On dif­fer­ent plane

Pinjarra Murray Times - - FRONT PAGE - Vanessa Sch­mitt

HOR­I­ZON­TAL Falls Sea­plane Ad­ven­tures won three Gold and two Hall of Fame awards at the WA Tourism Awards.

Owned by Dawesville res­i­dent Troy Thomas, the com­pany op­er­ates in the Kim­ber­ley re­gion, Perth, Margaret River, Rot­tnest Is­land and the Pin­na­cles.

De­spite his com­pany op­er­at­ing through­out WA, Mr Thomas is not al­lowed to fly sea­planes in his home­town.

“I grew up here and our tourist ac­tiv­i­ties would pump mil­lions into the lo­cal econ­omy,” he said.

Mr Thomas would like to bring tourists by sea­plane from Perth to Man­durah on day trips. Tourists could en­joy aerial views of Man­durah and the wa­ter­ways, take a boat cruise, en­joy lunch and then fly back to Perth. Tourists on the Perth to Margaret River tours could stop in at Man­durah.

Mr Thomas said his sea­planes could take off from a float­ing jetty and a pon­toon on the shal­low part of the eastern fore­shore, op­po­site Man­durah Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre.

“But a Wa­ter Act rule says you can’t have sea­planes on the es­tu­ary,” Mr Thomas said.

City of Man­durah Mayor Rhys Wil­liams said the City was sup­port­ive of Swan River Sea­planes.

“The City wrote to the com­pany in June last year ex­press­ing our sup­port of the op­por­tu­nity and that we would wel­come them to the re­gion,” he said.

“We are aware of a num­ber of ap­proval hur­dles re­quired by State Govern­ment reg­u­la­tions and hope they can be suc­cess­fully over­come to pro­vide a great tourism of­fer­ing in Man­durah.”

A Depart­ment of Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­men­tal Reg­u­la­tion spokes­woman said the land­ing of air­craft within the gazetted Peel In­let Man­age­ment area, ex­cept in an emer­gency, was specif­i­cally pro­hib­ited by the Wa­ter­ways Con­ser­va­tion Reg­u­la­tions 1981.

“The Wa­ter­ways Con­ser­va­tion Reg­u­la­tions 1981 re­main in place for the PeelHar­vey Es­tu­ary and pro­vide en­hanced pro­tec­tion sta­tus given the es­tu­ary’s eco­log­i­cal im­por­tance and sen­si­tiv­ity to sur­round­ing land uses,” she said.

“The Peel-Har­vey Es­tu­ary is also a Ram­sar wet­land of in­ter­na­tional im­por­tance, as it is an im­por­tant area for wa­ter­birds in south­west­ern Aus­tralia, and par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for mi­gra­tory birds pro­tected un­der in­ter­na­tional agree­ments and Com­mon­wealth leg­is­la­tion.”

Peel Har­vey Catch­ment Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Jane O’Mal­ley said the PHCC was grate­ful the Act pro­vided such a level of pro­tec­tion for the in­ter­na­tion­ally sig­nif­i­cant Ram­sar listed wet­land.

“We un­der­value the econ­omy of the es­tu­ary,” she said.

“Sea­planes are not ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause of the dis­tur­bance to mi­gra­tory and res­i­dent birds, dol­phins and peo­ple.”

Pic­ture: The Scene Team

Hor­i­zon­tal Falls Sea­plane Ad­ven­tures owner Troy Thomas with Tourism Min­is­ter Paul Pa­palia.

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