Artificial system

Gold Coast’s man-made dive site, Wonder Reef, opens to the public in June

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate has spent the past few months learning to dive so he can officially open the region’s newest tourist attraction.

Building up his confidence in a pool before making his way to the ocean, Cr Tate cut an underwater ribbon at the town’s new man-made dive site, Wonder Reef, earlier this week.

Cr Tate said he dived two to three times a week in preparation.

He was joined in the dive by Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles ahead of Wonder Reef opening to commercial visits from June 8.

“I would call it an underwater theme park, it’s Gold Coast style,” said Cr Tate.

The $5 million attraction was funded equally by Gold Coast City Council and the state government.

The reef will lie approximately 2.5 kilometers offshore from The Spit at Main Beach and is expected to attract over 16,000 dive enthusiasts to the Gold Coast each year.

Wonder Reef was officially opened in early June by Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles. (Supplied: City of Gold Coast)

“We know the incredible economic impact that projects like this can have on our city,” said Meaghan Scanlon, Queensland’s Environment Minister.

Late last year, coral was planted at the site, which consists of nine floating sculptures attached to the seabed by reinforced concrete and steel pyramids.

Artist's impression of two scuba divers and marine life swimming on the Gold Coast's new artificial floating reef.
Wonder Reef has created a reef habitat of 32,000 m².(Source: City of Gold Coast)

First complete boats

Gold Coast Dive Adventures owner Harrison Cottrell said the site was already creating a buzz.

man smiling at the camera
Gold Coast Dive Adventures owner Harrison Cottrell said there was already interest across the country in the new site. (ABC News: Heidi Sheehan.)

“We received many inquiries,” he said.

“We already have fully booked boats for the first week.”

Mr Cottrell said his company, one of two local companies to have dive contracts at the site, would operate boats four to five days a week.

“It will bring a lot of attention to diving around the coast, I think it’s a very underrated area of ​​diving,” he said.

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said she hoped the new product would “cut” the global market.

“We’re really excited because the new world means we have to be very competitive,” she said.

the mayor shows a photo of himself underwater
Cr Tate has learned to dive in recent weeks to be able to open Wonder Reef.(ABC News: Heidi Sheehan)

“It’s really significant for an industry that has lost $5.6 billion over the past two years due to COVID.”

Underwater design by a Queensland artist

Matthew Allen, of reef-building company Subcon, said some of the biggest challenges were ensuring the nine-piece underwater structure would survive 18.5-metre waves that could potentially be caused by a cyclone.

The components of Wonder Reef weigh over 738 tons and create a reef habitat of 32,000 m².

Artist Daniel Templeman wanted to create something that “pointed to the sky”.(Provided: Gold Coast City Council)

“The foundations for each of the sculptures weigh 75 tonnes,” Mr Allen said.

Artist Daniel Templeman had designed public works in the past, but his creation for Wonder Reef was his first underwater work.

“I tried to do something that exaggerated that buoyant feeling, something that pointed skyward,” he said.