IT’S nothing like Water Rats but Mulwala police have had their share of chases on what they say is the best office in the world.
Lake Mulwala stretches from Mulwala to Bundalong and the vast stretch of water, with bare trees reaching through its surface, is a social leveller.
Well, that’s if you’re ignoring Millionaires’ Row that is.
The row of swish apartments line the water’s edge along the western side and fetch prices of $1.3 million.
Go a couple of streets back and prices halve.
It’s a playground for the rich, the infamous (there’s rumours Painters and Dockers union members moved to Mulwala 20 years ago) and locals are used to sharing their backyard with the seasonal influxes.
But it’s hardly the stuff of the cop show of the ’90s where officers guarded Sydney harbour from a murky underworld.
“A lot of crime doesn’t happen on the water,” Mulwala police Sen-Constable Doug Nyholm said.
“It is just safety, compliance and making sure they’re not drunk. Plus Water Rats is based in Sydney Harbour. But the good thing about Sydney Harbour is there are no jet- skis on it.”
Jet-skis, or rather, some jet-ski users aren’t really Sen-Constable Nyholm’s favourite water-users.
“It’s the foolish operators of jet-skis that are a menace and they are targeted by us and will continue to be targeted by us,” he said.
Sen-Constable Nyholm hosted the Border Mail on Monday in Mulwala police’s Edencraft boat, capable of going up to 120 kilometres an hour, in the lead-up to their operations on the water during the Australia Day weekend.
During the summer, at least one officer from the four-member, 16-hour station will be on the lake most days checking boat and jet-ski users have licenses and are adhering to the lay of the water.
It was sometime after this reporter urged Sen-Constable Nyholm to make the boat go fast that he pulls over 18-year-old Elliott Liveston from Ballarat.
“G’day mate how you going? Just doing a compliance check. Have you got your licence and registration with you?” Sen-Constable Nyholm asks.
Elliott doesn’t but he tells Sen-Constable Nyholm his license is back on shore and adds he wants to be a police officer some day.
On the western shore, he produces a valid license. Sen-Constable Nyholm issues a warning and goes through the water rules — making sure you are 30 metres from another vessel, that you are 60 metres from people in the water and 200 metres from the shore of residences.
He’s lucky he got a warning, fines can reach up to $1500 for some offences.
“Mate, you have to have it on you at all times,” Sen-Constable Nyholm said.
The police officer of 22 years also offers Elliott some words of advice for his chosen career.
“Interacting with the public is the biggest weapon you’ve got,” he said.
“You only get in a shootout two or three times in your life, but you use this (pointing to his mouth) every day.”
But not even Sen-Constable Nyholm’s gift of the gab can prevent chases and trauma.
He recalled chasing jet-skis to Bundalong where the young men involved dumped them on land and ran off.
They were caught later as, like cars, jet-skis are traceable.
There’s also several drownings.
This is why Sen-Constable Nyholm is happy to chat to anyone he comes across on Lake Mulwala, he knows what he can prevent.
This is why there will be more police and maritime services officers on the water this weekend.
“I’d much rather educate,” he said.
“I like stopping things from getting worse.”
And the emergency services games world champion surfer just loves the water.
“That’s half of the reason I’m here, because the water’s here,” he said.
“It’s an oasis.”