Artificial reef still attracts divers after 30 years

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It took five years for Brenda and Alan Cochrane’s idea for an artificial reef off the Bundaberg Coast to come to life and despite many hurdles, their dream is now a reality.

That dream began in 1992 when Brenda, Alan and a number of artificial reef committee members and volunteers organised a 350-tonne gravel dredge, named Ceratodus, to be placed on the seabed off the coast of Bundaberg.

Brenda and Alan recall the first experience as overwhelming.

“We were numb and ecstatic,” said Alan.

“We wanted something first up that would be very interesting, and it was absolutely fantastic,” said Brenda.

“We started the day at 5am and by the time we went down the river and down the coast, I think we got back at 10pm that night.”

It wasn’t long after, that two Majestic Airlines aircraft became an addition to the reef.

“The response from divers was fantastic,” said Alan

“We had to cut the wings off to get down the roads.”

The planes were called A and B, but soon after became colloquially know as Alan and Brenda.

“Brenda was always the one with the best fish; apparently the way it landed was in the right positions for the currents to go through it,” said Brenda jokingly.

In the coming years, many additions were made to the reef, most notably, two light ships.

The light ships have attracted the interest of divers and a wide range of sea life.

 “They are a magic dive,” said Alan.

“We widened the hatches and you can swim up the turrets. The turtles absolutely love going under the light ships for a snooze.”

“The Bundaberg Council gave wonderful assistance. We deployed a thousand tonnes of concrete pipes and the council loaned drivers and trucks to transport them to our deployment site.”

Divers check out the region’s local wrecks
Divers check out the region’s local wrecks.

Artificial reef is a popular, safe dive site

In the years since, the artificial reef has had a huge impact on marine life and continues to attract divers from across Australia.

An estimated 189 species of fish, and a variety of soft and hard corals all call the dive site home.

“All of the impacts have been positive,” said Alan.

 “They are valued by fishermen and divers alike, and hundreds of overseas backpackers have done their dive courses there.”

While, the artificial reef is no longer being developed, it is still a popular dive and fishing site after nearly 30 years.

“People said the wrecks will crumble, but when they crumble they will form other coral mounds,” Alan said.

A more in-depth talk is available on the Bundaberg Now Podcast.

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