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Home News Underwater accommodation spurs tourism growth

Underwater accommodation spurs tourism growth

Lady Musgrave Pontoon
Lady Musgrave Experience managing director Brett Lakey and site manager Craig Foster stand in the purpose-built temporary shelter where work has started on the Lady Musgrave Pontoon.

Waking up to the sights of the Great Barrier Reef is only months away as work starts on the Lady Musgrave Experience Pontoon at Bundaberg Port Marina.

Lady Musgrave Experience managing director Brett Lakey said sleeping under the Pacific Ocean and waking up to the world-class sights of the Great Barrier Reef was an idea he’d been dreaming about for the last five years.

He's now thrilled to see the first sheets of aluminium welded for the Lady Musgrave Experience Pontoon.

Brett said the liveable reef experience was a massive plus for the Bundaberg Region and it's a bonus to have local experts available to build the tourist attraction right here at our doorstep.

Standing in the temporary shelter where the Lady Musgrave Experience Pontoon will take shape, Brett and site manager Craig Foster from Oceaneer Marine Service agreed it's full-steam ahead to ensure the project is completed by May and fully operational by June.

Brett said the shelter was 36 x 14 x 6 metres in size, comprising two storeys and an underwater observatory with sleeping accommodation underneath.

“I bought a lease for these guys to build it all here in the region,” Brett said.

“It’s full steam ahead and we have trailer loads of aluminium here and will start building it from tomorrow.”

Lady Musgrave Pontoon
Oceaneer Marine Service's Tom Moreno, Lady Musgrave Experience managing director Brett Lakey and site manager Craig Foster are excited to see work has started on the Lady Musgrave Pontoon.

Lady Musgrave Experience creates jobs

Craig said building the pontoon would employ 10 full-time workers, including the new staff and apprentices he’d hired, working around the clock and he was proud such a big project was being created in the Bundaberg Region.

“It’s really good to see jobs like these going to regional areas and employing locals,” Craig said.

“When people see what we can do here it will encourage more jobs like this to come to regional areas.”

Craig said there was currently 46 tonnes of aluminium at the Bundaberg marina with more on the way.

He said Oceaneer Marine Services had completed some big jobs in the past, but he believed it to be the biggest job in the Bundaberg Region and he felt privileged to take part.

“It’s the biggest job locally and it’s good for all the contractors too,” he said.

Brett said the material to build the pontoon was all coming to the Bundaberg Region and it had worked well to have all the expertise in the one area.

“It’s all coming here to get done and it’ll be great to see what these local guys can do,” he said.

“It’s all like minded, a team effort from professionals who have the same mentality to get a big and exciting project done for the region.

“It’s a massive plus for the region, with my company and Craig’s company building a partnership it’s pretty special.”

Lady Musgrave Pontoon
Lady Musgrave Experience managing director Brett Lakey and site manager Craig Foster are thrilled about work starting on the Lady Musgrave Pontoon.

Huge tourist drawcard for Bundaberg Region

Brett said the pontoon would be a catalyst for the Bundaberg Region and he already had tourist groups from near and far in discussion with him.

“Some of these guys would normally fly into Cairns, but we are only four hours’ drive from Brisbane or a direct flight, and for us to have this facility to promote the Southern Great Barrier Reef – it’s really huge,” he said.

“It will sleep up to 30 and can be surveyed for up to 350 on a maximum day-tour basis.

“There will be a kiosk and hot-water showers on board, day lockers, dive stations, snorkel stations and not to forget the big water slide too.”

He said initially the pontoon was given the misconception that it was a hotel, but he said the difference with the pontoon was that it would be overnight accommodation, with a live-a-board experience on the reef and not have facilities such as a laundry.

“It is completely carbon neutral footprint with the wind and solar and not one bit of waste that will go into the ocean,” he said.

“We went through a very strict assessment basis with GBRMPA and we have a 20-year permit.

“It will be simply overnight accommodation in the underwater observatory and sags on the upper deck for those who want the outside sleeping experience.

“It’s a lot more of a reef experience, they get to see the sunset and sun come up in the morning.”

Lady Musgrave Island reef
Tropical fish abound on the reef at Lady Musgrave Island.

Wake up to an abundance of sealife

Once anchored in the Lady Musgrave lagoon people will have the opportunity to walk through the underwater observatory within inches of an abundance of sealife and the views of the spectacular Great Barrier Reef.

“There will be UV lighting on the outside and will bring all the true colours of all the fish and corals,” Brett said.

“It will be lowered into the water at what’s known as the aquarium site, it’s the well-known aquarium area about 400 metres from the island in about six metres of water, surrounded by sand and coral bommies on the reefs edge.”

Brett said the pontoon would have 56 panels of 48mm glass in the observatory, a 6-kilowatt solar-hybrid wind system with 20 kilowatts of lithium ion batteries which means the pontoon was run by pure wind and solar providing electric power, which Brett said was essential in reducing the carbon footprint.

“All the waste goes in a holding tank on the pontoon and transferred back to our main vessel Reef Empress and gets pumped out back here at the marina,” Brett said.

“We will have permanent staff out there on a rotated basis, with our whale watching and as our dive product grows too, it will all be a catalyst for more employment in the region as well.”

  • Earlier report: Underwater accommodation planned for Lady Musgrave

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