50 years of diving pictures by an Australian expert
During the 1970′s Cairns was put on the international map by big game fishermen. Before this the town was a sleepy fishing port and the only tourists were Australians who made the long trek north on a narrow sealed road we called The Crystal Highway (littered with broken car windscreens, one every 2 Km).
The story how black marlin were found as they spawned along the edge of the continental shelf is best told by the experts.
The changes to the town of Cairns between 1972 and 1982 were enormous. Free or very cheap vacant land given by the state government allowed international hotel’s and a resort at Port Douglas to be fast-tracked.
Today Cairns is the gateway to The Great Barrier Reef. Previously the major gateways had been further south.
In this collage are the boat skippers who went searching for big fish, Peter Bristow, Peter B Wright and Dennis ‘Brizakka’ Wallace.
Walter A. Starck, Vic Ley, Ron Taylor, Phil Eather,
Richard Weir, Wally Gibbins, Malcolm McLeod, Gai Girdlestone, John Harding.
Springvale Cemetary (Melbourne, Victoria)
Jewish Memorial Garden 2
Wally Muller, Van Laman-Cropp, Ben Cropp, Kathy Troutt, Lynn Roberts, John Michael Harding Senior, Bob Grounds, Dean Cropp – (a future Legend), Ron Taylor, Trevor Collins (with marlin), Valerie May Taylor, Henri J. Bource.
RON IBLE (White Water Wanderers club, Sydney) 30 April 2013 R.I.P. mate
Ron would not like a whole heap of pretty words – “a real good mate” would sum him up. Ron’s guidance and advice plus friendship to me, as a young starting-out aged 18 diver, set a course I’m forever thankful to him for. Although the following name won’t ring bells, Bill Colbourne introduced us when we all worked at the Sydney Markets. Ron Ible was a tough truck driver – as they all were then. Tough physical work that produced a physique similar to the axe-men at wood-chopping events. When Bill retired he went to live in the fishing village near Ron and his family. Two guys who gave me good advice at a time when kids like I was take things for granted. I recently thanked Ron – but regret not being able to do so for Bill who passed away soon after retiring.
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.
Married in December 1964, the above picture was the following month in 1965 while returning from the Australian Spear fishing Championships at Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Ron and Valerie returned via Mount Gambier near the South Australian and Victoria border to do the first truly professional underwater shots in the crystal clear fresh water. Ron mostly used color film in a 6x6cm Rolleiflex with wide angle lens – not the usual Rolleimarin housing. This print was made from an inter-negative taken from the color original by Ron in his home darkroom. Valerie often retouched the B&W prints using her skills acquired as a commercial artist on The Silver Jacket (adventure magazine for boys), this print appears to be as original. The fresh water in Picaninnie Ponds isn’t exactly ‘freezing’ but you have a headache after 90 seconds and three minutes might be maximum before common sense says ‘get out’. Here in her late twenties in this picture, Valerie shows enormous will-power that has seen her persist or endure discomforts associated with diving better than anyone else I can think of – either male or female. This picture is from a series first published in Everybody’s magazine that amazed Australian underwater photographers and also established Ron as the leader – a position he could still challenge without difficulty.
Valerie with Silky shark (1965) during filming of “Surf Scene” at Flinders Reef, Queensland
One of my favorite pictures of Valerie is this portrait from 1967 in one of the fresh water sink holes near Mt. Gambier, South Australia. Ron was making his documentary The Cave Divers. I used a Rolleiflex camera with flash fill. Valerie viewed the picture for the first time in July 2010.
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.