Boating on Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin is a popular venue for water sports, in particular, sailing, rowing, sailboarding and canoeing.

The use of power boats is generally controlled in Lake Burley Griffin under the provisions of the Lakes Ordinance 1976. Details are provided in the Policy for use of Powered Boats on Lake Burley Griffin 1998.

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

  • a sailing course in West Lake ;
  • a rowing course in Yarramundi Reach marked by buoy lines; and
  • canoe training in the sheltered waters of Molonglo Reach.
  • 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.

Powered boats require a permit to go on Lake Burley Griffin. 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.

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
  • 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. 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 the 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

Permit application forms and the Lake Burley Griffin powered boat policy are available from the National Capital Authority. 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 organisers is required to contact the National Capital Authority’s Events Officer for further details, which will be processed as part of the events approvals. Matters including 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:

  • C1 Boats used for rescue, coaching or judging boats used by organised sports
  • C3(A) Boats used for Lake management, scientific research or other specified non-recreational uses
  • C4 Power Boats for commercial tourist use

Boats used for the following purposes will be exempt from needing a boat licence (a permit is required):

  • C2(A) Boats used for general use (including fishing boats)
  • C2(B) Trailerable yachts with auxiliary power
  • C3(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 onboard 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. In particular life jackets for all persons on the boat.

Further details

Further details on obtaining a power boat permit are available from National Capital Authority by contacting on – Tel 02 6271 2888.

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