Strapped to the back of a house removal truck Bundaberg’s newest tourist attraction is a step closer as the Lady Musgrave Pontoon readies for launch.
There was nothing that could wipe the smile off the face of Lady Musgrave Experience managing director Brett Lakey on Saturday afternoon as the Lady Musgrave Pontoon was transported from its building site ready to be launched into the Burnett River on Monday morning.
Brett eagerly watched on as his hopes and dreams came to fruition and the magnificent pontoon tethered to the back of a truck made its way to the water's edge.
Brett has always had big dreams to share the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef with not only the Bundaberg community, but the entire world.
His sights have been set on making a world-class tourist attraction right in the region’s backyard.
Underwater observatory and glamping
The three-level pontoon features an underwater observatory and accommodation of queen-sized glamping tents on the upper deck and 20 bunks down below for people to wake up and catch an amazing view of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
Brett said the Bundaberg Region ticked all the boxes when it came to providing locals and tourists with world class experiences.
“This is huge for the Bundaberg Region, it’s the latest and greatest thing for the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
“It will put Bundaberg on the map for the Great Barrier Reef, it will ensure Bundaberg is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
“People think Cairns and Whitsundays – well now it’s Bundaberg!”
He said the benefit of not having stingers like in Northern Queensland, and having optimal weather were two of the draw cards, but there was so much more to the region.
“No stringers, no cyclones, (but we have) the whole lot – we have resident turtles, a turtle package where people can swim with the turtles during the day and watch them hatch of a night,” he said.
“People can stay on board; we will take them to watch the turtles at night – it’s world-class turtle encounters.”
As the Lady Musgrave Pontoon made its way along the quiet Burnett Heads street, the expertise of Queensland House Removers came into play, as the almighty but delicate challenge took place.
Lady Musgrave Pontoon a family affair
Brett’s son Oscar had a front row seat in the truck and his parents Sandra and Rob Lakey, and partner Melissa Tree, watched on as the operation got underway.
“The guys said this is the biggest thing they have ever had on the truck,” Brett said.
“I actually worked with these guys when I left school. It’s a huge project, and about 54 tonnes in total.
“It’s the biggest project that I have had, and it’s been a long time in the making.
“Everything is built to a 1C commercial vessel and built to the highest ASMA codes and regulations.
“We are really looking to get out there prior to Easter, after a couple of weeks of fit-out in the river here once it’s launched Monday.
“All the little stuff like adding the beds, the tables, chairs and fridges – that sort of stuff.”
Brett said construction of the Lady Musgrave Pontoon had his team work around the clock, seven days a week, and after a few delays because of COVID-19, they were all pleased to see it finally moved to the water’s edge ready for the next phase of its life.
High interest in Lady Musgrave Pontoon
The opening of Lady Musgrave Pontoon is weather pending, and Brett said there had already been a significant amount of interest, including many school groups wanting to give students the new underwater experience.
“We have this huge dive market here, and now we have this live-aboard facility, which will act like a boutique live-aboard experience where divers came come and stay on the pontoon and dive all the surrounding and outer reefs,” he said.
“We have three-and-four-night packages that will allow them to have 15 to 20 dives around the surrounding areas and (Lady) Musgrave will be its base.
“We will have access to all of these reefs and surrounding islands that people wouldn’t be able to access to close together unless they have this live-aboard boat out there.”
Brett said with his 20-year history of travelling up and down the Great Barrier Reef he saw the Bundaberg Region had great potential as the Capricornia area was always popular with his clients.
Brett prides himself on looking after the ocean and he said it was important to ensure the project was environmentally friendly.
“People talk about low footprint, well what about no footprint – we have a desalinator onboard, we have solar and wind – there is no machinery on board, apart for some water pumps and fridges.
“All of our waste comes back; we want to look after the environment.”