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You Can Now Dive Beneath the Sea to Tour Australia's Museum of Underwater Art

Go diving or snorkelling through a 12-metre-high coral greenhouse — located 18 metres below the water on the Great Barrier Reef.
By Sarah Ward
August 01, 2020
By Sarah Ward
August 01, 2020

In 2019, the Great Barrier Reef gained a new addition, as well as a new way to enjoy its natural underwater delights. When the Museum of Underwater Art installed its first artworks in December, it became the southern hemisphere's first attraction of its type — and yet another reason for everyone to add visiting Australia's tropics to their travel bucket list.

Two artworks were put in place at the time. The first, Ocean Siren, is located 30 metres offshore from The Strand jetty at Townsville and actually towers above the water; however, it interacts with live water temperature data from the Davies Reef weather station, then changes colour in response to variations as they happen. The second Coral Greenhouse, definitely lurks below the sea. And, until now, that meant that visiting it was a bit of a problem.

As part of an official launch of the Museum of Underwater Art's first phase, folks can now take a tour of Coral Greenhouse — with recreational divers and snorkelers able to access the work from Saturday, August 1. The tours are being run by Adrenalin Dive Townsville and Pro Dive Magnetic Island, who'll help you see and swim through this striking sculpture. Down the track, SeaLink Queensland, Yongala Dive Burdekin and Orpheus Island Resort will be able to take you for a splash, too.

Matt Curnock

And it is striking. Coral Greenhouse sits 18 metres below the waterline on the John Brewer Reef off Townsville, measures 12 metres in height and weighs around 58 tonnes. It's made out of stainless steel, neutral marine grade cement and zinc anodes, and it does indeed look like a greenhouse. In fact, it's an underwater building.

It's also filled with more than 20 sculptures, many resembling local school children — and has been made to both stand up to wave pressures and cyclones, and remain visible to divers and snorkelers. Most importantly, it isn't just a greenhouse in name, with the piece featuring coral garden beds.

With that in mind, Coral Greenhouse is also designed to "offer opportunities for scientists, marine students and tourists to engage in action-based learning and to conduct globally important research on coral reef restoration and new technology," marine sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor notes. The creator of the Museum of Underwater Art, he sees this particular work as "an interface into our underwater world" and a way "to tell stories of the Great Barrier Reef, and for people to understand what a fragile, beautiful and sacred space it really is".

Matt Curnock

In total, four pieces are planned for the Museum as part of its aim to highlight reef conservation, restoration and education — with two more sculptures set for Palm Island and Magnetic Island in the future. Palm Island's forthcoming installation will connect the spot's the cultural story to the land and sea, according to the MOUA's website, and is expected to be in place by the July 2021. As for the Magnetic Island artwork, it's working towards a December 2021 unveiling.

Of course, while the first tours of the underwater museum have officially kicked off, not everyone can get into Queensland. The Sunshine State has, at writing, closed its borders to all of Victoria and greater Sydney.

Find the Museum of Underwater Art off the shore of Townsville, Queensland. For more information, visit the museum's website. To book a tour, head to the Adrenalin Dive or Pro Dive Magnetic websites.

Images: Matt Curnock

Published on August 01, 2020 by Sarah Ward
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