Archive for category East Coast Australia
Land surrounding river is owned by a pastoral company. Will there ever be shops, liquor store and a marina here?
It’s a wild river – inhabited by crocodiles, possibly squatters in a hut (one surviving hermit living near the mouth of the river disappeared – possibly taken by a crocodile before these pictures were taken. That story is elsewhere on this blog).
We’ve anchored at the Olive River several times while making marine documentary films offshore. In the upper reaches of the river where water is brackish, grow unique palms.
Anchoring near the bank is a hazard, many large submerged tree’s underwater. You’d think these would make an ideal home for Barramuindi – the prize fish. Professional fishermen always seem to have ‘cleaned them out’ before we arrive.
Currently before the Australian parliament is the Wild Rivers Legislation.
The future of this and other rivers of Cape York Peninsula rivers is blowing in the wind.
We were anchored in the lagoon at Middleton Reef (southern Coral Sea). Wally Muller had roped Coralita’s anchor to an antique ships anchor we’d placed on the sand in the lagoon ‘yesterday’.
Now it was time to check the anchor. I was joining deckhand Richard Weir for the inspection and would film it.
All dinghies were either out of the water or anchored on their own elsewhere. In other words, no rescue vessel available.
Coralita was swinging in a great arc in the very strong breeze. Easy to miss getting back aboard as a strong current was also running. No problems. All went well.
It was a cyclone called Colin. Stronger than the cyclone that had wrecked Darwin a few years before. This was 1975. The wreck of the Runic, (pictured above during a previous visit) nearby, was battered by the heavy seas with waves breaking over her – we saw from a distance.
Wally Muller in 1971; Wally Muller underwater with the ship wreck anchor which saved Coralita during a cyclone at Middleton Reef.
Bondi Beach, 1981 – has much changed – apart from the higher prices since the 2000 Sydney Olympics?
MIMOSA ROCKS – NEW SOUTH WALES SOUTH COAST
It’s a national park area between Tathra and Bermagui. Abalone on the rocks in shallow water but most are under-sized and best avoided. Centuries of wave action has placed the brick-like rocks in a pattern than humans would find difficult to improve. The shape of the bay is also very nice. Live periwinkles on the rocks too – these have become rare elsewhere as they are a cheap seafood. Eating the guts is necessary.
COOLANGATTA or GREENMOUNT BEACH
I lived across the road for a couple of years when the beach looked like this. It’s changed considerably. A ‘sand by-pass’ pump south of a nearby river has moved millions of tonnes of sand north in the prevailing current. Consequently the edge of the surf is now more than one hundred meters offshore. There would be space for a couple of streets in the area that was once water, in this picture. A scene unlikely to be seen ever again.
Coolangatta is on the border between New South Wales and Queensland, Australia
Vic Ley was filmed by me spearing this Black Cod in 1969 at Fish Rock, South West Rocks – now a sanctuary. The sequence appeared in my first film Aquarius – People and Wildlife of the Sea but was dropped from later editions. Today it should be of interest to environmentalists. Vic Ley remembers how prolific marine life use to be at this now famous scuba location. New South Wales mid north coast.
Brian Davies was a professional fisherman, surfer and free diver who lived is a cabin at Seal Rocks, New South Wales. His father was a local pioneer professional fisherman – a true man of the sea as was Brian. Brian took a job in Japan which involved working with toxic chemicals. A few years later, back in Australia his liver packed up and Brian passed away – just a short time after his father.
The young fellow takes a Rock Blackfish ashore for his father, Geoff ‘Boots’ Towner, our long term friend.
Conditions for ‘rock hopping’ are not ideal, as the picture illustrates. A strong NE sea breeze has made the water choppy.
Early morning’s are a better bet for calm conditions although during bthe summer, the NE breeze starts early too.
Grey nurse sharks were protected especially to give tourist divers something worthwhile to look at, and to shut-up a handful of environmentalists with underwater camera’s who were conning the media into thinking only 500 sharks existed.
How anyone could possibly count all the sharks at every reef on the east coast never occurred to the media, they just ran with the fairy story while the Fisheries responded with a protective ban.
The bottom line is, it was probably a good thing to have the species protected.
Suggestion for an aspiring PhD student: Investigate the link between past onshore droughts and ‘vanishing sharks’ to determine if there is a connection why this species was scarce in the years before 1986. Include power head spears in the equation, plus professional fishing catches processed through markets.
Christine Danaher approaches a small grey nurse shark resting under a reef ledge. Located north of Forster, New South Wales, the area has been called Taurus Reef by local dive charter boats. When the flash went off the shark bolted.
It was far from the end of the road for the V8 Ford in the background. We did another 200,000km before retiring the ‘old girl’.
Too much weight (projectors, film and diving gear) being carried eventually caused the damage here. Plus the 5km of rough dirt road that linked Seal Rocks to the holiday township of Forster on the mid north New South Wales coast.
The Ford did over 500,000 km around Australia. Since then a even greater ‘mileage’ in a Toyota 4Runner.
The \\Australian Seafari\\ film shows no longer occur – coinciding with a decline in scuba dive shop takings. I’d like to think there was some connection but as the decline is happening everywhere there are obviously other factors as to why scuba diving is no longer considered a must-do high adventure activity.
Scuba diving is not a ‘competitive sport’ and has never been one. It’s been something unique and better than a competitive recreation sport, yet only when sufficient time has been devoted to understanding all the aspects of what can be entailed.
In Taiwan there are two huge **ocean universities** which teach every known aspect of working with the sea.
In USA there is a \\university of surf\\ and also another for the hamburger industry.
Seems we are missing a good potential somewhere.
Shown is Coffs Creek which spills into the northern side of the harbour carrying periodic unknown toxic properties that, (in my un-scientific opinion), is the reason the entire northern side of Coffs Harbour is an underwater desert. A second creek (not shown) further north might also be the culprit.
Coffs Harbour is two islands with man-made quarried stone break walls. A timber jetty was constructed to export other timbers. Today the jetty is retained as a tourist facility.
**Pig Island** is .65 of a kilometer offshore from the southern break wall. It is a polluted marine location, not seriously by world standards. The ‘health’ of the small kelp forest here would be a reasonable guide.
A recent relocation of the town’s sewage outlet, further south, should offer positives visual changes to the underwater reef at Pig Island.
These pictures were taken in 1986 and are shown here for the first time. There’s much underwater interest and research happening in the Coffs Harbour area today. These pictures may serve some purpose if Pig Island has suffered any noticeable ill effects. Pig is a small rock island just offshore from the boat harbour, it just misses being included in the Solitary Island Marine Park zone.
The Solitary Islands further offshore are a vastly different-looking underwater location with corals and tropical species mixing with southern varieties and seaweeds.
There are about thirty beaches north and south of the City of Sydney. Avalon is in the far north. I speared my first shark inside the headland. It was a very small, young grey nurse. Today I’d be fined a fortune for the ‘crime’. In 1961 it was a different story. Grey nurse were still ‘man eaters’ then.
**TIM BRISTOW WAS A FREE DIVER – HERE’S A DIFFERENT STORY**
On the rocks below **Tim Bristow** (the legendary tough guy and former bouncer at the Newport Arms Hotel) caught dozens of lobsters over the years.
Tim also saved people from problems that might have escalated without his intervention, myself included. This was how he once helped me out.
It was 1981, I’d parked in a doctors underground private car space at Elizabeth Bay apartments that led to a serious incident. At the time I planned it to be just a brief stay.
Hours later I returned and found my car blocked-in with a note on my windshield saying the car could remain stuck there for the whole weekend.
After the NRMA (motoring association) refused to help on the basis it was on private property I phoned and asked Tim could he help in any way to get my car out, Tim replied:
\\”That person is one of the most dangerous people I know in all of Sydney. If you break into his car to move it, he’ll lie that you’ve stolen drugs or something from it. All you can do is be humble and apologize and hope he will accept”.\\
I should have added that a previous attempt had resulted in the doctor’s apartment door being slammed in my face. He had opened the door and spoke standing while **completely naked**.
(I was with his neighbors, a mother and daughter I’d been visiting).
So I tried again.
The sincere and humble apology was sufficient and sure taught me a good lesson about parking in other people’s space.
Another point, when I first called Tim for advice he said: “This is a sick joke, **Tony Flook** has put you up to this”?
“Definitely not”, I replied.
The doctor had written me a note on his prescription pad, which I read again, including the doctors name. That was when Tim said how dangerous this person could be. A man who had almost ruined Tim’s life in the past.
What a strange and fortunate coincidence for me that I should ask Tim for advice, especially when it concerned a person who had already had such a profound and serious impact on Tim’s own life.
Christmas holidays, 1969 Seal Rocks NSW
This is something we’ll never experience again. It was possible to camp alongside your boat, right on the beach with a million dollar view. The council opened a camping area nearby, (on previously cleared rain forest land), and put an end to cheap summer holidays right on the beach. (The new fresh water hot showers were welcomed though).
Launched through sheltered surf off \\Boat Beach\\ these heavy seafaring timber boats were retrieved using a steel cable and a motor winch. Just one or two remain in use today, replaced by smaller light weight aluminum craft. Fishing catches have been in decline – initially scuba divers were blamed for scaring fish away. A typical belief held by old-time fishermen everywhere.
Seal Rocks (New South Wales) is an established grey nurse shark location. Since 1986 the sharks began returning in outstanding population numbers as compared with the previous two decades when they were very scarce.
So began a dive tour business that has flourished since. Not only here but elsewhere along the coast.
Boats run down from the twin towns Forster-Tuncurry, pick up the punters from the beach at Seal Rocks and head offshore to Big Seal or Little Seal Rock.
Latest information suggests sea lions (fur seals) have returned after an absence of more than thirty years.
Good news, yet still unconfirmed.
A former Australian spearfishing champion (with John Black). Both represented Australia at the CMAS organized world championships – the pinnacle achievement for any free diver.
The first divers were finding coins within the very scattered remains of colonial shipwrecks. The lucky “friend of a friend” shown here may have I suspect actually recovered these coins from the \\Dunbar\\ wreck site just outside Sydney Heads.
Terry Morrison also known as “the frog”
A pioneer diver who even gets fan mail from former students.
Terry does not believe in the fast 4-day courses and reckons snorkel skills will save a life and therefore should be emphasized during scuba training.
Another tip. “Combine scuba talents with another skill such as outboard motor mechanics, first aid, etc and you have some hope of finding a decent job, perhaps, maybe, aboard a luxury private ship traveling the globe”.
That was a dream-comes-true example for one of Terry’s Australian students on the Gold Coast.
These top boating jobs require multi-skills beyond that of being just a “dive master”.
For example the captain of the private vessel in this story was also the ships’ doctor.
Terry has seen other talented students become scuba instructors, then get dragged over the coals in a coroners hearing when some diver ‘in their care’ got into trouble and bent. A double tragedy as the instructor’s promising career was also ruined. A good excuse is not enough in such matters.
With a background in conventional medicine Terry Morrison is well suited to write about the sport he loves.
His early underwater experiences were like that of many pioneers, a Sydney club spear fisherman, then a FAUI member and eventually NAUI.
When Terry Morrison gets his blog happening it will make very interesting technical reading.