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The Cairns Post, 3 October 2009
The Reef is great, but Geelong says it's better
By The Cairns Post
Winning the AFL grand final may have gone to Geelong's head — it believes it has a dive site even better than the Great Barrier Reef.
Saturday, 3 October 2009 — The Victorian city has welcomed the sinking of the HMAS Canberra just outside Port Phillip Bay, on the Garden State's coast, where the Pacific Ocean and the chilly Southern Ocean meet.
The scuttled battleship will become an artificial reef to provide a new tourist attraction for the region.
In a media release sent out yesterday, Geelong Otway Tourism proudly declared the wreck dive experience would be "better than the Barrier Reef".
What do you think? Should we tell 'em they're dreaming, or do you think Geelong and the Canberra could rival the Reef? Does this sort of competition help or harm the Far North's tourism industry?
"The diving experts are all telling us that is the case," Geelong Otway Tourism CEO Roger Grant said.
"They are able to make that claim because the ship will be sunk just outside Port Phillip Bay on the Victorian coast, where the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet.
"That means we have marine species from both oceans intermingling and when you get down there, it's a real marine kaleidoscope."
Tourism Queensland director for Tropics and Great Barrier Reef Jeff Gillies wished Geelong good luck with its new dive site.
"The Great Barrier Reef reference is probably a marketing ploy to lever off the Great Barrier Reef and Tourism Queensland’s very successful campaign," Mr Gillies said.
"But Geelong ain't the Great Barrier Reef."
He said the difference in diving experiences was evident the moment divers hit the water in Cairns.
"Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef have long been havens for divers who enjoy diving in a tropical climate where the water is a consistently pleasant temperature," Mr Gillies said.
"In Geelong, you might need a wetsuit."
When told about Geelong's excitement at the wreck dive site, CEO of Tropical Tourism North Queensland Rob Giason said: "It sounds like they've sipped a few too many champagnes after winning last weekend’s grand final."
Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators executive director Col McKenzie simply laughed when he was read the media release.
"If you like cold, dirty water, it probably is better than the Great Barrier Reef," Mr McKenzie said.
"There it's going to be 12C down there and you’re going to be in about 25m of water, in fully exposed ocean swell.
"It's not going to be a fantastic dive, in fact you need a good diving qualification to dive it."
He accused the Geelong tourism authority of being ignorant of what constituted a good diving experience.