Volunteer makes Emerald pastime safer
AN IDEAL day out for Emerald's Heath Thomas is, as he puts it, "a bit of boating and redclawing" at Lake Maraboon.
A volunteer with the Maraboon Power Boat and Ski Club, Mr Thomas has been in Emerald for 17 years.
Given his hobbies, he is quite familiar with the Fairbairn Dam, the capacity of which has increased by about eight percentage points in the past few weeks.
But recently Mr Thomas has been busy alleviating a potential danger caused by the much-needed inflow.
"After Christmas, with the dam being so low, we ventured out and saw a few of the old fence posts sticking out in the middle of the dam," he said.
"We pulled them out or sunk them into the mud so they don't float, reducing the hazards."
Mr Thomas said any change in the water level could contribute to the dangers posed by old, wooden fencing.
If the water recedes, the posts are closer to the surface; if the water advances, more of the posts are hidden under the surface.
"The level now probably poses more risk because people get a bit gamer as there's more water in there," Mr Thomas said.
"We get a lot of nomads who come up and aren't familiar with the area, and everything might look good, but there are underwater hazards."
The boat and ski club runs a Facebook page dedicated to informing visitors of water levels and associated dangers - including fence posts that might have been underwater for decades.
"We're only a small, little club," Mr Thomas said. "We're just looking after the backyard that we ski in.
"I don't think there's ever been any serious injuries but, at the end of the day, people aren't going to see the hazards.
"Be careful out there."
To get involved with the club, call 0476 910 371.
Sunwater advised to get in touch with them about potential hazards in the dam.