Burdekin calls to join underwater art discussions

Burdekin Shire Council is calling for the Burdekin to be considered for an underwater art attraction as part of the push to develop an underwater art museum off Townsville.

Acclaimed international artist Jason deCaires Taylor recently visited Townsville to investigate the possibility for a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Underwater Art Museum near the coast.

Four sculptures have been proposed at four separate sites off the Strand, Magnetic Island, Palm Island and at John Brewer Reef off the Hinchinbrook Shire coast.

Calling for the Burdekin to be considered as another possible location for a sculpture, Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the region was ideally placed for the opportunity.

“Yongala, off the coast of Alva Beach, is already listed as one of the top dive sites in the world,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“The addition of an underwater sculpture off the Burdekin’s coast as part of the Underwater Art Museum would put the Burdekin firmly on the international map for dive tourism and encourage these visitors to stay even longer in our region.

“The City of Townsville, Hinchinbrook Shire and Palm Island Shire have all been earmarked as locations for the artworks.

“Let’s bring the Burdekin into the discussions and potentially create an underwater art trail within our region that we could all be part of.”

Cr McLaughlin said the work of Jason deCaires Taylor was renowned and had become a huge drawcard for visitors around the world.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Underwater Art Museum would be the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

“He created the world’s first underwater museum off the coast of Grenada in 2006. That site is now listed by National Geographic as one of the Top 25 Wonders in the World,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Another of his projects, The Museo Subacuático de Arte off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, resulted in an increase of annual visitor numbers of almost 400,000.”

She said the sculptures would take over two years to construct and there would be opportunities for local artists to get involved as well as workshops for the public.

“There could also be opportunities for our indigenous groups to get involved with conservation of the site,” Cr McLaughlin said.

Tourism Operator and business owner Matt King, of Yongala Dive, said it would be a huge drawcard for visitors to come to the Burdekin and he would almost certainly be able to expand his business as a result.

“It would be so beneficial to our business but also to many other businesses,” he said.

A project team led by SeaLink Queensland, Reef Ecologic, Townsville City Council, Palm Island Shire Council, James Cook University and Townsville Enterprise have been working with the artist in recent months to develop the underwater museum project.

For further information please visit Council’s website www.burdekin.qld.gov.au or contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on (07) 4783 9800.

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