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October, 1987: The Bundaberg & District Artificial Reef Association Incorporated (BADARAI) was created. The Artificial Reef site is approximately 400m x 800m with the 800m boundary running parallel with the coastline, to north-northeast. To date, it is the only artificial reef in Australia to be approved within an existing marine national park. The Woongarra Marine Park takes in an area from Burnett Heads in the north to Elliott Heads in the south, along the coastline at Bundaberg in Queensland, Australia.

The Artificial Reef site is located about 2.5 to 3 nautical miles off Barolin Point, Innes Park and 2.5 to 3 nautical miles off Elliott Heads. The Association is governed by, and prior to deployment must gain approvals from, The Dept of Environment, Queensland Transport (Marine Division) and the Environmental Protection Group, Canberra just to name a few. A condition of transporting materials to the artificial reef, is that a Class 5 skipper using a surveyed vessel is to be used to tow the materials. Another condition is that, prior to deployment, all objects must be cleaned of all contaminants, including fuel, oil, chemicals, etc and each object must also be made "diver safe" to prevent divers being hurt, or becoming trapped within the objects.

4th October 1992: The first deployment to the artificial reef site was a 50m long, 350 tonne gravel dredge Ceratodus II which was generously donated by Smiths Premix. The name of this dredge was taken from the Ceratodus, or lungfish, that inhabit the Burnett river which flows through Bundaberg. These unique fish are found in only two rivers in Australia, of which the Burnett is one. The other is the Mary River, about 130 klms south of Bundaberg at Maryborough. The preparation of Ceratodus II took months of working bees with many excited association members working to full capacity. The dredge was towed down the Burnett River, out to the site and was deployed using explosives. It rests in approximately 17 metres of water, lying almost upside down, and for many years was considered the "main attraction" on the reef, although numerous other large items have since been placed on the bottom to keep her company.

Left: The Ceratodus II during the clean-up operation, with just a few of the people who helped to get her on the bottom.




14th & 15th November 1992: A quantity of concrete pipes and steel modules were placed. The pipes are tied together in pyramid shapes, and the steel modules are welded together in triangles. The steel modules are affectionately known as "Gavins", being named after Artificial Reef Association member Gavin Shaw, who allowed dozens of these modules to be stored on his farm before being placed on the reef site.

Left: Steel "Gavins" being loaded onto a truck for transportation before placement on the reef.

Right: The same "Gavins" in place on the bottom of the ocean.




17th December 1994: More steel pipe pyramids and steel modules placed.

12th October 1996: The association took on a massive venture of sinking two Mohawk aircraft. The aircraft were floated to the site. This action was very professionally and accurately carried out, and included the road transportation from the Bundaberg Airport to the Riverview boat ramp at Elliott Heads the previous day. This was the culmination of months of hard work which saw members give up many hours of their own time to strip these aircraft to comply with regulations. The aircraft were purchased from association funds. These two Mohawks now sit fairly close together on the bottom of the ocean and are known as "Alan" and "Brenda" in recognition of two very hardworking people who have give many thousands of hours of their time over a period of many years. The planes are numbered 4 and 5 on the Grid Map (see Artificial Reef Grid Map page).

Left: One of the Mohawk aircraft being transported prior to placement on the Cochrane Artificial Reef.



Left: A large puffer fish sits in front of the windscreen, and right, a couple of moses perch find a haven near the controls.






8th June 1997: Another huge exercise whereby a 15- seater Kingair plane (which was purchased by the association) and a 9 tonne structure comprising of steel tanks (9m x 5m x 3m) were hoisted by Stewarts Cranes over the rock walls at Port Bundaberg and both were towed down the coast to the reef area.

Left: The 15-seater Kingair plane being towed into position for deployment.



February 1998:
Over a five day period, Mr Eddie Jebreen, a marine biologist with the Department of Primary Industries, deployed several hundred tonnes of materials mainly in the southern section of the reef (which was a research area - all of the objects placed by the Artificial Reef Association at this time are in the northern section). The main materials used were concrete modules (each weighing 0.6tonne, steel pipe modules, steel prisms and concrete block modules. Some of the modules designed by Eddie Jebreen are now known as "Eddies". Eddie Jebreen has been conducting surveys on this area for research purposes and to study the effects that artificial reefs may have on the marine environment.

16th July 1998: Two more steel structures were towed from Riverview. The Barolin water tank which was enhanced with modules to give it profile, and a structure of discarded pontoons also with the additions of steel prisms and other modules were successfully deployed.

27th May 1999: A landing barge (which has since become known affectionately - or otherwise - as T.B., (short for "The Bitch" because she caused so many headaches for the clean-up team), approximately 16m long and 35 tonne complete with steel structures to add profiles was towed on its last journey. During the year a pontoon platform was built to enable small deployments to be performed. Another duty members perform is dive monitoring, conducted on an annual basis usually towards the end of August as close as possible to the same date every year. Divers photograph particular objects, conduct a species count and compile a habitat report for various government departments.

Left and right: "T.B." before and during sinking.




17th Oct and 31st Dec 1999: Association members placed 3,500 concrete house blocks to make "bommies" and dive trails between objects. There were thousands more still to be placed.

Left: A small section of the ocean floor where numerous concrete blocks have been placed. Blocks like this are all it takes to attract large schools of fish, which in turn attract other fish and marine life.




Left: One of six large groper known to be living on the Cochrane Artificial Reef. On the right just under the head of the groper is one of the concrete besser blocks, which is reduced, by the sheer size of the fish, to look like a common house brick.




23-24th September 2000: Two new additions were placed amongst the already diverse Cochrane Artificial Reef. These were two identical 16-year-old Lightships, each weighing 140 tonnes and measuring 24 metres on length and 8 metres in width. The "Breaksea Spit Lightships" were like small floating lighthouses and marked the position of the Breaksea Spit, which is the northern extremity of world heritage listed Fraser Island. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, and lies to the south-east of Bundaberg. When new, each lightship cost 1.2 million dollars! They used an acetylene beacon powered by 90 "G" size cylinders each, the light from which could be seen for about 17 nautical miles. They are now known as "Lightship 1" and "Lightship II", and act like beacons to welcome a wide variety of marine life to a new home on the Cochrane Artificial Reef.

Left: One of the former "Breaksea Spit" Lightships before it was stripped and cleaned for placement on the Cochrane Artificial Reef.
Right: Going to her final resting place...



The towers were taken off the the top of the lightships to comply with the depth regulation that applies to the Cochrane Artificial Reef. Objects placed on the reef site must be more than 7 metres below the ocean surface at low water. For progressive photos of the sinking of the lightships, go to www.diveoz.com.au and look in the "News and Articles/Feature Articles" area.

September 2003:  Steel vessel Lynette was placed on the Cochrane Artificial Reef.

November 2005:  The Porteur 77 was a 130ft gravel barge that had a fully loaded displacement of around 770 tonnes. The barge was provided to the association by Metallia Sand & Gravel Co.  After many months of clean-up, it was deployed on 30th November 2005 and is one of the largest features of the artificial reef. Photos can be seen on the Photos page.

Left: Porteur 77 berthed at Port Bundaberg during preparation for deployment.
Right: BADARAI members aboard Porteur on deployment day.


August 2006:  In August 2006, thanks to a substantial grant from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), BADARAI contracted the Curtis Endeavour barge from Gladstone and deployed a range of materials including 190 eddies (large hollow concrete cubes), 50 Gavins (steel prisms), 89 concrete pipes and a small ex-trawler, Nirvana, donated by Larry O'Brien. "Balmer's Bommie", created by the deployment of some of these items was named after Julian Balmer, vice-president of BADARAI at this time.

September 2008:  Final deployment of items covered by the DAFF grant, done over a 3-day period, again using the Curtis Endeavour from Gladstone.