Ben Cropp is presently returning to Queensland aboard Freedom IV after almost a year in Western Australia. Here are some pictures of mine taken on our most recent filming in North Queensland.
Due to the remoteness of the filming trips it’s essential to ‘live of the sea’ with fish being a meal aboard every second day- except for me. I did not mind seafood on a daily basis, especially Coral trout and Barramundi – fresh.
No crowds in the far north. Dean Cropp has a ski behind his dads’ dinghy. theJOHNHARDING.com (2005)
Inshore lighthouse on one of the Great Barrier Reef’s uninhabited islands, near Sir Charles Hardy islands.
Australian readers will be familiar with the name Ben Cropp, as will experienced divers overseas. You young guys will get to see more of Ben’s exploits here. A film maker with more than 100 TV specials to his credit, a recipient of the Order of Australia award and many others.
Aboard Ben’s high-speed live aboard private dive boat, I joined him for several expeditions north from his home base at Port Douglas. With a team of no more than five persons aboard Freedom III we ventured far beyond the reach of usual tourist dive groups.
Every young Australian should be shown the far north of Queensland. It’s all frontier country. The only visitors seem to be prawn trawler fleet related, yachtsmen and those associated with mining.
Initially I used film camera’s then switched to digital when better camera specifications and prices became available. Click on the category Ben Cropp Explorer during the coming weeks as we make more material available there from our archives.
Picture courtesy RJ Taylor collection
The Tweed Heads to Brisbane area was a super-hot spear fishing zone, Australia 1961. While we were seeing Red Morwong and Blue Groper around Sydney, the real underwater champions senior to us in age and experience were seeing giant Black Cod and Queensland Groper in shallow water up north. Pictures published in Australian Skindivers Magazine whetted our desire for a trip north. With friend Vic Ley our dream came true in July 1963 when we quit our jobs and drove north with a boat, outboard and camping gear. We’d swap speared fish and lobsters for food and fuel. The adventure of a lifetime awaited us.
Me with a typical coral trout. Aboard Riversong, a second trip in 1964. Captain Wally Muller and South Australian Brian Rodger in background. We speared thousands of kilo’s of fish during a ten-day voyage in the Capricorn and Bunker Group.
Vic Ley and myself on our first voyage with Wally Muller, August 1963. We speared fish in exchange for a boat ride out to North West Island – where I developed ‘coral poisoning’ in my leg and came close to dying, sulpher tablets pulled me through, probably not with some harm to kidneys.
Ron Taylor and Vic Ley August 1963, Riversong - Wally Muller‘s fishing vessel became legendary in the sixties. We were later to venture to Saumarez Reef in The Coral Sea aboard this small boat in October 1964.
Vic Ley with a large Brown Spotted Cod at North West Island in August 1963
My first Painted crayfish, North West Island, August 1963
Photo taken with Calypso-phot 35mm underwater camera
**Ben Cropp’s** live-aboard pictured near \\Sir Charles Hardy\\ islands, North Queensland, October 2005.
Moments after the three-meter shark let go, I jumped aboard the \\rescuing boat\\ and snapped this shot.
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