Featuring an underwater observatory, main deck and upper deck in a perfect location at Lady Musgrave Island, an old pontoon is currently being revitalised to become a classroom on the reef.
According to Lady Musgrave Experience owner Brett Lakey, the pontoon project involves restoring a 30-year-old structure that has been sitting on the reef since the 1980s.
He said the pontoon, which had recently been transported to Burnett Heads, would be purpose-built to offer guests advanced Great Barrier Reef educational experiences perfect for schools, research organisations and dive groups.
“We are going to revamp this pontoon so it can be used by our school groups and citizen scientists as a classroom on the reef,” he said.
“It was originally built for the cruises that operated out of Bundaberg in the mid '80s and it has been sitting out in the lagoon for the past 30-odd years.
“We pulled her out of the water a month ago and started work to give her a new lease on life.”
Planned to launch in 2023 the new research pontoon will facilitate:
- High quality experiential learning for guests
- Data collection and research monitoring through a wildlife ecology team and collaborative partners such as Gidarjil Sea Rangers
- Marine-Biologist-for-a-Day activities
- Reef Keeper program research hub
- Guided snorkel safaris
- Coral adoption and transplanting program activities
- Reef health surveys conducted by a wildlife ecology team and collaborative partners
Brett said plenty of work would be involved in getting the pontoon back to top condition.
“We will be undertaking a complete redesign of the underwater observatory, the main deck and the upper deck,” he said.
“There will be new anchoring systems built, bigger windows in the observatory and all new decks so she will basically be a whole new pontoon when she goes back out.”
Brett said he and his team were working closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife to turn the project into a reality.
“We also hope to collaborate with local Indigenous land and sea rangers to foster an integrated, collaborative approach to reef protection where scientific methods and traditional owner knowledge converge in a holistic approach to marine education and protection.
“This assists in a deeper understanding of traditional owner connection to sea country and environmental management approaches for both visitors and our organisation.”
Brett said he was looking forward to adding another fantastic feature to the Lady Musgrave Island experience.
“We have our main pontoon, the HQ, which is for our day tours and providing overnight options.
“This new pontoon will also provide for our day tours but will primarily be used by our school groups, our citizen scientists and for our marine education programs to use as a base for an outdoor, marine classroom.”