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Boating safety education centre officially opened

THE NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay and Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton this week officially opened the boating safety education centre at the former Watsons Bay Pilot Station. The refurbished facility will be used to help educate young boaties on how to be safe and responsible on the water.

“This is such an innovative transformation for this old heritage beauty – breathing new life into and giving purpose to a building that had so much potential but wasn’t being used,” Mr Gay said.

“Thousands of young people are expected to visit this centre and learn about boating safety through education and practical training from experts.

“It is critical children learn boating skills early and what better way to teach them than with other children and in an interactive and fun environment.

“The NSW Government has worked closely with key partners such as Boating Industry Association (BIA), Marine Teachers Association, Yachting NSW, Paddle NSW and Sailability to turn this boating centre into a reality.”

Ms Upton said the beautiful end-result of the boating safety education centre was thanks to the feedback and support of the local community.

“The history of the Pilot Station has helped define the marine character of Watsons Bay, and I am pleased to see that the historical integrity of the building has been maintained today,” Ms Upton said.

“I had campaigned strongly for the Pilot Station to have a suitable new use, and the centre will service as a sustainable boating safety legacy that will benefit young people for years to come.

“The repurposing of the former Pilot Station is the result of a collaborative effort by Roads and Maritime Services, local residents and Woollahra Council – which drove the maritime heritage and purpose of the education centre we are opening today,” Ms Upton said.

Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka was delighted that the upgrade also gives kids with disability access into the harbour from an iconic location.

“Everyone deserves to access one of the most beautiful harbours in the world – and through initiatives like this and organisations like Sailability – there are no boundaries,” Mr Ajaka said.

BIA president Alan Blake said there will be kids from all walks-of-life coming to this facility to learn more about boating safety and that can only be a good thing. Getting into the right safety habits from an early age, like putting on a lifejacket before you go out on the water can save lives.

“One of the great things about this initiative is that it will provide opportunities for people with disability to enjoy on-water activities. Giving everyone the chance to excel and reach their full potential is what it’s all about.”

The new boating education centre is now fully-operational with a purpose-designed ramp and floating pontoon installed allowing access to the water for children of all abilities.

The NSW Government provided $1.2 million towards the project. Restoration work started in 2014 and included complete refurbishment of the building, installation of change room facilities, boat storage on the lower floor and a large pontoon and ramp for the launching and recovery of vessels.

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