Advocacy Alert: Museum of Underwater Art to Make a Splash on Palm Island

It's great news today that the Federal Government has confirmed the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) has been successful in it's Building Better Regions Funding (BBRF) application securing $1.5M towards the next phase of the project.

This financial support secures the development of Phase Two of the Museum of Underwater Art, focusing on sharing the indigenous stories of the Palm Island community through submerged artworks in the ocean off Palm Island. These will be accessible through dive and snorkel tours. MOUA will be catalytic for the Palm Island community, building upon the nascent tourism industry, generating jobs and income, addressing social disadvantage, showcasing local culture and supporting conservation efforts on the Great Barrier Reef. The local community will be involved and consulted in the design process of the Palm Island pieces by the artist, internationally acclaimed sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, who will work with residents to ensure their stories are told appropriately and respectfully.

Delivery of the Museum of Underwater Art will be a three phase process, including; Phase One - an intertidal piece on the Strand and a large artwork submerged at John Brewer Reef; Phase Two - submerged pieces off Palm Island; and Phase Three - two submerged pieces off Magnetic Island and the reef. A $2M State Government funding commitment towards Phase One was secured in 2017 on top of nearly $1M through corporate partnerships.

As the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, MOUA will be a globally significant project that will enhance and promote Townsville North Queensland's reputation as a globally recognised centre of excellence for marine science, education and research. Our region is the proud custodian of world renowned institutions including James Cook University, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Reef HQ, all of which are based in Townsville.

MOUA will deliver art and reef experiences to leverage global tourism trends, particularly the global demand for Indigenous tourism, overall anticipated to attract 50,000 new visitors each year. However, this project is not about taking visitation away from other Queensland tourism destinations, we want to add to our state and nation’s appeal to the world, and MOUA can do just that. Cairns is where visitors can dive the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays where they can sail the Great Barrier Reef, and Townsville North Queensland will be where visitors can learn about the Great Barrier Reef. The Museum of Underwater Art will be the catalyst to set our region apart and provide a point of difference to our local tourism offering.

We have not seen any significant tourism infrastructure investment into the region for over 20 years, and we are thrilled that this week has also included two further announcements towards building our tourism capabilities with the BBRF also delivering $1.9M towards Townsville City Council's Castle Hill Activation and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) confirming a $50M loan towards the Townsville Airport redevelopment.

Townsville Enterprise acknowledges Senator for Queensland Ian Macdonald and LNP Candidate for Herbert Phillip Thompson for their support, and importantly the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council for their partnership on this project, particularly Mayor Alf Lacey and his dedication to secure greater economic opportunities for his community. We congratulate the MOUA Board, led by Paul Victory, on its commitment to this game-changing project and acknowledge the countless hours volunteered to ensure MOUA is realised for our region.

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