Rob Pennicott, one of Tasmania's leading tourism entrepreneurs, will use "boats like the world has never seen" in his first eco-tourism project outside the Apple Isle.
Three amphibious, rigid inflatable boats with retractable wheels at the bow and stern are being built in Western Australia for his venture into Victoria's Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.
The vessels will cost Pennicott Wilderness Tours $850,000 each.
“I’ve got the lead on the world on these boats," Pennicott told the Hobart Mercury newspaper. "There will be a lot of interest from the boating fraternity, but they are under wraps until sea trials in January.”
The Brand Tasmania Council member has built up an impressive, multimillion-dollar business running high-speed journeys out of Bruny Island, the Tasman Peninsula and Hobart.
The tours have opened up southern Tasmania’s spectacular coastal scenery to hundreds of thousands of tourists.
“I like to think of our new venture off Wilsons Promontory as a Tasmanian export," Pennicott said.
"I’m a Tassie boy, and it has taken 10 years in the making to get to this point. I’m very excited about it. I’m over the moon to be given this opportunity."
The Victorian Government has approved the venture which will employ 30 people and inject $10 million a year into the local economy when it begins operations in October 2018.
The design for the new amphibious craft was selected because it will minimise environmental impacts.
The boat's footprints will mainly consist of wheel tracks on beaches, which will only last until the next high tide.
The vessels will be 11.5m long, weigh 10 tonnes fully laden and be powered by twin 350hp Yamaha outboard engines.
They will cruise at around 25 knots and — except for their wheels — are similar to existing Pennicott Wilderness Journeys craft, but more open, with only a small canopy at the stern.
Each boat will carry two crew and up to 20 passengers. The boats will run three-hour tours from a beach at Tidal River into Norman Bay, out to the Anser Group of islands, Kanowna Island, circumnavigate Skull Rock and head back via the Glennie Group and Norman Island.