Underwater Sculptures Now A Whitsundays Tourist Attraction

  • All Ages

Take me to the sparkling blue waters and white sandy beaches… If the windy winter in NSW and Victoria has taken its toll on you too, hop on a plane, or just take a mental trip to the lovely Whitsundays. Especially now that there is one more reason to visit this island paradise on the tropical coast of Queensland. An installation of underwater and inter-tidal art – consisting of four sculptures, with two more underway – has just been placed beneath the sea in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

An Art Trail Combining Culture, Tourism And Reef Rehabilitation  

The installation will be funded through the Queensland Government and Federal Government's $7 million Tourism Recovery Fund, which is meant to help the Whitsundays tourism industry to recover from 2017 Cyclone Debbie. It will be the first such art installation in the southern hemisphere with the potential to inject $42 million into the local economy.

A local Airlie Beach man, Adriaan Vanderlugt, was one of the lucky artists picked to commission two underwater sculptures. His 3.2m aluminium manta ray was co-created with an Indigenous artist Arthur Gaby who etched intricate drawings telling a Dreamtime story of the Ngaro people. Another sculpture, a 4-metre Maori wrasse, was recently sunk in the Blue Pearl Bay. At Langford Spit, there is a Turtle Dream sculpture by Col Henry, which features a hawksbill turtle made out of 15 tonnes of stainless steel.

How Will I See The Art If It’s Underwater?

Submerged sculptures and other artworks that appear at low tide are a new trend aiming to rehabilitate the most fragile sections of the Great Barrier Reef. You may think that the ocean is a weird place to have art installed, but why not look at it from a different perspective? The sculptures installed under the water quickly become the sites for coral and marine life regeneration. It is as if we started treating the seafloor as a museum - something that we should be protecting and admiring at the same time.

And how can we view the artworks? By, literally, going deep in. The visitors snorkelling and diving the site will see the sculptures adorned with soft and hard corals, and marine animals may take shelter inside of the structures, too.

You can read more about the Whitsundays Reef Recovery and Public Art Project here.

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