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It's a wonder: Floating reef sets claim to be Gold Coast's latest visitor attraction

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Foundations for the world’s first artificial floating reef will soon be installed on the Gold Coast, as the big-ticket tourism project was officially named after a public search for a “cheeky” title for the attraction.

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Following Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate’s callout for a cut-through and distinctly Gold Coast name for the unique dive site, attracting submissions ranging from Atlantis Downunder, Underwater Cosmos and The Treasures to cheekier options of Shark Bait and Reefy McReefface, the official name has landed back at the dive site’s working title.

Wonder Reef, containing nine artistic sculptures tethered up to 20m above the ocean floor, will soon be installed 2.5 kilometres offshore from The Spit at Main Beach.

The reef is expected to attract more than 16,000 diving enthusiasts a year to the Gold Coast and inject $32.8 million into the Gold Coast economy within 10 years.

To withstand the strong swells and cyclones, the sculptural reef flutes that range in size up to 8 metres will be attached to 75 tonne pyramid-shaped foundations made of concrete and reinforced steel.

Tate said the reef’s foundations, made in Maryborough about four hours north of the Gold Coast, had been transported to Brisbane for final works before being barged to the Gold Coast to be installed.

“Weather permitting, they will be lowered into the water in coming weeks,” he said.

He said it was vital that the $5 million reef be monitored throughout the rest of the year, which would also give marine life time to inhabit the site before it opened to the public in early 2022.

The Wonder Reef floating dive site, which is another effort to diversify the Gold Coast’s tourism offering beyond beaches and amusement parks, will cater for beginner and experienced divers with the floating flutes placed at depths of 10 metres to 30 metres.

It means new or resort divers can still experience clear visibility of the flutes below the surface.

The nine reef structures, weighing more than 738 tonnes, will create a 32,000m3 reef habitat.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the State Government had invested $2.5 million and provided a 50-year lease over the seabed off Main Beach for the project earmarked under the Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund to help accelerate Queensland’s post-pandemic recovery.

The reef sculptures have been designed by Queensland artist Daniel Templeman who worked with Subcon Technologies’ marine engineering to create the distinctive structures.

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