Tourism Victoria, 26 August 2009

HMAS Canberra takes the plunge in the Bellarine Peninsula

HMAS Canberra takes the plunge in the Bellarine Peninsula

By Tourism Victoria

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 — The Bellarine Peninsula is set to add to its reputation as one of Australia's premier year-round dive destinations when the decommissioned Royal Australian Navy warship, the HMAS Canberra, is scuttled next month.

The 4,100 tonne, 138 metre long and 30 metre high vessel will be sunk off the shores east of Barwon Heads on Saturday 12 September, creating a "must dive" site for the Bellarine Peninsula.

Member for Bellarine, Lisa Neville said the new underwater wonderland would become an oasis for marine life and offer ideal conditions for experienced divers to explore the ocean and its abundant marine life.

Studies by Tourism Victoria estimate the dive site will generate a net economic benefit of around $1.3 million per annum, with dive visitors set to enjoy local produce, dining, shopping and accommodation in the region.

Local residents will have the opportunity to watch the scuttling along the foreshore between Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads. Once in position at the scuttling site, an exclusion zone of one kilometre will be enforced around the vessel and will remain until the ship is declared safe.

During the scuttling, detonation experts will work closely with Marine Safety Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment to protect marine life. A spotter plane will be used on the morning of the sinking to circle the designated area and watch for whales, seals and dolphins.

In the interest of public safety, the dive site will not be opened to the general public until an inspection of the vessel is undertaken and it is confirmed safe and suitable for diving.

The ship was gifted to Victoria by the Commonwealth Government. The Victorian Government is providing $1.5 million towards the project.

Tourism Victoria, Edition 36 Online

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