Home of Bundaberg Rum Distillery.
140kms coastline stretches north from Woodgate in the south – up to the Town of 1770. Is the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
Photo of the MV.Karma By David Harasti.
Cochrane Artificial Reef Just south of Bargara.
1 Ceratodus II, dredge, 350 ton, built 1943, scuttled 1992.
2 Mohawk Aircraft x 2, 1996.
3 ?T.B.?, landing barge, 1999.
4 Lightships x 2, 2000.
5 Aircraft- King Air
6 Motor Cruiser
7 Porteur, Barge, 770 tons, scuttled 2005.
Following the successes of some of the artificial reefs in Brisbane and Hervey Bay, an organisation calling itself the ?Bundaberg and District Artificial Reef Association Incorporated? was formed with the view to creating an artificial reef to rival those of its southern counterparts. The first deployment to the artificial reef site was the 50 metre long, 350-tonne gravel dredge Ceratodus II. It sits in approximately 17 metres of water, lying almost upside down, and is considered to be the main attraction on the reef. The interesting name of this dredge was taken from the Ceratodus, or lungfish, that inhabits the Burnett River which flows through Bundaberg. These unique fish are found in only two rivers in Australia, the nearby Burnett River and the Mary River, about 130 kilometres south of Bundaberg at Maryborough. On the western shore of Fraser Island near the mouth of the Mary River lays a hulk also named after this unusual fish; simply called ?Ceratodus?, one assumes this hulk was the predecessor to Ceratodus II.
The association later managed to acquire two Mohawk aircraft to add both body and interest to the reef. The two Mohawks now sit fairly close together on the bottom of the ocean and are known as ?Alan? and ?Brenda? in recognition of two of the association?s members. A landing barge known as T.B. [short for “The Bitch?], approximately 16 metres long and 35 tonnes, was added in 1999.
Two former lightships were towed to the reef and sunk in 2000. These two identical ships had been anchored near the coast off Bundaberg waiting to be called to duty as floating lighthouses at Breaksea Spit to the north of Fraser Island. Eventually they exceeded their use by date and were gifted to the Association. Each lightship weighed in at 140 tonnes and measured 24 metres in length. The ships used an acetylene beacon, powered by dozens of “G” size cylinders contained in each hull, and could be seen from a distance of about 20 nautical miles. The light towers were removed to ensure that minimum depth requirements were met when they were sunk. They are now known as ?Lightship I? and ?Lightship II?.
The last addition to the reef was the gravel barge Porteur. She spent some considerable time tied up in the Burnett River before finally being laid to rest on November 30, 2005. The Porteur is 40 metres in length.
Although some distance separates the main features of this reef, the Association has cleverly laid out a series of small concrete blocks to enable newcomers to navigate with the greatest of ease. Simply follow the big piles of bricks from wreck to wreck. Diving on aircraft always has an eerie feel to it and although these planes were dumped deliberately you may still get that same mysterious sense about the place. Huge Queensland Grouper inhabit the fuselages like giant bears waiting to ambush passing prey. There is also a fair smattering of both Estuary and Potato Cod, the latter rarely seen in the southern end of the state. Thousands of small pelagic fish swarm above the larger wrecks, making them appear larger on your echo sounder than they actually are. The wrecks have been very well prepared for divers. Safe and easy penetration is possible here, as the hulks have had large entry points cut into them and plenty of light filters in.
Because of its proximity to the coast, Cochrane Artificial Reef usually experiences cooler water temperatures and slightly poorer visibility than some of the offshore wrecks in the vicinity, but at a maximum depth of 18 metres the reef is perfect for divers of all levels. Tide does affect the reef in terms of slight currents, so you should check with locals for tide times and advice on when to schedule your dive if you have any concerns.