Battle for HMAS Tobruk gathers pace

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The battle to secure the recently decommissioned Australian Navy vessel HMAS Tobruk has united the region’s politicians, dive enthusiasts and businesspeople.

A Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group has been formed to lead the charge to secure the heavy landing ship, to be sunk in 34 metres of water between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay as a military dive experience.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the community push to secure the Tobruk began back in 2013.

“I’m grateful a Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group has now been formally established to determine a preferred site for the wreck, and to report on the economic and tourism benefits to the region,” Mr Pitt said.

“I encourage business owners, history buffs, water sport lovers, recreational fishers, tourists and locals to get behind the Advisory Group’s campaign – like their Facebook page and share it with their friends.”

Mr Pitt said exploring Australia’s military history underwater, or ‘diving into history’ as it’s more commonly known, is an activity which has significantly grown in popularity in recent years.

“For example, about 5,000 divers explore HMAS Adelaide in NSW each year. At least 90 per cent of divers come from outside the region, including 20 per cent who come from overseas,” Mr Pitt said.

“At present we have small-scale dive operators at each end of the electorate, whose customers are primarily locals and backpackers. And thanks to the whale and turtle markets, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg already have the capability, capacity and infrastructure needed to support a substantial dive tourism industry.”

“Eco-tourism, retail, hospitality and accommodation businesses need another attraction to boost visitor numbers in the months that whales and turtles are not present.

“While the site will not be used for recreational fishing, it will provide another important breeding ground for fish stocks and other marine life.”

Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman and Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell have joined the Advisory Group, ensuring both Councils are working together to help secure the vessel.

Mayor Forman said the economic and tourism benefits of recreational dive wrecks were undeniable.

“The large number of divers it would attract will be a boon for the local economies of both Bundaberg and Fraser Coast,” Cr Forman said.

Mayor O’Connell agreed, saying the dive wreck would be an extremely important economic project for the entire region.

“It would help develop a more diverse tourism offering so that the region retains its relevance as a tourism destination for domestic and international visitors,” Cr O’Connell said.

Members of the Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group:

  • Mr Scott Rowe RDA WBB Executive Officer
  • Mr Daniel Poacher RDA WBB Deputy Chair
  • Mr Stephen Bennett State Opposition Spokesman for Environment & State LNP Member for Burnett
  • Mr Ted Sorensen State LNP Member for Hervey Bay
  • Cr Mal Forman Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor & WBBROC Chair
  • Cr Gerard O’Connell Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor
  • Ms Lynne Wilbraham Gympie Regional Council, Economic Development Manager
  • Mr Tim Powers Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce President
  • Mr George Duck Hervey Bay Boat Club President
  • Mr Ed Gibson Hervey Bay Boat Club General Manager
  • Ms Robyn Burgess Tasman Venture Whale Watch
  • Ms Michelle Spedding Mantaray Dive Centre
  • Mr Dave Spedding Mantaray Dive Centre
  • Julian Negri Bundaberg Aqua Scuba
  • Mr Alan Cochrane Artificial Reef HMAS
  • Ms Brenda Cochrane Artificial Reef HMAS
  • Mr Syd Tanner Recreational diver & fisher
  • Mr Bob Hockey Department of State Development

Find HMAS Tobruk Military Dive Experience on Facebook.