Should BASE Jumping Be Permitted To Take Place in Australia?
The plight of the Australian BASE jumper is a difficult one.
Australian BASE jumpers mostly jump overseas now due to the fact that BASE jumping is effectively not permitted anywhere within Australia. But while in Australia for most of the year, Australian BASE jumpers need places they can regularly BASE jump from so they can get constant practice to maintain or improve their skillset and knowledge. This is the only way they can continue to jump in the safest possible way. The sport of BASE jumping is all about maximising safety when jumping off tall objects such as cliffs or bridges or buildings, so it can be repeated over and over again with no injury.
With there being nowhere that BASE jumping is currently permitted in Australia, this often leads Australian BASE jumpers to just jump off whatever they can find without gaining permission first. This is the only choice they have if they want to ensure their jumping remains as safe as possible by getting regular practice.
Current regulations which effectively prohibit BASE jumping are not effective and have not stopped BASE jumping in Australia or eliminated injury or death. While policy makers may think their current regulations are common sense and will protect people, in reality the blanket outlawing of BASE jumping in Australia only accelerates the chance of serious injury or death for Australian BASE jumpers both in Australia and overseas. Furthermore it just creates extra difficulties for authority and rescue personnel in the rare instance there is an incident.
Many Australians are now traveling overseas to learn to BASE jump. After returning to Australia with a minimum amount of knowledge and skills, they have no legal avenues within Australia where they can further their knowledge and skills. They are often left to try to figure the rest out themselves. While experienced BASE jumpers would be happy to help new BASE jumpers learn, current regulations prevent them from legally going out to jump with them to closely supervise and guide inexperienced BASE jumpers. With experienced BASE jumpers not wanting to take on the legal liability and break the law, many newer BASE jumpers are left to just go it alone, often unknowing venturing onto a more reckless or dangerous path. This is a growing problem with an increasing number of Australians wanting to learn to BASE jump, and the ease of doing an introductory course overseas.
With many experienced Australian BASE jumpers having minimal opportunity to BASE jump within Australia, their lack of practice throughout the year decreases their skills and puts them at higher risk when they finally do go overseas to jump. Whether it is huge mountains in Europe, or building display jumps in front of large crowds including lots of small children, BASE jumpers need to be at their peak performance to maximise safety for them and their spectators. Current Australian regulations only increase the risks for all.
Instead of wasting limited resources on the impossible task of trying to stamp out BASE jumping and effectively making BASE jumping much more dangerous, surely it would be better to focus more on helping to make BASE jumping much safer. Policy makers find labelling people as criminal to be an easy solution, but it is a very bad solution that does a lot of harm and no good.
As seen with many other activities and sports that were once seen as a “nuisance”, once people are given outlets to do these activities, a large part of the problem and nuisance of it goes away.
We believe allowing BASE jumping to take place on a regular basis will lead to an increase of knowledge and skills which will effectively make it much safer for the growing number of participants.
Some of the best places to jump within Australia are off cliffs. Unfortunately the safest cliffs are all located in national parks. NSW National Parks policy on BASE jumping states “due to the extreme danger associated with base jumping, consent will not be given for this activity in any park under any circumstance.” This implies it could never be done safely, but is contradicted by the fact that many thousands of BASE jumps have been successfully completed in NSW National Parks over the years.
Australia’s most experienced BASE jumpers have safely completed almost 3000 BASE jumps each.
President of Australian BASE Association, Gary Cunningham organises annual events off buildings in Malaysia. During a 4 day event off KL Tower in Malaysia in 2013, over 2800 BASE jumps were completed by 100 BASE jumpers that came from all around the world.
If so many BASE jumps can be successfully done overseas, why is it so difficult to do a single BASE jump in Australia?
KL Tower BASE Jump 2012
KL Tower BASE Jump 2012 took place from from 27th 30th September. It included 4 days of jumping and 2 nights.
91 BASE jumpers from 17 countries completed over 2200 BASE jumps during the event.
Event Hosts: Menara Kuala Lumpur
Event Organiser: CD Events.
BASE Jumping Organisers: Gary Cunningham, President of Australian BASE Association.
Ground Coordinator: Aziz Ahmad, President of Malaysian BASE Association
SIBU BASE JUMP 2012
Sibu BASE Jump 2012 took place from 20th to 23rd September of Wisma Sanyan.
28 BASE jumpers from 7 countries completed 761 BASE jumps during the event.
KL TOWER BASE JUMP 2011
KL Tower BASE Jump 2011 took place from from 29th September to 2nd October, coinciding with the 15th Anniversary of KL Tower. It included 4 days of jumping and 2 nights.
88 BASE jumpers from 22 countries completed over 1800 BASE jumps during the event.
Event Organiser: CD Events.
BASE Jumping Organisers: Aziz Ahmad of Malaysian BASE Association and Gary Cunningham of Australian BASE Association.
For more information about the event contact Gary Cunningham.
SIBU BASE JUMP 2011
Sibu BASE Jump 2011 took place place off Wisma Sanyan from 22nd to 25th September 2011.
It included 4 days of jumping and 2 nights.
23 BASE jumpers attended the event completing 666 BASE jumps over the 4 days.
Sibu Divisional Tourism Task Group
Aziz Ahmad - President, Malaysian BASE Association
Gary Cunningham - President, Australian BASE Association
For more information about the event contact Gary Cunningham.
Australian BASE Jumping Course in USA 2011
The annual Aussie BASE Course was held at the end of May in the USA. The sites in the USA provide a perfect, legal environment in which to introduce the students to the sport of BASE.
The first week was again spent at Perrine bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho. The weather was ideal for the most part, which allowed the 8 students and 2 instructors to progress evenly and consistently through their stages. By the end of the week, all of the students had progressed to stowed jumps and even floaters to practice object avoidance drills, with a couple of night jumps thrown in for good measure. Several students got in excess of 25 jumps for the week.
The following week was spent in Moab, Utah. This region has an abundance of legal cliff sites and provides a good step in the BASE progression. The skills the students learnt and developed at Perrine were honed and solidified in the solid object environment, with the weather again playing it's part. This allowed the students to build their progression consistently with a significant number of jumps almost every day. With the regular theory sessions included, the boys did well to endure the rigors of the course.
Including instructors and assistants, the course total came to around 560 jumps for the 2 weeks, with the students averaging over 40 jumps each, with 3 getting to 50 by the last day.
Thanks must go to the instructors Simon Plum and Timmy McDonald, who were ably assisted by Evan and Mason. LJ and Gary also provided their expertise which was appreciated by the students.
The next course is tentatively scheduled for a similar time next year, with specific dates to be confirmed later in the year. Keep an eye on the forum for updates or PM Plummy for more details.
GOOD TO GO - BASE jumping Malaysia 2010
In 2010 I travelled to Malaysia with a handful of Australian BASE jumpers to film them jumping off the KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur. The country is an amazing place and the people are just as special. This was by far the best trip I have done yet.
The movie features Lucky Chance, Mason Corby, Alex Duncan, Tim Fitzsimmons, Paul Webster, Jenny Gordon, Scatty Flockfeather, Chris Garcia, Scotty Disco and friends.
Australian BASE Jumping Course in USA 2010
The first Aussie BASE course was held at the end of April in the USA. There were 6 students and 3 Australian BASE jumping instructors Timmy McDonald, Simon Plum and Hayden Galvin in attendance for the 2 week course. All students were competent skydivers with some having in excess of 1000 skydives each.
The aims of the course were to provide the students with a solid foundation for their entrance into the sport of BASE jumping, with a focus on risk assessment, canopy skills, object avoidance and ethics in BASE.
The first week was held at the popular Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho. This 485' structure provides an ideal learning environment for first-time BASE jumpers, with a large landing area and plenty of room for canopy control.
Considering a few days were lost due to high winds, the students completed an average of 15 jumps each for the week which was fantastic. They progressed very well through the stages which held them in good stead for the following week.
The second week was spent in Moab, Utah. This area is well renowned around the BASE world for its legal, cliff sites numbering over 100 at last count. Moab provided a great place for the students to apply their new skills to the cliff environment.
With the assistance of local jumpers as well, the students sampled many of the cliffs around the Moab area and consolidated the skills they learnt at Perrine.
The course finished up with the students averaging about 25 jumps each, for a course total of over 260 for the 2 weeks.
The ABA is planning to run another BASE jumping course in the USA around the end of May 2011. Contact Plummy or Timmy in the ABA forum for more details.