Down she goes: Reminiscing on 10 years of HMAS Brisbane

THE Titanic took three hours to sink, the HMAS Brisbane took two minutes and 10 seconds to reach the bottom of the ocean floor, five kilometres off the coast of Mudjimba.

Today marks 10 years since the Perth-class guided missile was scuttled off the Sunshine Coast to create a world-class artificial dive wreck.

DIARY: THE FINAL MOMENTS OF THE HMAS BRISBANE 

 

Thousands packed viewing points on beaches at Alexandra Headland and Mudjimba, others climbed Mount Coolum to get the best view of the ship's last moments afloat.

Many more hired boats or climbed on with friends to catch a glimpse of history in the making.

It took 38 intricately placed and timed charges to seal the 3000 tonne naval ship's fate and have it sink to the ocean floor, 28 metres below.

HMAS Brisbane is towed by tugboats past Caloundra in in preparation for being sunk.
HMAS Brisbane is towed by tugboats past Caloundra in in preparation for being sunk. Warren Lynam

Roy Gabriel, the man responsible for the ship's sinking, knew there was only one chance to get it right, ideally with the upper section no more than five metres below surface.

He achieved this goal with the ship perfectly placed for masked and finned tourists to explore for generations to come.

Ten years on and diving the HMAS Brisbane has become one of the top tourist attractions for the region.

It is listed as Australia's top dive site and has a four-and-a-half star rating on Trip Advisor.

There are more than 200 species of sea life that call the wreck home.

Two companies, Scuba World and Sunreef have the commercial rights to take divers to the ship.

Sunreef's Dan Hart said the HMAS Brisbane brought in "$20 million in the first four years" for the tourist economy.

"It's been guestimated it brings in between $4 or $5 million every year since then," he said.

The divers don't just visit the wreck, but bring their families to enjoy a few fabulous days on the Sunshine Coast.

BIG TURN-OUT: Boaties gathered to see the HMAS Brisbane sunk.
BIG TURN-OUT: Boaties gathered to see the HMAS Brisbane sunk. CONTRIBUTED

Scuba World's Mike McKinnon was one of the first people to dive the wreck 10 days after it sank.

"It was so sterile to go down there, it was really weird," he said.

"It was a perfectly contained ship. I remember for the first six months when we'd swim through the ship, you could look yourself in the mirror in the hand basins where the toilets were.

"I used to pretend I was doing my hair and have a laugh.

"You can't see yourself anymore, all the mirrors are encrusted now and one or two have broken off."

Sunshine Coast Destination CEO Simon Ambrose said the HMAS Brisbane had huge economic value for the Coast.

"The ability for people to have a recreational dive on a warship off coast on the Sunshine Coast is fantastic experience," he said.

"I was at Alex today and was talking to a guy based in Vancouver who was doing a conference for us and he mentioned this as something he wanted to do before going home.

"When you think about aquatic activity, it has to be one of the top five highlights for the Coast."



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