Tuesday, 26 November 2013

MR WALLY SUNK


SHIPWRECK BELLS < Click 

(via John Sumner) "Yesterday I had a phone call from Maritime Safety Queensland to say that MR WALLY has sunk in the Mary River, Maryborough, and they wanted to find out who owns it currently so that it can be removed".

Note: Mr. Wally was the former prawn trawler Bali Hai - purchased by John Sumner
 and Wally Gibbins for proposed adventures in The Solomon Islands. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Wally preparing equipment to be shipped to The Solomon Islands.

Friday, 27 September 2013

HARD HAT DIVER (Vimeo video) and more

Here's a link to the HARD HAT video - http://vimeo.com/67998438  <Click

Link to this French site of a diving magazine with many videos PLONGEE MAGAZINE <Click

(Tip:  Use a translation 'add on' for French to English)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

1963 WITH WALLY GIBBINS (3 seconds)


The above screen shot is the opening of a scene that runs at 6.0 to 9.0 seconds in from the start.  In the above still shot John Gallagher (third from far right) adjusting his Bolex 16mm movie camera.  This three second sequence would be from Ron Taylor's 16mm camera.  This was Heron Island during the divers festival in November 1963.  Wally Gibbins ashore with an 11 foot Tiger shark brought back from Sykes Reef where he'd shot it with a 10 gauge powerhead (a larger cartridge size than a 12 gauge).



Longer same scene is also near the end of this French language sharks documentary  at 1.22.50 which was broadcast 24 September 2013.
FRENCH DOCUMENTARY SHARKS   < Click

New footage of sharks in slow motion.  See SHARKS DREAM: Marine videos - carefully chosen.  <Click


Sunday, 21 July 2013

BILL HEFFERNAN - PIONEER AUSTRALIAN DIVER

Maybe the best equipped diver in Australia at the time.

Snorkel with float, a forerunner to the ping-pong ball system of 1950s.

Bill Heffernan, also a pioneer UW film maker using 16mm and expensive 35mm equipment.

Magnificent speargun cut from a plank of timber - a forerunner to smaller shoulder guns.

Unique snorkel system designed and built by Bill Heffernan. Air came-in through a long hose fitted to a float.  Trying to breath at any depth greater than about one or two meters is not possible, as these (and other) pioneers were to set to discover.

Kerry Heffernan the youngest-ever member of the USFA    (Member number ten, signed-up by his father when age 3).

Flathead speared with Searocket CO2 gun (with added reel).
(Main picture) Kerry Heffernan rock-hopping. Surrounding pictures of  Kerry's father, Bill Heffernan, probably or possibly the first diving equipment designer and manufacturer in Australia beginning in about 1947 when the USFA was formed.
Bill Heffernan made a 35mm feature film.  The story was - 'a couple of kids shipwrecked on an island where they learned to survive' - which is similar to Hollywood's  "The Blue Lagoon" in 1980.  Bill ran into snags with his finished film.  Sales tax payable on the finished print was the first 'heartbreaker'. A later problem with storage in a professional film vault alongside incompatible B&W prints ruined the color negative, "A Boy and the Sea" was never released.
Getting any film properly distributed to theatres would be the beginning of even more challenges and a lot of work.  Very difficult then and today.  Bill had another idea, he contemplated a film making journey to crocodile country in the Gulf of Carpentaria.  With his 35mm equipment he may have made a smash-hit had this  proceeded.  Keith F Adams from Western Australia made such journey which he  filmed on 16mm and later grossed millions in theatres around the world over many years.  This was "Northern Safari".

"Dad needed a special wide angle lens imported.  The price was equal to buying a house, he said".



Friday, 19 July 2013

AUSTRALIAN MADE 'SPEAR GEAR' late 1940s





Underwater Spear Fisherman's Association  (USFA) was formed at a meeting held (probably after a dive) at Long Reef, Sydney in 1947.  Wally Gibbins would have been aged seventeen then and we can assume was in the group.

Bill Heffernan was 'an old guy' almost aged 40  and a friend with Dick Charles - the founding president of the association.

The old guys helped new members in those days. Kerry Heffernan was there too as a baby, age THREE and a paid-up member number 15 of the USFA - the youngest ever.

Kerry Heffernan provided this booklet of his father's equipment. (to be continued...click REFRESH or reload on your browser when returning later).

The USFA today <Click










Sunday, 31 March 2013

SKINDIVING PARADISE - Heron Island 1963

Few people could load Wal's big shoulder gun.
Valerie Heighes before she married Ron Taylor

Alan Power using his Rolleimarin camera

Wally got a very long ride from this Green Turtle - the highlight of the short movie, "Skindiving Paradise"

Wally had his big shoulder gun available. Scuba cylinder is latest "Aqua-Lung"

 Alan Power with latest "Aqua-Lung"

The Coral Sea < Click





Friday, 8 February 2013

FAREWELL



 IN MEMORY
WALTER  HAMILTON GIBBINS
1930 – 2006
Jan 17 1930 - 12 August 2006




The NSW Spearfishing and Freediving Association is saddened to report the passing of Life Member and diving legend, Wally Gibbins.

Wally was born at Turramurra, Sydney on the 19th January 1930, finishing his schooling at Crows Nest Technical College in 1944 with a credible 3rd in the combined schools final exam.

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 spearfishing 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 soon enrolled as a member and elected to the committee shortly after. He was unbeaten in spearfishing competitions in the ensuing years. One feat worth mentioning was his performance in the first contest between Anglers and Spearmen held in 1952. Wal not only finished well ahead of his team mates but his catch alone surpassed all 37 anglers who had fished from the shore and from boats. Wal had rock-hopped fishing close to the shoreline. Wal was only able to compete for one day at the first national championships held in 1953, where he again top scored but was overtaken by those who fished the next day.

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 Seas” (sic) featuring Chips Rafferty and Rod Taylor. The “Lawson Lungs” 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.

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 Service before forming his own company known simply as “The Diving Company”.

At the urging of Ron Taylor and Ben Cropp he returned to spearfishing 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.

He joined the St. George Sea Dragons to soon be elected President, a position he held for several years until resigning to work away from Sydney. He was later to be awarded life membership of St. George.

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 spearfishing 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 with 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 Solomon’s, Wal remained unbeaten.

Upon his return Wal took up residence at Toormina near Coffs Harbour where he joined the local club and was only beaten once in several years of competing. The club switched from spearing to underwater photographic competitions which Wal also won each year.

Joining with Ben Cropp he assisted in the making of a number of TV 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 diver 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 very rare shells that had not been previously known to science.

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 first Grey Nurse Shark in 1952. His largest shark was an 11ft. 2inch Tiger Shark weighing 860lbs which was killed with a powerhead 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 Hammond (sic) Gibbins was awarded life membership of the NSW Branch of the Australian Underwater Federation in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the sport.

Mel Brown.
Secretary NSW SFA

USFA < Click


Walter Hamilton Gibbins 

Jan 17 1930 - 12 August 2006



No wet suit  just an old woolen jumper and some kind of rubber vest, a small  face mask - both symbols of the 1950s - as is the big haul of Eastern green rock lobster, commonly known at the time as 'crays'.

This catch from the 1960s - according to the diver's leg knife.