Goggles At The Ready

An artificial reef, designed to boost tourism and attract divers and snorkellers from all over the world, has now entered the next stage of development. Get your masks ready Gold Coasters!

The Gold Coast is a step closer to delivering a unique artificial dive site. In March, contractors were asked to hand in their visions for the new underwater wonderland. And everyone is waiting excitedly to see the ideas from the potential builders. All are expected to have innovative plans to construct the future
dive attraction.

Mayor Tate said that the call-out to construction companies will unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. “The key factor I want to see is that the material has to attract marine life so that when we go down, we can so say hello to all of the critters that live there.”

Ideally the attraction would draw everyone from beginners to advanced divers, plus snorkellers. The Gold Coast Dive Precinct is projected to bring $32.8 million into the region’s economy in the first 10 years of operation. Mayor Tate is keen to realise a long-held aspiration for the Gold Coast to diversify its offerings in dive and eco-tourism. “We’re ready, the dive industry is ready and the tourism and business sectors
are waiting.”

The city has applied for help funding the new reef from the State Government’s Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund. The fund supports the government’s vision for future-proofing the tourism industry. Said Mayor Tate, “With 220 diveable days per year, this will be a unique attraction luring divers from across the world. It will offer something for all certification levels, from those who can descend to 8m, right down to 30m. Technical studies have been completed and we are ready to deliver this unique nature-based tourism project. A dive precinct will generate 166,543 new overnight visitors and inject an estimated $32.8 million into the region’s economy during the first 10 years of operation. We have a budget of $5 million to have a dive precinct, it’s only 10 minutes from the Seaway – just 2.5km from SeaWorld on the oceanside.”

The location of the new artificial reef

The project will support up to 18 jobs during construction and 80 once built. A contractor is expected to be announced by the end of June. The proposed site is 3.5km south-east of the seaway and 2.5km offshore from Main Beach, at a depth of 30m. The attraction will be engineered to fast-track marine growth and attract marine life.

Mayor Tate said that the tourism minister Kate Jones agreed to go 50/50 on the funding of the artificial reef. “When we open this, I’ll be sending invitations for Kate to come for a dive!”

Shona Pinkerton of Devocean Dive, a scuba diving club at Southport, said that marine biologists call the area a marine super highway. “At last count there was over 460 species of marine life living there, everything from eagle rays, giant grouper, schools of trevally and barracuda, jewies, tusk fish, parrot fish. I’ve even dived with whales and dugong in there. On the other end of the scale you will find seahorses, angler fish, heaps of nudis, leaf scorpion fish, robust ghost pipe fish, ornate ghost pipe fish.”

This is exciting stuff for divers all over the Gold Coast. Our goggles are ready to go!

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