The Coral Greenhouse installation in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is a must-visit if you dive or snorkel
Australia might be out of bounds to us right now, but there’s a new experience that snorkellers and divers will want to add to their bucket lists for the future. The Coral Greenhouse is one of the world’s newest aquatic galleries, set in a lagoon on John Brewer Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef off Townsville in northern Queensland. It is the largest part of the second installment of the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA), open to explorers since August.
The Coral Greenhouse is an A-frame greenhouse under water, and diving sets you right amid an unimaginable amount of marine life, all of which is now comfortable around the 72-square-metre structure. Over 50 marine species - ranging from minuscule invertebrates to barracuda schools - swarm the eight human figures in the Coral Greenhouse, set amid trees and coral gardens.
Stories of Conservation Under Water
Sited at depths that range from 12 to 18 metres, the Coral Greenhouse is designed by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor in collaboration with the traditional people of the region, the Wulgurukaba. The immersive art experience also offers a wonderful opportunity to learn about the challenges the Great Barrier Reef currently faces, and, fittingly, the human sculptures in the greenhouse are seen undertaking conservation activities, both highlighting the need to protect the largest living organism in the world, the Great Barrier Reef, as well as reflecting the aboriginal tradition of caring for ancestral lands.
Apart from the Coral Greenhouse, the underwater garden cocoons an additional 25 sculptures all anchored to the ocean floor, and getting down Down Under allows you to explore the colourful reef around; you will only be restricted in your exploration by the amount of air in your tank. Expect to see schools of bait fish and reef fish including Maori wrasse, angel fish, clown fish and parrot fish, as well as stingrays, turtles, and black tip and white tip reef sharks.
What If You’re Not a Diver?
It’s ideal if you’re an Open Water-certified diver, but you can also explore the site from a maximum depth of 12 metres if you’re a Discover Scuba diver. Not a diver? Don’t write this off; snorkellers can get a good look at the museum and the shallow reef on days of good visibility.
Look Up To The Ocean Siren in Townsville
The Coral Greenhouse underwater installation is set 72 kilometres out of Townsville, and in that city itself is another of MOUA’s installations - the Ocean Siren, a female sculpture rising out of the water alongside the Strand Jetty. The solar-illuminated installation is modelled on Takoda Johnson, a young Wulgurukaba woman, and changes hue in response to changes in the water temperature. It serves as both a warning about the need for conservation against climate change as well as a beacon of hope signifying that young people can change the fate of the Great Barrier Reef for the better.
How You Can Dive The Coral Greenhouse
Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive arranges day trips out to the Coral Greenhouse from Townsville, starting at Rs 30,000 per person, beginning 7am and returning at 5pm.
Also see: 5 incredible experiences in Cairns, Australia