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There’s more to Australia’s Gold Coast than sun, surf and sand. Watch out for these attractions

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The 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games are on at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, where sun, surf and sand are an important part of the theme. Beyond the iconic red and yellow of the surf-lifesavers and miles of world-class sandy beaches, the Gold Coast is a city bursting with innovative people and ideas.

Here are just a few:

Very virtual: What started as an educational project to help save the Great Barrier Reef has grown into a virtual tour of the world’s deep blue. Welcome to Google Ocean Street View, which allows users to explore some of the oceans that cover 70% of the Earth’s surface — all without putting on a bathing suit. The underwater footage gives viewers a 360-degree look at dolphins, coral nurseries and even shipwrecks — and people love the images so much the company behind the imagery has received more than 600 million online hits.

And that company, Panedia, is on the Gold Coast. Aaron Spence started it in 2006 and six years ago he brought in Carlos Chegado, an expert in virtual reality photography. Spence worked with Chegado in developing underwater rigs and lenses that could withstand ocean pressure and be used for 360-degree photography and videography underwater.

“This is the most ambitious aquatic project in the world … and it is exciting for me to be part of a project that is so important for all of humanity,” Chegado said. “The ocean is the earth’s life support system but it is changing at a rapid rate due to climate change, pollution and over fishing. “But we also want to celebrate the beauty of what do have so we are also filming 50 of the world’s most beautiful reefs — and we are putting this imagery up on 50reefs.org.”

The team uses six cameras capturing 6,000 images a day and there are more than 40 Google Ocean Street View locations around the world.

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Vijay Nanda

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