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

2000 TO 2009

 

WELL KNOWN CHARTER BOAT SKIPPER RON ISBEL PASSED AWAY

BEGINNING A NEW ERA

WRECK OF SS TASMAN FOUND

WALT DEAS PASSED AWAY

WHO WANT A DIVING MUSEUM

THE SYDNEY PROJECT STORY

THE FIRST AQUA LUNG - 60 YEARS ON

ANCIENT DISCOVERY SET TO REWRITE AUSTRALIAN HISTORY

DIVING LEGEND MAURICE BATTERHAM

UNDERWATER CAMERAMAN WALT DEAS DIED

ALLEN POWER HALL OF FAME

WALLY GIBBINS CHAMPION DIVER DIES

UNDERWATER EXPLORERS CLUB OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA TURNS 50 THIS YEAR:

UNDERWATER RESEARCH GROUP OF NEW SOUTH WALES OLDEST DIVE CLUB IN STATE - FIRST YEARS

 

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The ten years following 2000 two well known scuba divers lost their lives. Walter Deas started diving with a Navy surplus oxygen rebreather. He purchased the Aqualung when it became available in 1955 and always considered it the best deal he ever made. His wages at the time came to five pounds (10 dollars) per week and the Aqualung cost 42 pounds (84 dollars). At the time of his death on May 28th 2008, he had several documentaries in the making and had already won several awards, honoured for the work he so enjoyed. Walt worked tirelessly for the environment and the dive community until his death and has certainly earned a place among the Legend of Diving in Australia.                                         

Followed by well known dive boat charter skipper Ronald Isbel, who was certainly a legion among divers as well. On August 2010 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority named a reef in the Mackay/Capricorn Management Area of the Marine Park "Ron Isbel Reef". Ron Isbel was a well respected charter boat operator focusing mainly on the southern Great Barrier Reef. Naming a reef in the Swains Reef is a fitting tribute to his contribution of knowledge, passion and ability to foster world-wide recognition of the Great Barrier Reef. Ron Isbel passed away on 10 November 2008, aged 79.

Five copper coins and a nearly 70-year-old map with an "X" might lead to a discovery that could rewrite Australia's history. Australian scientist Mclntosh, currently Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University in the US, plans an expedition in July that has stirred up the archaeological community. The scientist wants to revisit the location where five coins were found in the Northern Territory in 1944 that have proven to be 1000 years old, opening up the possibility that seafarers from distant countries might have landed in Australia much earlier than what is currently believed.

By 1950 the young inventor Ted Eldred had sought out the RAN's assistance with a Scuba design. He was put in touch with Batterham, who was involved in pioneering the Clearance Diving Branch and associated school. Batts and Eldred became somewhat kindred spirits, they shared a passion for the ocean and both possessed technically precise minds. Together they strove to make the best possible diving apparatus, developing and manufacturing the first single-hose regulator, the "Porpoise". As much time as possible was spent machining RAN became their first significant client and consequently Defence Standards Laboratories supported further technical research, particularly in addressing the respiratory requirements of a distressed diver. Batterham and Eldred registered the Breathing Appliance Company. Bob Wallace-Mitchell, who had a sporting goods store in North Melbourne, joined to distribute the Porpoise in Australia. To create interest in recreational diving and ensure safe use of Porpoise equipment the company started the School of Underwater Swimming and Diving at the Melbourne City Baths in early 1954. Dive medicals were performed by Dr Bill Taylor, who taught physiology of diving to the eager students

Pioneer diver, salvage diver, scuba diver, Wally Gibbins dies. His pioneering diving career began in 1947 when his family moved from Greenwich to Middle Head where the clear water enticed him to fashion some diving gear and develop an interest in underwater, which began in the early summer of late 1947. He dived alone around Middle Head for some months without meeting any other divers, then when the USFA was formed in April of 1948 he soon enrolled as a member and elected to the committee shortly after. Wally passed away on the 19th August 2006.

 

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WALTER DEAS PAST AWAY THIS MONTH: Sydney. Walter Deas was born in Monifieth, Scotland in 1933. He taught himself to swim at the age of 14, the same age he left school. His parents believed he was on school trips, but in reality young Walt was touring around Scotland and ice skating, already setting a precedent for life of adventure he would later carve out for himself. Walt learned to dive in 1950. As a teenager he spent a great deal of time during the winter months pouring over old books and papers in an effort to locate good dive spots. He was continually adding to his small marine publications library. Hans Hass would become Walt's mentor via the written page, Walt was inspired by two of Hass books in particular, "Diving to Adventure" in 1952, and "Manta, Under The Red Sea" in 1953. The Silent World, was another source of inspiration for the young diver. Deas started diving with a Navy surplus oxygen re-breather. He purchased the Aqualung when it became available in 1955 and always considered it the best deal he ever made. His wages at the time came to 5 pounds (10 dollars) per week and the Aqualung cost 42 pounds (84 dollars) at the time. Jean Deas began her foray into the underwater world when she started snorkelling around Ullapool in 1953, the same year she met Walt. Two years later Jean took up diving and married Walt, Jean was officially certified by CMAS in 1956.  Walt began actively re-searching shipwrecks in an attempt to locate one himself. It was in 1956 that his labour paid off, he discovered two Spanish galleons that had sunk. He then published his first book. The New World, an introduction to underwater exploration and sport which was one of the very first diving manuals in the United Kingdom. It was the mid 1950s, and Walt was quickly making a name for himself in the world of diving. In February of 1959 the intrepid couple arrived in Australia and headed directly for Heron Island. Walt and Jean were determined to develop Heron Island as a dive location and to show the world how very special and untouched it truly was. They settled in Brisbane and immersed themselves in the dive scene. In 1976, Walt and Jean returned to Heron Island to serve as dive masters at the Heron Island resort.

Walt Deas passed away on the 28th May 2008.

They were very well known and well received in the area, as well as respected for their vision of cinematography and underwater photography. Walt served as the main cameraman on the three episodes of "Life on Earth" with David Attenborough. Walt and Jean directed and filmed "Where Fish are Friendly", which drew the largest audience of 15 million in the UK. Throughout their lives, Walt and Jean were acutely aware of the dangerous impact Man was having on the Ocean. They were quite outspoken about the preservation of the reefs and the fish. In 1980 and 1981 Walt filmed "The Basking Shark" in Scotland. It described the history of the Basking Shark Fishery and showed the devastation upon the environment in the early 80s. He and Jean were passionate about the preservation of the underwater environment and used the art to make a call to action. At the time of his death on May 28th 2008, he had several documentaries in the making and had already won several awards, honoured for the work he so enjoyed. Walt worked tirelessly for the environment and the dive community until his death and has certainly earned a place among the Legends of Diving.    

DIVE SHIP PROTEST: Avoca Beach. As a resident of Macmasters Beach on the NSW Central Coast, and a long time shipwreck diver (Truk, PNG, Bikini and the Solomons) I am intrigued at the way the scuttling of ex HMAS Adelaide is starting to unravel. For ten years the community was told that the ship would be sunk off Terrigal, and nobody seemed to care, however in the last six weeks the residents of Avoca Beach have formed a "No Ship" protest group after a yellow buoy was placed 1.7 km directly out from the middle of Avoca Beach. The buoy is the marker for the sinking. Avoca Beach has one of the best surfing and board riding beaches on the coast, and numerous rallies against the sinking are picking up a head of steam against the Adelaide scuttling. A "No Ship" protest rally there last weekend saw about 750 people protesting against the sinking. The rally culminated with many of the protesters singing and dancing and waving hands to songs by Midnight Oil, the rock band formerly fronted by Peter Garrett, who is now the Minister of the Environment. The Adelaide was launched in 1980, and has been moored in Sydney for the last few years while millions of dollars have been spent on cleaning the ship in preparation for its March 27th scuttling. Despite assurances from NSW Lands Minister Tony Kelly that independent tests have found no PCB's on the vessel, the Avoca Beach residents are concerned about many other issues, from changes in rips and wave patterns, heavy metals, to the dumping of a 4000 ton ship in a pristine environment as a "wanton act of vandalism". At this late stage it would appear that the sinking will go ahead on March 27th, and the local newspaper the Express Advocate is running a competition, offering one lucky reader the chance to be the person who pushes the button that scuttles the ship. In my own community of Macmasters Beach, which is the next beach south of Avoca, there is a groundswell of people who believe the prevailing wind from the north-east will bring toxic chemicals and heavy metals to our pristine beach.

ANCIENT DISCOVERY SET TO REWRITE AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: Darwin. Five copper coins and a nearly 70-year-old map with an "X" might lead to a discovery that could rewrite Australia's history. Australian scientist lan Mclntosh, currently Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University in the US, plans an expedition in July that has stirred up the archaeological community. The scientist wants to revisit the location where five coins were found in the Northern Territory in 1944 that have proven to be 1000 years old, opening up the possibility that seafarers from distant countries might have landed in Australia much earlier than what is currently believed. Back in 1944 during World War 11, after Japanese bombers had attacked Darwin two years earlier, the Wessel Islands, an uninhabited group of   islands off Australia's north coast, had become a strategic position to help protect the mainland. Australian soldier Maurie lsenberg was stationed on one of the islands to man a radar station and spent his spare time fishing on the idyllic beaches. While sitting in the sand with his fishing rod, he discovered a handful of coins in the sand. He didn't have a clue where they could come from but pocketed them anyway and later placed them in a tin. In 1979 he rediscovered his "treasure" and decided to send the coins to a museum to get them identified. The coins proved to be 1000 years old. Still not fully realising what treasure he held in his hands, he marked an old colleague's map with an "X" to remember where he had found them. The discovery was apparently forgotten again until anthropologist Mclntosh got the ball rolling a few months ago. The coins raise many important questions: How did 1000-year-old coins end up on a remote beach on an island off the northern coast of Australia? Did explorers from distant lands arrive on Australian shores way before James Cook claimed it for the British throne in 1770? We do know already that Captain Cook wasn't the first white seafarer to step on Australia's shores. In 1606 a Dutch explorer named Willem Janszoon reached the Cape York peninsula in Queensland, closely followed a few years late by another Dutch seafarer Dirk Hartog. And the Spaniard Luiz Vaez de Torres discovered the strait between Papua New Guinea and Australia, which was later named Torres Strait in his honour. However, none of these explorers recognised that they had discovered the famed southern continent, the "terra austral is incognita", which was depicted as a counterweight to the known land masses of the northern hemisphere on many world maps of the day. Mclntosh and his team of Australian and American historians, archaeologists, and Aboriginal rangers say that the five coins date back to the 900s to 1300s. They are African coins from the former Kilwa sultanate, now a World Heritage ruin on an island off Tanzania. Kilwa once was a flourishing trade port with links to India in the 13th to 16th century. The trade with gold, silver, pearls, perfumes, Arabian stone ware, Persian ceramics and Chinese porcelain made the city one of the most influential towns in East Africa at the time. The copper coins were the first coins ever produced in sub-Saharan Africa and according to Mclntosh have only twice been found outside Africa, once in Oman and lsenberg's find in 1944. The old coins might not be of monetary value, but for archaeologists they are priceless, says Mclntosh. Archaeologists have long suspected that there may have been early maritime trading routes that linked East Africa, Arabia, India and the Spice Islands even 1,000 years ago. Or the coins could've washed ashore after a shipwreck. When lsenberg discovered the copper coins he also found four coins that originated from the Dutch East India Company, with one dating back to 1690 raising memories of those early Dutch seafarers that stepped on Australian shores well before Cook. Mclntosh wants to answer some of these mysteries during his planned expedition to the Wessel Islands in July, and it's not only about revisiting the beach that was marked with an "X" on lsenberg's map. He will also be looking for a secret cave Aboriginal legends talk about. This cave is supposed to be close to the beach where lsenberg once found the coins and is said to be filled with doubloons and weaponry of an ancient era. Should Mclntosh and his team find what they are looking for, the find might not only be priceless treasure, but relics that could rewrite Australian history.

DIVING LEGEND, MAURICE BATTERHAM: Melbourne. Early last century under the lapping surface of Victoria's Corio Bay, a 10 year old boy was diving with his self made apparatus consisting of a kerosene tin and garden hose. On the shore, his younger brother pumped air down the hose with a pair of bellows. This equipment was later superseded with a mechanical pump operated by bicycle pedals, allowing the young diver to explore down to 24 feet (8 metres). This boy with an affinity for the sea was Maurice Batterham, who went on to spend his life dedicated to underwater human endeavours. After several unsuccessful attempts to enter the Royal Australian Navy, Maurice trained as an electrical and mechanical engineer with General Motors. In 1936 he married a fellow water baby Marjorie, who as a teenager was among the first Australian women to attain a surf lifesaving Bronze medallion. Together they started a family and lived by the sea a Melbourne's bay side suburb. When Maurice was finally enlisted with the RAN Volunteer Reserve in 1942, he hit the water swimming. Almost immediately his first assignment was to render bombs safe and salvage materials from shipwrecks after Japanese air raids in Darwin. A couple of Jap mines broke adrift and came ashore near Melville Island and as we didn't know anything about them or how they were made, I was given the job of pulling one to bits to see what made it work. Seemingly an instant asset in the area of underwater mine warfare and disposal he lectured in the United States before commencing service with the Royal Navy in 1944. Batterham became part of the research unit that developed underwater breathing equipment to meet the requirements. The largest task was to psychologically and physically screen thousands of men. Batterham led one of the four "Port Parties" that worked around the clock until dawn on D-Day. The conditions and work of these original "Frogmen" are legendary. Middle of the night dives in six feet (2 metres) of mud in order to defuse a V2 Rocket with bare freezing hands was a fairly standard task. It is on record that the "Port Parties" suffered no fatalities prior to D-Day. Maurice took all the challenges in his long stride, and during this time became fondly known as "Batts".

Maurice Batterham, many of his techniques developed during World War 11 are still standard practice in modern clearance diving today.

Many of the techniques developed during World War 11 are still standard practice in modern clearance diving. When the war ended Batterham was required to attend to post Japanese occupied Rabaul. This time the conditions were tropical, and the bombs to be deloused were in stacked deep in mountain caves. With Lieutenant Commander C. G. Croft he spent nine months rendering safe and disposing of tonnes of ammunition. Dwindling food rations were supplemented by catching fish, sometimes by discharging a fuse. Sadly, wartime attacks and the consequential disposal work irreparably damaged Rabaul's aquatic environment. After his celebrated return to Australia, "Batts" went back to Europe for further testing and development of diving technology with the Royal Navy. In a letter to his family in 1951 he wrote of the regular test diver, a mountain goat named "Lord Nelson", who apparently quite enjoyed the underwater activities, logging dozens of dives. Batterham was awarded an OBE in 1952 for sustained courage and devotion to duty. The press enjoyed covering stories of "Bats" extreme underwater adventures. Modest yet always the people person, he gave many Rotary Club talks and interviews on his outrageous wartime exploits, routinely playing down the danger. By 1950 the young inventor Ted Eldred had sought out the RAN's assistance with a Scuba design. He was put in touch with Batterham, who was involved in pioneering the Clearance Diving Branch and associated school. Batts and Eldred became somewhat kindred spirits, they shared a passion for the ocean and both possessed technically precise minds. Together they strove to make the best possible diving apparatus, developing and manufacturing the first single-hose regulator, the "Porpoise". As much time as possible was spent machining RAN became their first significant client and consequently Defence Standards Laboratories supported further technical research, particularly in addressing the respiratory requirements of a distressed diver. Batterham and Eldred registered the Breathing Appliance Company, and Bob Wallace-Mitchell, who had a sporting goods store in North Melbourne, joined to distribute the Porpoise in Australia. To create interest in recreational diving and ensure safe use of Porpoise equipment the company started the School of Underwater Swimming and Diving at the Melbourne City Baths in early 1954. Dive medicals were performed by Dr Bill Taylor, who taught physiology of diving to the eager students. With Batterham as an instructor, the dive training was based on the standardised curriculum studied by RAN Clearance Divers and included both practical and written exams. Batterham always enjoyed teaching, and also trained Police and Rescue Divers during the 1950s. Ted Eldred recalls that all sorts of people turned up to train at the baths, and then in 1955, author Arthur C Clark's book "The Coast of Coral" informed the world of the great Porpoise scuba unit, a dramatic improvement on Cousteau's Aqua-Lung. Despite this acclaim, the company could not afford to patent their design worldwide. In 1960 Le Spirotechnique (a subsidiary of the Aqua-Lung patent owners), bought out the struggling Breathing Appliance Company and by 1961. After the Breathing Appliance Co's sale Batterham worked in the business. Further Porpoise models were released but unfortunately the design partnership with Eldred no longer existed. However they did collaborate on a difficult operation. Batterham held a managerial position at Australian Divers Spiro until his faltering hearing and eyesight made it impractical. He retired permanently to Phillip Island in 1969, still filling days and nights engineering gadgets in the shed, as well as diving and fishing around Western Port Bay. Maurice Samuel Batterham officially logged 6822 hours underwater. A man who endured some of the most unpleasant diving imaginable was instrumental in creating the thriving recreational diving culture Australia enjoys today.                                                        

UNDERWATER RESEARCH GROUP OF NEW SOUTH WALES OLDEST DIVE CLUB IN STATE - FIRST YEARS: Sydney. The Underwater Research Group of New South Wales is the oldest club in this state. It has survived since the first quarter of the 1950s. The following is a very short early history as told by its founding Brian Weston. Along with Fred Clark as President and Doug Greenwood as Treasurer and a committee of four, Tom Campbell, Laurie Tapperal, Barry May and Alan Martin, commenced the longest continuous club in New South Wales. The first meeting was held at Doug Greenwood's house at Cremorne. Spearing fish was the big thing those days, that is what every diver did and this was the reason why people joined a club. To participate in the practice of catching fish other than from a hook, line, and sinker, besides it was new and thrilling to swim among schools of fish and spear at random. In the beginning there were few members, the main reason for forming the URG of New South Wales was to bring together those divers who's interest were elsewhere, other than spearing fish. Monthly meetings were held at the Railway Institute Building in Sydney where a number of ideas were exchanged among members. This all came together just after the Cousteau-Gagnan aqualung first came to Sydney in the late 1950s. The idea of staying underwater for half an hour or so, was captivating, although shooting fish was still utmost in the minds of many members. Prior to the formation of the Underwater Research Group, the Underwater Explorers Club had commenced which in turn was breakaway from the underwater Spear fishing Association of New South Wales (USFA). The Explorers Club lasted for a couple of years and it was during this time that a section of its members broke away and formed the Underwater Research Group of New South Wales. So successful was the breakaway group that the Underwater Explorers Club folded and most of its members transferred to the URG. Many were professional men and a large number were tradesmen, both groups took the new Cousteau Gagnan regulator to pieces and redesigned a regulator that was similar to the original, probably many of the modified version were infringements of the original patents taken out in France. Final units ended up as two 27 cf wire bound cylinders from army disposal stores, costing four pounds each ($8.00). MediCal valves used for regulators were purchased for 10 shillings each ($1.00). Two inch webbing and harness, various “0” rings, foreign orders from railway workshops, high pressure reduction CIG oxygen units, and rubber hoses from Second World war gas masks. When completed and assembled were mounted on the chest for ease of breathing, and the Australian version of Cousteau regulator was completed, the URG had their first regulator. After about 6 months of the new committee realised that they were hampered in their acceptance in the scientific and general community, if they were attached as partners to the Underwater Spearfishing Association. After discussions with the USFA of NSW, a meeting was proposed, and fairly stacked in URG’s favour, a vote was taken, and the URG was on their own. Their new meeting place was now Winn's Auditorium in Sydney. The problem was they had severed ties with spear fishing, what were they to do. A large number of members did not have scuba outfits and neither could they scuba dive, but wanted to learn. Therefore, the club formed the first free Aqualung School in Australia, (no charges to learn). First courses were held at Mainly Pool, but this proved unsuitable, and they switched to Clovelly sea pool, there they stayed for some time. There were plenty of seats near the pool to teach theory, and for final testing. The URG passed many hundreds of divers through their free scuba schools over the years. The only qualification was to become a member of the club. A couple of years later people asked if the teachers had any knowledge of scuba diving, the answer was, not much, they were survivors and senior members of the club, unfortunately some of their mates were not, and they learnt from their mistakes. This was the only qualification needed those days. Diving information was from a single book “Deep Diving” by an author named Davis of the Siebe-Gorman Company, the book was written for hard hat diving only. As the number of members increased the problem arose as to scuba units available to new and old members, the URG as a club, those days, owned all scuba units available to members. To pay for the equipment used by the club's scuba diving school, members came up with the idea of collecting scrap metal from shipwrecks, and selling it to an already hungry scrap metal market. They started to research all wrecks that had either sunk or run aground along the New South Wales coastline over the last 150 years. First of all their target was the Lord Ashley that went aground at The Haven Terrigal. Two main teams would carry out salvage work. The first was Brian Weston, Jack Brown, and Brian Keene. Second were Doug Greenwood, Barry May, and Alan Martin. There were plenty of others involved but these two teams were responsible for, dynamiting wrecks. Theoretical blasting experience gained was from a book bought from Dymocks, “The Blasters handbook”, again there were survivors, but what Brian Weston knows now, none of them should be alive. However, they did manage to collect enough scrap to finance the clubs diving school. Sometime later the committee realised that they had given diving certificates to hundreds of students, but did not have anything to say that the instructors were competent to teach, so the instructors wrote certificates to themselves. The club had many fine instructors during the early pioneering days, there were no serious accidents, and no fatalities. Other projects were recovering a car that had run off the end of the wharf at Cremorne. Members were often called upon to salvage various items for police and did in fact teach some police to do their own underwater recovery. The URG pestered the Maritime Service Board as it was known them to license scuba divers, but to no avail. Their main argument was that anyone could go into a sports store, buy an aqualung outfit, and in less than 20 ft (6 metres) of water kill themselves, There were many other projects carried out over the early years by members, such as inspecting and cleaning council sea pools. Collecting species for Elizabeth Pope and Isabel Bennett, two lecturers at Sydney University. Members tried their hand at collecting abalone in the early 1950s to sell to restaurants around Sydney but with little success. Today, it's a multi-million industry. Cave diving was another activity that attracted many during the pioneer years. The club contacted JBS Haldane, probably the worlds foremost expert in breathing gases under pressure. He came up with an alternative, breathing oxygen enriched air, he listed his reasons, and proposed it as a more simplified method than oxygen rebreathers. In the early 1950s CIG were the only gas manufacturers, and they were not interested. Those days it was a revolutionary concept, whereas in mid to late nineties, Nitrox is the ”in thing”, very interesting times. Catching sharks was another project popular among members mostly Port Jackson and small Wobbegongs. They were captured for the Taronga Zoo Aquarium. Courses were carried out in underwater steel cutting. A proposal for the first underwater Olympic games was in the planning stage. Many members simulated dives in the decompression chamber down to 150 ft (46 metres) at HMAS Rushcutters. The Underwater Research Group of New South Wales has a long and interesting past in the field of pioneer scuba diving, its the oldest continuous running club in the State and still very active. For all of us the old days are gone forever, and we must look forward to an increase in technical diving and exploration, divers that participate in these activities are now the new pioneers.

THE SCOTTISH PRINCE CARRIED MIXED CARGO: Brisbane. A news item a few weeks ago telling us that members of the Brisbane Underwater Research Group had discovered the remains of the wreck of the Scottish Prince in 40 feet (14 metres) of water off Main Beach, Southport has revived interest in one of the shipping disasters of last century. Recently two residents of Southport who saw the wreck immediately after it occurred supplied the”Bulletin” with first hand information concerning the loss of this ship nearly 70 years ago. They are Mr A. Lennie, who is now enjoying an overseas trip and Mr C.W. Lentz, a resident of Nind Street. The Scottish Prince, an iron hulled ship of 950 tons, valued at 19,000 pounds, sailed from Sydney in January, 1887 bound for Brisbane with 1530 tons of mixed cargo. According to the bill of landing she carried 100 stoves, 200 tons of pig iron, 189 sewing machines, 5000 cast iron pipes, 4 cases of perambulators, 5 of lime juice, 20 cases of raspberry vinegar, 40 cases of salted herrings, sundry barrels of ling fish and haddock, a case of mouse traps, 67 boxes of clay pipes, 4000 cases of Scotch and Irish Whiskey, numerous casks of Scotch Whiskey, 100 hog heads of ale, 50 cases of ginger wine and 37 drums of soda.

Ben Cropp with a bottle from the wreck of Scottish Prince.

On February 3rd, 1887 the ship ran aground on a sandbank a short distance south of the bar of the Nerang River. In those days the Nerang River bar was about opposite Chelmsford and two miles south of the position today. The ship's crew and her few passengers managed to reach the beach and there was no loss of life. The ship, pounded by the heavy surf started to break up immediately and much of her cargo including many cases of whiskey were washed ashore. Customs officers were rushed down from Brisbane and retrieved much of the whiskey, but not all of it. Many cases were salvaged on dark nights by residents who buried them in the sand dunes to await a more appropriate time for their removal. More cases were salvaged on dark nights and it is said were taken in big row boats over the bar, along the Broadwater and eventually hidden near the head of Loders Creek. Aborigines from a big camp on Tallebudgera Creek salvaged some cases and got so riotous on the contents that the Government had to send down a company of Militia to restore order. At the time the Scottish Prince was wrecked, Mr Lennie's father was building what is now the Angler's Arms Hotel, and for many years this was known as, Scottish Prince Hotel.

HARD-SHELL SCUBA SUIT: Melbourne. Part diving suit, part swimsuit, part spacesuit, the prototype was officially unveiled at a recent diving equipment trade show. It stopped people in their tracks said Nuytten whose company, Coconut Research Ltd, will put Exposit into commercial production next year. The retail price? $50,000 to $60,000 US. Attenuate, designer of the Newt-suit, an atmospheric diving suit, which has been sold to naval and commercial sub-sea operators around the world, says the Exosuit might be the biggest breakthrough in diving for sports, military, scientific and technical purposes since the development of scuba gear. “It's a hard-shelled scuba suit. It's has an outside shell, which protects from pressure, it's lightweight because it consists of a titanium skeleton with a composite fibre skin. “It has a completely self contained life support system that will allow the wearer to stay submerged at depths of up to 600 feet, (180 metres) for 48 hour”. Nuytten said conventional scuba gear enables divers to go comfortably to about 130 feet (40 metres). Wearing a lightweight, form fitting Exosuit, which comes with its own atmosphere, like a submarine, they will be able to go almost four times deeper.

A hard shell scuba suit capable of going to a depth of 180 metres for 48 hours.

You can dive to around 600 feet, (180 metres) which will cover most of the continental shelf in Australia. In oceanographic terms, this will take us to the edge of the top shelf, and from that, it's the abyss, with depths of up to 2700 metes, it will take very interesting things to go further, but I am thinking about that too. Nuytten has been developing a new line of submersible products. We sat down with 30 years experience working underwater and lets see what the market really requires. First came Deep Worker 2000, a personal submarine, which sells for $350,000. He has sold 10 to date and is building number 11 and 12. After came Deep-worker Exosuit for scuba divers with plenty of spare cash to spend.

 

THE WORLD’S FIRST SUCCESSFUL ELECTRONIC SHARK REPELLENT: Melbourne. SHARK POD (Protective Oceanic Device) is a world acclaimed electronic device invented in South Africa by the Natal Sharks Board over many years, at a cost of millions of dollars. The Shark POD has proved extremely effective in hundreds of tests, repelling sharks before they came too close for comfort. Sharks are exceedingly sensitive to electrical fields. Pores situated on the shark's snout and along the sides enable it to detect electrical signals of an extremely low voltage. The Shark POD produces an electrical field that will repel sharks coming from any direction. The Shark POD consists of three main components linked by cables, the main body, the switch and the foot probe. The main body of the unit is strapped to the diver's cylinder and the foot probe is attached to one of the diver's fins. The two sections create an elliptical electrical field around the diver when switched on. The diver is thus encased in an invisible cocoon which offers equal protection in all directions around the divers body for up to 7 metres from the centre line between the two Shark POD Probes. The unit is designed to be switched on immediately after entering the water and switched off again only when leaving the water. The device is intended to be switched on and off during a dive, it functions by keeping sharks at bay. The past 12 months have seen some significant changes to Shark POD. Mike and Helena Wescornbe-Down have joined Paul Lunn in partnership with the distribution of the POD here in Australia, hence the inception of Shark Protection Pty Ltd.

A white pointer shark one of the most feared in all oceans of the world.

Since Shark Protection began operations, Mike has spent considerable time working through the various problems that divers have experienced with their Pods. He has identified and solved the initial design faults and is now confident that we are able to offer divers a product that does what it was designed to do and that is repel sharks. Many divers have contacted us with stories of various sharks, especially white pointers, swimming in to investigate and then hitting the field, violently turning around and swimming off rapidly.
It has been frustrating at times for all of us while the various issues were resolved, but hearing success stories of sharks being driven off has made it worthwhile to continue. There are many commercial divers out there, working in shark infested waters, who will not enter the water without their Pod, such is the reliance placed on the unit.

DIVING IDENTITY HONOURED: Sydney. Long time Sydney diving identity, William T. (Bill) Fitzgerald, has been awarded an OAM in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, in recognition of his, service to diving, and to the development and training in the use of life support breathing apparatus”. A member of the original group selected, in 1955, for the Royal Australian Navy's first Clearance Diver Course, Bill Fitzgerald has spent a lifetime helping to further the knowledge of safe diving practices and the proper use of life support breathing apparatus in hostile and alien environments. During his service with the Royal Australian Navy, he served in a variety of roles. In 1947 he volunteered for Render Mines Safe (RMS) duties and learned his dangerous trade from renowned Bomb Disposal experts while working continuously on the demolition and disposal of American bombs, Japanese and British mines and other ordnance left behind in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands after WWII. While serving aboard, HMAS Murchison, during the Korean War, his ship came under heavy fire during a daring penetration up the Han River. Holed in several places above the water line and with three of her guns put out of action, HMAS Murchison, subsequently received the South Korean Presidential Citation for its work as a member of the US 7th Fleet. Following the Korean War, Bill Fitzgerald was dispatched to the guard ship, HMAS Hawkesbury, to assist in the clearance of ordnance and to monitor radioactivity levels in the Monte Bello Islands: The site chosen, 1952 as the proving ground for Britain’s first hydrogen bomb test. Still committed to the future development of Life Support Systems for use in the fields of diving and other hostile atmospheres, Bill Fitzgerald, continues to maintain strong links with the RAN Clearance Diving Branch, the Recreational and Commercial diving communities, and the Diving Historical Society, of which he is a member.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S NEW MARINE PARK: Adelaide. A study undertaken a year after a network of marine parks was put in place in South Australia shows there is a negligible impact on commercial fishing and jobs, and an increase in recreational fishing participation rates. The study also shows the majority of locals supported marine parks. The Australian Marine Conservation Society's Campaigner Fiona Maxwell said "This is yet more evidence that science, economics and public sentiment on our marine parks are solid". "Marine conservation and great fishing go hand in hand in Australia's marine parks and will continue to do so", Ms Maxwell continued. "It's great to see that recreational fishers are out there enjoying our new marine parks. Some of our most iconic recreational fishing destinations have been marine parks for years. We are pleased to see evidence that South Australia's marine parks look likely to follow suit. "During their introduction, there was some vocal opposition to the new marine parks however this report shows we've expanded our marine parks, the sky didn't fall in, and the future for South Australia's marine environment is brighter. "The release of this report is timely, with a review underway of the new national network of marine parks instigated by the Abbott government in response to similar scaremongering. "The new national network was initiated by the Howard Government and finalised by the Gillard Government. But in December 2013 the Abbott Government suspended the marine parks network, pending a review. "We ask the new Government to look at the science and community support for our marine parks and move on from the divisive politics of the Abbott era and sign off on a network of marine parks that enhances protection for Australia's oceans", she concluded. Background Key findings from the report. The report found negligible evidence of loss of jobs or any other negative economic impacts from the establishment of the new marine parks in South Australia. Research for the report included phone based surveys that found participation rates for both occasional and regular recreational fishers are up, compared to the years before the marine parks were established. Early results for catch records from one of South Australia's key commercial fisheries, the southern rock lobster from Kangaroo Island, show that far from the declines in local seafood, catches are up by 6% for the first 3 months of the season since sanctuary zones were put in place. While the region wide impacts on fishers were negligible, it was always acknowledged that some individuals may be affected and compensation is available for those catch impacts that do occur.

NEW WEBSITE PROVIDES TOOLS AND REVIEWS FOR SUSTAINABLE SHARK DIVE TOURISM: Melbourne. The popularity and growth of shark dive tourism over the past decade is undeniable. Divers increasingly want to see sharks and are willing to pay well to have close encounters with these charismatic species. For a critically threatened group such as sharks, this is good news. "Over 100 million sharks die each year due to interactions with fisheries", reports Rick MacPherson, marine biologist, conservationist, and founder of the new online tool Sustainable Shark Diving. I believe a living shark showcased for tourism over its lifetime is better than a dead shark used once for its fins and meat", says MacPherson. The site is scheduled to go live in this month. By creating a free open access portal for tourists and dive operators to help underscore the value of healthy shark populations to tourism as well as highlight best practices and lessons learned from shark dive operations around the world. "Dr Austin Gallagher, Post doctoral Researcher and principal author of a ground breaking global study of the shark diving industry, agrees. "The value of shark diving tourism to local economies and cultures has emerged as one of the leading arguments for the conservation of sharks around the world". Sustainable Shark Diving fills an industry need by providing a free, one-stop source for best safety and environmental practices and guidelines that have been established around the world for the viewing of sharks (and their flat cousins the rays). Some shark dive operations assure close encounter viewing by baiting or hand feeding sharks. While wildlife feeding strike some as controversial, several studies indicate no long-term behaviour change on the part of fed sharks. However these studies were based on dive operators who employed rigorous, well choreographed best practices that ensure both the safety of clients as well as that of the sharks. "Sustainable Shark Diving offers visitors a compilation of shark diving best practices and guidelines", explains MacPherson. "You can search by shark species or by region. Whether you want to dive with white sharks, whale sharks, oceanic white tip, bull, nurse, or any species, you will find the most currently accepted sustainability guidelines for that type of experience". Importantly, Sustainable Shark Diving features a Trip Advisor-like review section that allows divers to rate their experience with any shark dive operation against a set of sustainability criteria that includes safety, environmental performance, staff interactions, and overall educational conservation value. "This tool has enormous potential to begin pushing the entire global industry closer to sustainability and accountability, says Dr Gallagher. "By allowing the tourists themselves the lifeblood of this and any tourism industry to rank the performance, safety, and environmental ethics of operators around the world, the industry as a whole becomes more transparent and we can promote the good and hopefully phase out the bad".

DIVE AUSTRALIA THIS SUMMER: Sydney. Summer has arrived and now is the perfect time to plan your next dive trip. A popular vacation spot for many tourists, Australia is also the perfect place to explore for those who call this vast continent home. A world-class travel destination both above and below the surface, divers have the opportunity to experience spectacular sites and marine life. Whether it's the other worldly corals of the Great Barrier Reef or the eerie kelp forests in Tasmania, Australia offers unforgettable diving for beginners through to technical divers. So what are you waiting for? Explore Australia's depths, there's so much to discover right on your doorstep.                                                                                                       

QUEENSLAND: Home of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, is hands-down Australia's most famous dive destination. Comprising of 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays as well as hundreds of tropical islands, the Great Barrier Reef is a diver's delight. For the more adventurous divers, check out the SS Yongala considered one of the top 10 wreck dives in the world, this eerie structure has become home to thousands of marine creatures including turtles, sea snakes, rays, sharks, giant trevally and Queensland gropers. In cooler months it is also visited by humpback whales. Popular tourist bases include Cairns, Port Douglas and the Whitsundays. The Sunshine Coast has purpose sunk wrecks, sandstone formations covered with corals, ledges, caverns and pinnacles to explore. The regions nearby Brisbane and the Gold Coast area offer great diving including the beautiful Flinders Reef.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Is becoming ever more popular amongst divers due to its beauty and diversity. The Ningaloo Reef covers 260km off WA's mid north coast and is famed for its whale sharks, dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and humpback whales. In all, the Ningaloo Reef is home to 200 species of hard coral, 50 species of soft coral and over 500 species of fish. From Perth, divers can easily access beautiful dive sites at Rottnest Island, Rockingham and Mandurah. These temperate waters play host to wildly coloured soft corals, swim throughs and a startling diversity of marine life you're bound to see nudibranchs, sea dragons, sea lions and a variety of sharks and rays. South of Perth, you can visit some fantastic wrecks; the HMAS Swan near Dunsborough and HMAS Perth at Albany are particular stand outs.

NEW SOUTH WALES: Offers great diving opportunities all the way along its coastline. Up north near Byron Bay, Julian Rocks Marine Reserve, is a diverse dive destination where the tropical marine species of the Great Barrier Reef meet cold water creatures of the Southern Ocean. A 4.5 hour drive south will bring you to the amazing Fish Rock Cave. At 120m long, it is one of the longest ocean caverns in the southern hemisphere and is an important habitat of the critically endangered Grey Nurse Shark. Sydney has world class diving right on the doorstep of this legendary city with many sites easily accessible from the northern, eastern and southern areas. Expect to see gropers, rays, and even the occasional weedy sea dragon frequents the waters of Sydney. Just south of Sydney is Bass Point Reserve, a diver's delight renowned for its shore diving, weedy sea dragons, and lion fish. As you head south, there are amazing pristine sites to explore. For further information visit: tombyronscubadiversguide.info                                             

VICTORIA: is a favoured destination for wreck divers. More ships have been lost along the Victorian coast during the last century than anywhere else in Australia. Apart from the ships that became victims of the Southern Ocean storms, other vessels have been purposefully sunk in the Ship's Graveyard, a scuttling ground lying several kilometres south-west of Port Lonsdale. This ghost fleet includes several World War I J-class submarines sunk during the 1920s and resting in depths between 26 and 39 metres. Located close to Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay hosts some truly amazing dive sites and marine creatures. When diving here, you're likely to encounter cuttlefish, and octopus.                                                            

TASMANIA: Is proof that temperate water diving in the cooler southern latitudes is every bit as rewarding as the tropics. From shipwrecks to kelp forests and sponge gardens, is just as beautiful below the surface as it is above. Highlights include the giant kelp forests of Munro Bight, the Waterfall Bay Caves and the wreck of the SS Nord. Tassie's cooler waters allow for greater visibility, meaning you'll easily be able to spot schools of bastard trumpeter, wandering sea anemones, sea stars, nudibranchs, and weedy sea dragons. Divers also regularly experience whales, dolphins and seals making for some of the most exciting diving in the world.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Temperate waters are among the most biologically diverse in the world. If you're near Adelaide, consider exploring Port Noarlunga Reef, Edithburgh Jetty and Aldinga Pinnacles to experience their amazing macro life. For wreck divers, the 133m ex-HMAS Hobart, a guided missile destroyer sunk near Normanville, provides a fascinating dive which is brimming with marine life. For thrill seekers, check out the Eyre Peninsula for its giant cuttlefish, pods of sea lions and maybe even some cage diving with great white sharks.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SCUBA DIVER TRAINING: Sydney. In today's highly competitive society, we are seeing more and more options for scuba training than ever before. Where once there was just a few training agencies, (most of which were almost household names), there is now literally hundreds of options when it comes to scuba training. It appears that anyone with a cheque book and a modicum of knowledge can create their own training agency. So how does the consumer pick the "right" training agency? I've been in the scuba industry for a while now, and I've got to know and be involved with most of the big players. Back in the day, people would come into my store and ask for their "PADl". This was great because they knew what they wanted, the PADI marketing machine told them exactly how to get it, what they needed and PADI's reputation was above reproach. But in this day and age of internet, the knowledge of the dive client has grown substantially, so now the client will ask for their Open Water Course. To me, this is probably the way it should be based upon the choice of options out there. So how do you know what makes a good agency to go with for a beginner or even "advanced" diver? I could sit here and rattle off the names of the certification agencies, give pros and cons for each, and believe me there are plenty of both pros and cons for every training agency, but that would take far more time than I have to write and you have to read. But what I am ultimately trying to do here is give the diver some basic ideas of what to look for when it comes to finding the right Certification Agency. Number one in my book is to look for a robust quality assurance program. In my store we are affiliated with two of the world's leading training agencies and I can world's leading training agencies and I can tell you that EVERY one of my students is sent a survey when they are certified. The survey is then checked by the training agency and if anything is found to be not quite right, I get notified quick smart. As a store owner and instructor I really welcome this for several reasons. Firstly if I or my staff are doing something wrong or missing something, I want to know about it. This isn't Big Brother, this is the training agency doing what they are supposed to do. If I find out about an error quickly I can fix it quickly. This is a good business model for us as we pride ourselves in turning out a diver, not just someone who can use dive gear. Number 2, I look for them to be independently audited or controlled by an external body, and when I say that I mean a member of, not any "we conform to ISO blah blah blah". For me they must be a member, conforming means that they say they "we conform" but they are not willing to pay the fees to have an independent audit conducted. In my personal opinion this is a cop out, you are either in or out, and if you are out I seriously question why you are out. I look for membership with someone like the RSTC (Recreational Scuba Training Council). In the scuba industry everything we as instructors and store owners do is governed by standards and the big players are not afraid to have their standards examined by independent bodies. The WRSTC (Worldwide Recreational Scuba Training Council) is something I want my agency to be a part of. "The World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) is dedicated to the worldwide safety of the recreational diving public. As such, one of the WRSTCs primary goals is the development of worldwide minimum training standards. The establishment of globally recognized and implemented standards is a valuable asset in addressing local and national regulatory issues.                                                                                                                                                                                     

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TECHNICAL DIVERS ASSIST POLICE IN DEEP SEARCH AND RECOVERY OF BODY: Cabarita Beach. Sometime around midnight on Sunday the 2nd of April bits and pieces of floating debris alerted trawler men working approximately 10 kilometres off Cabarita Beach on the far North Coast of NSW that something was amiss. Peering deeply into their radar screens and talking back and forth amongst themselves on their marine radios it soon became evident that the trawler Nitelinger had vanished. Marine rescue services at Pt Danger Marine Radio Station were immediately alerted to the likelihood of a sinking. While the trawlers in the area continued to search, Pt Danger scrambled their search and rescue vessel Steeber One and by 3am they were on station combing the area. Although it was a moonless night the sea was glassy smooth, no swell and no wind. By sunup nothing had been seen of Nitelinger and the worst fears were confirmed when a large oil slick was sighted in the area where Nitelinger had been trawling the ocean floor with prawn nets. As the morning progressed a full air/sea search and rescue operation involving boats, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters got underway but no sign of the trawlers crew were to be seen. By early Monday morning an object believed to be the wreck of the Nitelinger was picked up on one of the searching trawlers sounders an a gas bottle marker buoy dropped on the site, in what was believed to be about 55m deep. By now it was becoming apparent that there was a distinct possibility the crew may have gone down with the vessel, as the large air and sea search had turned up nothing, although the condition's for a search were ideal. Members of Tweed Heads Police, who were also involved in coordinating the search and fending off the encroaching media, had set up temporary base at Pt Danger Marine Radio Station. By mid afternoon it had been ascertained that there had been only one person on the Nitelinger when she went down and that was the skipper. Family members believed that in all likelihood he was still on the trawler, possibly trapped in the wheelhouse as she sank, and had requested that police divers be sent down to search the wreck and recover the body if it was there. With no police diver presence in northern NSW the Police Dive Team in Sydney were contacted, but owing to the depth were unable to assist at such short notice. (A maximum depth of 50m on air is the limit placed on all commercial divers, police included, and that must be tethered surfaced supplied, not free swimming.) With weather conditions set to take a turn for the worst within 48 hours there was not enough time to get a commercial mixed gas team in place. Time was of the essence. The family, desperate to know if their loved one's body was still trapped on the wreck, contacted local dive operator and ex abalone diver Herb Ilic of Palm Beach Dive Centre to see if he could help. It was now about 2pm on Monday afternoon and they wanted a diver to go out and check the site immediately. Being technical diver trained Herb ascertained at once that it could be done, as it was within the limits of technical diving on air, and called me on my mobile phone to see if I was available too dive it with him. (Depending on the agency concerned, free swimming technical divers, as opposed to tethered surface supplied commercial divers, have been trained to dive as deep as 60m or deeper on air.) I was definitely interested and volunteered my time, but having been diving a closed circuit CABA SM1600 rebreather exclusively for the past fifteen months, Leaving the dock at around 6.30am we proceeded down the coast to where the wreck was supposed to be. Arriving at the site we quickly found the large gas bottle that the trawler had attached the previous day. Looking down into the sea I estimated the bottom must be 63/64m. So much for the reported 55m we had been given as the maximum depth in the area. As we both reached the bottom I began to film as we swam up to the port side of the wheelhouse. Herb illuminated the interior and I swam up to the nearest window and pressed the video camera up to the cracked glass. Sadly enough off to the far side of the wheel house we could see a mans legs. We then swam around the back of the wheelhouse to get to the starboard cabin door nearest the body, checking and filming the rear deck as we swam. Herb approached the wheelhouse door and slid it open, again illuminating the interior with the video light. I swam up behind him and filmed the interior over his shoulder, as the door would not slide open far enough to allow us to enter. Herb signalled me asking if I wanted to pull the body out and bag it. Looking again at my timer I saw twelve minutes had now passed. With only three minutes left of our allotted bottom time I signalled that I did not want to attempt a recovery this late in the dive. I felt that we may not be able to extract the body from the wheelhouse, get it bagged, then tow the bag back to the up line and complete the recovery in the short time remaining. I wanted to leave the body, close up the wheelhouse and come back again in the morning with the sole task of recovering the body as our only objective. I conveyed my decision to Herb who signalled okay and closed the wheelhouse door. We used the last few minutes of our bottom time to continue filming the wreck and then swam back to our up line. The next day we were back on the wreck again, and I signalled Herb to proceed to the wheelhouse door while I held the body bag open. Carefully removing the body all the way out of the cabin, Herb guided the deceased over to me and we inserted him into the body bag. Once closed and secured I clipped my deco cylinder back on and we proceeded to swim/tow the bag back to the up line. Once back aboard Steeber One we reported to the police on what we had done and they proceeded to lift the body aboard their boat. Having completed our recovery we turned our bow toward home and proceeded to punch into the heavy seas back to Tweed Heads.

WHO WANT A DIVING MUSEUM: Melbourne. Mentioned the history of diving and the need for a Museum to be established. This is a very desirable project, that all Australian divers should support and be interested in. Mel Brown the AUF historian holds a large collection, which includes material donated by Ted Eldred, on behalf of the AUF. Ben Crop has a diving and shipwreck museum in Port Douglas, there he has a United Sates Presidential Gift given to Harold Holt by L.B.Johnston. The gift a magnificent spear gun is a part of this interesting collection of early Australian diving history. The Diving Historical Society Australia SE Asia (DHS ASEA) also has a rapidly growing collection of recreational and commercial dive equipment, photographs and written material which it hold on behalf of all Australian divers. I know that Mel Brown has been trying for many years to find a home for the AUF collection, I suggest that we all should work towards this common goal. Why should we have a diving museum? Diving Museums exist in the UK and USA and I am sure in many other places. There are well interpreted displays that show the national diving culture, within the international scheme of things.

Pioneer divers from the early 1950s with rebreathing equipment.

Australia has a rich diving history. I think that this should be available for all to see. If we look at the aims of the DHS ASEA which are summed up the term Education Through Preservation. If the current and recent events are not well recorded then nothing will exist for the education of those that follow in our flipper strokes. While the Diving Historical Society Australia SE Asia is active in collecting the written, photographic and equipment that forms our diving historical record, we do certainly not have any rights of exclusivity over our diving heritage. The membership is a diverse group of individuals and some companies. Preserving our heritage is seen as a good outcome. Who should be responsible? May I suggest that we all are. Should the DHS ASEA set up a museum? If no one else will then yes, but I suggest the better choice should be no, all interested individuals and parties should. Mel Brown, Frank Ziegle and, Ben Crop the DHS ASEA and many many others have fine collections, they should be displayed to the best advantage for all to see. If the owners agree, I'm not suggesting anything other than a voluntary loan or donation system for any material.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

MEL BROWN AM: Sydney. Many members will know Mel Brown as a long-time, founding member of HDS Aus-Pac and previous winner of the Ted Eldred Award. Some of you may also know about Mel's other activities in fishing, spear fishing and scuba diving. Mel has been involved in these activities and related associations for his whole life. For example he is the honorary historian of the Australian Underwater Federation. On Australia Day Mel was recognised for his contribution with the award of Member of the Order of Australia.                                                        

AUF Historian Mal Brown is looking for premises for a diving muesum.

Mel Brown the AUF historian holds a large collection of spear fishing gear, scuba diving equipment, and print material, and is looking for premises to house his display on behalf of The Diving Historical Society Australia SE Asia (DHS ASEA) for the benefit of the diving public, as well as people from all walks of life to view. There are diving museum in the UK and the USA so why not in Australia, per head of population this country has the highest number of divers than any other country. We need somewhere to display this large valuable collection of diving equipment. If you can help with donations of pioneering equipment or most important premises to display these many valuable items please contact Mel Brown at 0242832757 or 0412494186.

TWIN GREY NURSE SHARK CAVE'S AT SYDNEY'S MAGIC POINT: Sydney. The two headlands of Boora and Magic Points just north of  Long Bay Inlet form a somewhat protected headland along the southern side of Maroubra Beach, shields this area of sea from blustery southerly conditions. Along the escarpment between the two points are majesties forbidding steep cliffs that plunge into the Tasman Sea to depths well beyond 40 metres. Along the abrupt rocky foreshore, underwater, lie many huge boulders some larger than houses, there are in parts steep drop offs that descend to depths of 30 metres or more. Platforms of flat rock stretch out like football fields, along other sections are swim throughs, caves, small overhangs, valleys and trenches covered spasmodically with colourful deep-sea-growth, although short kelp is the dominant fixed life along many parts of the shallow shoreline. Scuba diving the area for the very first time is like, I imagine, similar to how early Australian explorers must have felt years ago when exploring this country. It's exciting to feel that you may be the first scuba diver to swim over the reef or along its sand line where no one else has been. I have always loved exploring, the feeling that passes through me is one of excitement and exhilaration, and curious of what lies ahead just beyond my limited vision, drives me. Most times I use a self propelled Apollo underwater scooter to cover long distances, I have seen, large schools of dense fish, I have passed through schools of rays that have taken off in wild flight at my sudden appearance, is fascinating. Passing over colourful deep-sea gardens decorated with sponges, highlighted by graceful fans and metre high whips some adorned by brilliant white anemones, leaves one spellbound by the beauty of nature. I have seen sharks at a distance and close up, curious giant cuttlefish watch from small overhangs. I've skimmed along the top of steep drop offs, down into dark long winding trenches and over huge boulders, the feeling is like no other I have experienced. Exploring underwater is what scuba diving is about. More than five years ago my spear fishing son Garth had told me of a grey nurse shark location near Magic Point situated on the southern side of Maroubra Beach. Then, I took little notice, however from time to time bits of information came back to me about this location and it was not until recent that I had a chance to investigate these claims. My first dive in search of the grey nurse shark location was mid-week. We dropped anchor just inside the point. Sea conditions were calm and visibility average, water temperature fairly cool at about 17 degrees

Three Magic Point Shark Caves at Maroubra South.

It is almost impossible to study sharks in the ocean, particularly the larger species because they are always on the move and generally seen underwater for only a short time. Grey nurse are a little different from other species, they seem to favour caves and large overhangs of rock for shelter rather than swim permanently in open water, although they do migrate. About 350 species of shark live in the oceans of the world, of these there are only a handful that have been known to attack man. Of the more so-called placid shark is the grey nurse, a shark that scuba divers have come to know generally as safe to swim with in close company without being threatened by an attack. They are graceful slow swimming creatures and do not seem agitated when scuba divers are in their presence. Toby Bauer and myself settled on the bottom in 20 metres of water at the sand line and started a search pattern for the shark caves. Swimming to the east we followed a small wall that twisted and turned in all directions but failed to produce anything like overhang or caves. Swimming back to the anchor we decided then to investigate along the western section of the reef. About five minutes into the swim and ascending to 16 metres we both sighted a steep wall. Slowly into our vision came a large overhang, visibility was about seven metres, we could just see one shark on the ceiling of the overhang. It slowly swam off at our approach. The unfortunate part of this young grey nurse was that it had wrapped around its body fishing line that in a matter of time would cause its death. After an hour underwater and both short of air, had little to show for our efforts. Back at the dive location the following week we decided to follow the wall further to the west and stay at a depth of about 16 metres. The water this time was still chilly as we made our way along the wall. About five minutes into the swim we rounded a sharp bend of the drop off and in front of us were about 20 grey nurse sharks measuring more than one in length to well over two metres. Slowly approaching a little closer we could see the cave they were in and numerous schooling fish around the outside and along its drop off face. Almost no scuba divers had before often frequented the area as these sharks paid little attention to us. Most circled for a closer look whilst others remained at the back of the cave. They came so close that we could, if desired, with little effort run our hand along their bodies. Spending almost an hour shooting video footage from all angles and numerous close ups both of us had close to empty tanks when we made our way back to the boat. Again at the dive site for the seventh or eighth time, there were less sharks than before, about ten remained with us throughout the entire dive this time until the last 15 minutes when they swam off disappearing to the east. Finally after measuring the cave and drop off, depth of water around the area, drawing an underwater location and mapping the general reef area between the two caves, I gathered as, much information as needed for my new fifth edition book for Scuba Divers Guide to Southern New South Wales, and collected a number of sharks teeth lying on the sandy floor of the cave. On our way back swam along the drop off passing the first cave to our right, sighting many sharks in that cave as well, it appears they shelter in both. Since the first dive, I have been back many times and not once seen less than about a dozen grey nurse sharks at this location.

DRAGER RAY REBREATHER: Melbourne. DragerRay rebreathers have long been regarded as the next major change in the equipment that we use to dive. Up until a few years ago re breathers have been either unavailable, unreliable or extremely over priced. About five years ago, Drager saw an opportunity to release a rebreather to the recreational diving market which was based on sound principles learnt through years of military and commercial experience. The result was the Drager Atlantis 1 which is still used by many divers today. This unit was updated recently to be now known as the Dolphin, a unit which is once again being rediscovered by many divers. Following the successful evolution of the Atlantis to the Dolphin, Drager have now chosen to release a rebreather designed specifically for the recreational sport diver. Drager's next step with their rebreather range has been the release of a rebreather at a more economical price which has been designed specifically for the recreational market. Their latest entry to the recreational market is creating more interest amongst divers. The design was developed over a number of years before it was shown at DEMA early in 1999, then released midway through 1999 in America. It has taken a further 6 months to finally reach our shores. The design brief for the DragerRay could be summarised as follows, to keep it's operation as simple as possible, look as close as possible to a normal Buoyancy Compensator and provide a sensible amount of dive time.                                                                                         

A new rebreathing unit.

The DragerRay works in a similar manner to its big brother the Dolphin but with some subtle and simpler differences. The first major change is the breathing gas and it's supply. It remains an active flow Semi Closed Circuit rebreather but only has one orifice for the gas to flow through. The DragerRay uses only one gas mix and has been optimised for EAN 50. The duration of the DragerRay is primarily governed by the rebreather's ability to remove Carbon Dioxide (C02) from the exhaled gas as it passes through the absorbent canister. The canister design is an axial flow. This means the exhaled gas flows linearly through the absorbent in the canister. The amount of absorbent is 1.25kgs and this gives the diver a 70 minutes dive time. In all dives done with the DragerRay was found that the canister easily lasts this long with no change in the quality of the breathing gas. The design of the canister allows it to be packed correctly and easily. The quality of workmanship on the canister mouldings is excellent. Unlike the Dolphin, the DragerRay uses over the shoulder breathing bags. These are quite different to the back mounted breathing bags of the Atlantis1/Dolphin. It is a concept which has been in use for many years and is once again proving to be popular with many rebreather manufacturers. It is fairly well known that a back mounted breathing bag system can be quite "positional" with regard to breathing effort. Having the breathing bags "drape over the shoulders, front and back" enables the diver to have a more uniform breathing effort regardless of their body position. On the DragerRay this appears to work very well with only a small change in breathing effort noticed when rolling from side to side. The DragerRay has a total volume in the breathing circuit of 7.5 litres and movable gas volume in the breathing bags of 4.8 litres, this has been found to be more than adequate for all dives in normal swimming situations. However, if you do over breath the bags or accidentally leak some of the gas volume there is a bypass valve in the dosage unit which automatically activates to help refill the gas volume. This is an excellent feature but if overused it will quickly deplete your gas supply.

DIVING AT MT GAMBIER SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Mt Gambier. Mount Gambier, in the South East of South Australia, has long been regarded as the capital of inland freshwater cave and sink hole diving in Australia. Legendary clarity and depth combined with convenient access and year round diving ensured the Mount became part of the itinerary of divers from all over Australia, and with film crews from overseas. This popularity has not diminished and being less than five hours drive from Melbourne or Adelaide means that weekend dive expeditions are possible. In the early days of cave diving, the region became infamous for numerous diving tragedies which befell the pioneering generation of freshwater divers. Inexperience, lack of training, incorrect equipment, and disregard of basic safe rules combined to give cave diving a sinister public reputation. Diving at the Mount was considered to be nearly as suicidal as swimming in the sea with all those sharks, despite the horrific road toll which hasn't really improved.

The 1080 Hole dive site at Mount Gambier.

There is something macabre in reporting about divers being lost in a tight, silty, water filled cave and running out of air. Fortunately diving at the Mount these days has changed dramatically and the average diver can now safely dive the “death holes” of the past and really enjoy the experience. The Cave Divers Association of Australia was formed in 1973 to regulate the sport of cave diving. Standards and training were established as well as surveying of sites and categorisation according to hazards. Modern equipment and techniques have also give the edge to a new generation of cave divers. High pressure steel tanks coupled with high performance regulators, dry suits, BC wings, guideline reels, direction arrows, high wattage rechargeable quartz lamps and diving computers combined with redundant systems and use of the 1/3 air rule are the new safety standards which are in use. Up until now the secret world of cave diving had only been occasionally revealed through snippets of film from intrepid documentary makers like Australia's Ron and Valerie Taylor. Capturing the modern thrill of cave and sink hole diving at Mount Gambier.

HOW DEEP CAN YOU REALLY GO: Sydney. Gone are the days of recreational instructors telling their students that diving past 40 metres is not allowed, because the recreational training agencies say it's too dangerous. It's amazing how much their views have changed in only a few years, as they are all now introducing technical diving training programs. When you're learning, developing your skills and opening your horizons you are only limited by your own personal choice of how far you want to go with courses being offered, not the depth that a recreational agency has decided for you. The main concern in the past with diving deeper then 40 metres was the fear of narcosis being too strong. With the introduction of Trimix this is no longer a concern, as you can select the amount of narcosis you want to accept by changing the mix of gases you're breathing. This is one course that is not YET mainstream in the recreational agencies course structures, but I can assure you it's only a matter of time. With this in mind the technical agencies have been teaching Trimix for many years successfully. Dive shops such as Southern Cross Divers in Sydney are not only the leaders in this field but have been teaching regular Trimix courses for years, not as others tend to do just every now and then. Because Southern Cross Divers does more Trimix dives out of Sydney than any other dive shop, the shop has a large demand for these courses. Some of the better wrecks lie in the 70 to 80 metre range out of Sydney but Southern Cross Divers also does regular overseas deep diving trips and expeditions catering for this type of diving. This gives all its new and old Trimix divers a chance to use their skills and discover new areas of the ocean once forbidden to them. The courses runs are usually based on the Sydney wrecks so you get to do some great dives on courses that are only available to a limited number of divers. This is due to the depth and the need for a Trimix certification to dive them.

THE FIRST 30 YEARS - AUSTRALIAN REGULATORS: Melbourne. The invention of the aqualung by Cousteau and Gagnan in 1943 has shaped a whole new industry and for modern divers it was a momentous occasion, but at the time, for those involved, it was low key. No fanfare, no world release and in fact, news of the invention didn't even reach Australia until 1948, five years after the event. The news did create interest with some keen Australian enthusiasts. One such person was Victorian free diver and engineer Ted Eldred. Ted examined the Cousteau patent and decided he could built a better regulator. By 1949 Eldred had completed his prototype of a single-hose two-stage regulator known as the Porpoise. This was not in any way a copy of the Cousteau unit, but a completely new design. The first manufactured single-hose two-stage regulator outside Australia did not appear until about 1955-56 in the USA. In the meantime, Captain Jacques Cousteau, visited Paris swimming pools teaching diving with his new regulator. One of his students, Michel Calluaud, emigrated to Australia in 1950 and bought with him the details of the Cousteau Gagnan twin-hose regulator as it had been explained to him in detail by his instructor. In Australia Calluaud met up with Ted Baker and George McCann and together they build three regulators based on the Cousteau patent. Made from war surplus materials, these were probably the first three scuba regulators amateur made in Australia. At almost the same time, brothers George and Trevor Davies from Newcastle, built several twin hose units. Michael Calluaud then teamed up with another pioneer Australian diver John Lawson who had a small factory in Gore Hill in Sydney and together they eventually built about 12 twin hose chest mounted regulators. Their 12 regulators were not for commercial sale. They were a club project and used by members of the USFA (Underwater Spearfishermans Association). This group formed two new clubs, The Underwater Explorers Club and the Underwater Research Group. By late 1952 to early 1953 there were no more than 12 units in Australia. The earliest recorded scuba regulator in Australia may have been imported by a Scottish immigrant in December 1950. Ivor Howitt bought from Scotland a Siebe Gorman twin-hose unit that he purchased in February 1949. By 1952 Ted Eldred had formed the Breathing Appliance Company and had the Porpoise regulator in full production. In 1954 Royal Australian Navy evaluated the Aqualung and Porpoise designs at the Department of Defence Standards laboratory in Maribynong, Victoria. The Porpoise design proved superior and more suited to the RAN requirements and was supplied to the Navy as standard equipment The single hose regulator was copied worldwide and by 1960 was outselling the Cousteau twin hose Aqualung. Another notable contribution to our diving history came from Jim Agar, another Melbourne engineer. Jim established See Bee at High Street, Prahran in Victoria in 1953 and the company still exists today as Air Dive Equipment. In 1960 the Breathing Appliance Company was sold to L'Spirotechnique a subsidy of Liquid Air, which owned Aqualung and the name was changed to Australian Divers (Spiro) Ltd and sometime later the Porpoise brand was discontinued. By 1970 the chest mounted twin hose regulator had disappeared and most divers were using single hose regulators. Vests had appeared, but only a few. Stem gauges were still in use and decompression meters had just appeared. In August 1970 the first issue of Skin Diving in Australia (SIA) appeared on our shelves and by 1975 US Divers had discontinued production of the twin-hose regulator. A lot of this information comes from an excellent book titled The History of Spearfishing and Scuba Diving in Australia by Tom Byron along with articles from Historical Diver's Magazines. It is our intention to attempt the impossible that is to create, a reference document for all enthusiasts covering the first 30 years of scuba regulators. We would like to document all of the pre-production regulators as well as identify all of the production brands and the models for each brand with a date from when they were first produced to when these were discontinued.                                                                                                                                                                        

NEW PADI APPOINTMENT FOR TERRY CUMMINS: Sydney. Effective August 1st 2000, Terry Cummins, was appointed Vice President, International Marketing Initiatives for PADI Worldwide. John Cronin, CEO and Chairman of the Board of PADI Worldwide, said in announcing the new appointment. "Terry will chair a new Marketing Committee to be formed at PADI Asia Pacific in the very near future, however his responsibilities have been broadened to include consultation on the worldwide implementation of PADI marketing initiatives. Terry will report directly to myself as CEO and Chairman of the Board of PADI Worldwide and to the PADI Worldwide Executive. Over the last 26 years with PADI also allow me to be able to work more directly with my long standing friends and colleagues in other PADI Local Area Offices on a number of marketing initiatives at an international level. Terry Cummins said, “Needless to say I am extremely honoured by this appointment and am excited about the opportunities that it opens for me”.

Terry Cummins, was appointed Vice President, International Marketing Initiatives for PADI Worldwide.

Terry Cummins has had distinguished diving career spanning almost 30 years and played a major role in development of PADI in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and other parts of the South Pacific. With this new appointment Terry will still serve on the Board of Directors of PADI Asia Pacific. “Although I will continue to coordinate the marketing function for PADI Asia Pacific and serve on it's Board of Directors, my general role will somewhat change. For the most part, I will be taking on a whole lot of new and very exciting challenges as the Vice President of International Marketing Initiatives for PADI Worldwide. The new role will provide me with the opportunity to utilize the international experience that I have gained.

 

THE BEGINNING Of A NEW ERA FOR CCR REBREATHERS: Brisbane. Presently the diving community is witnessing the long predicted emergence of the recreational rebreather. To the point that no one can seriously deny that this is the beginning of a new era in their use. They are fast becoming increasingly more and more common amongst the general diving community. This new era of rebreathers has a hierarchy with the fully Closed Circuit Rebreather (CCR), being the current pinnacle of the rebreather family. I feel that the only thing that is slowing down the acceptance of the CCR unit is nothing more than the cost. The CCR unit is now readily available to those of us that wish to part with the equivalent price of a small family car. As an example the A.P. Valves Inspiration currently retails at $11,250 (GST) and this is one of the cheapest available. This price does including the units training program, which is not always the case. Expensive you may say but when you think that the average technical diver has very close to the same amount of money tied up in their open circuit gear, hard to believe, then consider their recreational diving kit and their deep twin set, plus the obligatory deco slings etc... not quite $11 K but close. The prelude to this present emergence of CCR's was the recreational use of Semi-Closed Rebreathers (SCR's) during the early nineties, though limited in their uses they did prove to be reasonably successfully in the marketplace. The new fully closed unit's based on this ground work will without doubt, re-focus the recreational market towards the use of rebreathers over the next ten years. Already CCR units like the Inspiration and the Prism are presently being dived with in and around Australia. The InSpiration was the first CCR to be specifically designed for the sport diving market followed by the Prism several years later. However, a recent spate of deaths involving divers-using CCR's has been the cause of some serious soul searching amongst all those involved with this type of unit. The semi closed units are of a far simpler design but this is balanced against severe restrictions on their depth and gas duration times. Even so these simple unit's have also over the years had problems with things like jet blockages etc... and have seen some major accidents, and several deaths occurring. In the light of hindsight it is now generally held that it is strongly advisable to use these units with some form of PP02 monitor. Many divers have had fitted monitors like the specially designed Uwatec Oxy 2 or the Drager Oxy Gauge to allow the consent monitoring of oxygen levels and help avert these potential problems. Even with the ever growing list of design modifications that have now been added to improve rebreather safety, many people still have strong views on the level of training that should be given on rebreather units. The trust of the views being expressed is toward tightening the standards in a further attempt to improve diver safety levels.

A CCR rebreather Unit, extremely light and can be worn by women with ease.

Though I am afraid to say that a large proportion of these views, which are being espoused, seem to be based on groundless disinformation from people with very little practical experience on these types of units. A prime example of this annoying occurrence has to be the U.S.A base rebreather Forum available via the Internet, which is unfortunately full of these armchair experts that don't own or even dive such units but have volumes of advice and views to inflict upon anyone that will listen. The presence of these so called experts that I class as “want-to-be's” on such a powerful tool as the rebreather Forum clouds all the very useful information available and defeats the purpose of such a useful forum. The generally held view that a CCR is a more demanding unit to dive is more or less correct, but this does not make it an unsafe unit, in fact nothing could not be further from the truth. A CCR is a very simple device to use and after the initial change in diving style and subsequent adjustment to your normal diving patterns it is one of diving's most enjoyable experiences. But within that very statement lies the inherent trouble with these types of unit's, you can get very, very complacent quickly when diving with them. The deaths that have occurred so far have all been a great shame, but not one has been linked to any kind of fault with these types of unit's, they have all been put down to events such as user error or plain bad misfortune. Lets take the case of one of the recent deaths in the U.K. This person was a very experienced Tri-mix diver that died on a 56m dive. Upon the breaking of the news the diving communities immediate conclusion was that the unit was to blame. This was banded around without any respect being given to the facts or the truth or the deceased families grief. In the end the coroner found that a faulty dry suit inflater valve sticking, which most likely cause caused the death, nothing at all to do with the unit. The question that should now be asked is could the poor fellow have survived the suit blow up if he was not on a CCR? Not knowing the person involved I can only guess at the answer but it is more than likely that he could have. I base this statement on the details that have filtered through about the level of his experience on open circuit, this very competent diver had obtained. Had he been more relaxed with the unit could he have had managed the same problem in the same manner he would have had on OC? Was task loading the cause of this accident? I think that maybe the answers could be yes to these questions. It is only now, after two years of diving such a unit that I feel that I am at ease with it. There are over 1000 Inspiration out there at present and dozens more CCR's of varied types. The rebreather community needs to examine the facts surrounding the recent deaths as well as gather all relevant information from those who have successfully pushed the envelope of these kinds of units. No hysterics, no armchair zealots, just the facts before any conclusions can be drawn. Given the correct level of training a CCR will treat you with absolute respect if you do the same with it. You must follow all the system checks and tests prior to the dive, monitor your PP02 during the dive and clean and inspect your unit after the dive. You cannot slacken your approach to these golden commandments or the unit will bite you badly, trust me I know this first hand. I am a slow learner and I have had a few serious bites. Unlike OC diving where you know immediately that some thing has gone wrong and you have to react straight away, a CCR will give you minutes of valuable time to analyse and correct the problem so long as you have the fundamental knowledge required.

RON AND VALERIE TAYLOR: Sydney. Valerie Taylor was greatly honoured in 1981 by the Underwater Society of America where she received the NOGI Award for Arts and joined Ron as the only husband and wife team to be awarded a NOGI. Early 1982 saw the film release of “The Wreck of Yongala”. The Taylors specialise in underwater action photography, working with large and dangerous marine creatures. Four months of 1982 was spent in the Persian-Arabian Gulf, where the Taylors shot the underwater scenes for six, half hour television educational films featuring life in the Arabian Gulf. The Taylors continue to work on feature film productions, both in Australia and overseas. The Taylors were special guests at an underwater film festival at Luzern, Switzerland in 1984, where they met Hans and Lotti Hass, pioneers in the field of underwater photography. In 1985 Ron shot the underwater segments for a 70 mm Imax production in Indonesia, featuring Valerie and an Indonesian marine biologist. In 1986, Valerie went to Holland where she was appointed Ridder of the Order of the Golden Ark, by his Royal Highness, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Valerie was presented the Insignia of the Order of the Golden Ark at Soestdijk Palace. The award was for her work in the field of marine conservation. In 1987, Ron went to New Zealand to shoot the underwater sequences for a Disney feature called “The Rescue”. After this experience both Ron and Valerie worked on segments for a French TV series, based on the underwater world. These segments involved teaching a French boy to hand feed sharks. The world famous potato cod, (that Valerie worked so hard to protect from extinction), at Cormorant Pass, also appeared in the production. The Taylors also represented the Australian Marine World, on the American, Today Show and the Good Morning Britain TV special on Australia. In 1990, they shot the underwater scenes for “Return to the Blue Lagoon”. In January 1991, the Taylors travelled to Antarctica. Ron produced a one hour film called “In The Footsteps of Mawson”, April 1991. In the Taylors joined with author Peter Benchley, and the American film maker Stan Waterman, working once again with the Great White sharks. This TV special was about the decline of the Great White.

Ron and Valerie Taylor.

The Taylors then supplied pictures to help illustrate Cousteau's book on the Great White Shark. In October 1991 the Taylors worked on another Hollywood feature called “Honeymoon in Vagas”, starring Nick Cage and James Caan. In January 1992, the Taylors went to South Africa for filming on the National Geographic Blue Wilderness series. Shadow over the Reef, an adventure film about swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, in Western Australia, it was co-produced by the Taylors in 1993. Valerie, is also an accomplished artist. In 1994 Valerie produced four limited edition prints, and set up her new company Mermaid Images. In 1995 has seen Valerie write a children's book published in 1997. The Taylors have jointly created another book, full of their photography, published in America in 1997. They also co-produced a new movie, featuring unusual marine life in Papua New Guinea, called “Mysteries of the Jungle Sea”. Ron and Valerie staged the live Tiger Shark sequences for the feature film “The Island of Dr Moreau” towards the end of 1995. Valerie completed a series of 6 paintings which were available as limited editions in US and Australia in 1997. She has also been working on a second children's book called “The Mermaid Who Loves Sharks”. The Taylors completed an hour documentary “Shark Pod” in 1997. The 52 minute adventure has been shown on the 7 Network in Australia and has been bought by the Discovery Channel in the US. “The Shark Pod” received the Jury Award at the Antibes festival in France, Ron worked on an underwater communications system that enables divers to speak on camera underwater as the video is actually being shot giving the image a vitality and intimacy of an on the spot news reader. In April 97 Valerie won the prestigious American Nature Photographer of the Year Award. The Taylors latest book Blue Wilderness written by Valerie and Photographed by Valerie and Ron won the 199 Gold Palm Award for images at the 25th World Festival of Underwater Pictures in Antibes France, October 1999 where the Taylors were guests of honour. On the 15th of March 2000 Valerie was honourer in the American Women Divers Hall of Fame. The Taylors latest series of three one hours “In the Shadow of the Shark” is the story of their diving lives. Shadow of the Shark has been sold to National Geographic Channel 7, Germany and most other European countries. In October 2000, Ron and Valerie were on the inaugural enshrines into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, on the Cayman Islands.

TED ELDRED LIFE MEMBER OF HDS SEAP: Melbourne. The board of the HDS SEAP is delighted to announce the appointment of Ted Eldred as a Life Member of the Society. Ted is a living legend of Australian diving history. Ted started his diving career as a breath holding diver, and during that period was employed to salvage many small craft from local coastal waters. In the mid 1930s he was apprenticed for five years in the design and manufacture of production tooling, followed by a four year engineering diploma after which he established his own business in high pressure die casting and high tensile non ferrous alloys, and later aided manufacture of underwater tanks. During World War Two, Ted worked in the medical profession and assisted with the design and development of anaesthetics apparatus, which included the study of respiratory physiology. By the end of the war, Ted had designed his first two rebreathers, and was involved in testing and trials of this equipment. Further development was hampered however, by the lack of knowledge of underwater respiratory physiology by the medial profession. To overcome this, Ted contacted the Royal Australian Navy to study work conducted in England by Siebe Gorman for the Royal Navy. In 1948, Ted became aware of the Cousteau Gagnon “Aqualung” and realising the potential, he made a study of the patent. He concluded that he could make a superior unit, and by 1950 he had designed and manufactured what is believed to be the worlds first single hose two-stage scuba unit. The new equipment was registered under the “Porpoise” trade name and the first units using disposable oxygen cylinders were manufactured as a home workshop project. By 1952 the Breathing Appliance Co. was formed and full scale production of the Porpoise design commenced in North Melbourne. By 1954 the company had established The School of Underwater Diving and Swimming to provide both training and promotion of the equipment.

Ted Eldred inventor of the single hose regulator.

The R.A.N supported the new school on the condition that it accepted a syllabus designed by the R.A.N. to provide a standard of training useful in the time of emergency. In the same year the R.A.N. designed a set of specifications for their requirements for compressed air breathing apparatus, both the Aqualung and Porpoise designs were evaluated by the Department of Defence Standards Laboratory in Maribynong, Victoria. The Porpoise design proved superior, and along with some purpose designed Hookah equipment was supplied to the R.A.N. as their standard diving equipment. The Australian Navy was the first Navy in the world to adopt CABA, and by 1955 Porpoise equipment dominated sales in the Australian market. Overseas however the Porpoise equipment was little known and many manufacturers were trying to find a way to duplicate the very successful Cousteau Gagnan patent. With the publication of a book on the Great Barrier Reef called “The Coast of Coral” by Arthur C Clark which featured Porpoise equipment, things changed dramatically. The single hose, two stage principal was copied worldwide and by 1960 was outselling the Aqualung. In 1960 The Breathing Appliance Co. was sold to Spirotechnique France, a subsidiary of Air Liquide, which owned the Aqualung patent. The name was changed to Australian Divers Spiro and Ted remained with the new company until 1962 when he left to become a freelance consultant. Ted is retired now and lives quietly in a country town north of Melbourne. The Society is trying to convince him to come and share a social function with us at some time in the future.

FIRST VOIT SWIMASTER (MARES) REGULATOR IN AUSTRALIA: Sydney. As time passed Australian diver, all spear fishermen at the time, became aware of a new invention, but it was not until 1951 that the first sport diving regulator was developed in this country, not as a production unit, but by individual pioneer, divers. They were crude units compared to modern standards but worked extremely well and were the first sport SCUBA regulators in this country. Approximately six years after Cousteau first swam beneath the surface of the sea with his new invention, a Frenchman immigrated to Australia and with him brought the working plans of Cousteau's new regulator, not on paper but in his mind. He was taught to scuba dive by Jacques Cousteau before leaving France, his name was Michel Calluaud. Michel with two other men, by the end of 1951 had completed three homemade working models. The regulators were,tested on December 1st 1951. All three models worked perfectly. It was this date that sport scuba diving first commenced in Australia. Since then the aqualung has opened new underwater frontiers for the average person. It was the scuba regulator that enabled us to journey well beyond the confinements of land and explore another world beneath the surface of the sea. About midway through 1975 I was introduced to a new exciting regulator just released in Australia. The old sporting goods importer, Hanimex from Pittwater, imported the first Voit, Swimaster (later Mares) regulator into this country and was given to a representative by the name of Big Bob Baldwin who at that time was the company's New South Wales sales representative for scuba diving and spear fishing equipment. With a carry bag full of new diving gear Bob came into my dive shop, Aqua Sports at Yagoona, and as all representatives do, started to show me the very latest in scuba equipment. After about an hour of sales talk, and boy could he talk, he casually mentioned that he had a single hose regulator that was new to Australia. Bob told me he was taking it around various dive shops in Sydney to gauge how well it may sell. He gave me a dry run in the shop and to my surprise it breathed like no other regulator I had used before. I first started diving in 1957, seven years after the first home made regulator appeared in Australia, and I had used a number of suspect models in those early days, some stopped breathing once below 10 metres.

Tom Byron with his old single hose regulator, 1975 Mares Swimaster.

Taking an immediate liking to the new regulator with a new venture design second stage breathing system, I asked Bob could I buy it after he had demonstrated to other dive shops. About two months later Big Bob returned to my shop handed me the regulator and said he did not think it would be a good seller because there were many other regulators on the market selling at much lower prices. I will never forget my first dive with the new Swimaster, it was an experience in ease of breathing under the most stressful diving conditions at the time. Since it was first introduced to me nearly three decades ago I have only used that one regulator so much so that I wore out the first stage some time back but still use the second stage coupled to a MR12 (Mares) first stage. I can tell you this, that I will never use another brand of regulator but the Mares, in my opinion, and I have been around the block a few times, this regulator is better than anything on the market today. So, I still use the first Swimaster (Mares) that came into Australia 1975. As for Bob Baldwin, some time later he married the secretary to once State Liberal leader Mick Greiner and then he eventually became a member of Parliament. As for myself I left the dive retail industry and commenced writing a series of scuba diving guide books and CDs covering the east coast of Australia as well as the History of Spearfishing and Scuba Diving in Australia (The First 80 Years 1917 to 1997. These books have gone through a number of editions each including new dive locations and shipwrecks. Now a free CD comes with each book, the discs have the latest information about dive sites, shipwrecks, video music, text, coloured photos, and many underwater maps. These books are distributed by Cap Byron Imports. A couple of months ago I received the latest Mares Catalogue from Cape Byron Imports and purchased the new Mares V Proton as a backup to my 1975 Swimaster regulator. The new Proton is a beautiful breathing machine but I still prefer my old regulator, perhaps for sentimental reason.                                                            

THE SYDNEY PROJECT STORY: Sydney. What is it that attracts divers to shipwrecks? Is it the adventure of diving into the unknown and visiting an artefact full of history, or is it exploring something that no one has seen since it's loss to the sea? Whatever the attraction may be to the individual, 18 divers living in Sydney, Australia share that same spirit of adventure for exploration of the unknown. It started on March 15th 2002 when the group of divers came together and created what has become known as the Sydney Project. When the project was started some members where good friends already diving together at weekends but most of the group had only heard of each other through diving circles and had never met each other before. The Sydney wreck diving scene revolves mostly around wrecks in the 50 meter range, with 4 known wrecks in the 60 to 80 meter range, which allow the use of Mixed Gas diving for appropriately trained divers. Diving on wrecks off Sydney can vary due to the unpredictable weather conditions, as well as strong currents, it can be easy diving or hard core. As most Sydney project members were diving on these wrecks as often as twice a week, it was the lure to dive new sites and maybe even every wreck divers dream, finding and diving on a virgin wreck. With a group like this missing from Sydney's diving scene for more than 6 years, it was to be a change from the norm, and a chance for the less experienced in the group to learn from some of the best divers in the world. With the group consisting of such a big and diverse amount of talent there was always going to be a huge learning curve to cross skill. With an initial group size of 35 divers it was decided that only divers With Mix Gas certification would make up the core of the project and the number was reduced to 13 divers. With so much interest in the early stages it showed that a lot of divers where looking for change from the same sites they where diving week after week. Since most project members only had a brief meeting with the rest of the team, and never having had the opportunity to dive together, we started with the first step, getting to know each other's diving technique and styles. Some members were using Closed Circuit Rebreathers, and with these being new to most Open Circuit divers, it proved an invaluable technology with some Open Circuit divers later converting to the CCR way. Over the course of 6 months, and with delays in weather the group conducted multiple dives on the wreck of the Koputia lying in 78 metres of water. As Winter time came around and the weather in Sydney for diving supposedly being better, it proved to be one of the worst seasons in a long time, with large seas that stopped any diving on the deeper wreck. With more than half of the members being Cave divers, it was good time to travel to cave sites around Australia, to remove the frustration of not being able to do any proper training dives. As the groups diving progressed, it was not surprising that strong friendships amongst the group developed. Considering that everyone in the group dived their own way, with different diving organizations and shops, getting the best divers together to participate in a common interest was not difficult. With everyone enjoying each others company, the less experienced members especially felt they can dive and learn from highly trained and experienced divers without having Ego's to over come. There were great ideas coming from the members on how to improve our diving and after a lot of discussion and a couple of meetings, the group came up with a design for a decompression station, and a method of utilizing support divers. Having put these practices and equipment to the test and trained for a couple of months diving as a team, it was time to extend our experience further. A date was set to conduct a 120 metre dive on a site known as The Peak, a reef 8 kilometres from Botany Bay in Sydney South. This is a Sea Mount extending from 120 metres up to 70 metres and is known by local fishermen as a good fishing spot for pelagic fish and visiting sharks. As the project members don't believe in deep diving for no reason, we chose this spot to assist the fisheries department locate grey nurse sharks, a threatened species on the Australian east coast. We also chose to test the Shark Shield electronic shark repellent for protection whilst on the deco station, a South Australian Company “Seachange” supplied this device. Of course these were only deployed to repel dangerous sharks such as tigers, oceanic white tips, bronze whalers and any others that might decide a diver is an easy meal. December 24th 2002 was the date set for the first 120 metre dive, and as the project gathered on the wharf for embarkation the signs were not good. With sea conditions less than ideal, with some swell and wind picking up, it was not looking promising for the first assault on The Peak. It was decided that we would go out anyway and check the conditions outside the Sydney Harbour Heads. As we rounded the Heads and motored out to the Wave Rider Buoy, the sea conditions looked better and the green light was given to move on to The Peak and shot line the target area. Arriving on site, we sounded the bottom to locate the planned depth of 120 metres, but found the reef actually starts in 110 metres so we dropped the anchor, and support personnel deployed the deco station. The water was a dark blue in colour with virtually no current. The bottom team consisted of a MK15 CCR, a MK15, 5 CCR, one Twin Aspiration CCR, and one Open Circuit diver. Deployment of the bottom divers into the water went well, and it was a nice surprise to find out how clear the water was all the way to the bottom. On arrival at the reef area targeted the depth was found to be 108 metres. After a short time on the bottom, it was time to ascend and do the planned long decompression. Unfortunately the MK15 diver had suffered a C02 hit on descent, later attributed to a missing seal neglected during assembly. The diver in question was recovered by the surface team, resuscitated and flown by Helicopter to the Prince of Wales Hospital Decompression Chamber. With this accident nearly costing a life, it was time to stop and reflect on the project, if what we were doing was worth the effort, and risks. With the Project being under the microscope after this incident, internet forums around the world lit up like Christmas trees, with lots of criticism and support, it was decided that the Project should continue. So with that decision made the Project set out to achieve the goals, and except that risks are something that will always be present as long as the limits of diving are being pushed. Accidents happen even to the most careful, and no one likes to quit, especially after dedicating time and resource to achieve a goal. It was March 2003 before the next attempt was made on The Peak, with two successful dives. After three dives no Grey Nurse Sharks or any other type of Shark have been seen except for a small bronze whaler that was spotted along the wall at 100 metres. With weather conditions stopping three attempts to dive The Peak again in 2003, it was the 80 metre wrecks that have seen more visits that any other sites, with 8 members now diving rebreathers, it has been another learning curve. The focus has moved slightly with some project members now searching for new wrecks, with a Side Scan Sonar that has been purchased, in between deeper dives. It is now up to the weather to decide if the ocean off Sydney Coast is going to reveal those elusive wrecks, waiting for the first diver to see it and touch it for the first time in the new Century. And if, anyone can do it, it will surely be the divers with the most drive and desire to find it, and then another wreck site will be added to the list of wrecks to dive. The Sydney Project Group is such a group of divers with the same objective, not only to find new sites, but also to create safer methodologies for diving beyond what is considered the norm. It is over a year since it all started, and the group now has 16 members with the first female diver to join. She is the only active Trimix certified female diver in Sydney and one of the very few in Australia. The numbers of the Sydney Project Group are slowly growing with more members adopting CCR technology, as the OC technology is pushed to the limit. Currently the searching continues when the sea gives the chance to do so, and The Peak dives will continue to enable all members to build up further experience.                    

BARRY ANDREWARTHA: Melbourne. Born in Newport, Victoria in 1941, at fourteen Barry entered the printing industry as a hand and machine compositor. He began writing and helping produce the USFA Victorian magazine “Down Under” in 1959. In 1960 he started contributing to the Australian Skindiving and Spearfishing Digest. Between 1966 and 1970 he authored and co-wrote five books Spear fishing in Victoria (1966), Spearfishing in Southern NSW (1967), in Northern NSW & Southern Queensland (1968), and A Guide to Skindiving and Spearfishing (1970). In 1970 he launched Skindiving in Australia, several minor name changes occurred due to its growing circulation and influence throughout the Asia Pacific. This has evolved into today's Sportdiving Magazine. Barry Andrewartha and Lindsay Stewart founded Divers Supplies Australia in 1976. Prior to its sale in 1994 the company had become one of the biggest in Australia, agents for brands including Suunto (Finland); Poseidon (Sweden); APEX (UK), Nemrod (Spain), Beuchat-Sub (France), Cressi-Sub (Italy), Apollo and Sea & Sea (Japan), various Taiwan companies plus SeaQuest, Tekna, Underwater Kinetics, Princeton Tectonics (USA). Currently Barry Andrewartha is co-director of Mountain Ocean & Travel Publications which he and Belinda founded in 1987. They edit and produce Sportdiving Magazine, Dive Log Australasia and International Freediving and Spearfishing News, niche diving books, plus special Sportdiving editions. Barry is also co-director of major outdoor products importer Outdoor Survival Australia Pty Ltd and Omer-Esclapez Australia Pty Ltd, importers and distributors of French and Italian free diving and spear fishing equipment. Barry has been honoured many times by his peers within the diving industry with awards that include the Australian Scuba Council Award (TASCA) 1989 in recognition of his major contribution to the Australian diving industry, the Dive Australia, Dive Scuba Excellence Award in 1994 for his contribution to the growth of the Australian diving industry, the International John Stoneman Marine Environmental Award 1997, and in 2000, the Historical Diver SEAsia/Pacific Award for his efforts in promoting the Society's aims.

Barry Andrewartha.

In 1952 I took up serious spear fishing, but it wasn't until l956 that I had my first scuba experience at Williamstown, in Victoria using an ex-WWII Pirrelli Oxygen rebreather. After reading about the deaths of divers using 02 rebreathers, I quickly gave up using that type of apparatus and in the following year bought my first open circuit equipment, an English “Sea-Lion” scuba unit, followed two years later by a Heinke regulator, again from England. In 1957 I became involved with the Black Rock Underwater Group and the following year joined the Victorian Underwater Research Group. I also had a keen interest in underwater photography and in 1956 purchased my first camera, a 35mm German Robot half frame 35mm spring corded wind-up shutter release in an underwater housing, followed by a Leica 35mm camera in a Lewis Marine housing and then a Rolliflex 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 camera in a Hans Hass Rollei Marine Housing. By 1959, after systematically flooding all of them, I went back to serious spear fishing and didn't take up underwater photography again until Spirotechnique introduced the self-contained Calypso-Phot, the forerunner to the Nikonos. Like many people of that time, I had no formal scuba diving training and was totally self-taught by talking and listening to other enthusiasts and reading books. Each dive was an adventure in discovery and my most memorable dive of those early years would have to be The Shaft, at Mount Gambier. We were the first scuba divers to dive The Shaft and we each used a single 72cf steel tank with no contents gauge (only a J valve reserve and the same amount of weight on our belt that we used in the ocean. We did a 235ft dive and didn't have a single problem. It was a great dive, and it wasn't until years later that I realised how reckless we'd been. Obviously Hans & Lotte Hass were my biggest influences followed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Tailliez and Dumas, Demitri Rebukof and the other French pioneers. Then there was, of course, Mike Nelson and the television series, Sea Hunt starring Lloyd Bridges. And in the early days, Australia's Wally Gibbins, Ron and Valerie Taylor, Peter Kemp, Brian Rodger, Rodney Fox, the Paxman family in Western Australia, Barry Funnell and Ben Cropp. As a keen spear fisherman and diver, I was a regular contributor to the Australian Skindiving and Spearfishing Digest published by the USFA (Underwater Skindivers & Fishermans Association of NSW) from about 1956 onwards. In addition, because my trade was in the printing industry, I also contributed professionally to the magazine's production. When the management of the magazine changed hands a new editor was appointed one with a large ego and no knowledge or understanding of printing and publishing. By late 1969 it became apparent that the Association could no longer afford to carry the financial losses and the magazine was closed down. In 1970, having already published five books of my own and armed with considerable knowledge of printing and production, I saw an opportunity to start my own diving magazine. I believe our publications and their content have had a significant effect on the development of recreational diving, not only in this country but elsewhere. While this may be difficult to prove, we do know that the breath hole/bluewater hunting market has increased 20 fold in the 10 years since international Freediving and Spearfishing News was first published. The resurgence of interest in these activities can be directly attributed to the global circulation of this title, which was the world's only English language publication to deal exclusively with those activities, with a print run of 15,000 copies per issue, is directed totally towards active and dedicated divers. Dive Log, however, offers more immediacy in dealing with topical issues and is directed at diving consumers, experienced divers as well as people new to diving and to the dive industry itself.

IMPORTANT SHIPWRECK DISCOVERY NEAR EDEN: Eden. Eight team members from the Sydney based technical diving group known as “The Sydney Project” became the first divers to descend 95 meters onto the historic shipwreck SS Cumberland on the weekend of the 8th and 9th November, 2003. The sinking of the 144 metre, 9000 ton steamship SS Cumberland represents an important episode in Australia's involvement in World War 1. The British cargo ship carrying frozen meat, wool and ore was heading home to the United Kingdom after visiting Sydney, when on July 15, 1917, it struck a mine laid by the German raider Wolf, which had laid a number of mines off the south east coast of NSW and Victoria. All crew and passengers were safely disembarked from the sinking vessel, which, despite efforts to mend her 30 feet (10 metres) long gaping hole, sank off Green Cape lighthouse near Eden while under tow. The shipwreck is not only Australia's first merchant victim of a major war, it also represents one of the most daring and cleverly planned salvage undertakings in Australia's history. The Cumberland sank with about 2000 tons of copper, lead and zinc ingots, valued at well over £300,000. In 1951, the premier salvage vessel Foremost 17, began a 15 month operation which resulted in the successful recovery of 95% of the ingots. A diver was lowered to a much more intact SS Cumberland inside a bell, and directed the placement of explosives and the later use of a grab via his telephone to the surface. The Foremost 17 would later travel to New Zealand to carry out the successful recovery of gold bars from the SS Niagara. Survey work by the CSIRO in Hobart and the National Oceans Office detected the wreck in 2000 during a survey of the Victorian and NSW coast. They informed the NSW Heritage Office of their discovery, and maritime archaeologist Mr Tim Smith identified the wreck as probably the SS Cumberland. Local fishermen were also aware of the presence of a large shipwreck in the specified location, but were unsure whether the wreck was the SS Cumberland or the SS Recina (a Yugoslav freighter sunk by a Japanese submarine in World War 11).

SS Cumberland.

The Sydney Project team, who had been training off Sydney to depths over 100 metres over the past two years, were notified of the discovery and undertook (independently) the exciting task of diving the wreck and confirming its identity. On October 25, 2003, Sydney Project team member David Apperley, in company with his wife Julia, were joined by Melbourne technical divers Greg Hodge and Mark Ryan, and made a trip out to the site to verify the GPS marks. They also secured the charter of a large boat, the 12-metre-high speed catamaran Spirit of Eden. Skippered by two very competent local operators, Peter Cooke and Bret O'Donnell, it was an excellent choice, providing ample deck room and comfortable facilities. The Sydney Project team members to make the historic dive on the SS Cumberland comprised David Apperley, Samir Alhafith, Jason McHattan, Paul Garske and hyperbaric physician Simon Mitchell (all on CC rebreathers) and Kevin Okeby, Peter Szyszka (Plunge Diving) and Mark Spencer on open circuit scuba. Greg Hodge and Mark Ryan were unable to make the trip on the chosen weekend because of other commitments. Kevin, Peter and Mark each wore a five-cylinder configuration that tested their backs aboard the boat. A floating decompression station equipped with two shark pods and extra cylinders of EAN 40 and 100% oxygen hanging at appropriate depths was deployed. The divers were blessed with calm seas and virtually no current for both days a “once in a year” opportunity according to boat operators Peter and Bret. Because of the overcast sky and copious amount of jellies and plankton in the water, illumination on the bottom was very poor, although visibility was about 12 metres on the first day and possibly 15 meters on the second day. The temperature on the bottom was 11 degrees and 15 degrees at the surface. All eight team members had a successful dive on the first day, and five dived the second day. Samir Alhafith and David Apperley operated Kevin Okeby's digital video camera on separate dives, and Mark Spencer took his stills film camera (Subal housed Nikon F4) on both dives. The most exciting discovery was made by Simon Mitchell. Accompanied by Samir (on video) and Paul, he found the loose brass letters “M”, “U” and “E” clear evidence that this was indeed the SS Cumberland. Another exciting discovery was a copper ingot located only metres from our shot line. Unfortunately, Mark's effort to photograph it on the second dive was spoiled by a strobe that imploded near the bottom on descent. Further evidence of the SS Cumberland identity was the discovery of animal bones and twisted, torn metal resulting from the 1951 salvage efforts. The SS Cumberland wreck site is protected from disturbance by the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976, and local police officers in Eden are prepared to enforce this regulation. The Sydney Project team will continue with more survey and documentation dives on the wreck in the new year.                                                                             

SHIPWRECKS SS WILLIAM DAWES AND SS BEGA EXPEDITION: Sydney. On Thursday Samir Alhafith, Dave Apperley and I (Paul Garske) left Sydney at 3pm in Dave's car with the trailer loaded up for a weekend of diving. Our destination was Bermagui, 7 hours drive south of Sydney, and our mission was to confirm whether the William Dawes was lying upside down or on its side. The ship was declared a war grave by the US government after the Sydney Project's first dive last year. It is 126m long and was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 22 July 1942 with the loss of five lives. Kevin Okeby kindly offered to act as support diver and journalist Sacha Dench was also accompanying us out on the boat for Friday's dive. Other Sydney Project divers were due to arrive in Bermagui on Friday night to dive the Bega on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday we arrived at the wharf at 7.30am to load Keith Appeleby's boat Binjarra, a 15m fishing boat. At 8.30am we began the 1.5 hour steam out to the site of the William Dawes over a very flat ocean. After sounding the site for some time the wreck was found to be lying east/west with about 1/3 knot of southerly current running. Our shot line, consisting of a railway track, chain, reef anchor, 160m of 12mm line and a buoy on the top, was dropped onto the wreck. We sounded around the shot line and found that it was probably south the wreck. In what later proved to be a mistake, we tried towing the shot back onto the wreck, it landed beside the wreck on the down current (south) side. We should have pulled it up and started again making sure the shot was up current of the wreck, which is easy to say in hindsight the 80m deep deco station was attached to the shot with Shark Pods and a staged gas of 50% and 100% oxygen. At 11.30am we were geared up and ready to go. Dave jumped in first, followed by myself then Samir. Dave and I were both using twin rebreathers and new Silent Submersion scooters. Samir was using a standard Inspiration rebreather and a borrowed orange monster ride on scooter. The twin rebreathers are fully redundant but Samir's bailout plan included 5 open circuit cylinders, with me carrying one, Samir carrying 2 and 2 staged on the shot line. Another 2 staged cylinders were ready to go on the boat in case he missed the shot line on ascent. Samir's monster scooter, with camera mounted was passed to him. The speed control knob immediately came off the scooter and after that it appeared to be excessively negative buoyant He considered it to be flooded so Samir decided to leave it behind. Samir then had a problem with his off board diluent connector which took sometime to sort out. Eventually all three of us were, ready to go after 40 minutes after entering the water. After our usual rebreather checks at 6m we began the long descent with Samir leading the way. The water was bright blue and I could see probably 40m down the line. As the shot line started vertically I let my scooter float behind me and descended normally. Dave however decided that spiralling down the shot line with his scooter was the way to go, a very impressive sight. At about 80m where the deco station was attached, the line continued down at 45 degrees. It was time to start scooting. At 6 or 7 minutes we arrived at the bottom.“Where's the wreck?” I thought to myself. Perhaps it's at the end of the trench in the sand that the shot was making as it slid across the sand in 130m. Dave headed off following the trench while I attached my line to the shot. When my reel was empty Dave then joined on his line and we continued on, Samir followed behind. We were on the William Dawes at last, but not for long. I had a very quick look around while Dave was making a tie-off to the wreck. Last year Samir and Dave landed on the other side of the ship and thought it might be lying upside down. I could see that the ship was actually lying on its starboard side, (I think). Dave's tie-off didn't last long with the weight of the still moving shot. Sadly it was time to go. If we had overstayed our planned bottom time of 20 minutes by only 5 minutes, it would have added an hour to our already long dive time of 4 hours and 21 minutes. We raced like demons back across the sand behind our scooters, our torches and eyes not leaving the line for a moment. But we had to be very careful to avoid getting entangled in this loose, free floating line. As the shot eventually came into view I could see, Samir's video camera sitting on the sand with HID lights blazing. But where is Samir? He must have started his ascent and kindly left his camera for us. Dave dropped down and grabbed the camera and then pointed his scooter straight up the shot line to catch up with me. A couple of minutes later we caught up with Samir. Our deco stops started at 105m and at 100m I started to feel much more comfortable. It's still very deep, but with all the Sydney Project diving we've done of the last three I'm not sure that we actually achieved anything by doing this. At 90m with a look of horror on his face, Samir screamed, “My camera's gone!” I wasn't planning on telling him about finding his camera for a while, but he looked so upset that I just had to point to it hanging under Dave who was just below us. The remainder of the deco was uneventful but very very long. At 30m we flushed our rebreathers from our bottom gas of 8/75 to 30/40. The extra density of this lower helium mix was really noticeable. From 9m we started our low P02 breaks with Samir dropping his set point and flushing with diluent for 5 minutes every 20 minutes. Dave and I simply swapped to our second rebreathers which were set to lower P02. Kevin made a couple of visits to check on us and bring down some drinking water. The last stop at 4.5m was a long one at 81 minutes. We all boarded the boat after 5 hours in the water feeling tired but well. That night while we were relaxing around the camp fire, other Sydney Project members arrived, Peter Szyszka and Mark Spencer. Unfortunately 2 other members weren't able to make it due to illness. Peter and Mark were to be the only divers on Saturday as Samir, Dave and I were having a day off and acted as surface support. On Saturday the ocean proved even flatter than the previous day, and the water was bright blue again. The Bega is an iron screw steamer that was wreck on 5 April 1908, when it capsized south of Bermagui. It is 58m in length and lies in 75m of water. In ideal conditions the guys had an excellent dive with Mark Spencer concentrating on taking photos of many of the smaller items on the wreck. After returning to Bermagui. The Sydney Project presented both Keith Appeleby and the fisherman with framed photos of the Bega as thanks for their help in locating and diving these two wrecks. Then it was back to Keith's place for a barbecue dinner by the camp fire. On Sunday the ocean was even flatter again. Five of us dived the Bega but conditions were much dirtier than the previous two days. Dave took Samir's monster scooter for a run and Mark took some long exposure tripod shots in less than ideal conditions. All divers spent 130-150 minutes in the water with bottom times of 20-30 minutes. Our expedition debriefing was held at the pub, followed by dinner at the local Thai cafe and then a couple of drinks back at Keith's by the camp fire. Another excellent Sydney Project expedition finished with us all driving back to Sydney on Monday. Thanks to Keith Appeleby and the fishermen of Bermagui for showing these wrecks to us.                              

INTERNATIONAL SCUBA DIVERS HALL OF FAME: Brisbane. To remain dedicated to an ideal for half a lifetime is no easy task, and to accomplish and persevere alone without any measure of encouragement year in and year out against overwhelming criticism and often unbearable odds, requires a great strength of purpose. A spiritual connection (one might say). I could have spent my entire life in a little green cell with padded walls trying to be somebody else's idea of normal, instead I set out to confront the greatest of my fears and became a scuba diver. I discovered that the residues of an abusive childhood and a lack of formal education were only barriers in other people's minds. Who can predict what a person might be capable of.

Neville Coleman.

I never knew what I couldn't do. I just dreamt up a life and lived the reality. I realised that in the water it doesn't matter what shaped peg you are round or square underwater everybody fits. A wetsuit makes us all equal, no matter what colour, creed, shape or status we may be in society. Underwater we are all on equal terms and we all go down and come up on our merits, as individuals. Who, knowing my afflictions could have predicted that in my time in the wilderness I would discover a secret of such magnitude that it would not only design my destiny, but take me to the top of a profession that didn't even exist before my time. Half a lifetime ago, sitting next to the carcass of a giant white pointer shark on a lonely beach in Western Australia (scared out of my wits to go back in the water) I made a deal with my spirit. If he kept me alive long enough to see just one of my pictures published in a book, I would dedicate my life to advancing the knowledge of the aquatic environment and conserving the World of Water. Today there are 65 books with 7000 published pictures and over 100,000,000 reproduced images in print. We both kept our word. Every idea's a survivor, and every daydream, needs a driver. Who am I? Every morning I get up and go to the bathroom, I look in the mirror and there's this strange looking old guy staring back, and he echoes words from the past. ”You know kid, for such a little shit, you sure got a heap of attitude." ”Maybe so”. I answer, “but if that's true, who did all the work?” He grins, “Divine influence of course”. The adventure activity of scuba diving has led this small boy on a fantastic lifetime journey of discovery. On the way he explored the World of Water and met many thousands of its inhabitants, incredible beings with unbelievable lifestyles and behaviours beyond the credibility of science. As underwater explorers we are all privileged to be in a position to enrich the lives of others and sow the seeds of encouragement by setting examples and evolving as role models. I am honoured to be here in the presence of so many who, through their actions, have advanced our understandings of underwater pioneering.                                         

BOB HALSTEAD IN HALL OF FAME: Cairns. Scuba diver Bob Halstead a Cairns resident for the past 11 years, is to be one of four international divers inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2008. The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame was created to recognise those who have contributed to the success and growth of recreational SCUBA diving in the areas of dive travel, entertainment, art, equipment design and development, education, exploration and adventure. The 45 previous inductees include Jacques-Yves and Jean-Michel Cousteau, Hans and Lotte Hass and Australians Ron and Valerie Taylor, Ben Cropp, Rodney Fox, Neville Coleman and Mike Ball. instructor in 1970 moved to the then Australian Territory of Papua and New Guinea in 1973 where with his wife Dinah, he set out to systematically explore its reefs and to develop and promote dive tourism to that country. His Coral Sea Reef Guide is one of the most used reference books to identify fishes and invertebrates on the Great Barrier Reef. He is a prolific writer and prize-winning underwater photographer, and has had published eight books on dive adventure marine life and dive sites in PNG. He regularly writes stories on diving safety and dive adventure for magazines world wide and is well known to readers of Dive Log as author of the "Adult Section" for the past ten years. From his base in Cairns, Bob continues to lead sport diving, scientific and filming expeditions to various Coral Sea and PNG destinations.

AUSTRALIA’S OTHER DIVING PIONEER - JIM AGAR: Melbourne. Australian Ted Eldred has now been recognized by the Historical Diving Society as the inventor of the first commercially successful single hose regulator, the "Porpoise" in 1952. However, Jim Agar is another Australian diving pioneer who followed closely on Ted's heels. Jim turned his grocery store at 438 High Street, Prahran, into Melbourne's second dive shop, the Aqualung Centre. It has lasted longer than any other dive shop in this region. With the help of Black Rock Underwater Diving Group member, the late Lionel Martin and others, Jim developed the unique "Sea Bee" regulator. This original Australian designed regulator had features later copied by overseas companies. Jim still makes regulators today, and has been making scuba regulators longer than any single individual in diving history. The "Sea Bee" design was a single hose, two stage regulator with an upstream demand valve and a piston unbalanced first stage. The low pressure hose was long enough to be used with inverted tanks so the diver could control the air by decanting from one to the other. Jim introduced the first Australian submersible pressure gauge with a unique protruding pin   design so that the diver could feel it with his finger tips.

Jim Agar early pioneer manufacturer of diving equipment.

Jim placed the exhaust valve in the centre of the second stage diaphragm, eliminating a separate exhaust system. It had a rubber front cover which resisted impact damage and acted as an exhaust cover. The front and back were held together by a wire ring clip which allowed the diver to easily clean it. Jim created a unique back pack which consisted of a black vinyl harness and an inverted shaped tube. The tube contained weights that could be jettisoned with the pull of a ring at the open ends, the first integrated weight system. Jim is still in business today. He sold the name "Sea Bee" as well as the diving shop, but continues to manufacture under the name Airdive. He makes a professional up stream design used as a hookah, as well as one of the most rugged and best breathing scuba regulators in the world. It is one which is preferred by the majority of Australian professional divers. Airdive does not market outside the Australian. As a result Jim's current operation is much smaller and more personal than the diving giants, but his quality is go enough to obtain government contracts. His regulators are available with balanced or unbalanced reduction valves, and with a selection LP ports. He also produces tank valves and diving accessories. Airdive regulators are robust and reliable. While diving equipment makers seem to be finding accessories and buttons to add to their product, Jim has been working to take them off. His products are not shiny, nor fancy, Jim does not sell the sizzle, he sells the steak. Jim will eventually retire from the manufacturing business. His regulators may continue to be produced. There are milestones in diving history. The Porpoise was the first commercially successful single hose regulator, and likewise, the Sea Bee and its descendent, the Airdive, has a place in diving history. I visited Jim at his factory and asked if I could buy an original Sea Bee regulator for my collection, Jim said that the "Sea Bee" had not been made for many years but that he might have enough parts to put one together for me. I returned and spoke to Adrian Morris, who works with Jim. I told Adrian of my quest to find an original Sea Bee. Adrian disappeared as Jim arrived and I continued to talk to Jim. When Adrian returnee from the factory, he had a dusty Sea Bee regulator, Adrian said it was a regulator which had been used to test some new design features. Adrian told me he would rebuild and test the demand valve, and Jim agreed to service the reduction valve. On my third visit I picked up the first "Sea Bee" regulator ever sold. I believe Jim should be recognized for his individual accomplishments and his contributions to diving in Australia and the South East Asia Pacific region. Jim is today the longest individual maker of modern single hose scuba regulators in the world.                                                                 

THE FIRST AQUA LUNG - 60 YEARS ON: French Riviera. Although this article is not related to the CHRONICLE OF SCUBA DIVING IN AUSTRALIA. I thought it would be of interested to all divers. In 1943 Jacques-Yves Cousteau and engineer Emile Gagnan invented the unit that eventually revolutionised the sport of scuba diving. One morning in June, 1943, I went to the railway station at Bandol on the French Riviera and received a wooden case expressed from Paris. In it was a new and promising device, the result of years of struggle and dreams, an automatic compressed air diving lung conceived by Emile Gagnan and myself. I rushed it to Villa Barry where my diving comrades, Philippe Taillez and Frederic Dumas waited. No children ever opened a Christmas present with more excitement than ours when we unpacked the first “aqualung”. If it worked, diving could be revolutionised. We found an assembly of three moderate sized cylinders of compressed air, linked to an air regulator the size of an alarm clock. From the regulator there extended two tubes, joining on a mouthpiece. With this equipment harnessed to the back, a watertight glass mask over the eyes and nose and rubber foot fins, we intended to make unencumbered flights in the depths of the sea. We hurried to a sheltered cove, which would conceal our activity from curious bathers and Italian occupation troops. I checked the air pressure. The bottles contained air condensed to one hundred and fifty times atmospheric pressure. It was difficult to contain my excitement and discuss calmly the plan of the first dive. Dumas, the best goggle diver in France, would stay on shore keeping warm and rested, ready to dive to my aid, if necessary, my wife, Simone, would swim out on the surface with a snorkel breathing tube and watch me through her submerged mask. If she signalled, something had gone wrong, Dumas could dive to me in seconds. “Didi”, as he was known on the Riviera, could skin dive to sixty feet (20 metres).

Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Simone on a TV set at the French Riviera.

My friends harnessed the three-cylinder block on my back with the regulator riding at the nape of my neck and the hoses looped over my head. I spat on the inside of my shatter proof glass mask and rinsed it in the surf, so that mist would not form inside. I moulded the soft rubber flanges of the mask tightly over forehead and cheekbones, fitted the mouthpiece under my lips and gripped the nodules between my teeth. A vent the size of a paper clip was to pass my inhalations and exhalations beneath the sea, staggering under the fifty-pound apparatus, I walked with a Charlie Chaplin waddle into the sea. The diving lung was designed to be slightly buoyant. I reclined in the chilly water to estimate my compliance with Archimedes principle that a solid body immersed in liquid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the liquid displaced. Dumas justified me with Archimedes by attaching seven pounds of lead to my belt. I sank gently to the sand. I breathed sweet effortless air. There was a faint whistle when I inhaled and a light rippling sound of bubbles when I breathed out. The regulator was adjusting pressure precisely to my needs. I looked into the sea with the same sense of trespass that I have felt on every dive. A modest canyon opened below, full of dark green weeds, black sea urchins and small flower like white algae. The sand sloped down into a clear blue infinity. The sun struck so brightly I had to squint. My arms hanging at my sides, I kicked the fins languidly and travelled down, gaining speed, watching the beach reeling past. I stopped kicking and momentum carried me on a fabulous glide then I stopped, I slowly emptied my lungs and held my breath. The diminished volume of my body decreased the lifting force of water, and I sank dreamily down. I inhaled a great chestful and retained it. I rose toward the surface. My human lungs had a new role to play, that of a sensitive ballasting system. I took normal breaths in a slow rhythm, bowed by head and swam smoothly down to thirty feet. I felt no increasing water pressure, which at that depth is twice that of the surface. The aqualung automatically fed me increased compressed air to meet the new pressure layer. Through the fragile human lung linings this counter-pressure was being transmitted to the blood stream and instantly spread throughout the incompressible body. My brain received no subjective news of the pressure. I was at ease, except for a pain in the middle ear and sinus cavities. I swallowed as one does in a landing airplane to open my Eustachian tubes and healed the pain. I did not wear ear plugs, a dangerous practice when under water. Ear plugs would have trapped a pocket of air between them and the eardrums. Pressure building up in the Eustachian tubes would have forced my eardrums outward, eventually to the bursting point. I reached the bottom in a state of transport. A school of silvery sars (goat bream), round and flat as saucers, swam in a rocky chaos. I looked up and saw the surface shining life a defective mirror. In the centre of the looking glass was the trim silhouette of Simone, reduced to a doll. I waved. The doll waved at me. I became fascinated with my exhalations. The bubbles swelled on the way up through lighter pressure layers, but were peculiarly flattened like mushroom caps by their eager push against the medium. I conceived the importance bubbles were to have for us in the dives to come. As long as air boiled on the surface all was well below. If the bubbles disappeared there would be anxiety, emergency measures, despair. They roared out of the regulator and kept me company. I felt less alone. I swam across the rocks and compared myself favourably with the sars. I swim fish like, horizontally, was the logical method in a medium eight hundred times denser than air. To halt and hang attached to nothing, no lines or air pipe to the surface, was a dream. At night I had often had visions of flying by extending my a  rms as wings. Now I flew without wings. (Since that first aqualung flight, I have never had a dream of flying). I thought of the helmet diver arriving where I was in his ponderous boots and struggling to walk a few yards, obsessed with his umbilici and his head imprisoned in copper. On skin dives I had seen him leaning dangerously forward to make a step, clamped in heavier pressure at the ankles than the heap, a cripple in an alien land. From this day forward we would swim across miles of country no man had known, free and level, with out flesh feeling what the fish scales know. I experimented with all possible manoeuvre of the aqualung loops, somersaults and barrel rolls. I stood upside down on one finger and burst out laughing, a shrill distorted laugh. Nothing I did altered the automatic rhythm of air. Delivered from gravity and buoyancy I flew around in space. I could attain almost two knots speed, without using my arms. I soared vertically and passed my own bubbles. I went down to sixty feet (20 metres). We had been there many times without breathing aids, but we did not know what happened below that boundary. How far could we go with this strange device? Fifteen minutes had passed since I left the little cove. The regulator lisped in a steady cadence in the ten-fathom layer and I could spend an hour there on my air supply. I determined to stay as long as I could stand the chill. Here were tantalising crevices we had been obliged to pass fleetingly before. I swam inch-by-inch into a dark narrow tunnel, scraping my chest on the floor and ringing the air tanks on the ceiling. In such situations a man is of two minds. One urges him on toward mystery and the other reminds him that he is a creature with good sense that can keep him alive, if he will use it. I bounced against the ceiling, I'd used one third of my air and was getting lighter. My brain complained that this foolishness might sever my air hoses. I turned over and hung on my back. The roof of the cave was thronged with lobsters. They stood there like great flies on a ceiling. Their heads and antennae were pointed toward the cave entrance. I breathed lesser lungful to keep my chest from touching them. Above water was occupied, ill-fed France. I thought of the hundreds of calories a diver loses in cold water. I selected a pair of lobsters and carefully plucked them from the roof, without touching their stinging spines. I carried them toward the surface. Simone had been floating, watching my bubbles where ever I went. She swam down toward me. I handed her the lobsters and went down again as she surfaced. She came up under a rock which bore a citizen with a fishing pole. He saw a blonde girl emerge from the combers with lobsters wriggling in her hands. She said, “Could you please watch these for me?” and put them on the rock. Simone made more dives to take lobsters from me and carry them back to the rock. I surfaced in the cove, out of the fisherman's sight. Simone then claimed her lobster. She said, “Keep one for yourself, Monsieur. They are very easy to catch if you do as I did”. Taillez and Dumas questioned me on every detail, we revelled in plans for the aqualung. Taillez pencilled the table cloth and announced that each yard of depth we claimed in the sea would open to mankind three hundred thousand cubic kilometres of living space. Taillez, Dumas and I had come a long way together. We had been eight years in the sea as goggle divers. Our new key to the hidden world promised wonder, and we recalled the beginning.

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VALE RON ISBEL:  Gladstone. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority named a reef in the Mackay/Capricorn Management Area of the Marine Park "Ron Isbel Reef". Ron Isbel was a well respected charter boat operator focusing mainly on the southern Great Barrier Reef. Naming a reef in the Swains Reef is a fitting tribute to his contribution of knowledge, passion and ability to foster worldwide recognition of the Great Barrier Reef. Ron Isbel passed away on 10 November 2008, aged 79.

PRO DIVE CAIRNS. 120,000 PADI CERTIFICATION: Cairns. Pro Dive Cairns made history in the global diving industry in September when they issued their 120,000th PADI certification. This is a remarkable achievement and will certainly be remembered by both Pro Dive Cairns and PADI Asia Pacific Professional Association of Dive Instructors) as a significant milestone in time. Danny Dwyer, Manager, Marketing & Business Development PADI Asia Pacific paid tribute, "Our entire team at PADI would like to congratulate the team at Pro Dive Cairns on reaching the remarkable milestone of 120,000 PADI certifications. While 120,000 PADI certifications is an outstanding numerical achievement, we applaud Pro Dive Cairns commitment to teaching safe and responsible dive courses as their first priority. Pro Dive Cairns offers its customers a world class training facility, retail store and dive vessels which has obviously proved very popular with visitors to the Great Barrier Reef looking for comfort and quality. Since 1983 our two companies have shared a strong and successful business partnership and we're looking forward to sharing more success in the years ahead". In 2011, Managing Director Rod Punshon and his staff celebrated 28 years of dedication and commitment to quality scuba diver training and dive trips on the Great Barrier Reef Commenting on the company's milestones, Rod announced, "We are extremely proud of our achievements and the reputation we've built over the years. The fact that so many people have chosen Pro Dive Cairns to teach them to dive or take them diving on the Great Barrier Reef is very satisfied reflects our ongoing philosophy of quality over quantity and a commitment and dedication to providing the best possible dive education and live aboard dive trips over many years". Our longevity in business over the past 28 years, especially in challenging times like the present, is an outstanding testament to the dedication and professionalism of all our staff, as well as the quality and reputation of our product.

DEEP SEA DIVERS DEN: Cairns. (DSDD) reached a remarkable milestone recently when they certified their 100,000th PADI student since becoming a PADI Dive Centre. Teaching 100,000 PADI students through one company is an extremely rare event with only a few of the 6,000 PADI Dive Centres around the globe having reached this mark in the past. DSDD has operated from Cairns, Australia for over 30 years, making them one of the longest established diving and snorkelling companies in Australia. PADI Asia Pacific's Director of Marketing & Business Development, Danny Dwyer remarked, "While 100,000 students is an extremely impressive achievement by itself it is the quality of the courses taught at Deep Sea Divers Den that is most pleasing. Over the past 20 years DSDD have received numerous awards from PADI including the outstanding contribution to diver education, the outstanding contribution to customer service and the outstanding contribution toward Instructor Development awards. DSDD has consistently shown a very high standard of diver education and customer service which is why more than 100,000 students have taken their PADI course with this company. DSDD is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre and has been awarded PADI Career Development status, the highest rating awarded to any dive store in recognition of continued diver training excellence. Since becoming a PADI IRRA Member in 1990, DSDD has conducted approximately 1,500 PADI professional level courses and over 50,000 Discover Scuba Diving experiences. Owner and Director of Deep Sea Divers Den, Tony Physick commented, "Along with all my staff, I am extremely proud to have reached this milestone of 100,000 PADI students. I believe that this huge achievement is due to the consistent level of service, professionalism and dedication that all the staff at DSDD has put in during the 30 plus years that we have been operating. Deep Sea Divers Den has an impressive fleet of vessels, from our day trip vessel Reef Quest to our live aboard Ocean Quest or that take Deep Sea Divers Den students on a day trip vessel, Reef Quest proudly display the be best described as a floating 4 star hotel. The acquisition of Taka has been a great compliment to us, offering the best in extended live aboard trips to the Cod Hole and the Coral Sea. We are proud to have been associated with PADI for many, many years and look forward to continuing this to bring bigger and better opportunities to diving in Cairns.

THE WRECK ZANONI: Adelaide. If you haven't heard of the barque Zanoni it's one of South Australia's six hundred ship wrecks and it remained undiscovered until two local divers Ian O'Donnell and John McGovern with the help of a retired fisherman Rex Tyrrell found the final resting place of the Zanoni that had eluded people since 1867. O'Donnell and McGovern offered a reward for the location of the composite, three masted barque built in Liverpool England by Thomas Royden and Son. Launched on the 4th November 1865 she measured 45 metres long 8 metres in breadth and 5.metres in depth and was 338.44 tons. The Zanoni was on her way back down St Vincent Gulf bound for England on the morning of the 11th February 1967 with a cargo of wheat from Port Wakefield when a violent squall hit the ship. She was thrown beam on and sunk within ten minutes of the squall hitting. The crew of thirteen miraculously were able to make their way to a life boat that had drifted free and were picked up that night by the barges Powles and Four Brothers with no lives lost. The Zanoni sank within sight of land but a search by the Harbour Master on the 15th February to place a buoy to mark the wreck site proved unsuccessful and she became lost until rediscovered on the17th April 1983 by O'Donnell, McGovern and Tyrrell. Today the Zanoni lies undisturbed on her port side ten miles off Ardrossan in about eighteen metres of water on a silty bottom. The site has moderate currents which generally cut the under water visibility down to an average of 4-5 meters. It is best to dive it on a dodge or slack tide. It is in remarkably good condition with only parts of the hull collapsed. All the fittings still remain along with the crew's possessions. The wreck was a favourite fishing spot for local fishermen for a number of years without them knowing its true identity. Because of the importance of the wreck site and the possibility of anchor damage there is a 550 metre protected zone around the Zanoni and access is normally prohibited. However a permit to dive can be obtained through the Heritage SA section of Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Although getting a permit and picking a tide seems a hassle a visit to the Zanoni is a well worth the time and effort for any diver who is interested in maritime history. It goes without saying that the Zanoni has been declared an historic shipwreck under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1981.                                                                 

THE WRECK OF LENA: Perth. Many of you may recall the story of the Lena which encapsulated the nation back in 2002, however, for those of you who don't know the story it began in February of that year. The Lena was a fishing boat from South America that was detected illegally fishing for Patagonian Tooth fish in Australian waters about 4000 km south of Albany, Western Australia. The Lenawas chased and finally intercepted by HMAS Canberra in what is believed to have been the longest maritime pursuit in modern history. During the chase the crew even attempted to disguise the Lena by repainting her name and changing it to the Anna. Luckily our Navy was on the ball and the ruse didn't fool them and they finally intercepted her and the crew were arrested for illegally fishing in Australian waters. The Lena was then escorted to Fremantle where she was held at Henderson shipyards until the Bunbury Chamber of Commerce (BCC) became aware of plans by the Australian Federal Government to sink her in deep water of the Western Australian coast. The BCC immediately sent a request to have her sunk in waters close to Bunbury and turning it into a dive site for scuba divers of all levels. The site chosen was 3 nautical miles from Bunbury in 17 meters of water. The request was granted and in December of that year the Lena was moved to the Bunbury Port and work immediately began on preparing her to become a dive wreck. Over the next 12 months a team of volunteers dive industry members and work for the dole participants worked feverishly to prepare her for the scuttling and ensuring that she was safe and environmentally friendly. Then at 12:17 pm on the afternoon of 19 December 2003, exactly 12 months to the day she arrived in Bunbury, she was finally dispatched to the ocean floor settling upright in the water at a depth of 18 meters facing in an almost east west direction with her bow facing to west. Within hours of her settling the first inhabitant, False Tasmanian Blennies had made her their home. Over the ensuing years significant marine growth has occurred with hard and soft corals, sponges and other growth taking hold and turning the Lena into an underwater micro habitat. There are schools of fish that now encircle the wreck, including a school of Porcupine fish, normally these are solitary fish but for some reason live in a large school off of the stern of the wreck. On Sunday 6 December 2009, in celebration of the sixth anniversary of the sinking of the Lena a group of 12 intrepid scuba divers from WA Divers meet at Coastal Water Dive in Bunbury for a day of diving and fun.

MARES OFFERS REBREATHER: Sydney. Mares is celebrating its 50th anniversary by introducing the Azimuth, the latest entrant in the semi-closed-circuit re-breather field. The back pack style unit can be balanced with weights for comfortable dives of up to 180 minutes at depths to 30 metres using the two standard 200 bar/4 litre steel tanks filled with nitrox 40. The gas is slowly and continuously injected into the breathing loop to replace the carbon dioxide that is scrubbed by soda lime from exhaled air. Any excess gas is automatically vented from the system's breathing bag. A manual injection system allows divers to inject extra gas if volumes are decreased rapidly during a quick descent. The unit is available through Mares Agents in Australia contact Cape Byron Imports.

SHARK SNATCHES BODY:  Sydney. A shark ate a body as water police tried to recover it from Sydney waters. Two fishermen spotted the body floating about 2 kilometres off Kurnell about 1.00 am. As water police approached, a 5-metre great white shark appeared, lunged at the corpse and bit into it. The shark continued feeding for 20 minutes then dragged the remains under and disappeared. A police representative said it was highly unusual to see a great white in the area. Police estimated the body, that of a black haired adult in a grey shirt, had been in the water for possibly three weeks. A portion of human tissue police recovered will be DNA tested.

PRO EAR 200. The Diving Mask of the Future: Brisbane. For many divers, from beginners to the most experienced Professionals, ear problems affect their ability to enjoy their sport more than any other health issue. More dives are aborted and more diving holidays shortened due to ear problems than any other cause. Water and pressure effect every divers ears. Infection and discomfort to the ear are the most common health risks involved in diving often involving permanent damage and aborted dives. Many divers find they must interrupt expensive, long awaited diving holidays due to ear problems. The cost in terms of considerable money and unfulfilled expectations is enormous. Pro Ear 2000 is the world's only practical ear protector for divers. Pro Ear 2000 was designed and developed by diving physicians, engineers and instructors at Safe Dive Ltd in order to enhance diver safety and comfort. Pro Ear 2000 unique design and performance allow divers to keep their ears dry thereby improving diver comfort and preventing painful ear problems, improving hearing and sense of direction underwater simplifies equalisation and pressures while diving.

SCUBA DIVING CYLINDERS STILL MANUFACTURED IN AUSTRALIA: Sydney. CIG Gas Cylinders, the only manufacturer of high-pressure aluminium dive cylinders in Australia has recently been acquired by British Aluminium Limited, trading as Luxfer Gas Cylinders, a division of British Aluminium Australia Pty Ltd. Luxfer manufactures 65, 75, 85 and 95 cf dive cylinders, as well as 20 cf pony bottles. “CIG has had a strong relationship with Luxfer for 20 years, operating under a sales, marketing and a technology licensing agreement, “said David Day, Manager of Sales and Marketing for Luxfer Gas Cylinders. “This acquisition combines our successes in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region with the leading worldwide producer of high-pressure gas cylinders”. Luxfer has two manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom and three plants in the United States. Luxfer Gas Cylinders will continue to operate from its manufacturing facility located in Kings Park, west of Sydney. CIG Gas Cylinders was formerly a division of BOC Gases Australia Limited.

WHITE SHARK PROTECTED IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Adelaide. South Australia has joined Tasmania, New South Wales, and Queensland by recently protecting the great white shark. It also looks promising in Victoria, where the Humane Society International has nominated them for listing under the States Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, a decision is expected around the end of July. This would dramatically cut down the trade in jaws, teeth, and fins.

SAND MINING DUMPED AT PORT HACKING: Sydney. In a sudden back flip the New South Wales Government announced on February 3 that the controversial proposal by Metromix (a CSR Pioneer subsidiary) to mine the waters off southern Sydney would not be allowed to start. Metromix's proposal was to mine 100 million tonnes of sand over the next 50 years off Botany Bay and the Royal National Park. Only four days after the start of a Commission of Inquiry, the Minister for the Environment, Chris Hartcher, announced in Parliament that the Government had decided to refuse licenses under the Pollution Control Act and the Clean Waters Act. Because of concern that sand mining could result in the loss of sand from Sydney's beaches. It would also upset line fishing, scuba diving, spearfishing, and a number of related water sports

NINGALOO MARINE PARK AT RISK FROM OIL DRILLING: Perth. Permits have been issued to oil exploration companies to pursue onshore and offshore oil and gas exploratory drilling on the North West Cape. There are also future proposals to carry out drilling at a location within a couple of hundred metres of the Ningaloo Marine Park boundary. Ningaloo Reef and the waters surrounding the North West Cape teem with marine life, including hundreds of different species of corals. Other permanent inhabitants include dugongs, turtles, manta rays and dolphins. At certain times of the year this area is home to whale sharks and humpback whales, and during summer turtles enter their breeding season. Exploration developments endorsed by the Western Australian government seriously threaten this untouched marine environment. Should oil be discovered, or limestone mining be allowed to go ahead, then the increased shipping would increase the likelihood of an oil spill.

SHARKS IN CRISIS: Sydney. As usual, the autumn diving at Forster and Seal Rocks NSW has been fantastic. With warm clear water, an abundance of fish life and grey nurse sharks, it doesn't get much better! As most people maybe aware the grey nurse shark population throughout NSW has had a dramatic decline, proof of which a recent survey conducted by most dive centres in NSW found that the total count throughout NSW was only 136 sharks at known dive sites. These magnificent creatures have dwindled in their numbers to such a level that they no longer exist at many dive sites. From this survey, the minister for Fisheries Mr Bob Martin is looking at taking the grey nurse’s off the protected list, by passing vulnerable. status to threatened,as well as looking at declaring marine reserves up and down the coast. Something has to be done and done very soon, Having said this, we at Fisherman's Wharf Forster are very lucky to have a dive site like the Pinnacles where the numbers of grey nurses have never been higher around 50 sharks, as well as about 10 sharks at another dive site, at Forster, and that’s almost half the known shark population at two dive sites! The reason for the numbers we believe has a lot to do with the mooring we placed there some time ago creating its own little environment with huge schools of jewies, kingfish and smaller tunas and bait fish, this in turn attracts the larger predators including the grey nurse. With the cooperation of the local pro fishermen this area has become more productive, not only for them with more fish to catch but for us as divers with increased shark numbers. As an environmentally aware diving community we need to applaud any measures taken to protect these creatures and to make sure the sharks we see are not just the ones in Aquariums.

SEA LIFE STAFF RESCUE SHARKS: Sydney. The 1.2m shark had fishing hooks caught in its mouth which would have caused serious infection and eventual death. "Spot a Shark" with other recreational divers who frequent the area identified the creature as being distressed. The Sea Life team's detailed plan to remove the hooks included precise health and safety precautions due to working around the shark's mouth and large sharp teeth. Staff from Manly Sea Life Sanctuary and Sea Life Sydney Aquarium eased the female juvenile into a plastic sack to bring it to the surface via a stretcher, move it into a tub on the boat deck, remove the hooks from its mouth and give antibiotic and vitamin treatment. In February this year the team made its first ever rescue of a wild grey nurse they named Tangles which had its head and gills tangled in elastic bungee type cord. Tangles, looking healthy and healing well, belongs to the same Magic Point colony as the second shark and was swimming close by during the rescue.

WHO IS REG LIPSON: Melbourne. He's a marine naturalist with humour, a renowned educator, a noted after dinner speaker, photojournalist, author, and TV presenter. Reg has been interested in marine creatures since he was four years old and began diving in 1959. He's spent over 9,500 hours (about four working years) observing and photographing the fascinating and bizarre lives of marine creatures. His interest in animals has made him an equally keen man/woman watcher and his zoologist's view of human behaviour is incisive, illuminating, and often very humorous. For 22 years Reg was Senior Lecturer and Head of Science Education Department at Hawthorn Institute of Education (now Hawthorn Campus, University of Melbourne). In 1972 he introduced Marine Studies into science teacher training, the first time worldwide that knowledge of the sea was considered integral to training science teachers. In 1975 Reg, despite heavy bureaucratic opposition, became the first educator to take children under the sea as part of their school science studies. Marine studies gained educational credibility and proliferated in primary, secondary and tertiary programs in Australia and overseas. In 1991 he was the inaugural recipient of the Dive Industry and Travel Association of Australia's Scuba Excellence Award, in 1992 he received the Australian Scuba Council's TASCA Award in 1993 received PADI Internationals Project Aware Award for services to environment and education, in 1994 he was inducted into the USA Scuba Schools Internationals Hall of Fame as a recipient of SSI's Platinum Pro 5000 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Marine Education and Diving and received a Unique Award (the only one ever given) from the divers of Australia for his contributions to their education. In May 2001 Reg received the inaugural National Parks Victoria's Excellence in Marine Education Lifetime Contribution Award.

Reg Lipson.

He's written several books and in 1998 was chosen by Australia Post to write The Living Ocean (the best stamp issue celebrating the United Nations International year of the Ocean. Reg is still pursuing what he loves best: diving, studying his beloved marine animals, communicating his passion and concern for the future wellbeing of our oceans to all, and watching the relationships between human male and female animals. He's a specialist marine nature study instructor (approved by AUSI, NASDS, NAUI, PADI AND SSI) and conducts his unique programs and study tours for all marine enthusiasts internationally. He's an informative and entertaining speaker, and was Master of Ceremonies of every Oceans, Scuba Expo, Underwater Explorers divers congresses, Heron Island Dive Festivals, the Great Barrier Reef Dive Festival, the Celebration of the Oceans in Fiji and the Off the Wall Dive Festival 2000 and 2001 in Malaysia and many other events since 1974. Reg's greatest gift, apart from his amazing natural history expertise, is his ability to communicate, educate, and entertain.

AUSTRALIAN TO DIVE SOLO AT THE NORTH POLE: North Pile. Marcus Fillinger from Canberra, became the second person to dive solo and unassisted at the Geographic North Pole. At 9.14am EST this message was received from Marcus via Iridium sat phone direct from the North Pole: “I've done the dive, I think it was the world's coldest dive too, it's so cold my weather gauge has frozen I have frost on my teeth and icicles from my nose. Feel good getting picked up by the Russians and heading back to Borneo (ice based runway) later today. Marcus left Australia on the 11th April on an expedition to become the first to dive solo and unassisted under the ice at the Geographic North Pole. Using Russian ice base “Borneo” as his launching point, Marcus was airlifted to 89°, from here he dragged a pulk (Kevlar sled) with his gear weighing over 110 kg to a suitable dive site at the Pole. During the phone call to support in Australia (Imogen Scott) Marcus described the ice as moving all around him and cracks appearing as he spoke.“I could hear the ice cracking and great chunks of ice and snow falling into the water through the sat phone connection. He sounded relaxed and obviously extremely proud of his accomplishment, but very cold. And would call when he was safely back at Borneo”, said Imogen. After months of planning and training Marcus successfully completed this incredible expedition and returned to Canberra on 28th of April. Marcus will now complete a documentary featuring the dive and other spectacular images from the Arctic. Background information about Marcus and his expedition is available at www.emulsion.net.au. The expedition has been largely self funded with support from Mares, Cape Byron Imports and the National Museum of Australia.

SHARK FINS IN AUSTRALIA FINALLY STOPPED: Darwin. Most Australians would be shocked to hear that until recently shark finning was still occurring in northern Australia. Shark finning is big business. Shark fins are an oriental delicacy sold at premium prices. Traditionally, the fins are cut off the shark and the shark is thrown back into the water, dead or alive. The shark fins themselves account for only about 1.5 percent of the whole shark body mass. The remaining 98.5 percent was simply thrown overboard. Pound for pound, shark fin is one of the most expensive foods in the world. In the United States a bowl of shark fin soup can for Aus $70-$150. For trophy species like the whale shark and basking shark, a single fin can fetch $10,000 to $20,000. Worldwide community opposition to this wasteful and cruel practice is now resulting in many countries banning the deliberate targeting of sharks for their fins and the processing of sharks at sea. In northern Australia the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) successfully campaigned to stop this practice and is continuing work to prevent unmanaged fishing practices from wiping out our already threatened shark species.

DIVE STORES DOOMED TO DIE AS INTERNET KILLS CUSTOMER SERVICE: Sydney. As a dive shop owner who is regular communication with other owners, I have discovered a very disturbing trend within the dive industry. As a customer, you may not realise that by selling dive equipment within dive stores we effectively subsidise the cost of dive courses, air fills, boat dives and club events. If however dive shops were to begin to lose sales to other sources the above mentioned services will be jeopardised or even worse, the subsidy removed items may have to be sold at there true value. It's perceived that dive shops make a fortune, but the reality of the circumstance is that most dive shops run at less than a 10% profit margin. And when you consider that the stores trade 7 days a week and owners work in their business in excess of 75 hours per week, it has been questioned by many as to why they continue to battle onward. The crux of the problem is this, many customers have discovered that they are able to purchase diving equipment via the Internet at prices, in some cases, far cheaper than in Australia, and let me state that I understand the temptation in purchasing offshore. But, there are disadvantages on many levels that are often not considered. Some obvious disadvantages include the uncertainty of where the product is coming from, the inability to try varying sizes and options, and the risk of credit card fraud. Couple this with the fact that dive equipment purchased offshore is not covered by Australian warranties and the shine quickly disappears from what appears to be a great buy. Some dive stores have been frustrated that customers are having design their ideal scuba kit with all the recommendations of their correct sizes only to find out that they are using this information to purchase offshore. It can often be demoralising to find out that not only have you spent an hour and a half with the customer but also that a regular customer has gone offshore. As we said there are some initial disadvantages. But the disadvantages run much deeper and with more sinister long term ramifications. Imagine it is 15 years from now. The majority of dive equipment purchases are made via the Internet, what are the ramifications for you and your dive store? As we have already stated retail sales subsidise many of the other services offered by dive shops. Firstly, services will be sold at their true value making many services too expensive for the average diver… i.e. Open Water Courses over $1000, Specialty courses and instructor courses at levels that will require mortgages, Boat dives well over $150 and club events at true market value and so on. In fact it may get to the point where there are specialised SCUBA Academies that simply teach diving and specialty boat diving facilities, all have to remain viable from just one source of income. Taking this scenario to a logical outcome means that because of the high cost of entry to diving fewer people will learn to dive, smaller dive shops will struggle to survive and eventually close, larger dive shops will be forced to increase the cost of the services they provide and diving in general will become beyond the financial reach of the average man and women. So what can you do, as a diving consumer? We don't expect you to pay inflated prices for dive gear, but we do ask that you consider that by supporting your local dive shop you are supporting yourself. Give your local dive store the chance to service your needs and appreciate the fact that to get highly skilled professional service may cost you a little extra, and that with this service will come full back up, warranty and after sales service.

IN MEMORY LENI RIEFENSTAHI 1902-2003: Bavaria. Although this article is not Australian History it is important to include it in the Chronicle of Australian Diving. It shown the remarkable talent of this outstanding woman on the world stage of scuba diving and underwater photography. The career of one of the most remarkable women ever associated with recreational diving and underwater photography came to a close last last year, when Leni Riefenstahl passed away in Bavaria. She was 101 years old. A woman of not only immense vision, but also great determination and will Riefenstahl learned to scuba dive in Mombassa, with the Poseidon Nemrod Club of Hamburg. To qualify for training she stated on her application form that she was only 52, but was in fact 72 years old. Once certified, she went on to log thousands of dives and took thousands of underwater photos. Drawing inspiration from Douglas Faulkner's book “The Living Reef”, she used her immense catalogue of images to produce the large format book “Coral Gardens” in 1978. In 1990 at the age of 88, her second diving title, “Wonders Underwater” was released. Accompanied by her long time companion Horst Kettner, she was still diving last year at 100 years of age. Riefenstahl was born in Berlin in 1902, and eventually made her mark in film as an actress, producer and director. When she was only 30 years old she starred in the self directed film The Blue Light, which brought her international acclaim and attention. Riefenstahl's undeniable talent impressed Adolf Hitler, who hired her to produce four films. The best known of these are Triumph of the Will, her acclaimed master work that recorded the Nazi's 1934 Rally at Nuremberg, and Olympia, her study of athletic movement and grace at the 1936 Olympic Games in Burlier despite winning several prominent film industry awards, the films were to eventually stifle her artistic career, which went into decline after the end of WWII. It was rekindled on an international level in the 1960s with the publication of her books on the Nuba of Sudan, where she had lived. Starting in 1974, Riefenstahl became totally committed to diving and underwater photography, and was occasionally encountered by HDS members in remote and exotic dive sites around the world. In 1998, photographer Douglas David Seiferf ran into Riefenstahl on a private island near Port Moresby, New Guinea. The meeting produced one of the few English language articles covering her diving career and was published in Dive International magazine the same year. There are several books covering Riefenstahl's intriguing life and she was listed as one of the 100 Most important Women of the 20th Century in the 1998 Ladies Home Journal book of the same title. Despite the enduring recognition of her artistic talents, above and below the water, the connection to Adolf Hitler became a shadow that she could never escape from and which she lived under up until her death last year.

SPORTDIVING MAGAZINE CELEBRATES 35 YEARS WELL KNOWN PUBLICATION CONTINUES TO SERVE ALL PARTS OF DIVING INDUSTRY: Melbourne. September 2005 marks the 35th Anniversary of one of the world's longest established Dive magazines. Beginning life as “Skindiving in Australia” in 1970, the 36-page black and white magazine sold for just 50 cents! Over the ensuing years, it has now developed into one of the world's most respected Diving Publications, Sport DIVING magazine. It is currently the only Australian owned and published scuba diving magazine. Published bi-monthly, Sport DIVING magazine is owned by the original founder of the publication with an unbroken record of 35-years. An involvement in Scuba Diving for 53-years, Co-Publisher/Editor Barry Andrewartha and his wife/business partner Belinda Barnes, produce Sport DIVING magazine from an office behind their home in Melbourne with a staff of part time working mothers. Sport DIVING magazine remains one of the few independently owned Dive Magazines in the world and is certainly one of the longest established. Mountain, Ocean & Travel Publications Pty Ltd., Publishers of Sport DIVING magazine also publish DIVE LOG Australasia, a monthly tabloid “give-away” title averaging 108 pages, established for over 17 years and International FREEDIVING& Spearfishing News aimed at Breath Hold Divers and Bluewater Hunters. Averaging 80 tabloid pages every 3 months, it has been established for over 10-years. MOT Publications are thought to be the world's 2nd largest publisher of Diving Titles.

FIFTY YEARS OF DIVING: Sydney. Fifty years ago, on May 15th 1955 Lloyd Poulton made his first dive in a lake in Kent and on May 29th he made his first open water dive off the Dorset Coast. In those days, diving was for the tough and perhaps the foolhardy. He recalls that the water temperature was 13 degrees. Interestingly the divers wore dry suits. They were so uncomfortable that soon they were abandoned in favour of woollen jumpers that were warmer and less constricting: In 1959 he wore a wetsuit for the first time. Since BCs were not used, accurate weighting was crucial. Lloyd recalls that in the early days, airline issue life jackets were used as flotation aids on the surface. Lloyd cites the advent of the humble “0” ring as the most significant advance in diving safety in the last fifty years.

Lloyd Poulton and wife at Jervis Bay.

The leather washers that they replaced were notorious for failing frequently and at the worst possible moments. In fifty years of diving Lloyd has seen many remarkable sights. With navy divers, he was privileged to dive in Scarpa Flow on the wreck of HMS Royal Oak and several German naval vessels. He describes this as an extraordinary experience. However it was quite recently, in Jervis Bay, when he was· on a five metre safety stop that two hump back whales came within touching distance. Lloyd describes that as perhaps the most amazing sight of his diving career. On June 11th 2005, Lloyd celebrated fifty years of diving in the most appropriate possible way. He joined friends on Sea Life 1ll for a dive near Point Perpendicular in Jervis Bay. For those of us who are relatively new to diving, Lloyd is an inspiration. After fifty years, his enthusiasm for and love of diving is unabated.

TONY FONTES CELEBRATES 25 YEARS AS A PADI MEMBER: Whitsunday Islands: Course Director Tony Fontes completed 25 consecutive years as a PADI Member at the end of 2004. Tony, who is known throughout the world for his success in PADI Instructor Development training, has successfully trained more than 1300 PADI Instructors since receiving his Course Director certification in 1981. Tony is a well-known figure in the Australian dive industry as his involvement goes well beyond instructor training. For 15 years he was owner/director of a PADI 5-Star Instructor Development Centre on the Great Barrier Reef. He has also been involved in setting up numerous dive operations in the South Pacific.

TERRIGAL UNDERWATER GROUP INC CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF DIVING: Terrigal. It is quite a milestone to reach the ripe old age of thirty moreover when it involves almost 800 members over that time, thousands of dives, endless cups of soup and coffee and many a tale of the joys of SCUBA diving. There may be a few more tales to tell when current members, along with past members, get together to celebrate 30 years of diving with TUG on 26 November 2006. The Group was formed in 1976, based around the well known Terrigal Dive School run by Les and Fran Graham, with the dive planning occurring on the commuter trains as various members headed off to work. Since that time the Group has seen membership numbers grow as the Group became an Incorporated Company and more recently an Association, essentially still run by a small, dedicated committee. Highlights over the years include the Terrigal Haven treasure hunts, acquiring a purpose built dive boat and locating some of the best dive sites along the east coast of NSW. Many of these sites were found working in conjunction with the local dive operators and SCUBA clubs. Much of the collective knowledge of the underwater environment of the Central Coast has in some way involved Terrigal Underwater Group. The Group continues working with CCARP (Central Coast Artificial Reef Project) to locate a site, acquire and sink a major wreck for this region.

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FIRST BYRON BAY UNDERWATER FESTIVAL 2007: Byron Bay. The first Byron Bay Underwater Festival, which was held May 10-13 was a great success with more than 30 divers entering in the Underwater Shoot Out and over 100 artworks submitted to the Marine Visions Art Competition. The aim of the event was and is to be more than just another digital shoot out competition. We wanted to promote the passion for the ocean to not just divers, but also to snorkellers, kayakers and even those who never enter the water. At the welcome BBO meet and greet at Planua Divers Retreat on Thursday night shoot out participants could eye the competition and have a relaxed chat to Neville Coleman and the festival organisers. A very successful night amongst other things helped greatly by (MadFish wines, the wine sponsors) of the Underwater Festival. On Friday and Saturday free Marine Wildlife sessions were held at the Byron Bay Community Centre with some of the talks being so well visited there was standing room only. In numerous presentations we heard about whales and dolphins and Lance Ferris from Sea bird Rescue outlined the work he does on stranded turtles in our area. Unfortunately, a high number of the turtles wash up on our local beaches because their intestines are blocked after they ingest hard plastic. On Saturday night we heard our guest of honour Neville Coleman talk about nudibranchs. Not only was this a very informative as Neville knows a great deal about them, but there were also plenty of laughs as Neville is a very experienced and entertaining speaker.

LA SPIROTECHNIQUE ROYAL MISTRAL REGULATOR: Melbourne. This is the classic twin-hose regulator. The successor to the Spirotechnique Mistral, the Royal Mistral features a port for a pressure gauge and non-return valves in the mouthpiece, making it easier to clear water from the hoses and reducing dead spaces. It was first produced in France in the late Forties, before being manufactured under license in the UK in 1952 by Siebe Gorman. The original Cousteau-Gagnon regulator design was a two-stage system, with both stages mounted in one casing on the cylinder. However, these regulators have only a single stage. Internally it is much like the second stage of a modern regulator. Notable internal features of the Mistral are the double levers one over the other and the adjusting screw on the bracket, which holds the levers. These levers open the valve to allow air to flow ·when the diaphragm is depressed. The adjustment screw can only be turned when the casing is open it cannot be adjusted during a dive. Having twin hoses allows the exhaust valve) to be placed as close to the diaphragm as possible, reducing the problem of the valve free-flowing or no air being delivered at all. One curious feature about this classic, is that if you turn on your side it is easier to breathe from, and if you turn onto your back the regulator gently free-flows. With a round case design and a chrome plated finish, it truly is a gorgeous piece of equipment.

WHAT ARE NITROX AND TRIMIX: Sydney. If these are questions you've wondered about here are some answers for you. The Recreational Scuba diving industry initially employed the same training methods used in the armed forces, but subsequently evolving into non military teaching style. Along with this metamorphosis, came certain rules and guidelines necessary to keep individuals involved with recreational scuba diving safe. One of the rules established was the maximum depth limit of 40m for recreational diving. Now for the majority of recreational scuba diver this is deep enough. However there are always those who are unable to resist the lure of the deep. Mankind's in-built necessity to go where no ones been before coupled with the vast improvements made in equipment technology, have allowed divers to push the envelope well beyond the 40m recreational depth limit. Up until the mid eighties divers who dived beyond the 40m depth limit were either Military, Commercial or considered “maverick/lunatics” divers. At the end of the eighties, an underground dive magazine called “Aqua-Corps” was published. The founder of Aquacorps, Michael Mundino, wrote about the so called maverick divers and the tools they we're using to extend the range in which they we're diving, he referred to them as “Technical Divers”. From then on, divers who used advanced and specialist equipment and techniques to gain access to depth, dive time and specific underwater environments more safely than might otherwise be possible are known as “Technical Divers”. The differences between recreational and technical diving are many, but one of the biggest, is the stuff in the tanks. Mother natures choice of 21% Oxygen, 79% Nitrogen Nitrox blend (Nitrox is any blend of Oxygen and Nitrogen) may be the best for land lovers, but isn't necessarily the best choice for divers. By increasing the % of Oxygen (Enriched Air Nitrox) in an Oxygen/Nitrogen gas mixture, you decrease the amount of Nitrogen, this is where the benefits of Enriched Air Nitrox become apparent. With less Nitrogen in the breathing mixture it will take longer for the diver to absorb the levels of Nitrogen that will force them to the surface, i.e. longer bottom time. One of the other benefits of Nitrox is that the high % of Oxygen in the Alveoli (the lung) creates a powerful driving force for the removal of Nitrox from the divers tissues, i.e. Allowing accelerated Nitrogen off gassing, means less time spent in water decompressing. A fairly common misconception about Nitrox is that it allows you to go deeper. This is on the contrary, the higher the Oxygen %, the shallower the maximum operating depth (M.O.D.) of the gas mixture becomes. This is due to the negative effects of Oxygen under high pressure, it becomes toxic. One of the issues of diving deep with air, is the debilitating narcotic effect of nitrogen under pressure. As you know from your basic Scuba training, it's believed that the Nitrogen present in our breathing medium irresponsible for the Narcotic effect experienced at depth. By reducing the amount of Nitrogen in our breathing mixture we are able to either lessen the narcotic effect experienced or alternatively extend the range in which the gas can used safely, If we have to reduce the amount of Nitrogen in a gas mix to lessen the narcotic effect but are unable to increase the Oxygen content due to Oxygen toxicity, another gas has to added to make up the whole. This gas has to as inert as possible, so as to avoid other physiological problems, the best option is to use Helium. Because we're now using three component gasses to make the whole, we call it “Trimix”, and those gasses are Oxygen, Nitrogen and Helium. The % of Helium in the mix is dependent on what level of narcosis the diver is content to deal with. Using Helium as a breathing medium doesn't come risk free, like any gas, Helium has unique properties that can adversely effect a divers physiology. These plus a multitude of other aspects effect the “tech” divers choice in both gas and equipment used on any given dive. Hopefully we've already dispelled some of the myths about “Tech” diving, Dom Hocken has been working within the scuba diving industry for the past 7 years and holds Instructor Certifications for BSAC, PADI, NASDS, IANTD, TDI and DAN.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  KIDS DIVING THE FUTURE OF OUR INDUSTRY: Sydney. Baby Boomers have no doubt been a boon to the diving industry, but as this population bubble works its way through the economy, scuba diving must find a new breed of diver to learn from the experienced Boomers and nurture the growth of our industry. Certification agencies and equipment suppliers are taking notice of this opportunity and are beginning to focus on kids scuba diving, hoping to generate life-long interest with children. Both the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and Scuba Schools International (SSI) have developed training programs specifically for kids, and many manufacturers are rolling out new scuba and snorkelling products for youngsters of all ages and skill levels. Two of the most well known youth training programs are PADI's Bubble Makers program and SSI's Scuba Rangers. PADI, which has seen a 5.8 percent increase in entry level certification as a whole over the past year, designed the Bubble Maker program to not only get kids excited about scuba, but their parents as well. "The beauty of the Bubble Maker program is it introduces children as young as 8 to a confined recreational scuba environment. The diving industry needs to recognise that we need to target kids and families because if mum and dad aren't diving, then kids aren't probably going to be diving either SSI's Scuba Rangers program targets kids from ages 8 to 12, focusing on levels of ability similar to martial arts belt programs. More than just a dip in the pool though, Scuba Rangers teaches water safety, night diving techniques and rescue techniques, plus takes trips to local aquariums as well as family oriented diving vacations. SSI has nearly 70 Scuba Rangers programs in the United States and alone and has expanded into the Australia and New Zealand market. “What we have found is when a child becomes certified, many times it can bring an entire non diving family into the sport", said Ashley Rosenthal, Scuba Ranger Coordinator at SSI. “People don't want to do things without their kids. We are trying to bring the family aspect back into diving. We also have our Buddy rangers program where kids can bring a friend along to the meetings, which brings even more kids in scuba. “Scuba Ventures owner Paul Oberly and Rosenthal developed the Scuba Rangers program in the USA, home of Scuba Ventures. The program took off and increased both equipment rental and sales as families rented and bought BC and regulator equipment for children. “We get comments all the time of kids quitting a sport because it gets in the way of their scuba meeting", said Rosenthal. “Kids understand that scuba is something they can do forever. It really brings some life back to the dive shop”.

THE WRECK OF SS TASMAN FOUND. Tasmania. On Thursday 5th February, 1998, a team of Sydney wreck divers led by John Riley were the first to see the wreck of the SS Tasman at a depth of 70 metres. The seven-man dive team, chosen for their ability and specialist skills, arrived in Tasmania early on the previous Tuesday morning by air from Sydney. The expedition's aims were to pin down the exact location of the SS Tasman and dive it. The wreck would be recorded on video, stills cameras and sketched. The Nord would be used as a warm-up dive and as a standby dive if conditions excluded diving on the more exposed SS Tasman. Divers would use one cylinder of air and one cylinder of heliair mixed for an equivalent nitrogen depth of 50 metres. This required only one G size helium to give the six divers two dives each on the SS Tasman. Computer tables were cut for decompression on air and surface supplied nitrox (EAN 36). This plan did not require gas mixing with 100% oxygen, oxygen clean cylinders not being available on site. In reality, individual divers either brought or scrounged small cylinders and mixed their own high oxygen nitrox for decompression, and carried it as a third sling tank. Divers also wore thermals and dry suits. Two seal colonies in the immediate area and long decompression stops meant the chances of a shark encounter were high. A Shark Pod was rigged at 6 metres along with the surface supply nitrox. The Shark Pod worked perfectly no sharks were seen. Someone now has to invent a Seal Pod. The divers were harassed and almost bitten by a lone Australian Fur seal probably a young male. Nord dives were on air. The helium once decanted into dive cylinders could not be saved if not used on the SS Tasman, These cylinders would have to be given back to Eaglehawk Dive Centre empty to avoid any risk of them, being used by divers unaware of their contents. So the heliair could be used on the Nord if required, giving divers geared up for diving the SS Tasman, a standby dive on the Nord without the need to carry more cylinders of air. All dives were conducted off Gary Myors dive boat and the Eaglehawk Dive Centre used as a base for equipment and accommodation. The team dived the Nord, a well known local wreck in 42 metres on the Tasman Peninsula. After this warm up dive, Gary Myors headed the Eaglehawk dive boat to the Hippolyte rocks, the scene of the SS Tasman's sinking. The area was echo sounded using a Lowrance portable Echo sounder and plotted with a Lowrance hand-held GPS. The day was hot, the sky blue and the sea oily calm with a slight but annoying swell, the wreck had already been located on the depth sounder. The anchor was dropped on position number four and held even though pulled tight by a strong northerly current. Barry and Merv descended to secure the anchor and run a line to the wreck. John Riley and Mark Spencer were to follow. On seeing Barry and Merv exerting themselves to descend, with their exhaust bubbles a clear indicator of a fairly strong current, it was decided not to send Mark down loaded with bulky camera gear until Barry and Merv surfaced and reported. Over an hour later, Barry surfaced with a smile on his face that said it all. The anchor was in the wreck near boilers and an engine. The wreck went east said Merv, it went west said Barry. So the anchor was in the wreck.     

THE EARLY YEARS - SOUTH PACIFIC DIVERS: Sydney. As told to Scott Leimroth by Tom Byron: In the early days diving was a new sport and there was no supporting infrastructure of dive shops, no certification, no instructors, in fact everything was exciting and new. Tom Byron recalls buying his first set of dive gear in 1957 in fact it was every bit of dive gear available in Mick Simmons sports store at the time. It consisted of one rubber hood, a rather face mask, a 40 cf cylinder with canvas straps and a twin hose regulator. The problem with diving being such a new sport was that when Tom had used that first tank of air on his first dive in Closely pool there was nowhere in Sydney that could refill the tank. It wasn't until the following weekend that he happened to see another diver at Clovelly who told him about someone who had a compressor in their backyard to fill tanks. It cost two shillings and six pence (26 cents) to fill the tank which Tom thought was a rip off at the time. I wonder what he thinks nowadays with the average tank fill costing $7-$10. Air was hard to get with only three dive shops in Sydney during the late 50s to early 60s, Clovelly Divers, St George Scuba Centre and Rick Pool's dive shop at Coogee. Tom remembers that some industrious person had large submarine air cylinders, which they had mounted onto the back of a truck. They would then drive to a popular dive spot such as Bass Point and provide air for the divers, turning over a tidy profit in the process. Diving was so new that you would draw a crowd just turning up to a dive site. Tom recalls, “By the time you got your gear out of the car and had assembled it and put it on there was often a large crowd around. They would watch you enter the water and still be there when you returned. The first question they would ask was “Did you see any sharks?” They would ask you where you would be diving next week and you say something like Watamolla and sure enough they would be there waiting. They would follow you around week after week. Many of them became interested enough to buy their own gear and take up diving." As with all new sports there are no rules and no boundaries, so things we may now consider extreme were run of the mill and things we consider normal were considered extreme. For example, the average dive depth was initially around 21ft (7 metres). Of course as time went on people went slightly deeper and the depth was extended. I guess the same thing can be seen nowadays with rebreathers slowly extending the depth of dives out to over 100m. In the late 1960s South Pacific Divers members notoriously dived at the Kiama blow hole. Two of the girls in the club Joan Harper and Sylvia Sandier would regularly pretend that they fell in the Blow Hole the guys would then jump in to rescue them. They'd all drift out through the blow hole leaving the crowd to think they had all perished. Great fun for a few months until the police turned up and stopped it. Tom also remembers building a shark cage at work. The club then hired a fishing trawler to take them and the cage out to the Peak off Sydney. They had a 44 gallon drum of blood which they poured into the water and then waited for the sharks to arrive. Not one shark turned up. After spending the whole day and all that effort with no reward they pushed the shark cage overboard somewhere in Botany Bay and planned their next adventure. The diving was all exploration diving. They dived Tuglo caves, spending all day underground dry caving to get to the water then diving to explore new caves. They dived wrecks and they dived reefs. They dived where ever and whenever they could. Not much has changed. The South Pacific Divers heritage lives on with members still exploring and looking for new dive sites and new adventures to be had underwater.                                                     

LARGEST DISPLAY OF VINTAGE DIVING GEAR EVER EXHIBITED IN AUSTRALIA: Sydney. The Sydney Collectors Club originally started as a group of dedicated collectors researching information and histories regarding old bottles and pottery. Divers have been coming across old bottles since the sport began, many divers view bottles as rubbish and so they leave them where originally found, other divers develop a fascination for the different shapes and patented. Many important discoveries have been made by divers, too many to list in a short article. Bottle collecting branched out to encompass all types of collections, many weird and wonderful things are collected by people and early diving equipment has become very popular worldwide. As a feature exhibit of the “Sydney Collectors” huge antique and collectables fair being held on 11th and 12th of March, several major collectors will put their vintage diving equipment on show. Starting in the 1950s, recreational diving has had a short life compared to most other sports with a very rapid development, which is still evolving. Early equipment was taken from military gas apparatus post war and adapted for underwater use. Specific diving equipment was pioneered all around the world but the world's first viable single hose regulator, the equipment design we now take for granted, was developed by an Australian, Ted Eldred in Melbourne. Several Australian companies featured heavily in the development and promotion of diving, Ted Eldred's “Porpoise” regulators, and "Sea Bee" which was designed and developed by Jim Ager from Airdive in Melbourne and Sea Hornet in Sydney both of these companies are still in the scuba equipment business today. A selection of original equipment from these companies and many now famous international companies such as US Divers, Scubapro, Dacor, Voit, and Healthways will form a display spanning 50 years. The regulator Mike Nelson used on Sea Hunt, the triple tank back pack made famous by Jaques Cousteau, masks, knives, gauges, advertising, books in fact every aspect of vintage diving and equipment. Get your photo taken wearing vintage equipment, enter the raffle to win your very own twin hose regulator. If you have any equipment (or bottles) you wish to have identified, to have valued, to sell, to swap bring it along to the fair where you can talk to the experts about preserving equipment and researching the history.

UNDERWATER EXPLORERS CLUB OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA TURNS 50 THIS YEAR: Perth. Anyone who recalled the clubs humble beginnings all those years back would not have believed it was the same club on Diving Night of Nights. The UEC was formed in 1954 by a group, who were mostly ex-servicemen with compressed air diving experience and some spearfisherman who were disenchanted with their sport. The inaugural meeting was held at the Cottesloe Civic Centre on Monday July 26 and finished with 12 members on the books. The club developed quickly and stories of standing in 12 feet (4 metres) of water with a 60 litre drum over your head while you mate on the surface feverishly pumped air to you via a large bicycle pump soon gave way to stories of 200 feet (60 metres) dives on air and free ascents from depths that are not considered safe today, in an era when little was known about the risks. The club soon developed in to WA's first and at that stage only training provider and held the first SCUBA school in WA in 1956. Not long after that UEC was asked to train the original WA Police Diving Team, and in the years that followed trained many individuals in the new sport of SCUBA diving. Another aspect of the clubs activity in the 1950s and 60s was wreck exploration, with a large number of the wrecks off the Fremantle and Rottnest Island coast discovered by the club. Some of the more famous ones include the City of York, Denton Holme and the Mira Flores. UEC members were regularly part of the expeditions on wreck finding trips in our North-West also, with UEC members being part of the first expedition to dive on the Batavia in the Houtman Abrolhos Islands when it was discovered. Over the years UEC has participated in every possible underwater activity, including the unusual claim to fame of having a relay team of divers complete the Rottnest Island Channel swim underwater. As commercial operators began to do training, UEC moved its focus to more club and community based activities and today's focus is to promote SCUBA diving in the community and have a good time doing it. The club still participates in underwater clean-ups and other water based event including providing some rescue crews for WA's premier white water race the Avon Descent. The 50th Anniversary Ball attracted 150 members and ex-members to the Swan Yacht Club in East Fremantle for a big night of celebrations and reunions. The room was decorated with hundreds of fish and sea creatures, including an 8ft (3 metres) diver, all made from balloons. There where representatives from most of the local dive shops, who by the way all donated fantastic prizes for the evening, as well as members from other west coast dive clubs. The whole fifty years was represented by members past and present including some founding members, one of whom was the well known West Australian author and wreck hunter Hugh Edwards. Mr Edwards was one of the main forces behind that first exploration of the Batavia and as a guest speaker for the night he amused the younger of us with stories of his first underwater experiences using an army surplus gas mask and a length of pipe to get his first peek at the world below. We should never have worried that we would have trouble getting anyone up to dance. Do divers know how to party or what? Needless to say you wouldn't have seen the club's dive boat out on it's normal weekend trip the following day, it was having a well earned rest as were it's usual occupants.

HMAS HOBART TO SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Adelaide. The recently decommissioned guided missile destroyer HMAS Hobart has been gifted to the State of South Australia by the Federal Government to be established as a diving wreck and marine reserve dose to Adelaide. Chairman of the Fleurieu Artificial Reef Society Incorporated, Alex Wyschnja and the other steering committee members were thrilled with the announcement made in Adelaide by SA Tourism Minister, Hon Joan Hall, on 18 June. "Our State Government's recognition of sport diving as a significant recreational activity with potential to increase tourism is fantastic", Alex said. "This is a monumental occasion for diving in South Australia as it culminates 18 months of hard work in partnership with the State Government to work through the stakeholder consultation, logistics, environmental and funding aspects of the project. The commitment to this venture by the Olsen Liberal Government will be greatly appreciated by the wider diving community for many years to come." Closely modelling the HMAS Swan and Perth Artificial Reef Projects, the vessel will be towed to Adelaide from Sydney, cleaned and prepared for scuttling in 17 fathoms, 4.5 nautical miles west of Wirrina Cove resort, 80 kms south of Adelaide when the Hobart reef site is established there will be a unique trail of three warships around southern Australia for divers to visit and enjoy.

PIONEER DIVER, SALVAGE DIVER, SCUBA DIVER: WALLY GIBBINS. His pioneering diving career began in 1947 when his family moved from Greenwich to Middle Head where the clear water enticed him to fashion some diving gear and develop an interest in spear fishing which began in the early summer of late 1947. He dived alone around Middle Head for some months without meeting any other divers, then when the USFA was formed in April of 1948 he soon enrolled as a member and elected to the committee shortly after. He was unbeaten in spear fishing competitions in the ensuing years. One feat worth mentioning was his performance in the first contest between Anglers and Spear Fishermen held in 1952. Wal not only finished well ahead of his team mates but his catch also beat all Anglers. Three years later he began his professional diving career by salvage diving in Dutch New Guinea (now Indonesia’s West Irian Province). Returning to Sydney he began working for Barnes Scuba Services before forming his own company known simply as "The Diving Company". At the urging of Ron Taylor and Ben Cropp he returned to spear fishing competitions competing for the first time at the 1961-62 National Titles at Currarong where he was runner-up in the pairs, third in the open and headed the winning team on the final day. The club switched from spearing to underwater photographic competition which Wal also won each year. Joining with Ben Cropp he assisted in the making of a number of documentaries based on a trip around Australia, with the last couple, at Wal's instigation, based on a visit to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. His various diving interests has seen him hiring out as a guide to the Barrier Reef, making underwater movies and taping documentaries with the Japanese, and also a trip back to the Solomon's, revisiting the many wrecks he discovered there. Engrossed in shell collecting Wal displayed an amazing collection and was instrumental in locating the habitats of some of the rare shells that had not been previously known to science.

Wally Gibbins with a 4 metre tiger shark he killed with a power head at Heron Island.

Wal's first shark capture was a wobbegong shark caught at Middle Head in 1947 and caught the first whaler shark during a club outing in 1950 and his grey nurse shark in 1952. His largest shark was a 12 foot (4 metre) tiger shark weighing 860 lbs which was killed with a power head when it swam towards him after being disturbed whilst feeding on a stingray, this was at Sykes Reef in 1963. In October of 1995 Walter Gibbins was awarded life membership of the NSW Branch of the Australian Underwater Federation in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sport. The term legend is used far too often these days. Wal then discontinued club activities and undertook a six month trip to the Great Barrier Reef for the filming of "The King of the Coral Sea" featuring Chips Rafferty and Rod Taylor. The "Lawson Lung" which he had assisted in designing and building were used extensively during the production of this film. Wal filmed all the underwater footage and doubled as a stuntman for one of the actors. In following competitions he narrowly missed winning on several occasions to be the Open Runner-up but was often on the winning pairs or teams side representing NSW. Wal was chosen to represent Australia at the 1965 World Spear Fishing Championships in Tahiti. Unfortunately a shallow water blackout whilst practicing prior to the event ruled him out of the competition. Ron Taylor won this competition and Peter Kemp came third in the teams. Wal also represented Australia in Noumea on two occasions. Leaving Australia to work as a diver in salvage operations in the Solomon Islands he soon formed a club of diving enthusiasts, presiding over the club for six years before returning to Australia. At monthly competitions held in the Soloman's, Wal remained unbeaten. Upon his return Wal took up residence at Toomina near Coffs Harbour where he joined the local club and was only beaten once in several years of competing. He was later awarded Life Membership of the St George Club. Walter Gibbins passed away on the 19th August 2006. 

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.