Lake Burley Griffin (the Lake) is a popular venue for water sports, in particular, sailing, rowing, sail boarding and canoeing. With the increasing number of craft on the Lake, the NCA has recommendations for traffic flow whilst on the water.

The Lake Burley Griffin Boating Map can be downloaded from here

Lake Burley Griffin Navigation Map

The use of power boats is generally controlled in Lake Burley Griffin under the provisions of the Lakes Ordinance 1976. Details are provided in Attachment A: Use of Powered Boats on Lake Burley Griffin of the Lake Burley Griffin Recreation Policy.

The Lake has a number of principal use areas for boating including:

  • a dragon boat course in East Basin adjacent to Grevillea Beach
  • a sailing course in West Lake and
  • a rowing course in Yarramundi Reach marked by buoy lines

Restrictions to these uses may apply during periods of Lake closures.

Requirements for Permits

Non-powered craft such as sailing boats and canoes do not require a permit to go on Lake Burley Griffin (the Lake).

Powered boats require a permit to go on the Lake. These are issued throughout the year and renewed on an annual basis. Temporary permits are also available for short term use such as for events. While the ACT Government have recently changed their rules around the need for boat permits on their lakes (eg Lake Ginninderra and Lake Tuggeranong), the NCA still requires permits to be issued for powered boats.

The NCA issues boat permits to powered boats used for private recreational use (e.g. fishing boats, RHIB’s).

There are four categories of permits issued for powerboats. These are:

  • Category 1 - Conventional powered boats used as rescue, coaching or judging boats in support of aquatic sports. These vessels are permitted to use petrol motors and require drivers to be licenced with boat licences.
  • Category 2a – Recreational use powered vessels -  These vessels are not permitted to use petrol motors (unless in the case of an emergency) and normally do not require drivers to be licenced with boat licences. Auxiliary (electric) motors must be used whilst on the Lake. Petrol motors do not have to be removed from boats.
  • Category 2b - Trailerable sailing yachts -  These vessels are permitted to use petrol motors but only to move out of embayments and in the case of an emergency. Drivers are not required to be licenced with boat licences.
  • Category 3a - Boats used for Lake management - These vessels are permitted to use petrol motors and require drivers to be licenced with boat licences (will be assessed against AMSA Domestic Commercial Vessel requirements)
  • Category 3b - Special interest boats (such as ‘traditional boats') - These vessels are permitted to use petrol (and alternate motor types) and do not require drivers to be licenced with boat licences.
  • Category 4 - Commercial tourist use (eg ferries). These vessels are permitted to use petrol motors (and alternate motor types) and require drivers to be licenced with commercial drivers licences as per AMSA Domestic Commercial Vessel requirements.

Further details are provided in the Policy for use of Powered boats on Lake Burley Griffin 1998.

Safety Inspection

Please be advised that the AFP Water Police will not be undertaking power boat inspections for boat permit applications for the foreseeable future. The Water Police Power Boat Inspection Report is no longer a requirement of the Boat Permit Application process during this time.

Boat permit applicants will instead be required to provide photographic evidence of their safety equipment (including bailing bucket, paddle, torch, fire extinguisher and anchor/rope) as part of their application.

The ACT Water Police may carry out random inspections on the water for the presence of safety equipment held on boats.

Different procedures apply for commercial vessels

Subsequent renewals do not require inspection, provided there have been no changes in the details of the boat.

For regattas and other events, temporary permits are available for a maximum period of four weeks. The boat safety inspections are still required but may be arranged upon arrival to the ACT. The  boat safety inspections check for routine safety equipment such as life jackets and lights (if appropriate).

Obtaining a Boat Permit

Boat permits are issued for the use of power boats on Lake Burley Griffin. Vessels are to be used in accordance with Attachment A: Use of Power Boats on Lake Burley Griffin in the Lake Burley Griffin Recreation Policy. There is currently no fee for a permit.

Interstate owners of boats which are part of an event conducted on the Lake, are to have safety inspections by the ACT Water Police prior to launching on Lake Burley Griffin. For power boats associated with events on the Lake, the event organiser is required to contact the National Capital Authority’s Events Team at events@nca.gov.au for further details, which will be processed as part of the events approvals. 

Boat Licences

The National Capital Authority requires drivers of powerboats (petrol and electric) used for the following purposes to be holders of either a current powerboat driver's licence issued in any Australian state or territory; a ‘TL3' certificate issued under the Australian Yachting Federation National Powerboat Training Scheme; or a National Powerboat Handling Certificate from Australian Sailing:

  • Category 1 - Conventional powered boats used as rescue, coaching or judging boats in support of aquatic sports
  • Category 3 (A) - Boats used for Lake management, scientific research or other specified non-recreational uses
  • Category 4 - Commercial tourist use (eg ferries).

Drivers of powerboats (petrol and electric) used for the following purposes will be exempt from needing a boat driver's licence (boat permits are sill required):

  • Category 2 (A) - Boats used for general use (including fishing boats)
  • Category 2 (B) - Trailerable yachts with auxiliary power
  • Category 3 (B) -  'Special Interest' boats (including 'Traditional Boats' with maximum speeds of 10 knots)

Boat Permit Holders Responsibilities

The permit holders are responsible to ensure the presence of all prescribed safety equipment on board whilst the vessel is in use on Lake Burley Griffin. Sea worthiness of the vessel is to be maintained at all times, and the National Capital Authority and the ACT Water Police must be informed of any modifications to the vessel. Permits are issued under the Lakes Ordinance 1976 and adherence of the conditions of the Ordinance, and the Policy for use of Powered boats on Lake Burley Griffin and any special conditions of the permit is a requirement for all operators to observe. Failure to do so will see the operator removed from the Lake and permit to operate on the Lake revoked. Life jackets must be carried for all persons on the boat.

Further details

Further details on obtaining a power boat permit are available from National Capital Authority by contacting calling 02 6271 2888 or email info@nca.gov.au

Commercial Activity on Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin is the centre-piece for the setting of the National Capital.

Under Section 33 of the Lakes Ordinance 1976, the Commonwealth, represented by the National Capital Authority (NCA), may enter into an agreement with persons with respect to the undertaking of commercial activities within the Lake Burley Griffin area.

Should you wish to apply to enter into such an agreement please complete the form below and provide relevant supporting material. Before applying please acquaint yourself with the terms and conditions of the Agreement and sign in the space provided to indicate your acceptance of those terms and conditions.

Application to Undertake a Commercial Activity

Agreement to Undertake a Commercial Activity

Sample Agreement