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".



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