Thousands gather to welcome ex-HMAS Tobruk to Bundy
UPDATE: Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones and Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson today officially welcomed the ex-HMAS Tobruk to Bundaberg marking the beginning of a two-year project to transform the vessel into a world-class dive site.
Ms Jones said the arrival of the ex-HMAS Tobruk was a landmark day for Bundaberg and the Wide Bay region with the local economy set to prosper both from the preparation work needed to scuttle the vessel and the addition of a prize tourism asset.
"This will be a great boost for local jobs and the tourism industry across the Fraser Coast and Bundaberg," she said.
"The benefits this new tourism attraction will bring to the Wide Bay region are great and will not only mean a rise in domestic and international visitors to the region, it will also provide much needed long term, sustainable jobs for locals.
"Once established, this world-class dive attraction is anticipated to attract high yielding divers to the region, which will generate significant spending and flow-on economic benefits to major local hubs such as Bundaberg and Hervey Bay."
Ms Donaldson said the vessel would undergo a lengthy preparation process before it can welcome divers.
"Today is a great day for Bundaberg," she said.
"I want to congratulate our local HMAS Tobruk Advisory Committee for working so hard to secure this new attraction for our region.
"I also want to thank the Palaszczuk Government for making this massive investment in local tourism.
"The preparation process for ex-HMAS Tobruk is likely to take between 18 months to two years, and is expected to create a considerable amount of work for Bundaberg locals.
"Work to prepare the vessel for scuttling is set to kick off straight away and we're looking for workers to provide a range of services including removal and demolition of materials, security of the vessel, painting and cleaning, and many more technical opportunities.
"The two-year project to transform the ex-HMAS Tobruk into a world-class dive site is estimated to value between $8 million to $10 million.
"The resulting dive site will be a major tourism drawcard for our city and will have lasting economic and jobs benefits for Bundaberg and the Wide Bay."
Once the vessel is ready from an environmental and safety perspective, it is planned to be scuttled in mid to late 2018.
Minister Jones said once scuttled, the Queensland Government, in partnership with Fraser Coast and Bundaberg Regional Councils would honour the excellent reputation of the ex-HMAS Tobruk.
"We want to ensure that all visitors are aware of ex-HMAS Tobruk's great contribution to Queensland and also to Australia's military history," Ms Jones said.
"The transformation of this much-loved vessel will be a wonderful legacy for Queensland and for those who served on her."
EARLIER: Thousands of people gathered to welcome the ex-HMAS Tobruk to the Port of Bundaberg today.
Arriving around 3pm, the Tobruk caused a wave of excitement with eager locals lining up to get a view of the future diving wreck.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the ex-HMAS Tobruk would be an important asset to the region.
"This dive wreck will not only bring domestic and international visitors to the Wide Bay-Burnett region, it will bring much needed long term, sustainable jobs and a future for the next generation," he said.
"Work to prepare the ship for scuttling will be done at Bundaberg Port and the ongoing boost to the local economy is estimated at $4 million each year."
More to come