By Cathy Finch - Courier Mail
On July 31, 2005, one of three ships from the 1st Australian Destroyer Squadron of the Royal Australian Navy was given a new mission.
Huge crowds watched as the former HMAS Brisbane was sunk ceremoniously about 5km east of Mudjimba Island, near Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.
Her final orders were to rest peacefully. She was to maintain her dignity by forming the base for an artificial reef and later an important conservation park.
Just months after the old warship gurgled 28m down to the ocean's sandy floor, a host of marine wildlife took up quarters.
The new residents were free to choose their own cabin space from spaces left empty by the Brisbane's captain and 332 crew. Decks, galleys and engine rooms made perfect homes and hideaways for hundreds of species of fish and coral.
Fast forward nearly four years and the ex-HMAS Brisbane is considered one of Queensland's best wreck dives.
I am being briefed by the owner and operator of Scuba World, an award-winning diver training facility next door to Mooloolaba's Underwater World. As in any wreck dive, there are potential dangers, and our instructor ensures we are made fully aware of these.