Underwater secrets unveiled

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
Pilbara Dive and Tours owner Natalie Callanan.
Camera IconPilbara Dive and Tours owner Natalie Callanan. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr/Pilbara News

A new dive business looking to reveal what lies beneath the water around the Dampier Archipelago hopes the Pilbara can one day be seen in the same light as some of Australia’s famous dive experiences.

Pilbara Dive and Tours has started operating out of Karratha and is targeting residents interested in dive courses and dive trips, though tourism and conservation are high on the list of priorities down the line.

Owner Natalie Callanan said the diving around the archipelago and the wider Pilbara area was on par with sites such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Ningaloo Coast.

“I started diving in 1995 as a recreational diver and really got into it, so in 97 I became a dive master and worked on the Great Barrier Reef from Mackay for a couple of years,” she said.

“The coral here is in pristine condition because not a lot of people go out there, it hasn’t been stood on and the water is quite clear of rubbish. At the moment I have been chartering a boat with Discovery Cruising about once a month to go out to the Dampier Archipelago with about eight to 10 divers.”

“I have had a couple of tourists come out who have really enjoyed the experience, so I guess the more tourists I can get out, the more they will tell their friends about the Pilbara.”

Pink clown fish.
Camera IconPink clown fish. Credit: Pilbara Dive and Tours

Business Centre Pilbara chief executive Paul Jagger said barriers to tourism growth in the Pilbara such as cost of services and accommodation had been reduced or removed in the past year.

“There are so few existing tourism businesses so the emphasis needs to be on activating new enterprise,” he said. “The ingredients for new small business to commence in the tourism space are better than ever before.”

“In the short term I think the take up for dive tours will mostly come from people who live in the region but once we really start to get some momentum in promoting the region I would fully expect them to do well in tourism space.”

Mr Jagger said he expected about 20 new tourism businesses to be up and running across the Pilbara through the Business Centre’s Federally funded Warlu Way program by the end of the year.

Tours and courses aside, Ms Callanan is also looking to help conservations efforts around the archipelago and Nickol Bay area.

She said a program with Project AWARE had been set up to monitor rubbish levels at a dive site off of Cleaverville.

Sea apple off the Dampier coast.
Camera IconSea apple off the Dampier coast. Credit: Pilbara Dive and Tours.

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