Out & about,
See & do
Gold Coast's artificial reef a wonder for local diving operators
Natalie O’Driscoll | June 13, 2022
Gold Coast’s latest dive attraction Wonder Reef is generating a huge amount of interest within the national diving community.
Our little corner of the sparkling blue Pacific holds plenty of thrills for divers, with hidden depths and nearby islands providing natural reefs and jumping off points to numerous shipwrecks. And with the recent opening of artificial dive attraction Wonder Reef, the offerings have only gotten better.
So just what is Wonder Reef?
Situated just 2.5km off The Spit at Main Beach, Wonder Reef is comprised of nine sculptural reef flutes that have been installed at a depth of 30 metres onto the ocean floor. The flutes range in size up to eight metres high, and are attached to 75 tonne pyramid-shaped foundations made of concrete and reinforced steel in order to better withstand strong swells and cyclones.
Marine experts undertook the large-scale coral planting of local species to accelerate marine growth, creating more than 32,000m³ of new reef habitats that the local marine life is already taking full advantage of.
The reef is expected to attract more than 16,000 diving enthusiasts a year to the Gold Coast and inject $32.8 million into the Gold Coast economy within 10 years.
We spoke to two passionate Gold Coast dive operators that are bracing for the impact that Wonder Reef is going to make to the local scene.
Gold Coast Dive Adventures is owned by experienced divers Nicole Cottrell, her son Harrison (Harry), scientist step-dad John and Master Skipper Sebastian Lovera. This family-run business has one main objective: to put Gold Coast on the international dive map of extraordinary locations.
“The Gold Coast area is situated perfectly between sub-tropical waters and temperate waters providing some of the best diving in South East Queensland and an unequalled array of extraordinary dive sites for all levels,” said Harry, who has been diving non-stop since he was a child.
“The diving is remarkable and offers something for all levels but it is our spectacular shark diving adventures that we are most proud of. With a huge migration of grey nurse sharks in the winter we are able to offer remarkable shark diving experiences. This also gives us the platform to educate people about these beautiful, docile, intelligent creatures.
“The beautiful leopard sharks in the summer, numerous species of rays and turtles, a massive spectrum of nudibranchs coupled with beautiful coral, sponges, tunicates and so much more, provides stunning macro life diving all year round”.
Gold Coast Dive Adventures is an offshore dive company that runs trips seven days a week to Gold Coast and beyond, and offers training courses as well as experiences such as deep diving, freedive fun days and wreck exploration. And now Wonder Reef is a part of their line-up of activities.
“The Wonder Reef simply adds to the already magnificent assortment of dive sites and provides Gold Coast with an unequalled diversity of extraordinary, stunning dive adventures,” says co-owner Nicole Cottrell, who spends a great deal of time looking for new sites and experiences for divers.
“The site has already attracted much marine life. It is a dive like no other and a wonderful addition to the Gold Coast.”
Gold Coast Dive Adventures’ Harry Cottrell swims with grey nurse sharks off North Stradbroke Island
Divers get ready with Queensland Scuba Diving
Gold Coast marine experts plant coral on Wonder Reef
Queensland Scuba Diving Managing Director Mark Salter says that business has already picked up, with the already-busy long-time Gold Coast operation now taking on an influx of new enquiries about Wonder Reef.
Queensland Scuba Diving have logged more than 60,000 dives on the Gold Coast in the past 15 years, so they definitely know what they’re talking about. The friendly team offers everything from snorkelling for the complete novice to PADI certification at instructor level, and all experiences in between. Mark believes that the addition of the new Wonder Reef will see divers who’ve taken a break come back into the fold and update their diving education in order to be able to see it.
“Divers who have not dived for some time are getting excited at the new world-class site and will need refresher training and upgrading of their qualifications.
“We feel that all divers will want to have a look at Wonder Reef, and the Gold Coast will benefit from this.”