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Sydney

Murray, Yarra and Lake Eildon top most dangerous inland waterways to save royal lives

According to Royal Life Saving’s latest report, Craig Johnson lives next to Australia’s most dangerous lake.

The report comes as NSW death toll from coastal drowning reaches All-time high this summer After Victoria experienced the most Christmas holidays number of drownings in 20 years.

Loch Eildon is a 13,800-hectare man-made reservoir in northeastern Victoria, six times the size of Sydney Harbour.

Once a city boy, Mr. Johnson has been visiting the lake since he was a child and now lives on the shores of Goffs Bay.

“It’s definitely home,” he said.

“Sadly, we’ve had our fair share of tragedies here, all of which are preventable.

“As beautiful as the lake is, you must be wise about yourself.”

Craig Johnson says he’s enjoyed countless days on the water with his friends, but safety planning is very important.(By: Craig Johnson)

A Royal Life Saving report on drowning in Australia’s rivers, streams, lakes and dams, released today, uses data from 10 years to 2021 to identify the waterways with the highest number of deaths. .

During that period, there were 924 deaths in inland waterways, more than a third of all drowning deaths nationwide.

Of all places, rivers are the most dangerous.

The Murray River, which runs through New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, was the deadliest river in the decade with 49 deaths, followed by the Yarra River in Melbourne with 27.

Katrien Pickles, Senior Research and Policy Projects Officer at Royal Life Savings, said the report showed little progress towards reducing annual inland drowning rates.

“Unfortunately, the Murray continues to be the river with the highest number of drownings,” she said.

Dr. Pickles said the same was true at Lake Eildon, where seven people drowned in a decade.

Lake Macquarie and St George’s Basin in New South Wales had the next highest number of drownings, with five drownings.

“We don’t see a downward trend. We know it’s a high risk place, but we know it will continue to be high risk,” Dr. Pickles said.

A view of the white clubhouse on the water, taken from a boat.
Goffs Bay is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.(By: Craig Johnson)

A Fisherman’s Sanctuary Becomes a “Nightmare”

Mr. Johnson is the Admiral of the Goffs Bay Boat Sports and Recreation Club and observes how locals and tourists enjoy the water all year round.

“Lake Eildon is a mecca for fishermen, and apparently in the warmer months there is waterskiing, wakeboarding, canoeing, sailing, jet skiing and people are out boating and out overnight and camping on the shore. I have,” he said.

He has also seen tragedy unfold firsthand.

“It’s so sad to see what lives are lost and what it means to devastated families, not to mention state emergency services and police,” he said.

“We are helping as much as we can. We have good relationships with emergency services and in some cases we use the clubhouse as an emergency response point.”

Johnson said it’s easy to get lost in the lake, and some people aren’t prepared to navigate such large bodies of water.

“We are not an emergency service, but we do get a lot of calls to help someone with a breakdown or to help people with something as simple as running out of fuel.

“Certainly alcohol, fatigue, cold water, hypothermia, etc. can sadly cause nightmares.”

Pickles said persistent trends in research, including a higher proportion of drownings among men, indicate that advocacy messages are not having an impact.

Among the report’s recommendations was the development of local water safety plans.

“So it would be great if local councils and local communities could engage with different stakeholders and develop drowning prevention plans,” she said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-24/inland-waterways-drownings-australia-royal-life-saving-report/102015674 Murray, Yarra and Lake Eildon top most dangerous inland waterways to save royal lives

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