Wharf divers ship out

THE longest-surviving tenant at The Wharf is set to move as it looks to better accommodate its expanding business.

Scuba World, which has occupied 90sq m under roof overlooking The Wharf marina for the past 31 years, is set to shift to its new two-storey location next to Bridge Seafoods.

Company founder Ian McKinnon, who started the business as a small dive shop in Toowong in 1979, said the expanding business had simply run out of room at its current location.

He said “out-of-control” traffic congestion in Mooloolaba and parking issues had also driven the shift.
Scuba World opened for business at The Wharf in October 1988 with Andrea Ahern, wife of former Premier Mike Ahern, doing the honours.

Mrs Ahern dived to the bottom of Scuba World’s iconic training tank to unveil a plaque. She had first been taught to use scuba equipment by Ian.

The business preceded Hog’s Breath beside it which opened in 1990 and Underwater World now Sea Life.

Scuba World went on to form a 20-year relationship with Underwater World conducting shark dives in its main tank with tourists and celebrities including swimmer Michael Klim, Australian rugby union captain John Eales and rugby league star Wendell Sailor.
Mr McKinnon estimates that during that time Scuba World taught 20,000 divers.

More recently the introduction of the HMAS Brisbane dive site has taken the business to another level.

In place for the past 14 years, the HMAS Brisbane conservation park is maturing with the growth of beautiful soft corals forming the backdrop to a safe swim-through wreck dive.

The site is a regular location for Southeast Queensland divers and draws streams of divers from the United States, Europe and New Zealand.

What has not diminished during the past 31 years has been the integrity of inner and outer Gneering dive locations off Mooloolaba and sites around Old Woman Island.

Out in the open ocean endangered grey nurse sharks numbering more than 20 first witnessed last year had returned again this winter to the same location. Ian said the business, whose first boat could accommodate only six divers, now was able to take 20 to sea at a time in a much larger craft.

The shift to its new Brisbane Rd premises in October will deliver easier access, more than adequate parking, and 570sq m of space allowing divers to change under cover.

The dive boats would make their way to sea from the commercial pontoons on the Mooloolah River at Bridge Seafoods.
After the now 74-yearold Ian’s retirement the business was first run by sons Mike and Rob.

Mike is now in sole control as principal and chief instructor after Rob moved on to purchase the Warana Fitstop franchise gym.

Article featured in the Sunshine Coast Daily on Monday 26th August 2019. Article written by Bill Hoffman

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