on Canberra lakes.. ‘misinformation’. Maya123 do you realise that many high end ski/wakeboard boats are up in the market of $100,000?? and are actually quieter than a family sedan and far more quiet than many modified cars and motorbikes that drive on Canberra roads? not noisy.

Do you also realise wakeboarding and waterskiing happen at anywhere from about 30-50km/h?? hardly ‘zooming’

the thing that really gets me going in this debate is that there are plenty of other places in Australia where powered boats, non powered boats and swimmers coexist without issue. why is it that whenever the debate about powered craft on Canberra lakes is raised people forget this fact.

Milo11 9:53 am 07 Jan 15

I fail to see what aesthetic value an algae filled glorified puddle has… and what negative impact water-sports would have on the non existent social values, one would think allowing water-sports such as skiing ect on a lake would improve it’s social value.

Maya123 9:38 am 07 Jan 15

I hope power boats are kept off. Noisy and very DANGEROUS. Fast boats zooming about where others are trying to paddle often flimsy boats. You mention swimming is allowed. Yes, but it is very difficult to swim in the lake now because of boats. Try swimming out to an island without the danger of being hit by a sail boat. This has almost happened to me. Imagine what a power boat running over someone would do.

Felix the Cat 9:12 am 07 Jan 15

Yes I reckon it would be a good idea. Once or twice a year wouldn’t be too disruptive I wouldn’t think. Half the time the lake is unusable due to blue green algae, maybe having power boats on the lake stirring things up would help prevent this.

There was someone trying to set up a hovercraft tour of LBG but the govt knocked it on the head – http://the-riotact.com/hovercraft-tours-on-lake-burley-griffin/122294

canberralyf 9:00 am 07 Jan 15

If anything, a disruption to the lake surface is exactly what LBG needs to get the water moving minimising the water quality issues the lake commonly faces. Government spent hundreds of thousands on water circulators that do next to nothing when they could of just allowed the use of motorised boats.

I find it actually quite frustrating that none of the lakes in Canberra are able to be utilised for motorised activities. I thought it was fantastic when last summer lake Gininderra was opened to the ACT Waterski and Wakeboard clubs for training when they were not allowed access to their usual home on the molonglo river because of the low lake level during the time work was being done on scrivener dam. I thought it was great to seeing more use of the lake. However, at the same time if LBG was opened to motorised use it would need to be monitored, it’s not the biggest lake and would become crowded quickly but a boat booking system similar to what was in place when the molonglo river was open to the public could be used.

In terms of annual events I remember going to both wakeboard demo’s and a jetski race both held on LBG a number of years ago at Regatta point but nothings happened for a long long time, possibly an increase in red tape for organisers? I’m not sure but it is a shame that they no longer happen.

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