Wonder Reef to boost our tourism appeal

Published on 11 August 2021

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Nine ‘sculptural reef flutes’ have arrived on site ready to be lowered to the ocean floor by crane as installation of Wonder Reef gets underway.

The $5 million offshore dive attraction is being installed at a depth of 30 metres, 2.5km off Main Beach, with installation expected to finish late tomorrow.

Mayor Tom Tate said this project would lead a ‘tourism revival’ for our city.

“We have always been known as ‘surfer’s paradise’ and now we’ll also be known as ‘diver’s paradise’,’’ he said. 

“Wonder Reef will attract 160,000 new visitors to our city, injecting $32 million into our local economy within its first 10 years of operation. That’s the tonic we need right now with the challenges of Covid.

“New tourism products mean more people staying, dining, shopping and exploring the coast. I strongly encourage any dive enthusiasts to ensure their licences are up to date for when the attraction opens in 2022.’’

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the Palaszczuk Government had invested $2.5 million in Wonder Reef.

“We’ve also delivered a 50-year seabed lease for Wonder Reef as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to helping Gold Coast tourism rebuild better,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Wonder Reef is set to top the bucket list of scuba divers across Australia.”

Member for Gaven and Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said Wonder Reef would join a collection of artificial reef sites and underwater art in Queensland.

“This will be another great addition to the unique visitor experiences that make the Gold Coast Australia’s favourite destination,” Ms Scanlon said. 

“Once operational, Wonder Reef is expected to support up to 80 operational jobs, supporting the Palaszczuk Government’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan for the Gold Coast.”           

The City will soon partner with marine experts on coral planting of local species to accelerate marine growth.

Once the reef structures are established, they will create more than 32,000m3 of new reef habitat.

The reef structures will undergo up to eight months of monitoring and testing to meet approvals and diver safety.

The dive site will open in early 2022 and generate about 80 ongoing operational roles for locals.

The world first purpose built buoyant reef concept is a fusion of art, science and engineering created by reef engineers Subcon Blue Solutions and Queensland artist Daniel Templeman. 

The structures were fabricated in Maryborough by ISM Manufacturing and installation was undertaken by Foreshore Marine.

“This reef will capture the imagination and attention of not only divers but art lovers, architects, engineers, eco-tourists and marine conservationists across the globe,” Mr Templeman said. 

“Over time, the reefs will become ‘baskets’ in this underwater ‘hanging garden’.” 

The jointly funded project between the City and State Government has provided 18 jobs during construction.

The City has secured Queensland and Commonwealth Government approvals to deliver the dive site, including a permit under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 and a 50-year seabed lease.

Fast facts:

• Reef structures weigh more than 846 tonnes (in air).

• Each reef foundation weighs 72 tonnes, including almost 66 tonnes of concrete.

• About one tonne of chain, shackles and swivels connects each floating flute to a foundation reef.

• More than 144 tonnes of steel, sourced from Port Kembla, has been used to create the reef structures.

• Structures include about 298 cubic metres of earth friendly concrete weighing 702 tonnes.