Skippers urged to make safety their priority this Australia Day


Media Statement

140 William Street, Perth, WA 6000
GPO Box C102, Perth, WA 6839
T (08) 6551 6000


Attention:  News Editor/Chief of Staff

January 20, 2016

For immediate release

Skippers urged to make safety their priority this Australia Day

Skippers planning on taking in this year’s Australia Day Skyworks from the water need to complete a full safety check of their vessel before leaving home.

Department of Transport (DoT) Director of Waterways Safety Management Chris Mather said safety should be given top priority in the preparations for the event which attracts tens of thousands of vessels to the Swan Canning Riverpark.

“It’s the busiest time of the year on the river and skippers planning on attending need to prepare by following DoT’s BEST safety checklist guidelines which identify items to be maintained before each trip under the headings boat, equipment, safety equipment and trailer,” Mr Mather said.

“It is vital all vessels have the correct combination of navigation lights for the trip home and while not compulsory, it is recommended that life jackets and flares are carried on board.”

Mr Mather said that skippers were responsible for their passengers at all times and should be familiar with the restrictions and closures and aware of all possible dangers.

“That includes dangers associated with heavily populated mooring areas and overloaded vessels. Swimming from vessels is not allowed in the spectator vessel holding areas as the propellers of passing vessels pose a significant threat to the safety,” Mr Mather said.

“Given the high volume and density of vessel traffic and the close proximity of anchoring, DoT will not be permitting commercial operators to facilitate raft ups on Perth Water on the day.”  

Mr Mather advised that the vessel holding areas would be available the day before and urged skippers to secure a spot early.

All skippers require a Recreational Skipper's Ticket to be in charge of a vessel with a motor of more than 4.5 kilowatts (6HP) and will be required to navigate several exclusion zones, implemented around barges, on the river in the days prior and on the day of the event.

There are also special restrictions on Perth Water on Australia Day. Restrictions include:

  • an eight knot speed limit will apply from the Narrows Bridge to Causeway Bridges including all of Perth Water between 3pm and 11pm;
  • Perth Water will be closed to all vessels from 4.45pm to 9.45pm; 
  • vessels are only to anchor or moor in the spectator vessel holding areas; and
  • the Narrows Bridge main navigation channel (centre arch only) is to be used by all vessels.

The Belmont ski area will be closed from 3pm to accommodate an increase in river traffic from the Maylands and Goodwood Parade boat ramps.

Skippers are also reminded that after dark the open speed limit on the Swan Canning Riverpark is restricted to 10 knots.

While it is not a requirement for all vessels to be fitted with a radio, boats fitted with one are asked to monitor 27.88 MHz or VHF 9 and 16 (call sign is ‘Marine Command’).These frequencies are for any on water information or instructions relating to the event. A message will be broadcast on these channels detailing closures and reopening of Perth Water. DoT Marine Officers will also be on hand to advise uncertain members of the boating public.

DoT's free Australia Day Skyworks River Closures and Restrictions booklet provides vital navigation information and safety advice.

For a copy of the booklet go to

And for information on the BEST checklist

Media contact: Bronwyn Hillman 0408 098 220

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