UP CLOSE WITH THE TOBRUK: Local photographer Tracy Olive has had a stunning up-close encounter with ex-HMAS Tobruk while it lies on the sea floor.
UP CLOSE WITH THE TOBRUK: Local photographer Tracy Olive has had a stunning up-close encounter with ex-HMAS Tobruk while it lies on the sea floor. Tracy Olive

First paying divers get chance to see Tobruk up-close

EIGHT months after she was scuttled, the ex-HMAS Tobruk has finally made her debut with recreational divers giving the wreck the thumbs up.

A dive club from the Sunshine Coast toured the Tobruk on Sunday as conditions finally eased.

They were the first paying customers aboard Lady Musgrave Experience's Bundaberg-based catamaran Main Event to explore the shipwreck, which lies in the Great Sandy Marine Park.

The structure of the 127m-long landing ship heavy has already attracted a wealth of marine life including schools of barracuda, bait fish, trevally, Queensland gropers and turtles.

"I was amazed with the amount of marine life that already calls the Tobruk home,” Sunshine Coast-based Scuba World's assistant manager Rob McKinnon said.

"Secondly, I was amazed with the sheer size of some of the openings, which reminded me of the SS President Coolidge (in Vanuatu).”

The experienced group of 24 divers regularly dive the ex-HMAS Brisbane off Mooloolaba and have seen its development as an artificial reef since its scuttling in 2005.

"I can't wait to go back in six months' time to see the Tobruk again,” Scuba World's general manager Mike McKinnon said.

"Being on its starboard side means it's totally different to the Brisbane.

"My favourite part of the wreck was the stern and propeller where there were large schools of fish.”

Bundaberg photographer Tracy Olive said she was there when the Tobruk was scuttled and remembered having a sad feeling watching it sink.

But now that feeling was replaced with wonder.

She has now dived the site twice, seen the turtles, fish and corals growing on the ship, and said she "loved it, just loved it”.

"I had this sort of sad feeling of it going to the bottom, but now to see how the ocean has just taken it to be its own, it's got a new life,” she said.

"There's just a buzz of energy around the whole thing.

"It's a huge credit to marine parks, nature has taken hold of it and it's creating an artwork.”



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