With the first information meeting around the planned boating bans on this Monday many boat users around Bundalong want safety measures not bans.
The Draft Murray River Erosion Management Plan which was released by NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) on December 1 recommends a trial ban on wake enhancing boats and activities between Bundalong and Corowa for three years, even up to five years.
The first information session on the plan is to be held in Bundalong at the Pyke Street Recreational Reserve this Monday, January 15 from 6-8pm.
The Yarrawonga Chronicle visited the Bundalong ‘Junction’ and Major Creek areas last week and spoke to various boat users about the proposed ban by RMS.
The Bishop family who have owned a holiday house in Bundalong for nine years said they have noticed boats have become bigger every year and wake surfing had become more popular in recent years.
“There does need to be more education. It’s all about safety and showing some common sense,” Mike Bishop said.
“The boats are getting bigger and should avoid the narrows and use the wider parts of the river or the lake.
“Wake surfing should not be allowed on the river. Their wake is so large we have to slow down or turn around to avoid them,” he said.
The Bishops believe banning any form of boating is not the answer but conceded there must be a better way to manage and restrict users so everyone can enjoy the river safely.
Bundalong long-standing holiday home owner Sharn Hanley said the ban was a good idea and would like to see wake enhancing boats and activities moved further downstream to Majors Creek and Lake Mulwala.
“We need to save the river upstream in the narrows,” he said.
Ben Murphy from Melbourne said he has been holidaying in the area for over 35 years and agreed any ban or restriction should be put in place after community consultation and relevant evidence.
“The ban needs to have the proper evidence,” he said.
An online petition trying to stop the proposed ban on wake enhancing boating between Bundalong and Corowa has attracted over 7000 signatures in just six weeks.
The Save Boating on the Murray River group, which started the online petition that is being sent to NSW Maritime Minister Melinda Pavey and various local state and federal politicians, wants to shift the issue from erosion to improving and educating boat users on safety and etiquette on the water.
Bundalong Tavern owner and group member Brett Butler said the majority of people are against the ban and believes erosion is not sufficient reason to enforce it.
Mr Butler said the behaviour of some people operating wake boats does cause concern but the real issue is about safety out on the water.
“I think there is a small group that needs to be educated on etiquette and rules. Education and policing is what needs to happen, not a ban,” Mr Butler said.
He said by banning any form of boating will have major impacts on the economy.
“Our local economy relies on the water sport enthusiasts not only in Bundalong but surrounding areas such as Yarrawonga, Mulwala and Corowa.”
Mr Butler said they wanted to encourage wake surfing boats to use the boating areas around Majors Creek, still close to Bundalong.
“It’s a much wider and safer part of the river to do it,” he said.
“Rather than banning an activity, relocate it to a more user-friendly part of the river.”
Mulwala Water Ski Club CEO Peter Duncan predicts more than 650 jobs could be wiped out from the region if the proposed ban is enforced next Easter.
“I have seen the research that clearly shows that boating only makes up two per cent of erosion issues on a river,” Mr Duncan said.
“It’s disappointing to think authorities would impose such devastating bans to gain just two per cent benefit in erosion control.”
Save Boating on the Murray River met with representatives from Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and NSW RMS in December and plan to deliver a proposal to them this week outlining an activity plan which has certain zones for various activities along the river.
Mr Butler said if their proposal is not welcomed by RMS and MDBA, then the group will be showing their protest by marching across the Yarrawonga Mulwala Melbourne Street traffic bridge on the Australia Day long weekend.
Have your say by February 28.
Feedback can be provided via the project website, email to MurrayRiverErosion@rms.nsw.gov.au, or mail to Murray River Erosion Project, Roads and Maritime Services, Locked Bag 5100, Camperdown NSW 1450.
Visit a drop-in information session to find out more about the plan, ask questions and leave feedback at:
• Bundalong: 6-8pm on Monday 15 January 2018 at the Bundalong Community Centre, Bundalong Recreational Reserve, Pyke Street, Bundalong.
• Yarrawonga: 6pm-8pm on Tuesday 13 February 2018 at the Yarrawonga Community Hall, Orr Street, Yarrawonga.
• Corowa: 6pm-8pm on Thursday 15 February 2018 at Memorial Hall, Sanger Street, Corowa.
For more information call 1800 316 622 or visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/south-coast/MurrayRiverErosion.html