Already one of the most scenic areas in Australia, the Whitsundays are about to give visitors something else to look at — an installation of underwater and inter-tidal art, the first to ever be placed in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Set to be unveiled at this weekend's Whitsundays Reef Festival at Airlie Beach, which runs until August 5, four sculptures will be placed near Langford Reef. They're the creation of local artist Adriaan Vanderlugt, and include a fish, a nudibranch (aka a type of mollusc) and a crab. Size-wise, they range up to 1.8 metres long, and weigh around 300 kilograms.
The artworks' purpose — other than celebrating creativity — is to give the region a new attraction, unsurprisingly. "This artwork will provide a new experience for people travelling to the Whitsundays and will help the marine tourism industry recover after Cyclone Debbie," said Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones in a statement. "Around the world — from the Caribbean, to the Maldives, Spain, Bali and Australia's west coast — underwater art has been used to lure visitors."
After the unveiling, the sculptures will be installed in early August, moving first to the beach, then to an intertidal spot and then underwater, all one month at a time. It's an approach aimed to prevent interference and damage, with the project acting as a trial to see how locals and tourists alike respond. Up to six more locations in the Bowen-Whitsunday region may also receive underwater art, with calls for artists now open.