THE CHRONICLE OF SCUBA DIVING IN AUSTRALIA 1950 TO 2019

    

Index    1917 TO 1959    1960 TO 1969    1970 TO 1979    1980 TO 1989 A    1990 TO 1999    2000 TO 2009    2010 TO 2019 Part One    2010 TO 2019 Part Two 

1980 to 1989

BOOM AND BUST IN THE DIVING INDUSTRY

MASSIVE INCREASE IN DIVING EQUIPMENT PRICES

HISTORIC SHIPWRECKS DECLARED

MARINE PARKS FORMED

FIRST DAY TRIPS FOR DIVERS TO OUTER GREAT BARRIER REEF

NEW AUSTRALIAN CAVE DIVING RECORD

EARLY CAVE DIVING AT MOUNT GAMBIER

COMPULSORY "C" CARDS

GREY NURSE SHARKS PROTECTED

FIRST FATAL SHARK ATTACK ON A SCUBA DIVER IN AUSTRALIA

NEW DIVE NEWSPAPER IN PRINT

FIRST UNDERWATER STILL MADE IN AUSTRALIA

EARLY UNDERWATER MOVIE FILMS

WOMEN AND SCUBA DIVING IN AUSTRALIA

EARLY DAYS OF SCUBA DIVING IN NEW SOUTH WALES

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Scuba divers throughout Australia during this decade saw an almost uncontrollable price rise in equipment as never experienced before at any time in the history of scuba diving. Rises were almost monthly during the boom period of the early eighties, then came the inescapable crash, many dive shops went out of business, prices came down to an almost tolerable level and the industry staggered along into the early nineties with no end to the recession.

During the late eighties Australian divers were shocked to learn of the first fatal shark attack upon a scuba diver in Australian waters, this happened in South Australia, the diver was Terry Gibson.

Australia's notable scuba diving entrepreneur Mike Ball purchases two multi-million dollar luxury boats especially for the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea dive charters.

Once thought to be a man eaters, and killed in their hundreds by a few divers in the 1960s, mainly for filming and profit the grey nurse shark is now protected from slaughter.

The Great Barrier Reef is nominated for World Heritage, and numerous marine parks are establish along the coast of every State in Australia. A new dive newspaper was first printed midway through this decade.

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CAVE DIVING ACTIVITIES IN AUSTRALIA: Adelaide. Cave diving is an advanced and specialised diving activity for those interested. In Australia, diving takes place mainly in water filled sink holes of Mount Gambier in South Australia. The sink holes of this area are geologically unique and offer the type of diving that's world renowned. What is the Cave Divers Association of Australia, and why was it formed? The Cave Divers Association of Australia (CDAA) was formed in September 1973, following the tragedy of a series of fatal diving accidents in the freshwater sink holes and caves of the Mount Gambier region, at locations such as The Shaft, Alleyn's Cave, Piccaninnie Ponds and Kilsby's Hole. At this stage, all sink holes in the Mount Gambier area, both on private and government controlled land, were on the verge of being closed to all divers. The CDAA was formed in an attempt to keep these dive sites open providing a united front for all cave and sink hole divers, also to promote safe diving and to act as a self regulated body. The CDAA a voluntary and non-profit organisation, are now attempting to ensure that divers who dive in the freshwater sink holes and caves in the Mount Gambier region are experienced and competent enough to do so. Thus far, the CDAA has been successful in keeping these sink holes open and making further sites available. Such control and promotion of the sport by experienced and interested people are preferable to the control and restriction by legislators with little knowledge or appreciation of the sport. Authorities have, so far, accepted self control of the sport by divers, but the CDAA still require support to maintain it's responsible position as representative of cave and sink hole divers throughout Australia. While the association was initially formed to prevent either closure or government control of diving in the Mount Gambier area, the association now primarily provides an essential forum for promotion and education in all forms of cave diving throughout Australia. The aims and objectives of the CDAA include, the advancement and development of all cave and sink hole diving, the promotion of safe methods of cave diving, and the exploration, research and mapping of underwater caves systems, not only in the Mount Gambier region, but throughout the whole of Australia. For a diver wishing to gain certification of his cave diving ability he must firstly be a member of the association and then pass both the oral and practical tests that are held periodically in Victoria and South Australia, and on demand in other States. A diver normally progresses to Category 1, then Category 2, and finally Category 3, after he or she has completed the appropriate tests and gained the required experience in the different caves and sink holes of Mount Gambier. Cave diving requires special diving skills and the correct psychological approach to survive.

YOUNG DIVERS FIND CANNON: Perth. Three young schoolboys have located a rare bronze swivel gun near Shark Bay jetty, Western Australia. The cannon is about one metre long and has the marks of the Zealand Chamber of the Dutch East India Company. It was found by the boys, two aged 12 and the other 8, in four metres of water some 400 metres from shore. Mr Jeremy Green, of the Western Australian Museum's Maritime Archaeology Department, said the cannon was the best example of its type and period he had seen in Australia, and is probably from a mystery shipwreck. The find was quite unique that there were no other artefacts in the general area, and it appears to come from an unidentified old sailing ship probably a Dutch as mentioner above.

TWIN BEND ACCIDENTS AND ANOTHER: Sydney. Two young women divers were recently admitted to the decompression chamber at HMAS Penguin, NSW, after an attack of the bends whilst diving at The Gap. One girl ran out of air at 24 metres and became unconscious on assent whilst attempting to buddy breath. The Wales Rescue Helicopter was called to Rose Bay but was not used because a charter boat had taken them to Penguin. A 29-year-old woman was admitted to the Royal North Shore Hospital's intensive care unit. The other diver a girl of 17 remained at HMAS Penguin with a burst lung after trying to save her friend. The girl's condition was not critical the hospital said. Dr. Beryl Turner, of the hospital's underwater medicine section, said the two got into trouble when the older one's cylinder ran out of air during the dive. Dr. Turner said the girl tried to help the woman with breathing but they surfaced too quickly and the older one had nearly drowned. The girl's lung had burst and there was danger of fluid reaching her brain. At Bass Point, near Wollongong, another young woman diver was dragged unconscious from the sea after she got into difficulties and began to swallow water. She was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and taken to Port Kembla Hospital where her condition on entry was described as critical. In the same hospital was a young 17 year old diver being treated after he got into difficulties in the same location the previous day whilst diving with friends.

DIVERS MEDICAL CERTIFICATES DO DIVERS NEED THEM: Sydney. The need for all underwater divers to undergo a stringent medical examination before undertaking the sport of scuba diving was emphasised by Dr. Bob Thomas, a former Navy diver, and a member of the School of Underwater Medicine. Dr Thomas was in Townsville to address the Innerspace Underwater Symposium this May, and said many divers suffer medically through inadequate preparation. “A great deal is heard of the bends, but more divers are forced out of diving by barotrauma”, he said. “Barotrauma occurs at depths where divers ears and sinuses were affected by pressure, and people with chest conditions such as asthma could suffer fatal damage to their lungs”. Dr Thomas said anyone with chest problems should either not dive at all, or dive only within certain limitations. “Ideall” he said, “I would like to see all divers issued with medical certificates, and all diving instructors brought up to date with the latest techniques. “Diving medical certificates now are not compulsory when commencing a diving course. However, this is likely to change in years to come. There is a lot of discussion in the diving industry about medical certificates and examinations.

NEW DEAL FOR AUSTRALIAN SCUBA DIVERS: Canberra. At last, some balance of common sense is emerging on to the Australian diving scene. Shortly a person wishing to learn to dive will have a better guide in the selection of his or her instructor and course than to rely only on the opinion of friends and the glossy promotional material and "fruit salad" display in the local dive shop. How will this happen? At the instigation of the Australian Coaching Council (ACC) in consultation with the Australian Underwater Federation (AUF). A series of meetings have been held with ACC, the AUF. The Department of Home Affairs and Environment, the Federation of Australian Underwater Instructors (FAUI), the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and the Scuba Divers Federation of Australia (SDFA). All participating organisations should work toward the acceptance of the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme, relating to diving instructors from PADI and NAUI. It is extremely encouraging that the series of meetings was conducted with a refreshing spirit of genuine co-operation. It was confirmed to both PADI and NAUI that their participation in the scheme was dependent only upon their instructors meeting the standards required by the NCAS. FAUI has already modified their instructor standards to meet this same criteria. In addition, those accredited instructors would have access to the Australian National Qualification System and to CMAS International Instructor Certification. Once this is achieved, Australia will at last have standards for divers and instructors, regardless of instructor body affiliation that are accepted by all diving bodies and of a level which will maintain Australia's leadership in diving. One standard for one nation.

THE WAY IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO: Melbourne. It seems that the art of shore diving in Australia has given way to professionally organised boat diving charters. As recently as ten years ago, all my diving companions were shore divers and we had explored practically ever hole, crevice and drop-off within 15 metres off shore from Green Cape to the rubbish tip of Port McDonnell, just south of Mount Gambier. Every weekend, we headed off to a remote rocky outcrop and, arriving at our planned destination, we dived, regardless of the weather. We didn't have the benefits of modern equipment such as buoyancy compensator’s, content gauges, and thick wet suits. We did not have the benefit of the expert coaching of today's diving schools, because there were none. A high percentage of our dives included a 500 metre walk, fully geared, along the top of a precipitous cliff, a 100 metre climb down, then a further 100 metre stagger to our rocky entry point. If the sea was rough, we spent ten to fifteen minutes arguing about our entry and exit points, possible rips and underwater surge, and our ultimate destination in the water, where the cray's should be. At the conclusion of our dive, not only did we climb back up to our cars with catches of fish, but we always did so with everyone present. No one taught us how to read the sea.

Old time divers Bill Taylor and Ted Eldred, about 1953.

We learned from experience. Experiences that had almost tragic consequences, at the start on more an one occasion. One of the first things we learned was that we had to be fit, just to get to the dive site. We had to be very familiar with our gear and be able to don our fins and mask in a split second, before the seventh wave washed us off our rock entry. There's a technique in riding a wave back onto the rocks at the end of a dive. Seals make it look easy. Familiarity and practice, grazed knuckles, torn wet suits, exhaustion from fighting the surge whilst trying to climb back up onto the rocks, finning against an impossible current almost out of air, yes, diving was fun, macho, exciting. No outsiders ever questioned what we did, and neither did we. It was accepted as part of our weekend way of life. If one lives long enough, one can learn from these experiences. Once caught in a rip, never again, you learn what it looks like before entering the water. Once you have surfaced and not been able to locate your carefully planned exit between rocks, the net result of bruises and lost equipment ensures that next time you don't get lost. You learn to plan the dive using tide tables, yes, even off the rocks. Some dives are just not possible at high tide and vice versa. I could tell you the reason why now, but back then we learned by experiencing the dive during the differing state off ideas. We found fabulous places to dive. Caves, drop offs, and ledges full of crays for the picking. We had lots of fresh air and exercise carrying equipment. Beach barbecues of freshly speared fish and pan fried abalone, washed down with soft drink. We didn't have boat fees or runabouts to maintain at any time. The new Instructor Organisations have set out a carefully planned itinerary for the novice. A course of practical diving experiences that exclude shore diving techniques. After all in order to successfully teach this form of safe diving, one does need practical application. This means taking the novice down cliffs, long walks carrying gear, then often abandoning the day as too rough for the inexperienced. Besides, how could an instructor assume the responsibility of recommending this form of diving to the uninitiated, even if adequate and extensive preparation be could afforded, today's instructor may not have experienced shore diving himself. The original instructors of my vintage are well qualified to teach safe, shore diving techniques. However, the more recent instructors only consider the carefully selected easily taught, safe forms of diving, handed down by the former. Therefore, most if not all recently trained enthusiasts would not even consider shore diving as a possible pleasurable or safe pursuit, unless it happened to take place in some super safe area. Oh, for the days of exploring the beaches and rocky foreshores, the crayfish ledges, the battle of wits against the ocean and riding waves with a full game bag. These days I cannot find anyone to dive with me under these conditions. Guess I will pay my money and have a safe carefully planned boat dive with the club this weekend. If I am lucky enough, to dive from a crowded boat.

PANDORA AND YONGALA POPULAR QUEENSLAND WRECKS: Brisbane. It was announced by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments that they both agreed to declare the wreck of the Yongala and its relics to be historic in terms of the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. The Yongala, a 3664 tonne liner of the Adelaide Steamship Company, disappeared in a cyclone off the Townsville area on or about March 23, 1911. She foundered with the loss of 120 passengers and crew and was recorded as one of the worst maritime disasters off the Queensland coast. Before the completion of the railway, it was one of the vessels that carried passengers and cargo between South and North Queensland. After sinking, Yongala passed into folklore to become the ghost ship of the inner passage of the Great Barrier Reef. The wreck was eventually located in 1947 by the survey ship HMAS Lachlan that was investigating a shoal snagged in 1943 by a naval minesweeper. The Yongala was discovered in 1958 by Townsville divers, Don MacMillian and Noel Cook, east of Cape Bowling Green. Yongala is within the Great Barrier Reef region and considered desirable to include in any future marine parks in those protected zones gazetted under the Historic Shipwrecks Act. The wreck of Yongala should be protected now from salvage operations and removal of material from the wreck, by collectors and souvenir hunters, which might cause further damage to the wreck, or to the ship's final resting place. Since the Yongala is not at present a wreck of marine archaeological interest, people could still dive on it provided they did not interfere with the wreck or remove relics from the vessel or surrounding waters. A protected zone permitting access to the site but prohibiting activities that could result in damage to the marine life associated with the wreck will shortly he declared around the site. Under the Act, anyone holding relics from the Yongala is required to provide the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment with the description and locations of items. Divers are requested to support a joint Government initiative to protect the cultural and environmental heritage of Queensland by reporting activities or conditions that might damage wrecks or relics, and associated fauna and flora. The Queensland Government has nominated the Queensland Museum as the competent State authority under the Historic Shipwrecks Act for the recovery, preservation, and exhibition of material from the Yongala and other historic wrecks. Also announced was the declaration of a totally protected zone around the wreck site of the historic shipwreck HMS Pandora. This zoning permits access by divers only if they have first obtained a permit from the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment. It was stressed that every effort would be made to ensure that the wreck site was not violated. This action was being taken as the significance of the Bounty mutiny and its sequel in the wreck of Pandora was recognised as being of importance in global as well as Australian history. Moreover, the Pandora is undoubtedly on a par with other famous historic shipwrecks, such as the Dutch wrecks off the Western Australian coast, and therefore protection of the wreck is vital to Australian maritime heritage and local history. Yongala was at anchor before being loaded for the run to Townsville North Queensland where she disappeared on March 23, 1911.

REWARD PAYMENTS: Perth. Twenty scuba divers have been paid rewards by the Commonwealth Government in recognition of the help they have provided towards the protection of Australia's maritime heritage. Mr. Tom McVeigh, Commonwealth Minister for Home Affairs and Environment, announced the payments on March 3, 1983. They included an interim reward of $2000 to Peter Sartori of Green Head, Western Australia, for discovering a rare, armed early nineteenth century British South Sea whaler. Located on Rowley Shoals, 180 kilometres west of Broom, it is thought the wreck might be that of the Lively lost between 1808 and 1810. Mr. McVeigh said he would not be able to determine the final reward to Mr. Sartori until the wreck site had been thoroughly surveyed and historical research completed about its identity. The Western Australian Museum expected to work on the site during August this year. Two Townsville divers and former owners of Divemaster Charters, John Bates and Tom Good received a total reward of $2000 for advising Mr. McVeigh concerning the discovery, in October 1982, of the wreck of the Foam on Myrmidon Reef, 75 kilometres north east of Townsville. The Foam, which sank in 1893, has yielded trade artefacts from the labour trade or blackbirding associated with the early development of the Queensland cotton and sugar industries. Other payments were made to thirteen Western Australians, two Queenslanders, and two Victorians for reporting discoveries. “These shipwrecks have important educational, recreational and tourist applications for divers and local communities, Mr. McVeigh said. “Rewards for finding shipwrecks are a step in the right direction for the average scuba diver”. When governments offer rewards the average scuba diver should benefit by wrecks remaining in the condition they were found, instead of being pillaged by unscrupulous wreck divers. Rewards such as these are important for those who spend time searching for old sunken ships, it adds to the discovery and makes the find a little profitable for the diver.

COCKLEBIDDY EXPEDITION SETS NEW CAVE DIVING RECORD: Perth. During the first week of September 1982, a team of West Australian divers, lead by Hugh Morrison, and including New Zealand and South Australian divers, assembled at Cocklebiddy Cave on the Nullarbor Plain to attempt to further extend the world cave diving penetration record. Tuesday, September 7, saw the major movement of equipment for the push dive from the entrance lake to The Rockpile. Wednesday, September 8, from a group of 5 potential push divers, the three who felt fittest and ready to go were chosen, these being Morrison, Allum and Rogers. The party, comprising the 3 push divers, and 4 back-up divers who would assist at The Rockpile and wait the push divers return, and nearly everyone else involved in the expedition, left the surface at 3.15 pm to make their way down to the entrance lake. After a leisurely and relaxed dive to the pile, the push divers assembled their equipment on the far side of the pile and were ready to leave about 8pm. In the 1979 expedition Morrison, Jones and Dekker had pushed 2 kilometres from The Rockpile, at which point the tunnel appeared to be deepening, but showed no signs of stopping. It was hoped to add at least 500 metres to the existing record, although the triple set and sledge used in 1979, and the 72ct steel tanks previously used were replaced by a new sledge and aluminium tanks, each slightly overfilled to hold about 112cf of air. Therefore, with the prospect of a 6 hour dive, 4 divers waited in the gloom at The Rockpile knowing that the push divers had an absolute total of 9 hours supply of air if they did not find an air chamber, although even if they did they might well not be able to surface. The first 500 metres were by far the most eventful of the whole dive. Buoyancy control of the sledge proved more difficult than anticipated, with the sledge and divers careering from roof to floor on more than one occasion. Buoyancy control of the sledge was three buoyancy vests attached to the front, middle and back, each being scuba fed from tanks on the sledge. These vests were necessary to compensate for the estimated 30kg of air that would be consumed during the dive. However, because air filled buoyancy vests were present on the otherwise constant volume sledge, depth changes during the dive, from 0 to 14 metres, resulted in buoyancy changes, and required constant attention. With this now control well under, the three divers slowly pushed the sledge through the clear waters of Cocklebiddy, following the line laid down by previous expeditions. The history of previous push dives came to light at a point one kilometre from The Rockpile, the three discovered a slate left by Morrison and Jones in 1977 to mark the limits of that dive. At this point, the 3 divers took a 5 minute rest, floating gently on the underside of the roof. Around 1650 metres from The Rockpile a coil of 500 metres of guideline was found, left in 1979 by a South Australian push dive that had failed to break new ground. At the 1800 metre mark Hugh Morrison indicated that he had used a third of his air from the sledge, and so as arranged the sledge was parked against the roof of the tunnel and the three divers continued above water in much the same fashion as they had under water. After about 500 metres, Toad Hall, as it was named, ended in yet another lake and Cocklebiddy headed off once more into the unknown. The three divers rested for about an hour at Toad Hall before commencing the return journey. Two hundred metres after leaving the sledge, the guideline that had been a constant companion since leaving The Rockpile, 2 kilometres previously, ended. A record was established, and the thrill of breaking new ground experienced by all divers. On arriving back at the sledge the divers paused for a drink, to counter the effects of dry compressed air they had been breathing, before getting underway on the slow return journey. Having mastered the buoyancy problem of the outward journey, the divers returned from Toad Hall to The Rockpile in 2 l/4 hours, a total push time of 7 hours. By this time fatigue, both mental and physical, was becoming an appreciable problem, and so the push and backup divers left most of the equipment at The Rockpile for retrieval the next day. The party finally emerged tired but triumphant at 6.30 am the next morning, to huddle around the camp fire in the cold splendour of a Nullarbor dawn. The journey had taken 15 hours and each diver had swum 7 kilometres. Despite these incredible statistics, the memory that lingered was one of the magnificent size and splendid stillness of an underwater world that began to fade from reality with the approaching dawn.

BREATHING AIR IS NO LONGER A RIGHT, YOU'LL NEED A LICENSE: Melbourne. Three major instruction bodies in New South Wales have filed an application to the Trade Practice Commissioner for approval to refuse air to divers not holding their approved certification. The application states that, virtually all outlets for the sale or hire of scuba gear and provision of air fills are owned or operated by members of these associations. This in effect would police the divers who are not allowed to dive, for without air, they would have to snorkel. Furthermore, the application continues, members will make all reasonable efforts to satisfy themselves that the certification produced belongs to the person to whom they are providing the equipment or air and that only sufficient equipment or air will be supplied for the person showing that certification. This means that if you and your buddy wish to go diving next weekend you both have to visit the air filling station and produce evidence of your qualification. You cannot fill his tank for him, so if he has business commitments during the week, he will just have to forgo the weekend away. The whole argument is very sensible, and anything that is done to save lives is worthy of great appraisal and support by us, the diving public. The petrol pump attendant does not need to check our drivers license because we have an adequate police force out there looking for unqualified drivers and maniacs. The diver, however, can fill his tank and dive at a club meeting and drown his unsuspecting buddy. Even worse, his unqualified dive buddy. The big oh no, however, could be that the instructor organisations are not elected by us, they do not carry out our wishes, they are professional organisations in the business of making money in return for their training courses. The Trade Practices Commissioner has called for opinions from you, the diving public. From dive shop proprietors who do not belong to one of the three instructor bodies and from grocery shop owners in whoop whoop who, to the delight of many divers, provide air only service in a district that would otherwise be without compressed air. You must consider that at present anyone can label himself an instructor, and copy diving certificates. Temporarily at least, in States other than New South Wales the newly qualified diver than let three organisations take charge and select themselves into a regulating body, it's up to you to vote for representation. If you don't do this, then you have given your approval for the three self appointed dive instructor organisations, and abide by their decision. If you consider FAUI. PADI and NAUI, to be your governing body, then you can relax in the knowledge that they are well informed, and qualified enough to make decisions for you. However, if you would like to have some say in who has the right to start a new instructor organisation or supply air to anyone without the approval of any organisation or governing body, you should put your argument in writing, without delay. This is a very important matter, we do not want our freedom of choice taken from us, or restrictions placed upon us as divers, so act now.

UNDERWATER MOVIES-THE EARLY DAYS: Sydney. It will come as a surprise to many of the skin divers of today, that, at a time as far distant as 60 years ago, there were underwater films in Australia. For instance, during 1949 to 1954, several skin divers were using underwater movie cameras, and much of their film work was of a high standard. Perhaps this is an overstatement, it would be more accurate to point out that these Australians were doing surprisingly well, although they did not have significant finance or sophisticated equipment to better themselves. Nineteen fifty-four, (1954) was a turning point. There was a Hollywood film, with huge financial support, in colour and wide screen. It was a full-length feature, and the stars were Jane Russell and Robert Wagner. This was "Under Twelve Mile Reef". It is likely that the stars acted out many of their underwater scenes without stunt people. Under Twelve Mile Reef was a success. It had been the first underwater film made with a large budget from Hollywood. Four years before this, Rod Fackerall of what was then the Underwater Spear Fishermen's Association of New South Wales, in a very small way, introduced skin diving movies. He was taking underwater sequences on 8mm film, Fackerall could have been the first in Australia. His equipment was a combined spear gun and underwater camera. In the late 1940s and after, he was spearing fish at Boat Harbour, Kurnell, New South Wales. Fackerall's idea reminds one of the camera guns, mounted on the wartime Spitfires in 1940-42. His movie camera showed what happened after he fired his gun. Whether the spear gun scored a hit, or the fish took good evasive action, the result was an interesting piece of film.

Pioneer diver and underwater cameraman Noel Monkman from 1955. Monkman was a pioneer in underwater movie making. King of the Coral Sea was perhaps his greatest achievements.

Another famous early filmmaker was Australian Noel Monkman, who shot the important underwater footage for the American film "The Sea Around Us". Monkman was a pioneer in underwater film making in this country, and he was a world recognised expert on micro-photography. Noel was born in New Zealand, and Maori children introduced him to skin diving when he was four years old. A person of great talent and a perfectionist, in 1953, he was already an experienced underwater photographer. He had made "Typhoon Treasure", Australia's first full-length underwater film, it was shot on the Great Barrier Reef. Monkman formed Coral Sea Productions with two partners in 1953, and this was exclusively an underwater film company. Their aim was to have a unit on location at Green Island, where it would shoot underwater sequences for film star producer, Chips Rafferty, and also make its own feature film, to be called "Deep Down Down Under". Initially, all went well, and in the spring of that year, Coral Sea Production unit was able to shoot the material for Chips Rafferty. This related to Bud Tingwell becoming well known. He played the lead in "King of the Coral Sea", Raffertys film. Stand-in and stunt man was Wally Gibbins. Jeff Jackson, a very competent underwater cinematographer and designer of equipment, assisted Monkman. During 1954 and 1955, Jackson made a non fiction film on Lord Howe Island, he and his crew staying there for about seven months. The underwater sequences were of a high standard, but there was to be no agreement with film distributors. It appeared that the dramatic growth of television at that time had put the film companies off balance, they only wanted to talk in terms of thousands of feet of film. Jackson's material was later passed to the New South Wales Department of Tourism. The next decade or two was to see a fast growing world skin diving movement, the great expansion of television, as well as steadily increasing interest in the world beneath the sea. Noel Monkman grew up in Moeraki, New Zealand, by the sea, before moving to Australia, where he met his wife Kitty during concert performances, as they were both concert musicians, Noel playing cello and Kitty the piano. Throughout their long partnership, the Monkman's blended natural science and personal adventure with Noel's great skills as a photographer and diver.

Monkman with Chips Rafferty on the set of King of the Coral Sea in 1953.

They lived mainly in north Queensland and carried out their marine studies in a small laboratory on Green Island, off Cairns, to satisfy their insatiable curiosity for natural history. Noel Monkman explored the coral reefs with early Aqualung scuba equipment, observing the habits of marine creatures and taking underwater film which became internationally famous. His photography skills also extended to filming through a laboratory microscope, recording some of the minuscule wonders of the deep, normally unseen by the naked eye. During 1953, famous Australian film actor Chips Rafferty, produced a classic pearl diving drama for the cinema, titled "King of the Coral Sea". A story of pearl diving set on Thursday Island in Torres Strait. The hero, Rafferty, a traditional helmet pearl diver, scorns the introduction of the newfangled scuba system until he becomes trapped under the sea whilst helmet diving for pearl shell. He was eventually rescued by co-star Charles Bud Tingwell, using an Australian made Lawson Lung scuba set, after which Rafferty concedes there just might be a future for scuba equipment in the pearling industry. It was a change in pearl diving methodology, which was actually played out in real life in the Australian pearling industry of the 1950s, when divers moved away from the copper helmet system and into the scuba and surface-supplied hookah units.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               CAVEDIVING RECORD BROKEN AGAIN: Perth. Cocklebiddy Cave is located near Eucla on the southern end of the Western Australian border in an area known as the Nullarbor Plain, a desert place and one of the world's largest karstic areas, 250,000 square kilometres. It is a huge limestone zone, covered with sand and desert scrub in the north, and submerged by the southern Indian Ocean in the south, (500 metres below sea level). On dry land, a whole cave system develops, which leads to boundless soft water tables. The caves are long distance caves, limpid and warm water with limitless underwater visibility. Cocklebiddy Cave underground lake is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere (200 metres long and 40 metres wide) and is fossil water, undisturbed for millions of years. The entrance to the cave was discovered in 1900 and is currently used as fresh water supply. The first dive into Cocklebiddy Cave took place in 1972 when Ron Doughton and Dave Warnes led a group to explore the cave. Their push achieved a 100 metre limit, a milestone in those days, but by today's standards (1984) a mere insignificance. By 1974 the penetration had reached 500 metres and in 1976 a Western Australian team led by Hugh Morrison passed an air chamber and rock pile and continued on to record a push to over 1000 metres. In 1977 Hugh Morrison led another expedition to Cocklebiddy and, with Simon Jones, pushed on to record 2150 metres. In 1979, Morrison returned to take the push to a new record. The team of nine divers with 58 scuba cylinders, three high-pressure compressors, plus all the back up equipment completed a five hour dive to a maximum penetration of three kilometres, establishing Cocklebiddy Cave as the longest underwater cave system in the world.

A cave diver entering a deep cave on the Nullarbor Plains.

Keith Dekkers and Simon Jones accompanied Morrison to achieve this new world record. After a three year rest the "Hillary" of Australian Cave Diving, Western Australia's Hugh Morrison led his 1982 expedition back to the Nullarbor. Now recognised throughout the world as the Everest of cave diving, Cocklebiddy was about to be dived to the limits. The cave was pushed beyond the 1979 record until a second air chamber, christened "Toad Hall", was passed and the record now stood at more than 4100 metres. This was the record that the French team of Francis Le Guen, Veronique Bore, L Eric Le Guen, Sylvie Goutiere and Jerome Krowicki had come half way around the world to beat, and they did, to a total distance of 6000 metres. In 1983, since the French team shattered the world cave penetration record at Cocklebiddy in mid 1983 an Australian team which had been preparing for almost a year departed for Cocklebiddy cave system. Many of Australia's most experienced cave divers, including Hugh Morrison, Ron Allum, and Peter Rogers played a part in this mammoth operation. The expedition finally involved a 55 hour underground exploration and almost 10 kilometres of swimming. The three lead divers, Morrison, Rogers, and Allum passed the French record setting yet another world record. Finally Morrison with a single tank pushed for an additional 240 metres. With over half a tank of air remaining Morrison returned to Rogers and Allum to report that the tunnel continued on, out of sight. With this knowledge, will there be another attempt on the world record penetration into Cocklebiddy Cave system. Who knows where it ends or how far divers will go into the system to establish another record?

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WOMEN AND SCUBA DIVING: Sydney. Before 1950 there were very few women divers. It is even now very hard to get information about the incidence of female divers during the subsequent years. In the period from 1960 to the mid 1970s, approximately 15 per cent to 20 per cent of student divers were women. Unfortunately it is not known how many continued to dive, compared to their male counterparts, but it is known that the diving death rate of women was less than eight per cent during the latter half of this period. In Australian figures, at the same time show females accounted for 18 per cent of Australian divers who went for diving medical examinations, whereas they accounted for less than four per cent of diving deaths. From medical examination statistics, it appears that the number of females taking up diving has increased from 18 per cent of the new diving population in 1973 to 35 per cent in 1983. Before the 1960s, diving was essentially a male dominated sport. It was also dominated by the tough adventurer, determined to prove his stamina and courage, whilst providing some food for the family. He was able to show his ability as a hunter, thus fostering the underwater fishing championships of the 1960s and 1970s. Over the last two decades, there has been a large increase within the diving scene and the advent of women is probably one of the significant factors in achieving this growth. Improvements are unquestionably for the better. There is now a diversity of interest in diving, and it no longer attracts the intellectual moron who slaughters magnificent marine creatures. The reasons given for diving are now photography, archaeology, exploration, marine biology. etc... Social activities have taken on a far more interesting aspect, and in the whole of the diving scene there is a greater warmth and brightness, gaiety. fun, and gentleness among participants. None of the excitement has been lost and diving is now a bisexual activity. It is the presumption that in the years to come even this will be changed, and eventually it will be an involvement for the whole family. Following the macho scene of the 1950s there was a period of 10 to 20 years in which the chauvinist era of diving flourished. During this time it was very common to see advertisements of a fully equipped male diver, standing majestically on top of a cliff, spear gun held nonchalantly in one hand and a groper in the other. He was in fact as much a victim of the stereotype as his bikini clad mate, who gazed adoringly at his face, while resting her hand upon his forearm. Fortunately, one no longer has to argue the case for female divers. They did this very well themselves and during the 1960s and 1970s there were a whole group of female adventurers who matched their male counterparts, thus undermining the proposed sexual dominance. During the 1970s and 1980s a revolution of female instructors and scientists ensured the demise of any belief in sexual bias in the sport. For over 2000 years the Ama of Korea and Japan have been famous for their diving capability. They have dominated the threshold diving scene, and these women adapted well to their diving activities, increasing their metabolic rate at least during the cooler months, up to 30 per cent above normal. This meant that they would utilise more food to produce heat and energy to allow themselves to endure the cold temperatures. Also to reduce the effect of temperature producing hypothermia, they developed increased body tissue insulation, about 10 percent above normal, a reduction in their blood flow to the skin, 30 per cent less than normal.

Lotte Hass a pioneer woman diver from the early 1950s.

It also tends to conserve temperature, and an ability to suppress the shivering response so that they could tolerate a 10 per cent drop in critical water temperature before shivering started. Originally pearl divers were male, however this changed approximately 2000 years ago, some say because of the better tolerance to cold exhibited by females whereas others attribute it to the folklore that diving affects male virility. The Ama divers of Japan were mostly women diving completely naked, some were male divers, although these men only dive during the summer months. In Western Society, there were both cultural and legal restrictions on the aquatic activities of females. In the early part of this century it was customary to have the woman bedecked in a full blouse plus skirt, rubber bathing slippers, and bathing hat. In 1907, Annette Kellerman won world fame when she shocked people with a daring one-piece bathing suit which, although it did enclose the feet, revealed bare arms up to the shoulder. In the 1940s Simone Cousteau joined her illustrious husband, Jacques Cousteau, in trying out and becoming adept with the first scuba apparatus, called the aqualung. The story of Lotte Hass is interesting. As a young single girl. she worked as a secretary for Hans Hass, the world famous underwater explorer. She begged to go on some of his trips but he replied, "no women". While he was diving in the Red Sea, she borrowed his camera, learnt to dive, and on his return, he found that she had one of her photographs on the front of a major magazine. “Not bad”, said Hass, “too bad you are not a man”. During the planning of the next expedition, one of his divers had an accident and while regaining consciousness said emphatically, "no way". So Lotte volunteered and got the job. She went on all of his expeditions, then he married her, and she subsequently wrote a book of her adventures, called "Girl on the Ocean Floor". In Australia, there was a group of very enterprising and capable women who captured the admiration of the public with their skills, and abilities in handling themselves underwater. There were pioneers women such as, Lois Linklater, May Wells, Valerie Taylor, Lorraine Ley, Eve Cropp, Kathy Trout, and Jean Deas. More recent are Nancy Cummings of PADI, Ethel Everett Australian Underwater Fishing champion for many years, Mary Ann Stacey Australia's lady all round champion, and underwater photojournalist Anne Storrie, from Western Australia. Just a few who inspired the concepts of female diving in Australia, and clearly demonstrated that, underwater, women are not second class citizens at all. The most important contribution of Australian women to diving has been in the instruction realm. Perhaps it is partly coincidental but with the advent of women instructors, there has been a removal of the old "bravado" image of instructors. Instead of a glib and deprecating response to questions, the diving trainee is now far more likely to be listened to, have his question considered and answered for themselves, denigrating the trainees apprehensions, and issuing stories to demonstrate instructors prowess.

A Modern day woman diver most are as good as men.

There was one instructor in Cairns during the early 70s, who refused point blank to teach women to dive, thank goodness that this situation does not exist today. Women have changed the face of sport diving for good, wet suits are more colourful for both male, and female, diving accessories are targeted more to the women. Hardware, such as tanks, regulators, combo gauge and designs appeal to women more now than a couple of decades ago. Lighter tanks are on the market, lead shot weight belts fit women better than men, there are a number of books available on scuba diving specially for women. Many now operate their own dive shops, some specialise in training women only in their dive schools, and run tours overseas. Chauvinism does still exist in some diver training classes, and many of the older divers have unwittingly contributed to this state of affairs. A woman who would only dive when someone could look after her is an unfortunate result of this attitude, but now things are changing for the better and in particular for women, they are becoming more self-reliant and better able to handle situations underwater in most, if not all situations.

EARLY CAVE DIVING AT MOUNT GAMBIER: Mount Gambier. Back in the early 1960s cave diving was not new. Late in 1959 and again in 1960 we dived in the Buchan Cave system in East Gippsland, bitterly cold water and poor visibility in those caves convinced me the future was really in underwater fishing. Then I (Barry Andrewartha) was chairman of the Victorian USFA now the AUF Underwater Fishing Division and was working out a way to include the Victorian Western Districts in the Association. Following meetings with Don Rae and the Warrnambool Skindiver's Club we began to formulate the possibility of forming a Western District Division of the USFA of Victoria. At one of these meetings, around 1962, I was introduced to Bob Pilfered from the South Australian club in Mount Gambier who was hoping their club could be included in the western district branch of the USFA of Victoria. At this meeting Bob mentioned that he knew of a fresh water pond that was around 33 metres deep with over 30 metres visibility. At this stage of my career my mind boggled, imagine, here was a spot where we could practice free diving to improve our deep diving technique for underwater fishing competitions, regardless of weather and sea conditions. In 1962, we had to drive across open paddocks from Nelson Road to the fence of the bordering property. There we had to leave the car and carry our gear through the scrub to the edge of the swamp, and then we had to wade out through knee deep mud to the first pond. In those days, the first pond was always clear and the swim through into the chasm was a thick curtain of green vegetation before looking down into the depths. On our first trip to Piccaninnie Ponds, with ideal conditions we had no trouble free diving down into the dogleg of the cave to over 33 metres. This was far easier than underwater fishing in Northern New South Wales ocean waters where we constantly snorkelled down to 25 and 33 metres. Within an hour or so we were all browned off that we did not bring aqualungs with us, as the cave at the end (The Cathedral) and the dog leg extension beckoned us to explore further. Next we were introduced to Ewens Ponds, again nothing like what they are today. A tiny, rickety jetty leading to a pond, totally clear, much more bubbling white sands than today and far greater plant life.
After that weekend trip, we were hooked for the next five or six years. There was rarely a weekend we were not diving, exploring, and generally having a good time at Mount Gambier. Saturday night parties at Graham and Marg's place had become legendary. Looking back I cannot believe that none of us ever got the bends, dives to 80 metres on a single 72cf tank with no pressure gauge. Two and three dives a day over 66 metre exploring unknown cave systems without guide lines and only one cheap torch, the mind boggles at what we did in those days. Every weekend, loaded up with army and geological maps plus sketchy information from local farmers, we explored the Mount Gambier countryside. Spreading four divers 33 metres apart and walking across kilometres of paddocks looking for that elusive sink hole that was supposed to be in the area.

Cave diver late 1970.

Soon after, late 1962, we organised a weekend trip to Mount Gambier and we met Graham McKenzie and his wife Margaret from the Mount Gambier Skindiving Club who over the next five years became great and close friends. Graham introduced us to Piccaninnie Ponds, totally different from today. In 1962, we had to drive across open paddocks from Nelson Road to the fence of the bordering property. There we had to leave the car and carry our gear through the scrub to the edge of the swamp, and then we had to wade out through knee deep mud to the first pond. Nine times out of ten, the hole was just a rubbish dump or a muddy depression. On several occasions, the blue water that characterized Mount Gambier diving was found and as we got the cars close and carried our gear including rope ladders to the site the adrenaline was really pumping, what were we going to discover? My business partner Lindsay Stewart, old diving buddy Lance Ford and I were the first ever to dive The Shaft, Allendale Hole, the swim through near Piccaninnie Ponds, Kilsbys, 1080, Tea Tree, Horse Cart, Sisters, and The Pines. We were also among the first to explore these areas. Only Snowy Ragget, his mates, and Graham McKenzie dominated the diving at Mt Gambier in those days. In addition, it was because of Graham McKenzie's good nature that we were first on many occasions as he "sussed" out the spots during the week through locals and geological maps. He assumed the role of surface support on the weekends to allow us some of the most exciting exploitative diving in Australia. Graham, wherever you are today, you will never know how much we appreciated the gift you gave us. These days I rarely get to Mount Gambier, truth is I do not have a Cave Diving Certificate Rating, and therefore I cannot get a pass to dive these wonderful fresh water holes any more. As I look back over my diving career, stretching back more than 30 years, Mount Gambier and my early days exploring the area are among my fondest memories.   

OCEANS UNDERWATER CONGRESS AND FILM FESTIVAL: Melbourne. It all started back in 1974, the year of Cyclone Tracy and the Nixon Watergate scandal. Barry Andrewartha, Ian Head, and Peter and Alison Barker, all members of the Australian Underwater Federation Club, Oceanic, formed a committee that was to set a lasting tradition in Australia's diving history. The first Oceans Underwater Congress and Film Festival was held at Monash University over the June Queen's Birthday Long Weekend. There were several keynote speakers, most of whom are still actively involved in diving cinematographers Walt Deas, John Harding and Tom Byron, underwater photographer, Steve Parish, John Butler and lgo Oak, and an up and coming amateur naturalist called Neville Coleman. Master of ceremonies was the redoubtable Reg Lipson who has presided over every Oceans Congress since that day. Oceans 74 had a humble beginning. The congress sessions attracted less than 200 divers, and was held in a lecture room at the university. Oceans 75 proved to be a much better attended congress and with this success, the Oceans Congress was here to stay. Keynote speakers were Ron and Val Taylor, Steve Parish and John Butler, and Dr. Carl Edmonds joined the list of brilliant speakers. Oceans 75 proved that divers were interested in learning about their marine environment. The Underwater Film Festival became firmly established at Oceans 75 with the Premiere Australian screening of Al Giddings brilliant Sea of Eden. The Oceans Committee changed before Oceans 76 and the Ocean Society of Australia then formed. Bob Traynor left the committee and was replaced by Peter Stone and Jan Bertram. For the first time commercial sponsorship was offered, from Nissan Motor Company. For the first time in Australian diving history, a keynote speaker was invited from overseas, Dr. Sylvia Earle was, and still is, one of the foremost undersea scientists in the world. The highlight of the Oceans 76 was another Al Giddings film, The Search for the Shinoharar, and Ben Cropp's personally presented film, Island Of Tragedy. Tom Byron was back again with his film called, Land Of The Tiger People, Wuvulu Island. The film festival was superb. All activities were held in the comfort of Blackwood Hall, with tiered seating for over 1000 divers. Comfort for the diver audience has always been paramount in deciding a suitable venue and Blackwood Hall was ideal despite its limited trade display space. Oceans saw another committee innovation implemented. The Saturday morning session became a forum on a specific topic, this year being hosted by the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. On the Friday evening, Bill McDonald hosted The Cousteau Story with film and slides on behalf of the Cousteau Society of America. No less than three keynote speakers from overseas educated and entertained the 700 diver audience. From 1977 onwards the Ocean Society of Australia went from strength to strength. It had many great speakers from all over the world including Jean Michel Cousteau, Thor Heyerdahl, David Doubilet, Jack McKenny, Stan Waterman and Mel Fisher to mention a few. From the initial meeting in 1974, Oceans has become an important event for all divers. The aim of the original committee remains, to educate through entertainment and fun. After Oceans 78, founder organisers Peter and Alison Baker, Ian and Pam Head left the committee and were replaced by Len and Jan Brennan. The committee will remember Oceans 79 as the horror year. Four keynote speakers had to cancel at the last moment, one due to illness, one due to a $36 million action against the US Government, and Ron and Val Taylor due to an important film assignment. However, the show had to go on as best as possible. Oceans 80 ended the tradition of holding the congress over the Queens Birthday Weekend in June, and moved to a weekend in October. The venue remained at Monash University's Blackwood Hall. Len and Jan Brennan left the committee to start a family so it was up to Barry Andrewartha, and Peter, and Jan Stone to organise the event. Billed as a Blockbuster Event, the greatest ever. For the first time in eight years, there was no Oceans Congress in Melbourne. After the superb response to Oceans 80 that took place in October of that year, it was then decided to organise the next event in April of 1982, so there was no Oceans. There was a specific reason for this. The Oceans Committee had for sometime been trying to get the brilliant underwater cinematographer Jack McKenny to Australia, but Jack was never available. There was a possibility, and only a possibility, that he could make it to Australia in April. So April was chosen, but for 1982 rather than 1981 as the time would have been too short between the two congresses. Perhaps the greatest thing about Oceans 82 was the fun atmosphere created by the speakers, MC Reg Lipson, and the audience Oceans 83 got off to an inspiring start when an acceptance was received from one of the most influential persons in the history of sport diving. Dr. Hans Hass agreed to be our keynote speaker, but elation turned to disappointment when Hans Hass telephoned Peter Stone from Austria and announced that he had to go into hospital for an operation on his leg, caused by a car accident. There were many Australians and New Zealand speakers at Oceans 83, which made it a very interesting program for the Australian diver. The year 1984 heralded another milestone in the history of the Oceans Congress. For the first time, the congress left Melbourne and was held in Sydney one week after the Melbourne Oceans 84 as many Sydney divers had been coming down to Oceans over the past 10 years. The Sydney Oceans 84 had much the same speakers with South Australian shark victim Rodney Fox joining the line-up. Master of Ceremonies was again Reg Lipson, who shocked the Sydney audience with an incredibly humorous and bawdy dissertation on the sex life of marine creatures. After the success of Oceans 84, an important decision was made which may well have consequential repercussions for the future. The decision taken, time had come for the Oceans Congress to be held in both Sydney and Melbourne on an alternating year basis, and it was further decided that Oceans 85 should be in Sydney and a better auditorium found, for the large diver audience. After all, sitting on ones butt in plastic chairs for two days is not pleasant. The Centre Point Convention Centre was decided as a possibility despite its lack of theatre seating, and a booking was made for September 1986. The appearance of Jean Michael Cousteau and Stan Waterman, for the first time in Australian diving history, and a full trade exhibition was held in conjunction with the congress. In the tradition of the past 12 years, Oceans 87 in Melbourne will be a superbly entertaining and educational congress. In the interest of all divers, future Oceans Congresses will alternate each year between Melbourne and Sydney with occasional visits to Queensland's Gold Coast. The most recent important event in the history of Oceans is a meeting that was held at the Dallas Brooks Hall. On October 16, 1986, Barry Andrewartha chaired a meeting of dive shop proprietors, wholesalers, dive travel agencies and other members of the dive industry. As an outcome of this meeting two committees formed from members of the dive industry replaced the Oceans Committee. Through the years up to the present, many changes have taken place, now it's known as SCUBA EXPO.

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SEA HUNT “MIKE NELSON": Melbourne. If you do not belong to the generation of us who were lucky enough to remember the TV series, “SEA HUNT”, read no further unless you have an older brother to explain what it meant at the time. The fortunate few may read on so long as they realise that they are in for a few surprises. Sea Hunt was the first of the underwater TV shows, and to this day, it remains the best. Its hero was Mike Nelson, a former UDT diver, a sort of underwater private detective, with a code of ethics reminiscent of the old west. No one ever died in Sea Hunt, though Mike always clearly accounted for the villain of the day. He was incorruptible, unkillable, and always impeccably behaved in the presence of children and ladies, with never a hint of scandal. Mike performed a variety of underwater tasks excellently, from heavy salvage, search work, scientific research, police work, and even instruction. He was the complete instructor, authoritative, knowledgeable, and patient. His instruction was both formal and informal. He would firmly reprimand anyone in the story for the slightest breach of safety, thus informing and educating his millions of impressionable fans. Through the series, a generation of potential divers became familiar with a new terminology, bends, buddy, narcosis, squeeze, deco stops, buddy breathing, and regulators. Mike's gear was the ultimate in technology, twin hose regulator (USD Aquamaster) and twin cylinders with canvas harnesses. No backpack or BC in those days, and not a brand name in sight. The series was introduced in 1957 and ran until 1961, 155 episodes in all. The concept of an underwater series was so new that filming techniques were developed as they went along. Problems also arose from the ignorance of non diving script writers who called for dives to 304 metres and other ludicrous situations before rewriters took over, altering scripts as they went along. Another difficulty was that of finding actors who could dive. The program became so popular that actors lied about their ability to dive (and sometimes their ability to swim) just to get in the show. Many now famous actors began their careers in Sea Hunt, among them Jack Nicholson and Robert Conrad. Despite all of the above, accidents while filming the series were almost non-existent, a testimony to the skill of the actors, the support crew, and the backup divers involved.

Lloyd Bridges "Mike Nelson", on the set of one of his popular movies, Sea Hunt.

Non diving scenes were filmed in studios at Hollywood and most topside and entry scenes were shot at nearby Catalina. California waters were too cold and dirty for effective underwater filming, so underwater scenes were filmed in the Bahamas or the freshwater springs in Florida, a mere 5632 kilometres away. The star was Lloyd Bridges. In fact, Lloyd Bridges was Mike Nelson, so real was his portrayal, millions of fans believed that Bridges was a UDT diver turned actor in order to make the series. The truth is less glamorous, and would have shattered us all had we been told it at the time. Bridges had already appeared in more than 35 films over an acting career of 15 years. He had never dived before the Sea Hunt series. Unbelievably, he was 44 years old when he made the first episode in 1957. The extent to which Lloyd Bridges became Mike Nelson is itself testimony to his skill as an actor, and to the writers in creating a plausible characterisation for the script. The shows outstanding safety record must also be largely due to Bridges rapidly acquired diving skills, as he was in almost every scene. After countless re-runs, Sea Hunt has been shelved in favour of more modern, coloured series. If shown today, the modern generation would probably think it corny, naive, and old-fashioned. They will never know what it meant to us pioneer divers. I have included this segment on the TV series Sea Hunt in this web page. Whilst it's not part of Australian diving history it played a very large role in those days in making the sport a popular pastime, and I am sure encouraged many thousands of would be divers to learn scuba diving. (I can remember that after a days scuba diving with my girlfriend Renee, later my wife, I would hurry home every Sunday night to watch the show, I never missed a single episode).   

SHARK ATTACKS: THE KILLINGS GROUNDS: The very word has a certain sharpness which strikes fear-into the heart of many who hear it. There have been less than a dozen serious attacks on divers over the years but each has left a lasting impression in the minds of the general public, thanks partly to extensive media coverage of people bitten in two and horror films such as "jaws" which capitalise on the public's fear of these "monsters of the deep". Whilst most divers will probably never see a shark, let alone be attacked by one, there are certainly some aspect such as spearfishing or swimming in shark-viewing areas which night increase the risk of attack. There have been less than a dozen fatal shark attacks in the 150 years or so that people have swum in local waters, and between 1950 and 1985 only three of these involve divers, this is less than one attack every 10 years. None of these early cases involve scuba divers; the victims were an abalone diver using hookah and two snorkellers. However between 1987 and 2002 there were three unprovoked fatal attacks on scuba divers as well as an attack upon a non-spearfishing snorkeller. Interestingly too, all of the later attacks took place in the colder months of the year, April and June, and two on September, which is the exact opposite of the "right" time for shark attacks, commonly considered as being the hot months of the year. Port Noarlunga Reef lies approximately 30 kilometres south of the city of Adelaide, and is quiet sheltered and underwater visibility exceed 15 metre on a very good day. It is an exceptionally popular place in summer months, when many hundreds of beach goers visit the area each day to swim, sun bake or dive. The reef is also a Marine Reserve and is home for various species of relatively tame animals, enticing underwater photographers every summer. Although the reef is a very beautiful place under ideal conditions, it has its bad days. A total of nine victims have died in the immediate vicinity of the main reef whilst a snorkeller drowned further north at Christies Beach, in the early days.Two divers drowned after getting into difficulties whilst they were snorkelling with scuba cylinders which had not been turned on, and two others were killed after they were washed from the reef by freak waves. The years 1961 to 1963 inclusive saw the words "shark attack" appear more frequently in local newspaper headlines than any other period. Each year, a spear fisherman was mauled by a large shark (probably White Pointers) near the town of Aldinga, about 60 kilometres south of Adelaide. The first attack occurred at Aidinga Reef on the 12th of March 1961, when Brian Rodger was diving a kilometre offshore. When he was suddenly grabbed on the leg by a very big shark. Brian fired his spear gun at it from point-blank range, striking it in the head, the shark then disappeared, leaving Brian with a massive leg injury. He received medical attention on shore soon afterwards, and survived. The following summer, on the 9th of December 1962, 16-year-old diver Geoffrey was attacked by a large white pointer shark at Carrickalinga Head. The water was flat calm and the water visibility was good. At approximately 4 p.m., a friend named Alan was on a surf board when he saw a large patch of blood in the water. Alan rushed over and tried to pull Geoffrey from the water, but at that moment the shark returned and grabbed him from below, thereby initiating a tragic tug-of-war which was to prove fatal for Geoffrey. Almost exactly a year later, Rodney Fox was savagely attacked  at Aldinga. He was diving on Sunday, the 8th of December, 1963 when he felt a massive, crushing to his left side, as though he had been hit by a train. His mask was ripped from his face as he was pushed through the water at an alarming speed. Realising that he was in the mouth of a giant shark, he struck out with his right arm, but he accidentally thrust it into the shark's open mouth and ripped it badly on its sharp teeth. Amazingly, the shark let him go, and fighting for air , Rodney headed for the surface. With injuries which included many crushed ribs, a collapsed left lung, extensive deep cuts all over his arm and a gaping open wound in his chest Rodney was quickly rescued by friends who rushed him to hospital, he survived the attack. The 9th of January 1974 was the date of the second fatal attack, which occurred at Streaky Bay on the west coast. The sea was smooth but underwater visibility was poor when 26-year-old professional diver Terry arrived with his sheller, John, to collect abalone as he had done during the past 5 years or so. Terry had been down this second time for only about half an hour when he suddenly surface 50 metres away from the boat and yelled "Shark!". John saw the sea change to the colour of red near Terry, and immediately started the motor. John tried to lift Terry into the boat when the shark swam under the boat and attacked Terry for the second time, he had lost his entire right leg. Terry probably died before he was pulled into the boat. Thirty three year old Shirley was snorkelling for scallops with friends at Wisemans Beach, near Port Lincoln, Peake Bay, about 150 metres offshore on Sunday, the 3rd of March,1985. The water conditions were good at the time and the water was only 2 metres deep in this sheltered area. Shirley was about 10 metres behind her companions when she suddenly cried out and was lifted waist-high out of the water. The dorsal fin of a very large shark some 6 metres in length then became visible, and she disappeared in a mighty blood-red splash. Two fishermen leapt into their boat and arrived at the scene soon after the attack. However, there was nothing they could do to help Shirley; all that remained was the upper half of her body, minus the head and left arm. Then to add to their horror as they moved closer, the shark suddenly appeared again, grabbed the floating torso and plunged into the depths. It then left the area, and despite a very extensive search during the following weeks, it was never caught. There were nine other salt water accidents involving four scuba divers, and four snorkellers, and a hookah diver, in the years to come.

FIRST FATAL SHARK ATTACK ON SCUBA DIVER IN AUSTRALIA: Adelaide. The recent tragic death of shark attack victim, Terry Gibson, has rallied the South Australian diving community as never before. Despite probing and sensational media reporting Terry's wife Lyn and his friends in the diving community have managed to keep some dignity through this tragic time. At this time, it is important to put into perspective just what has happened. Terry Gibson was an extremely competent professional diver who on most occasions chose to dive alone. This was his common practice and he gave no thought to the possibility of a shark attack. To our knowledge this is the first shark death of a scuba diver since the history of scuba diving in Australia some four decades ago. Statistics show that more people worldwide are kicked to death by donkeys or killed by bee stings than shark attacks, including swimmers and underwater fishermen. What the South Australian diving community does not want is a wholesale slaughter of sharks. We do not need professional shark hunters baiting the area with blood and offal on our local coast bringing sharks to the area and associating boats with food. We have been developing a tremendous tourist potential for the future and certainly do not need a “Jaws 3” attitude that will have a dramatic effect not only with our own industry but water sports in general. The chance of a shark attack is less than being struck by lightning. Throughout Australia, approximately four million scuba dives take place annually and this is the first time we have suffered this problem. We hope the public take a statistical view, and do not overreact. I find it amazing that it is commonplace for us to hunt and kill animals to put the trophies on our bookshelves, but when one animal kills one of us, we find the compulsion to eliminate that species from the earth. Terry Gibson was an inspiration to diving. I do not know anybody who loved diving as much as he. Unfortunately Terry Gibson will go down in history as Australia's first continuous air breathing shark victim.

SPORTDIVING MAGAZINE LOOKS BACK OVER THE YEARS: Melbourne. This is a special year for me as it marks the 20th year since I (Barry Andrewartha) first became involved in editing a dive magazine. Think about that, at just 46 years of age I have been editing Australia's leading sport diving magazine for 20 of those years. Prior to a 26-year-old diver launching a national sport diving magazine, a lot of Australian diving history had evolved. Few people realise Australia was in the forefront in the commercial publication of sport diving magazines. The first all-Australian diving magazine on the scene was the New South Wales “Spearfishing Digest” published in early 1952, 36 years ago. This was one of the first dive magazines ever published commercially in the world. It was not long before other spear fishermen and diving enthusiasts in other States sought out copies of this magazine and, in 1958, the title was amended to the “Australian Skindiving and Spearfishing Digest”. In 1960, this magazine's format changed again to ensure maximum exposure on newsagent racks. Meanwhile down in Victoria a young Barry Andrewartha took up spear fishing. Always a very keen line fisherman my mother and father took me to Lome and Apollo Bay for the summer holidays of 1952. I remember looking down into the clear water seeing big fish that refused to take the bait I was using. What changed my life was an incident on the Lome jetty. It was a stunning day, bright sunlight, not a cloud in the sky and the water was translucent. Looking down into the water watching the many fish that milled around under the pier, my heart skipped a beat, schools of huge silver fish were under the pier. I dangled the bait directly in front of them but they totally ignored it. Suddenly there was a man on the landing in bathers, he placed rubber fins on his feet and put on a mask. He carried what I soon realised was a spring powered spear gun. Once in the water, he dived and within seconds, he was throwing a huge silver fish up onto the landing. I was in total awe. He stopped and spoke with me and asked how I was going. He then proceeded to tell me the bait I was using was no good and he dived again and surfaced with a small crayfish. He told me the crays tail would be better bait then picked up his big silver fish, and disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared.

A collection of early magazines.

Following that holiday, I learnt all I could about skin diving and spear fishing and took up the sport in earnest the following summer. Naturally, I became an avid reader of the New South Wales "Spearfishing Digest". I left school the following year and started work as an apprentice compositor in the printing industry. An avid reader, it was not long before I was writing to the Digest and submitting articles about underwater fishing in Victoria. I was soon appointed Victorian correspondent. During this period, I developed a long and valued friendship with the editor Jack Evans. By 1964 the word Spear fishing was dropped from the title and the digest became the "Australian Skindiving Magazine". My friendship with Jack Evans continued with many visits to Sydney en route to my favourite diving spots of Smokey Cape and Coffs Harbour. The time I spent with Jack and his wife Dawn was to prove invaluable. I observed and helped Jack put the magazine together, the benefit was mutual as my trade in the printing industry enabled us to produce a better magazine. Over these years assisting with the diving magazine I made contact with many people. Familiar names in today's diving world, such as Ron and Val Taylor, Neville Coleman, Ben Cropp, Tom Byron, Ron Isbel, plus many, many others became friends, with some now gone or no longer associated with spear fishing or scuba diving. In 1967, Jack was transferred overseas and the magazine started to falter. Early in 1968 it became apparent Australia would be without a sport diving magazine for the first time in 15 years. By this time, I had gained confidence with my writing and photography to the point where I had published four successful books. I saw a need and an opportunity for the sport in Australia to grow, it was essential for a magazine run by divers for divers (not a commercial publishing exercise) to be produced for the fledgling industry. October 1968 saw the first issue of Australia's premier diving magazine, published as “Skindiving in Australia”, 36 pages of black and white on which all but one of the nine feature articles covered underwater fishing. Cost to the diving public, a mere 50 cents per issue. This quarterly magazine soon established itself thanks to generous advertising support from Jim Agar of Airdive Equipment. Alan Clarke (now with Tabata), the late Bob Preece of Sea Hornet, and Bob Wallace Mitchell and others. Some 20 years later they all still support the magazine. In l974 the title extended to include New Zealand and again altered to include the South Pacific area in 1980. In early l987 the magazine title amended for what we hope will be the last time to Sportdiving in Australia and the South Pacific. Over the years, there has been constant growth and it's recognised now as one of the top five sportdiving magazines in the world today. It is the only diving magazine produced entirely within Australia and outsells all other underwater or scuba diving magazines in total in this country. Everyone who is anyone in the Australian sport diving scene has been published in Sportdiving magazine at one time or another. The magazine has always encouraged input from aspiring amateur photojournalists, priding itself on its accessibility. Constant support is always given to clubs, associations, instructor bodies, and the sport diving industry. In fact, this magazine has supported the annual Oceans Underwater Congress and Film Festival since its inception in l974. It was the only underwater, scuba diving or instructor body magazine not to receive advertising payment for promotion of an industry event, believing we have an obligation to promote the Australian diving industry in general. For 20 years the magazine has continued to report, to advise, to inform, to entertain, through the good times and the hard tithes and will do so I hope in future years to come, with the support of divers such as ourselves. To conclude, there is only enough room, I feel. on the market for one or two skin diving magazines, not three, and the one that appeals least to divers will fold in a short time.

DIVING AND DRUGS: Melbourne. Diving and drugs. Little enough attention is paid to this subject in Australia, although the topic is common enough in the American skin diving scene, probably because they have more knowledge of drugs, and are generally more aware about the effect and availability of various drugs. Diving with a group however small it amazes me the number of divers who are psychologically if not physically dependent on drugs, and by drugs I mean anything from antihistamines to the extreme. I know a certain diver who swallows a couple of his father's “heart attack” pills as they enable him to stay underwater longer on each breath. I totally disagree with this practice for whatever reason the drugs are taken. Very little is known of the effects on the body of any drugs under skin diving conditions. I feel that each diver must know his own limitations, taking these drugs to extend these limitations can only be a temporary measure, and in the long run may do irreparable damage. The body can only take so much.

JAWS FOR JEWELLERY: Melbourne. Shark's teeth round your throat, it might not appeal to everyone, but many of the world's fashion conscious are happy to pay for the privilege. At least one Australian jewellery maker, Ian Burt of Sydney, is reported to be selling white pointer teeth necklaces mounted in sterling silver for $1,000 each and mounted in 18-carat gold for $5,000 each. Even in Port Lincoln, where big white pointers are almost commonplace, single teeth chain are selling for $18 each. It is hardly surprising that many fishing boats are now carrying large hooks in their gear lockers. A set of jaws from a white pointer can bring the same price as two tonnes of tuna. Fishermen have been receiving $600 or more for a good set of jaws although one buyer described as an American with "more money than sense" is said to have paid $2,500.

IMPORTED DEATH TRAP: Melbourne. Dive shop proprietor, Ern Ireland, has come across some interesting information. It appears that a firm in Taiwan was advertising, looking for an Australian agent for their new super UFO Diver. The ad says "Dive to depths of 9 metres for up to 2 hours, good for beginners to learn to swim, for repairing wrecks and for collecting specimens". So far it all sounds reasonable, but on further investigation it turns out to be 9 metres of plastic hose with a snorkel mouth piece up to a plastic float with 76 cm snorkel protruding from the float. Now every diver knows you cannot breathe in through a tube longer than 76 cm or so, not allowing for CO2 build up. The company, which claims an 18 month experiment period, has obviously never even tried one. It's just as well we have concerned people like Ern Ireland watching that dangerous equipment like this never gets on to the Australian market, plus Australian divers would never buy it.

SCUBA DIVING BOOM IN GEELONG: Melbourne. Scuba diving is booming in the Geelong district. The six local clubs already have more than 200 members and more people are joining every week. Experienced Geelong divers operate off the south coast as far as Anglesea and round Port Phillip Heads. They recommend that novices should have lessons from an expert before starting scuba diving. After the basic lessons, usually occupying six weeks, the student diver can polish up by regular diving expeditions with club members. For those keen on the sea and an out-of-the-way recreation, scuba diving is a most exciting prospect.

AIR NIUGINI "PARADISE" MAGAZINE HONOURS - LYN AND PAT MANLY: Sydney. For the second year in succession, Air Niugini's in-flight magazine, Paradise, has won an international award for excellence. Australia's Lyn and Pat Manly's article on "Black Jack's Last Mission" was judged the most outstanding travel story. Paradise has just won the 1989 Pacific Area Travel Association (PATA) gold medal for best travel story in an airline magazine this year.

Lyn and Pat Manly with their award from Air Niuginia in flight magazine, Paradise.

For last year's gold medal, Paradise was declared the best in-flight magazine. This year the judges singled out “Black Jack's Last Mission,” that appeared in the 1988 May June issue, as an outstanding entry. The gold medal was the only one given to an in-flight magazine. Winning authors and photographers Lyn and Pat Manly are a Sydney based scuba diving couple who enjoy some of the world's greatest diving destinations in Papua New Guinea. Sadly Lyn not long after this article was published died of a tropical decease and her husband also died a short time later.

MEDICAL RESEARCHER LECTURER IN ANIMAL STUDIES: ANN STORRIE: Perth. Ann has been an avid nature photographer since she was 11 years old. She joined the Australian Photographic Society's Nature Division in 1977 and enjoyed learning through constructive criticism of other members of the group. In September 1981, with her husband Wayne, she completed a scuba course at Perth Diving Academy. Later she visited the Rowley Shoals off the West Coast of Western Australia and the first article she wrote was about this pristine environment, it was published in Scuba Diver magazine, February 1984. Since the first Ann has had over 50 articles published in diving and other magazines in Australia and overseas. Most of her work is about travel, although marine biology creeps in now and again, as does photography and test reports on various camera and diving aids. In 1984, with husband Wayne and together with a number of friends, she started the Western Australia Underwater Photographic Society (WAUPS) which is still going strong today in Western Australia. Ann says she owe much of her success to many of those successful, yet generous people, such as marine archaeological photographer, Patrick Baker, who willingly gave their knowledge and experience to the members within the society. Ann's husband Wayne has also been invaluable as a very hard critic and supporter of all her activities. She has been guest speaker at several conventions, including Scuba Expo in Melbourne in 1989. Ann Storrie also teaches underwater photography when requested by various dive businesses and the rest of her spare time is split between a real job in medical research and lecturing in Animal Studies at a TAFE College. Ann finds that one of the most enjoyable facets of underwater photography is being able to impart her knowledge to interested people. She always enjoys speaking at camera clubs and dive clubs, and one of her most satisfying moments was when someone said they had leant to dive because of inspiration from her photographs and lectures. Competition photography is not her aim, she would rather record sea life as much as possible in the small amount of time available underwater. Ann says, if she gets a winner, well and good, but enjoyment and appreciation of the wonders of our natural environment comes first.

DIVING MEDICAL PRACTITIONER AUTHOR: DR. CARL EDMONDS: Sydney. Carl Edmonds was introduced to scuba diving during a surfing holiday in Hawaii in 1962. He received his formal training from the Underwater Research Group (URG) in Sydney in 1964. Subsequently he trained in the Royal Australian Navy as a compressed air diver in 1967, a Supervisory Diving Officer in 1968 and trained in clearance diving equipment to 54 metres with mixed gas and air, as well as decompression diving to 73 metres on air. He also attended the US Navy course for diving medical officers in 1978 and has been involved in many civilian diving courses, with most of the instructor organisations. Carl's undergraduate medical training was carried out at the University of Sydney. Post-graduate training in both Internal Medicine and Psychiatry was conducted during 3 years in England between 1962 and 1965. Carl Edmonds is the only full time civilian diving medical specialist in Australia and one of a few in the world. Since 1967, he has been involved predominantly in diving medicine. The first 9 years as Officer-in-Charge of the Royal Australian Navy School of Underwater Medicine. The last 16 years in active practice as a consultant in diving medicine in the Sydney branch of the Diving Medical Centre, at St Leonards. As the Officer-in-Charge of the Navy School of Underwater Medicine, he organised diving courses and lectured divers, paramedics and clinicians in the prevention and treatment of diving accidents. During that time and subsequently, this involvement extended to amateur diving groups, instructor organisations, professional divers, medical practitioners, and water safety groups. In the early 1970s, Carl developed the Diving Medical Centre of Australia, and was the Foundation President of the South Pacific Medical Society. He introduced the first civilian Diving Medical Course in Australia and ran it from 1972 to 1977. He is the author of nine texts on diving medicine, most being distributed internationally and receiving widespread acclaim and acceptance as textbooks throughout the world. Carl Edmonds is also the author of "Dangerous Marine Animals" a popular book with divers.

PHOTOGRAPHER, AUTHOR: BOB HALSTEAD: Cairns. Bob was educated in England and has a BSc Honours degree in physics and mathematics from King's College, London University and a postgraduate Certificate in Education from Bristol University. He learned to scuba dive in the Bahamas in 1968, bought his first underwater camera the same year, and qualified as a NAUI Diving Instructor in 1970. Bob also became a proficient skin diver and used an "Hawaiian Sling" to spear fish and spiny lobsters. Bob Halstead emigrated to Australia in 1972 and was employed as an Education Officer in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea. By luck he was posted to Milne Bay, where he met Dinah and taught her to dive, marrying her soon after. With Dinah, he formed Papua New Guinea's first full time sport diving business, "Tropical Diving Adventures" based at Port Moresby. Then Bob and Dinah set out to systematically explore as much of Papua New Guinea's still largely unseen under water paradise as possible. Their first commercial dive boat was the 10 metre Solatai that ran camping and scuba diving safaris. In 1986 they started the first live-aboard dive boat operation, the highly successful "Telita Cruises," with the 20 metre dive charter vessel. the Telita, a boat built to their specifications. Bob cruised Telita all through the coastal regions of New Guinea and has made over 7000 dives in the process.

Bob Halstead and new lady partner.

He has also discovered several marine species new to science, a fish, Trichonotus Halstead, was named after Bob and Dinah in 1996. His underwater photography has won many gold medals in international underwater photographic competitions, including Australasian Underwater Photographer of the year 1983. Bob has lectured and published numerous popular and technical articles on diving and marine life and is known for his controversial opinions on diving safety. He has also published four books. Tropical Diving Adventures, in 1977. Dive Papua New Guinea, in 1995, The Dive Sites of Papua New Guinea, in 1996 and Asian Diver Scuba Guide to Papua New Guinea, in 1996. Bob and Dinah sold Telita Cruises to Mike Ball Dive Expeditions in 1996. Bob now lives in Cairns with a new lady.

THE PASSING OF DICK CHARLES: Sydney. As the years roll on we who know and can remember those early days of pioneering in a new sport of spear fishing and other water sports activity under the direction of such a man as Dick Charles, can only say our children will not have it so good. The sport was lucky to have a man of Dick's calibre during our formative years. As they say, "They don't make them like that any more". It was an honour to have been associated with the late great Dick Charles, May he rest in peace.

TROUBLE BENEATH THE INDIAN OCEAN: Perth. Are fast-moving wreck looters stripping century-old wrecks off the coast of Western Australia in highly organised and daring raids and disposing of coinage on overseas markets? Yes, say some, and no, say others. Questions asked in the Legislative Council of Justice Minister Griffith gained the attention of many divers. Mr L G Medcalf, MLC, asked whether Mr Griffith knew of any cases of plundering. Mr Griffith replied that at least one section of the Batavia had been stripped to the reef and some of the main timbers had vanished. A chest of bullion containing rix dollars and ducatons mentioned in Pelsart's Journal had recently been removed and many of the iron cannons used as mooring posts for fishing boats in the Abrolhos Islands. Last February, ballast bricks and coins from the wreck of the Gilt Dragon had been offered for sale in the public bar of the Yanchep Inn. Stating that the Government was determined to preserve historical wrecks in the public interest Mr Griffith added that the acts had been mentioned and several others investigated. The British Shipping Act vested unclaimed wrecks in the Crown, Mr Medcalf said, and added that in the reign of Queen Victoria the Imperial Parliament had passed legislation to this effect except where the Crown granted rights to another person. This probably still was applicable to wrecks on the Australian Continental Shelf and beyond. Under the Australian Navigation Act, the Commonwealth is entitled to all unclaimed wrecks found in Australia and these include territorial waters. The legislative Council told Mr. Medcalf that the Museum Act vested control of historical Western Australian wrecks in the Western Australian Museum. His suggested solution is for the state to confer with the commonwealth and together to approach the British Government to seek English legislation to specifically give the Western Australian Government power to control its historical wrecks. Meanwhile, he urged the Government to set up a division of marine archaeology to survey and keep watch on the wrecks. Mr Medcalf mentioned the wreck of the Tryal of the Monte Bello Islands (1622), the Batavia near Beacon Island in the Abrolhos Group (1629), and the Gilt Dragon, south of Lancelin Island (1656). Perth journalist and skin diver, James Henderson, author of "The Curse Of The Gilt Dragon" believes that the present legal confusion aids wreck plunderers. “Legal opinions support the view that the new legislation before the Western Australian Parliament is just as likely to be proved as invalid as the existing Museum Act” he said. He supports the move by Mr Medcalf. That at present it is an open slather, a fast boat, a charge of explosive strategically placed, ten minutes work then back to the mainland with the plunder. No need to unload the boat just winch it up onto the boat trailer behind a four-wheel drive vehicle and away. Miles of desolate coastline to work from and the plunderers leave in their wake little trace apart from jagged remains of reef and historical debris. Gelignite has been used to rip open the remains of the Gilt Dragon at Lancelin and thousands of coins have been carted away. Other instances mentioned by divers show that the present legal situation does little to assist genuine divers who sign over wreck finds for posterity. This usually consists of reporting locations to authorities with a $2,000 bounty paid in some cases. The trouble is in policing the location, as invariably the ancient merchantmen are sunken near hundreds of miles of sand dune humped coastline dotted with scrub. Legislation in future may confiscate all artefacts taken.

THE CERTIFICATION OF DIVING INSTRUCTORS: Brisbane. The Australian Underwater Federation has been concerned for some years with the certification of scuba diving instructors. Since training schemes are run by clubs and private groups, there is a need for an acceptable standard among all diving schools. An examination of existing overseas certification schemes was made by the Federal Scuba Division in 1965. It was decided then that schemes in place are not suitable to meet Australian needs. As a stop-gap measure, the minimum standards for scuba instruction were introduced to give a lead on the Federation's policy on to scuba training of divers. It would now seem an appropriate time for Australia to consider a more comprehensive scheme with dive training in every state. In Britain, the National Underwater Instructors Association (NUIA) has recently become operational in the development of a scheme after examination of other national schemes. It overcame the objectionable feature of most other national associations of diving instructors, where some dive certifications are not recognised by other organisations.

SOUTH PACIFIC DIVERS CLUB INTENDS TO HOLD ANNUAL UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION: Sydney. A committee, led by Tom Byron, has been formed to operate a South Pacific Divers Annual Underwater Photographic Competition. The competition will be held once a year and will be open to underwater photographers living in Australia.

ANCIENT WRECK FIND ON ABROLHOS ISLANDS: Perth. The remains of an ancient sailing vessel estimated to be more than 200 years old, has been discovered by skin divers in 3 metres of water off Gum Island in the southern group of the Abrolhos Islands. Divers found ivory elephant tusks, 15 iron canons heavily encrusted with marine growth, a ship's main anchor, part of a rudder fitting, lead, and evidence of pottery, glass, and copper ware strewn along the sea-bed. The site of the discovery is about 3 kilometres north west of Gum Island on the main reef. Theories regarding the wreck and its origin vary but it's thought to be one of three vessels either Zeewyck, Aagtekere, or DeFortuyn although indications are that it is not likely to be the Zeewyck, as this ship was not carrying ivory. It was wrecked in 1727 near Gum Island and the crew salvaged most of the cargo and superstructure. The logbook of the Zeewyck mentions an earlier wreck and its remains, and it could well be that this is what the team has found. The Western Australian coastline is certainly proving to be a wreck hunter's paradise.

LEARN SCUBA DIVING FOR 6 POUNDS ($12.00) A COURSE: Sydney. Greenbury School of Skin and Scuba Diving is one of Sydney's first schools to teach scuba diving, introducing people to the excitement of the wonderful underwater world. Individual attention in a private pool helps to instil confidence in every student. Each course includes instructional colour film screening, lecture notes and hire of scuba equipment. The school is organised by Ron and Gloria Greenbury, based at Beverly Hills in Sydney. They are two very capable people in the diving world. The course runs over a three week period and costs 6 pound ($12). This course is necessary for anyone thinking about scuba diving. It's run by divers for diver. There is not a great deal to learn and almost anyone is capable of picking up the sport and enjoying scuba diving.

BEN CROPP AND RON TAYLOR SCUBA DIVING COURSES: Sydney. Ben Cropp and Ron Taylor have taken over the Skin and Scuba Diving Course formerly run by Del and Dot Cantando, and organised by Mick Simmons Sports Store. The Cantandos have returned to America and now this popular diving course is under the chief instruction of Ben and Ron. Ben holds the Australian Scuba Championships and worked as a full time diving instructor for six months in Spain and the West Indies. Ron holds the Australian Underwater Fishing Championships and is the New South Wales Scuba Champion. The fee for the eight sessions is a very reasonable five pounds ($10) per person. This is cheap insurance and even less than what it would cost to hire an aqualung the same period of time. It's identical with the course run by the Y.M.C.A in the USA and should prove popular with Australians wanting to learn scuba diving.

DEEP SEA SEX STUDY FOR MEN AND WOMEN: Sydney. A fascinating sex experiment got under way this week to solve a mystery of the deep. Is it true that men who visit the silent world with aqualung produce baby girls when they become fathers. If so, why? Appropriately, the experiment launched among more than 1,000 divers, is called, “Operation Stork.” It has found that among divers who dive deep regularly 10 out of 11 new born children are girls. A questionnaire is being sent out to divers in clubs, including women, expecting a happy event. Male divers are asked to tell in confidence the number of hours underwater they spent deeper than 25 feet before their wives last period, women are also asked for similar details. The doctors want to know the sex of their existing children. Not only will the researches throw some scientific light on this “Diver's Myth” but also doctors might discover whether the effects of pressure on women divers harm the health of unborn children. Experiments already conducted on mice have shown that if subjected to similar pressures experienced by divers for two or three weeks it may make them temporarily sterile. Of course, men are not mice and divers need not jump to the conclusion we have found a male substitute for taking the pill. Scientists working on the experiment are seriously wondering whether this finding is linked with the fact that when males have a low sperm count, it is usually the female sperm that survives. Is pressure in some way effecting the sperm count? The idea is causing many a chuckle between the divers and their wives but fertility researchers are taking the project seriously. They have always said, divers do it deeper. The experiment may last for a number of years before a resolution is reached. This is the first test of its kind in the world, many divers and other research scientists think that the girl to boy ratio is just circumstantial. Probably the truth of the matter is that nature is playing out its course. In time this will most likely be true, who knows.

LOG BOOKS NOW AVAILABLE FOR SCUBA DIVERS-$50.00 EACH: Canberra. The long awaited divers log books are now available for general distribution. Applications for log books may be sent to The Chairman of the Technical Committee Australian Underwater Federation. Log books are only issued to individuals who make an application through their Club and State Organisation. Each application must be accompanied by two photographs of the applicant, 6cm x 7cm in size and not more than six months old, and $50.00 to cover the cost of log books. In fact, there are two books being issued one to record the qualifications obtained by the diver while the other is to log actual dives. Where the applicant has already qualified as a 3rd class scuba diver a separate qualification card will be issued at no extra cost. Each log book bears a registered number and a central register of all log books issued will be kept. Regulations relating to the control and issuing of log books are being prepared and distributed to State organisations in the near future.

II MEDALS WON BY TWO WOMEN: Canberra. Carmel Dollisson and Angela Ivanovici from the Australian Capital Territory collected no less than eleven medals between them in the last Australian Underwater Championships. Carmel won three gold medals in the Fin-Swimming event and came third in the Women's Scuba events. Angela won three silver and gold medals in fin swimming, a gold medal in the Women's Underwater Fishing event, a silver medal in the Mixed Pairs Underwater Fishing and emerged as Australian Women's Scuba Champion. What a wonderful effort for two Australian women champions in underwater sports.

ANGELA IVANOVICI TOP AUSTRALIAN LADY DIVER: Canberra. Australian Underwater Federation's Sporting Committee Chairman and Open National Underwater Techniques Champion, Glen Cocking, is embarrassed and not without good reason, In the recent Australian Capital Territory Underwater Techniques Championships he was relegated to second place by the most versatile lady skin diver in Australia, Angela Ivanovici. Angela has won numerous National Titles and awards including, Ladies Underwater Techniques Champion, Ladies Underwater Fishing Champion of Australia and Fin Swimming Champion of Australia over distances of 100 and 800 metres. Glen is not embarrassed, Angela happens to be his wife. Women divers of today are certainly making inroads into competitive diving whether it's spear fishing, scuba diving or fin swimming.

FIRST MARINE PARK AT QUEENSLAND HERON ISLAND: Brisbane. The first areas in Queensland to be designated as a Marine National Park have been named by the Minister for Lands and Conservation, Mr Rae. Heron Reef, Wisteria Reef Marine National Park, about 80 kilometres northeast of Gladstone, takes in Heron Island Reef and the adjoining Wistari Reef. The park area is about 9700 ha. The park encloses one of the best known and most visited sections of the Great Barrier Reef, Mr. Rae said.

GOOD GRIEF NOT ANOTHER ONE: Adelaide. Abalone divers at Shark Bay, South Australia, are becoming quite concerned at the interest shown in them by a female white pointer shark, all 3 metres of it. For the third year running the same shark has confronted and stirred divers. Its approach varies from sudden repeated appearances, from behind, to actually butting one diver in the stomach with its nose. Divers are concerned that the shark is forming an opinion on the divers vulnerability and may decide to attack. They are of the opinion that the shark visits the same area every year in pursuit of salmon that seasonally appear in this area. Abalone divers are hoping that the shark will give up its patrol of Shark Bay soon or at least before their nerves give way. Many are considering the purchase of a power head. Perhaps they should consider purchasing an airline ticket away from Shark Bay or having a good talk to the white pointer, she is probable very lonely anyhow.

NEW DRUG FOR THE BENDS: Sydney. The Bends is the popular term for Aero embolism, or decompression sickness. Oddly enough, the cure for this sickness has not changed significantly since 1839, when it was first noticed that some divers and caisson workers would double up in excruciating pain when brought from compressed air chambers to ordinary atmospheric pressure. Little was understood at the time of the real cause of the painful ordeal that could cripple or kill. The only cure was to place the suffering individual back into the chamber under pressure as quickly as possible, and slowly lower the pressure too normal. No one suspected that "safe decompression" with no severe bends indication could possibly harm a worker after a period of years. During World War Two, it was discovered that rapid decompression releases gases from body fluids in the form of bubbles. The result is agonising pain. Victims can develop an uncontrollable hacking dry cough called the "chokes" and an uncomfortable crawling feeling as if thousands of bugs covered one's skin. Bends can cause small blood vessels to become blocked by loose fatty tissue particles. The chest may hurt, as breathing becomes almost unbearable. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are reabsorbed into the blood, but nitrogen is not, and remains the gas that's thought to be the primary cause of the painful bends effect. A relatively new treatment has been discovered in an anticoagulant called "Heparin". This drug accelerates the rate of dissolution of fatty substances in the blood, preventing vessel blockage, but absolute prevention of the bends is nowhere in sight. As the numbers of scuba divers increase in Australia it's predicted that bends cases will also increase. Treatment is very expensive and the time will come when authorities may charge the victims.

NAVY SHOW HOW TO BEAT THE BENDS: Sydney. A RAN doctor today issued a warning to all divers of the danger of failing to treat even minor cases of the "bends." Lieutenant Commander Carl Edmonds, the officer in charge of the RAN School of Underwater Medicine, said serious arthritis, bone disease, brain damage, or ever paraplegia, could result if divers ignored symptoms of the “bends”. He said the first warning, pain in or around the joints, could follow within 24 hours of a dive if a diver had not properly followed decompression procedures safely. Many experienced divers simply ignored these warning signs and inexperienced divers were often unaware of their meaning. He said the school, based at HMAS Penguin, Balmoral, had treated nine divers, all very experienced, in a decompression chamber last year. “All these men had suffered serious problems because of incorrect decompression after diving, but we were able to treat them successfully”, he said. “Apart from the nine who attended the school for treatment, we assisted with radioed instructions to doctors working on similar cases as far afield as Thursday Island, Townsville and Lae. In all, 25 cases that were assisted by radio messages, is an indication of just how common the problem of the “bends” can be, no matter what the experience of the diver involved. “The worst aspect of the problem is that we believe there are probably many cases which are never recorded, and these divers are certain to suffer serious injure”, Commander Edmonds said. He also said the causes of decompression sickness were, incorrect use of decompression tables, the use of unreliable decompression metres, panic that led to too fast an ascent, or poorly planned dives that left too little air for proper decompression.

Contact me at: tombyronpublishers@hotmail.com

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Copyright 2016: Tom Byron. The Chronicle of Scuba Diving in Australia the First 70 Years - 1950 To 2019