TOBRUK: Two local operators win bid to host dive tours
UNDENIABLE interest in ex-HMAS Tobruk has two Bundy dive operators excited for the future after they were yesterday given the green light to conduct tours through the retired navy ship.
Environment and Great Barrier Reef Minister Leeanne Enoch announced at the Bundaberg Port yesterday that the four successful operators were spread evenly across the Wide Bay region.
"Lady Musgrave Experience and Bundaberg Aqua Scuba will operate out of Bundaberg, and Dive Hervey Bay and Hervey Bay Dive Centre will be conducting tours out of Hervey Bay," Ms Enoch said.
"These operators have been chosen following a range of excellent applications to be a part of this exclusive opportunity.
"It is wonderful to see the high calibre of tourism operators in the region, and I am confident that the selected applicants will provide an exceptional experience for divers who come to visit the site."
The site will offer a new and unique dive attraction for the region and owner of Lady Musgrave Experience Brett Lakey said diving through ex-HMAS Tobruk will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for international visitors.
"We can't wait to take divers out to experience ex-HMAS Tobruk from a different perspective, deep beneath the ocean's surface," Mr Lakey said.
"A highlight of this dive wreck will be the ability to swim through the iconic tank deck, which runs nearly the entire length of the ship."
Mr Lakey said he would look to combine tours to the Great Barrier Reef with the world-class dive site and expects sea life to inhabit the vessel in a matter of weeks.
"There are a few smaller wrecks off Seventeen Seventy but they're nothing to the extent this will be," he said.
"In time it will bring a lot of fish life to the wreck, a lot of the big gropers and the big fish that call the caves home on the reef will be attracted to such a big vessel underwater."
The ex-navy ship is expected to be scuttled in June with divers able to access the site within months of the successful sinking, which in itself has its own challenges.
"It will take about an hour for the ship to flood and then about three minutes for it to sink," project manager Steve Hosack said.
"Two tug boats will be holding the ship in position over the 'X marks the spot,' and down she'll go."
Safety checks will be conducted after the sinking to ensure parts of the ship haven't disconnected and the wreck is safe for divers.