A lesser-known achievement of one the most celebrated scientists in Australian history, the late Reg Sprigg, is being brought back to life.

He was renowned for his geological work and his many achievements included identification of the Ediacaran fossils and the founding of the Arkaroola Sanctuary in the northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia.

But few know of Reg Sprigg's exploration of coastal waters in a purpose-built diving chamber decades ago, mapping areas of the ocean bed.

After many years gathering rust, a chance discovery of the diving chamber at outback Arkaroola has led to a restoration project in Adelaide under the eye of a specialist doctor with a passion for diving.

Dr Richard Harris works in the hyperbaric medical unit of the Royal Adelaide Hospital and is a keen recreational diver. Among his other work are duties for MedStar, the aeromedical retrieval service in South Australia.

"I first heard about Reg Sprigg's diving chamber when I was on one of my annual bushwalking trips," he said.

"It looks like a bit of a cross between a tardis and a space ship.

"It seemed to me such a shame this thing was languishing up in the desert near Arkaroola."

Dr Harris said the old diving chamber, weighing about 4.5 tonnes, was brought by truck to Adelaide and it is expected to take about a year to get it seaworthy again.

"Ultimately my goal would be to put it back in the water for one last dive before it gets put into mothballs and stored where it can be appreciated by the public," he said.

He hopes the diving chamber will end up on display where more people will get to see it and learn of its important mapping ocean work.

 

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