Geelong Otway Tourism, 9 August 2009

Great Ocean Road To Eclipse Great Barrier Reef For Diving After Sinking Of Warship

Great Ocean Road To Eclipse Great Barrier Reef For Diving After Sinking Of Warship

By Geelong Otway Tourism

The Great Ocean Road is to eclipse the Great Barrier Reef for diving once the sinking of the de-commissioned Australian warship - the HMAS Canberra - takes place in order to form an artificial reef, according to local dive operator.

Sunday, 9 August 2009 — Geelong, Victoria — The Great Ocean Road is to eclipse the Great Barrier Reef for diving once the sinking of the de-commissioned Australian warship — the HMAS Canberra — takes place, in order to form an artificial reef, according to local dive operator.

Diving in the Great Ocean Road region is to be enhanced significantly once the proposed sinking of the de-commissioned Australian warship, the HMAS Canberra, to form an artificial reef takes place.

"You already have the situation where this area is rich in sea life, probably the richest in Australia and certainly far more than the Great Barrier Reef," says local dive operator Jason Salter, Queenscliff Dive Centre.

"That's because you have the waters of the Pacific mixing with those of the Southern Ocean so you get both warm water species and cold water species."

"The sinking of the Canberra to create a reef is going to make the diving experience even more fantastic?they are not stripping it completely so there will be quite a lot for divers to explore."

According to Salter, even when the air temperature is at its coldest, diving still takes place along the Great Ocean Road.

"In many ways it?s probably the best time," Salter says, "The conditions are a bit calmer, the water's nice and clear."

The HMAS Canberra arrived in Geelong in June 2008. It was towed from Rockingham, WA, and will be far from the only wreck along the coastline when it meets its watery grave, the exact location of which is yet to be finalised.

"There are many, many wrecks," Salter says.

"Some were scuttled, some were sunk in tragic circumstances. They are all great for diving."

One of the more popular wrecks — is that of the old Port Phillip Bay steamer, the Ozone. Salter agrees wholeheartedly.

"It's one of the easier places to get to," he says.

Unluckily, on her maiden voyage in 1886 out of Port Melbourne, she crashed into the Queenscliff Pier and damaged part of the paddle box before embarking on a 39-year shift bringing thousands of holiday makers, party-goers, and day trippers to the Bellarine Peninsula.

Becoming representational of the region, one Queenscliff hotelier was so impressed with the 260 foot long boat capable of holding up to 800 merry-makers, he re-named his hotel in honour of her. Still standing today, the Queenscliff hotel is an excellent example of Victorian architecture.

Unfortunately, a downturn in trade in 1917, caused in part by the First World War, forced The Ozone's owners to withdraw her from service.

In 1925, The Ozone was sold to a ship breaker who stripped her of all her fittings.

What was left was towed to Indented Head on the Bellarine Peninsula and sunk in Half Moon Bay to form a breakwater. Today, the skeleton of the Ozone makes a regular appearance at low tide and is also part of the attraction of a visit to the long foreshore.

Though behind schedule — the sinking was due to take place earlier this year in March — it is anticipated that the addition of the HMAS Canberra will enhance the rich array of sea life already established in the region.

Says Salter, "I would say that one of the best places in Australia, for breadth of diving opportunities, is the Great Ocean Road."

The Great Ocean Road is a haven for sports such as diving, fishing, surfing, walking, hiking, and cycling with a plethora of flora and fauna and marine life to see.

For the complete range of activities to do whilst on holidays in the Great Ocean Road go to the official website for the Geelong Otway Region of the Great Ocean Road visitgreatoceanroad.org.au

Geelong Otway Tourism

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