Capitalising on Capricorn
  |  First Published: December 2008

Fishing enthusiast Matt Bampton hasn’t look back since he decided on a sea change six years ago by moving from the Sunshine Coast to the Capricorn Coast.

“It’s the best thing I have ever done,” he said as he showed me around his new boat licensing training room on the shores of Causeway Lake at Yeppoon.

Look out the window and there bobbing on the shallow water are his paddle-boats, kayaks, fishing hire boats (no license required) aquabikes, catamarans and surf skis. Through the opposite window, the view takes in another aspect of his business, Impact Charters. It is based on his trailered, 7m Haines Hunter Patriot ocean-going cruiser with a Toyota Landcruiser up-front ready to tow it to the various boat ramps in the area, which gives him and his fishing-trip customers quick access to the Ferns and other outer reefs.

Matt has always been a lover of the coastal life but after 21 years on the Sunshine Coast he felt his business opportunities were limited. So with his family, he moved to the Capricorn Coast to purchase the Causeway Lake Boat Hire business.

“We have gradually added new equipment over the years and have put in a lot of time building a customer base through good service.”

This approach to customer care over the years has also been reflected over the past 18 months in a new service that Matt has introduced for both locals and visitors – the training and testing for boating and jet ski licenses.

“I have always been into boating and fishing. When I came up here, I updated the boat hire equipment and ran it for about five years, seven days a week, then got a little bored. Winter gets a bit quiet, so I decided to do something more. I then started studying to be able to get into boating and jet ski license training. It has turned into a dream.

“Visitors come up here and don’t have a boat license, so this is where they start. That was 18 months ago, and my goal in the first year was to train and issue 220 licenses, but it turned out to be over 2000!”

Matt quickly adds that not all the licenses were issued to people in the Capricorn Coast region. “My area for training and licensing stretches from Sarina in the north to Gladstone in the south and west to the Queensland/Northern Territory border.” That’s a big schoolroom!

Matt’s licensing procedures are in line with the strict guidelines laid down by Maritime Safety Queensland. “It stipulates six hours of training for each candidate, whereas I usually give up to nine hours of instruction and the use of a custom vessel included in the cost of $170,” said Matt.

Taking people out fishing is another of Matt’s passions and with his newly acquired boat, he can do it speedily and efficiently. It has plenty of power from the twin 150hp Honda four-strokes and is licensed to carry six passengers. There is a toilet and shower, fridge and freezer.

Half day fishing trips cost from $180 per person while a full day outing to the reef or other in-shore fishing spots, cost from $250 per person. It includes food, refreshments, tackle and bait. For further information phone Matt on 0403 187 373. – Tony Walsh

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