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Boating, commercial activity, permits and safety

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 Traffic Flow Guide can be found herePDF iconLake Traffic Flow Guide.pdf (2.14 MB).

The November 2015 Lake Burley Griffin Depth Map can be found here.PDF iconBathymetry Drawing of Lake Burley Griffin 2015 One Page.pdf (8.15 MB)

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 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.

The NCA issues boat permits to powered boats used for private recreational use (e.g. fishing boats, RHIB’s). These vessels are allowable but must use auxiliary (electric) motors whilst on the Lake. Petrol motors do not have to be removed from boats but, except in the case of an emergency, they are not permitted to be used on the Lake.

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

  • Category 1 - Conventional powered boats used as rescue, coaching or judging boats in support of aquatic sports.
  • Category 2 - Electrically powered and solar powered boats and trailerable yachts with auxiliary power (including those power boats which will be using auxiliary power while on Lake Burley Griffin)
  • Category 3 - Boats used for Lake management, special interest boats (such as ‘traditional boats')
  • Category 4 - Commercial tourist use (eg ferries).

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

Safety Inspection

Before an annual power boat permit is first issued for any category of boat, with an exception of commercial vessels, an ACT Water Police inspection is required. The safety inspection ensures the appropriate safety equipment is on the vessel. Contact the ACT Water Police to arrange an inspection on 6245 7393.  The ACT Water Police may carry out random inspections on the water for the presence of safety equipment held on boats. The Power Boat Safety Inspection form can be found here.

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. ACT Water Police inspections may not be required but owners are required to certify that they have the requisite safety equipment such as life jackets and that they carry appropriate public risk liability insurance.

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.

Temporary permit applicants may not require an ACT Water Police inspection such as for events conducted on the Lake. For power boats associated with events on the Lake, the event organiser is required to contact the National Capital Authority’s Events Officer at events@nca.gov.au for further details, which will be processed as part of the events approvals.  An event risk assessment and management plan, event insurance for public risk liability and consultation with users are generally required for the conduct of events on Lake Burley Griffin.

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. 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 natcap@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