Hundreds of divers have explored world-class ex-HMAS Tobruk

Hundreds of divers have explored Queensland’s newest world-class dive site, ex-HMAS Tobruk, which has proven to be a major tourist drawcard for the Wide Bay region.

Saturday (June 29) will mark one year since the ship was scuttled off the coast of Bundaberg and Hervey Bay and Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said the positive feedback had been incredible.

“The site was declared safe and ready for diving in late February, and since then about 400 people have dived the world-class dive site and there are more bookings over winter,” Ms Enoch said.

“The positive feedback from divers has been wonderful, including reports about an abundance of marine wildlife living on the wreck such many species of fish, turtles, eagle rays, feather stars, sponges and lace corals.

“In fact, there are now resident turtles that have made the wreck their home, including one hawksbill turtle who has been nicknamed Harry, two green turtles named Crush and Buttons, and one very large loggerhead named Larry.”

The wreck is expected to generate more than $1 million for the local economy annually and support about 20 jobs in the region.

Minister for Tourism Industry Development Kate Jones said word was spreading internationally about the world-class dive experience of ex-HMAS Tobruk.

“As part of our commitment to the Wide Bay region and this fantastic tourism experience, the Palaszczuk Government has invested $1 million to promote this site and Queensland’s dive and nature-based experiences,” Minister Jones said.

“There is no doubt that this attraction is great news for tourism and visitors to Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast.

“In just over a month, the campaign has reached more than 2.5 million travellers in elevating the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast region as one of the best places to experience nature.

“The promotion of this site is also extending internationally. The ex-HMAS Tobruk dive site has been featured at world dive expos including in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, and in the US and Sydney later this year.”

Dive operator Ed Gibson from Hervey Bay Dive Centre said to date, ex HMAS Tobruk had not disappointed.

“We have just returned from our 42nd trip to the wreck since access was granted, and the ship continues to amaze us each dive, as she is evolving into this wonderful marine habitat,” Mr Gibson said.

“We now have four resident turtles, one hawksbill (Harry), two greens (Crush and Buttons) and one very large loggerhead (Larry). Several grouper have also taken up a spot or two with one quite sizeable warhorse some 2m long which we have named Cooper due to its comparison to a mini cooper. This particular big boy shows signs of a few significant battles or two.

“Apart from the tens of thousands of varied bait fish and common reef species populating the ship, we recently have also identified some lionfish, banded shrimp, octopus, a hooked-nosed sea snake, and quite a few species of soft coral starting to propagate the wreck as well.

“We have now gone through several seasons – summer, autumn and now winter – and we are seeing the changes in the varied pelagic species within those seasons which is very exciting! Currently we see regular schools of Tuna, Trevally, Mackerel and tons of Barracuda.

“As the water temp has dropped a few degrees the improvement in visibility has been great, with an average of 15m on a bad day,” Mr Gibson said.

Fast facts:

  • Ex-HMAS Tobruk is a Royal Australian Navy ship that provided great service to the Australian community throughout its 34 years until 2015
  • Ex-HMAS Tobruk rests in 28.5 metres of water
  • Fishing and spearfishing at or near the dive site is illegal
  • Hervey Bay Dive Centre, Bundaberg Aqua Scuba’s, Lady Musgrave Experience and Dive Hervey Bay are licenced take divers to the site
  • Divers with their own equipment can book a two hour timeslot online to access the site.
  • A 600m exclusion zone exists around the dive site to protect divers entering or exiting the water

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