Woonbalu vessel, North Kimberley Marine Park
Woonbalu vessel, North Kimberley Marine Park

Kimberley marine parks are set to benefit from the arrival of a new, patrol vessel.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation has welcomed the $2 million Parks and Wildlife Service vessel to Wyndham.

The 17 metre vessel Woonbalu, named after the Balanggarra term meaning ‘blue bone’, will be used for patrol work, marine science and emergency response in the North Kimberley Marine Park, as well as across other areas of the Kimberley, such as Lalang-garram Marine Park and the proposed Buccaneer Archipelago Marine Park.

At 1.845 million hectares, the North Kimberley Marine Park is the largest marine park in Western Australia, ranging from the Northern Territory border in the north, to York Sound in the south.

Parks and Wildlife Service Kimberley Regional Manager Craig Olejnik said given the remoteness of the area, it would be a huge benefit to have a large, live aboard vessel for use within Kimberley marine parks.

“The vessel can generate its own electricity and water for extended time at sea and at various times will house marine park staff, Aboriginal rangers, and joint management partners from throughout the region,” Mr Olejnik said.

“On top of that, it has been fitted with all of the necessary communication equipment to give staff and joint management partners internet access while out on patrol – it’s like a having an office at sea.”

The vessel was built by Perth based manufacturer Cordina Marine over a two-year period. It has the capacity to carry 6500 litres of fuel oil with a range of 800 nautical miles.

Page reviewed 14 Aug 2020