The Whitsunday Region is located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. When you’re not under water viewing vibrant corals and stunning marine life, you can enjoy long stretches of white sandy beaches while gazing out at the crystal blue water – Whitehaven Beach has been consistently rated as one of the top beaches in the world.
Popular dive sites in the area include Bait Reef and Garys Lagoon Dive Site, Hook Reef, Blue Pearl Bay and as of July 2019 there’s a new series of sites to add to the list – the Ngaro Underwater Marine Sculpture Trail.
What Are the Ngaro Underwater Marine Sculpture Trails?
A project by Whitsundays Reef Recovery and Public Art Project, the Ngaro Underwater Marine Sculpture Trail is a collection of underwater sculptures created by Australian artists and installed across the Whitsundays Region at Langford Island, Manta Ray Bay and Blue Pearl Bay.
The amazing underwater trail features a 6 meter/19 foot ‘Turtle Dream’ sculpture by artist Col Henry, 2 meter/6.5 foot ‘Migration of the Mantas’ by Indigenous artist Brian Robinson and 3.8 meter/1.1 foot ‘Manta Ray’ as well as 3.85 meter/12.4 foot ‘Maori Wrasse’ by local artist Adriaan Vanderlugt. At the time of writing four of the proposed six sculptures had been laid underwater, offering exciting new dive opportunities.
Why Was the Trail Created?
After cyclone Debbie ravaged the Whitsundays Islands and coast in 2017, the Whitsunday Reef Recovery and Public Art Project was created with input from local government, indigenous communities and tourism bodies with the objective of assisting recovery from the cyclone.
Speaking in 2018, Tourism and Events Queensland Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said “This artwork will provide a new experience for people travelling to the Whitsundays and will help the marine tourism industry recover after Cyclone Debbie.”
The project and underwater trail aims to provide innovative tourism experiences as well as reef conservation and education prospects, to support both the local community and environment.
What Impact Will the Trail Have?
These magnificent underwater sculptures are a first for the Great Barrier Reef. They not only provide opportunity for dialogue on marine conservation, but are also a part of the reef restoration project that has been happening along sites of the Whitsunday islands reefs.
Sitting alongside two of the sculptures ‘Manta Ray’ and ‘Migration of the Mantas’ is the coral sanctuary of Manta Ray Bay. Hundreds of baby corals have since being planted in the area, maintaining a survival rate as high as 92% in the two months since out planting onto the natural reef!
How Can You Dive the Ngaro Underwater Marine Sculpture Trail?
Although the Ngaro Underwater Marine Sculpture Trail is spread across the Whitsunday region, the sculptures are very accessible to all levels of divers due to their shallow depth. The creatures featured on the trail sit at a depth of 10 meters/32 feet and above with ‘Manta Ray’ sitting at just 5 meters/16 feet.
Even more exciting for snorkelers and divers alike is the fifth sculpture ‘Bywa’, set to be placed in late 2019. This sculpture depicts an Aboriginal Dreamtime story about reef creation and will be placed just offshore at Horseshoe Bay in the town of Bowen.
If you still need convincing to add this incredibly unique experience to your diving bucket list, check out this epic footage of the trail from Riptide Creative:
Want to get your underwater ‘hike’ of the amazing Ngaro Underwater Marine Sculpture Trail underway? Locate a PADI Dive Shop in the Whitsundays and start your adventure today!