Museum of Underwater Art on the Great Barrier Reef

Stage One of the globally significant Museum of Underwater Art is officially Good to Go, with tours to the John Brewer Reef Coral Greenhouse starting tomorrow.

MOUA Deputy Chair Dr Adam Smith said the Coral Greenhouse is the only one of its kind in the world, situated in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

Photo courtesy Jason deCaires Taylor

“This unique tourism offering is truly spectacular and marks what has been over four years of hard work from the MOUA Board, artist Jason deCaires Taylor and the North Queensland community to bring this important project to life,” Dr Smith said.

“The Coral Greenhouse merges reef conservation, research and science with tourism, the arts and Indigenous storytelling. We want people across the world to be Inspired by MOUA.

“At a time when our tourism industry has been brought to its knees, MOUA will provide a significant economic boost to our region and is anticipated to attract an additional 50,000 visitors annually upon completion, with a further two stages planned for next year.”

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the Palaszczuk Government had provided $3 million – the majority of the funding required for the Museum of Underwater Art – because the government recognised the value of the project for North Queensland.

Photo courtesy Matt Curnock

“New tourism infrastructure that will create jobs and play a part in rebuilding our economy is more important than ever,” he said.

“We know that to create jobs in Townsville and North Queensland, we must invest in the tourism industry.

“This project will attract thousands of extra tourists to the region in years to come and will pump cash into local businesses – many of which have done it tough during the pandemic.

“I’m urging Queenslanders to come to Townsville and experience the world class Coral Greenhouse exhibit and support local businesses and local jobs.”

Townsville Enterprise Director Visitor Economy and Marketing Lisa Woolfe said the new attraction is a game-changer for Townsville North Queensland, further cementing the region’s position as global leaders in marine sciences and as a tourism destination.

“Townsville is positioned in the central section of the Great Barrier Reef with arguably some of the best examples of coral reef available for visitors to enjoy and we’re excited that we can now jointly offer this experience with something so unique and awe-inspiring as the MOUA,” Ms Woolfe said.

“Following such a traumatic period for the entire tourism and hospitality industry, a project like this is a breath of fresh air for our region and gives hope to operators knowing that visitors have yet another reason to travel to Townsville North Queensland and experience the paradise we call home.

“There is massive demand for this experience – which focuses on travel for good, and giving back to community and environment – and with such a pent-up desire to explore and be immersed in nature across the nation, and the world – the MOUA is a huge asset to our region that we are really excited about.”

Global leader in underwater sculptures Jason de Caires Taylor said while he is disappointed he can’t be in Townsville due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s exciting to see his artworks begin to take on a life of their own.

“As the Coral Greenhouse is slowly colonized and built upon by the reef, it will be gradually absorbed into its surroundings. We’re looking forward to the planting of corals in the Coral Greenhouse as permitting allows to truly fulfil the purpose of the artwork,” Mr deCaires Taylor said.

“What happens in the sea affects us all directly and affects our livelihoods, along with the future of our species. I believe one of the best ways to inspire people is to show them how incredible the ocean and Greater Barrier Reef is and how important it is to continue to conserve it.”

Commercial Tourism Operators including Adrenalin Dive Townsville, Sealink Townsville, Pro Dive Magnetic Island, Yongala Dive Burdekin and Orpheus Island Resort will operate tours to the Coral Greenhouse.

Paul Crocombe of Adrenalin Dive said he was excited by the opportunity to finally take visitors to experience the Coral Greenhouse and the stunning coral found at John Brewer Reef.

“The MOUA is really going to take our tour offering of the Great Barrier Reef to a whole new level. The Museum gives people even more reasons to visit the reef and gives us the opportunity to show them how beautiful it still is and learn how to protect it for future generations,” Mr Crocombe said.

“We start taking tours out from this Sunday, and already have a full boat of keen divers ready to hear the stories of the reef and experience the MOUA for themselves.”

SeaLink General Manager Chris Briggs said the North Queensland tourism industry will be significantly bolstered by the MOUA.

“The MOUA at John Brewer Reef provides a unique tourism experience combining thought proving artwork set in a stunningly beautiful landscape of corals and surrounded by vibrant marine life,” Mr Briggs said.

“With such a drawcard at our doorstep and with more art installations by Jason deCaires Taylor planned, SeaLink is looking forward to delivering a world class tourism experience to visitors once travel restrictions have fully relaxed.”

Stage One of the MOUA has been made possible through a Queensland Government grant.

Stage Two on Palm Island and Stage Three on Magnetic Island are expected to be complete in 2021.

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