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Go Bareboating and see underwater art in the Whitsundays

The Whitsundays has a new art exhibition but if you want to see it there’s a twist.

The art is underwater and you can only reach it by boat.

To us at #GoBareboating that’s all the more reason to book a charter, but there are actually many reasons why you should experience this temporary exhibition while you can.

A GBR first!

The Whitsundays is currently the site of a groundbreaking project to establish coral nurseries and a permanent underwater sculpture trail.

While underwater art exists in other parts of the world, this is a first for our 74 island wonders and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The project is backed by the state and federal governments and led locally by Tourism Whitsundays, Whitsunday Regional Council and Townsville-based company ‘Reef Ecologic’.

It involves the design, creation and installation of underwater and inter-tidal interpretive art pieces across the Whitsunday region, along with coral restoration and educational activities.

Can art help the reef?

While one of the project’s core functions is to support tourism in the Whitsundays, it is also about protecting one of our greatest natural treasures – the Great Barrier Reef.

Coral gardening may have a large part to play in the recovery, restoration and resilience of the world’s reefs.

Reef Ecologic are leaders in that field and we are excited to have them working right here in the Whitsundays.

Your opinion counts

What happens under the water and whether art can indeed help the reef are topics the team at Reef Ecologic want your opinion on.

To that end, they have established a temporary research project at the Whitsundays’ Langford Reef.

In early August, artworks by local sculptor Adriaan Vanderlugt titled ‘Box Fish 2011’, Alu the Box Fish 2012, Nudibranch 2007 and Soldier Crab 2005, were installed on the beach at Langford Island in the northern section of the Whitsunday island group.

Sculptures on the beach. Photo courtesy Reef Ecologic

One month later these artworks were moved into the inter-tidal zone and last month they were relocated underwater, just a short distance off the beach.

Pick up a mooring at Langford Island, swim to GPS location 20o 4.957 S, 148o52.839 E, dive down and hey presto this is what you’ll see!

The artworks are at about 6 metres depth (at high tide) so visibility and current will be aspects to factor into your search.

Once you’ve taken a look, there are surveys you can fill out by heading to the Reef Ecologic website, or alternatively scan this QR code and let your mobile phone take you there.

Your answers will help determine whether art installations should be underwater, inter-tidal or on the beach, how they should help raise awareness for the Great Barrier Reef and how interactive they should be in terms of touching, swimming and engaging with them.

The bigger picture

The temporary exhibition at Langford Reef is just the start of a bigger picture for the Whitsundays.

Six individual artists and a team of three have been chosen from a global search to create six permanent underwater artworks for locations throughout the Whitsundays.

Adriaan Vanderlugt, whose work you can see at Langford Island, is a Centenary Medal-holder for distinguished service to the arts.

Adriaan’s designs for a 2.4m x 3.9m x 1m ‘Maori Wrasse’ and a 1x x 3.6m x 2.5m ‘Manta Ray’, have been selected by an expert panel.

Brian Robinson, well-known for a number of public sculptures in places like Cairns, has been appointed to create seven large concrete and stainless steel manta rays titled ‘Migration of the Mantas’ and ‘Bwya’; a sculpture representing a dreamtime story about the reef, creation and marine life.

New South Wales sculptor Col Henry will produce ‘Turtle Dream’; a 6m x 5m x 3m interactive hawksbill turtle designed to also create marine habitat.

The final artists are Caitlin Reilly, Jessa Lloyd and Kate Ford.

Together, as the ‘Arts Based Collective’, they will create ‘Anthozoa’, a giant representation of a single coral polyp measuring 4m x 5m x 4m.

Once complete, the proposed locations for these artworks are Hayman Island’s Blue Pearl Bay and Hook Island’s Manta Ray Bay.

The current timeline for completion is the end of 2019 – something to consider when booking your bareboat charter and planning your itinerary.

The time is now

For those wanting to see the temporary exhibition at Langford Island, time is running out.

Originally scheduled for removal in mid-November, the four artworks are expected to receive an extension until the end of January 2019.

For updates on the status ask your #GoBareboating charter company, and don’t leave it too late to book.

The Langford experience

Seeing underwater art is by no means the only thing you can do at Langford Island.

It’s a great place to spot turtles and Bat Fish from the comfort of your mooring or while snorkelling off the beach.

There is now also a short walk you can do that will take you to a stunning lookout.

The Langford walk complements others in the Whitsundays including the newly opened Border Island track.

For more information contact any one of the five charter companies in the #GoBareboating collective.

Let Cumberland Charter Yachts, Whitsunday Escape, Charter Yachts Australia, Queensland Yacht Charters and Whitsunday Rent-A-Yacht broaden your horizons beneath the big blue.

(Images courtesy Reef Ecologic and @shazatsea)

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