‘World first’: Incredible details of new dive site revealed
THE world's first offshore floating dive attraction is on track to start operating early next year - and built to withstand cyclonic seas. It can also be accessed by novice divers.
The Bulletin can reveal the complex structures to be built off the Gold Coast are designed, according to engineers, to withstand the strongest swells with the sculptural reef flutes attached to 75 tonne foundations.
But council will need to get a final Commonwealth permits and all the structures signed off as operational and safe before tourists and dive enthusiasts arrive.
Council officers at a briefing to councillors at a transport committee meeting on Tuesday for the first time outlined the time line for the new $5 million attraction to be built 2.5km off Philip Park on the Spit on a sandy sea bed.
Final design was achieved at the end of 2020, the fabricator and installer engaged in January and only last month contractors began cutting the first steel for the dive spheres. All approvals had been obtained except for the sea dumping permit.
"At this stage the project remains on track and for installation to occur at the end of June.
Following installation there is a six to eight months testing and certification period, where the city will undertake various monitoring and reporting, and certifications to satisfy all our approval requirements," a council officer said.
"This is what we understand to be the world's first floating reef. And it was extremely complicated, a year and a half of complex technical analysis. The design process was amazingly complex, I can't state that enough, and we are really pioneering floating reef technology."
The precinct, likely to be called Wonder Reef after being ticked off on public consultation, has been designed to withstand 18.5m waves, councillors were told.
"Let's hope we never get that. But it can withstand them," the council officer said.
The floating reef sits as high as possible, which was 10m below the surface where divers could get the best visibility."
"And that allows for access of resort and new divers who don't have certification but can travel down to 12m below the surface. The steel reef flutes have been purposely designed to attract a future array of marine life."
The precinct would include nine reef flutes, the largest about 8m by 3.3m metres, and four moorings where vessels up to 25m could moor.
Some of the flutes contained handles where novice divers could rest or tourists capture a photograph underwater, councillors were told.
The council officer said the project did not require any "filing" into the sea bed with the flutes held by 75 tonne foundations, about 4m by 4m. Artist designs show the flutes sitting on the sand floor.
The 500m by 500m precinct would be marked by navigational markers, the officer said.
Fabrication began three weeks ago in Maryborough given the city's strong steel industry, the officer added.
The structures will take at least two weeks to be moved from Maryborough to the Brisbane River docks at Hemmant which provided access for a deep water barge.
"Installation is currently on track to be completed at the end of June which is subject to favourable weather conditions and having our sea dumping approval in place (for structures)," the officer said.
"We've been working close with the Commonwealth Government, we've responded to numerous information requests and we have been recently negotiating the long term monitoring requirements."
Council to secure the lease has to agree to quarterly monitoring and inspections for the first five years, covering engineering and environmental issues.
Originally published as 'World first': Incredible details of new dive site revealed